The Future of Online Lead Generation

As I’ve written before (here and here), online lead generation is a great channel for acquisition but can be fraught with problems that smart marketers need to be on the look out for. My goal here at Return Path is to create an online lead generation network that marketers (and publishers) can use with confidence.

This is why I’m very excited about one of Return Path’s newest hires, Evan Adlman as Director of WebLeads, our online lead generation product.

He has a great background for this position, having come to us from the agency Trafficbuyer Digital where he managed lead generation campaigns for companies like Get Smart, Lending Tree, ING and eDiets. In addition to advising clients on every aspect of their program, including offer, creative and media, Evan was focused on tracking the performance of every data source – both on the front end and the back end. He would then make recommendations on adjustments to their buying and steer clients away from problematic data sources. So, in short, Evan “gets it.”

So what does this mean for Return Path, and, more importantly, for Return Path clients? Well, as I see it, Evan’s mission here has three components, all of which directly impact both advertisers who buy leads from us and publishers who make their inventory available on our network.

1. Educating the marketplace: Evan is going to be instrumental in helping me and other members of the team here to spread the word about the successes of online lead generation. He’s also going to be working actively to define the industry best practices of online lead generation to combat lead fraud. This will include active involvement in the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Online Lead Generation Association.

2. Optimizing client programs: Evan will be our in-house expert on online lead generation and will bring his agency experience to Return Path clients to help them create campaigns that are successful from end to end. He’ll help clients think about lead generation holistically so they can shorten the purchase cycle and extend the lifetime value of very lead generated.

3. Developing the next generation of lead generation products: Evan’s main role is product steward for WebLeads. We have some cool new stuff planned – including enhanced targetability, expansion of the network and improved integration between email and web media.

The future of online lead generation is very bright and our investments – both people and technology – are proof that we see tremendous growth in 2008 and beyond.

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