Can a programmatic approach bring efficiency, savings to B2B lead gen?

B2B lead generation is often a time-consuming, manual process. Maybe it’s time to re-think how it’s done.

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Unlike paid media, which is overwhelmingly purchased programmatically today, B2B lead generation remains full of manual processes and hampered by inefficiencies. 

Think about how your organization deploys its B2B marketing tactics.  

Running a paid media campaign is relatively easy for an experienced B2B marketing team. Search ads are efficient, but they’re not often scalable because they’re often targeting bottom-of-the-funnel leads. Display ads are scalable, but they’re often terribly inefficient as you scale. Neither approach requires much, if any, human interaction in a programmatic world.

The next item on many B2B marketing budgets is cost-per-lead (CPL) activation, popularly known as lead gen and often conducted via content syndication. There are a number of options available if you’re interested in purchasing content syndication leads. 

Dig deeper: From efficiency to efficacy: 2024’s B2B marketing revolution

Aggregators vs. publishers

First, you can turn to an aggregator that will take the content assets and market them to a list or to lists from other lead gen providers. Alternatively, you can buy a list of leads and syndicate the content assets yourself via phone or email outreach. But many marketers are put off by what they see as a lack of transparency among aggregators and brokers. 

“I get 50 emails a week from folks trying to sell me lists from events, verticals, competitors, etc. and they are all super spammy feeling,” said Eric Dates, a veteran B2B marketer and a MarTech contributor.  “Though some may actually be legit, I just don’t feel confident taking the risk.”

Despite the low initial costs offered by aggregators and list brokers, there remains work to be done and costs to bear as marketing and sales work the leads. 

“The cost of the purchased lead isn’t just the cost from the lead broker,” said Natalie Jackson, Director of Demand Generation at CBIZ and a MarTech contributor. “There is also the cost of warm up via digital advertising, the cost of one-to-one outreach and the cost of overall brand awareness to that audience in play. It can work, but not in a vacuum.”

In search of transparency and quality, many B2B marketers looking to run content syndication campaigns approach B2B media publishers. And that’s where the inefficiency begins. 

Despite some consolidation in B2B tech media, there are a number of publishers in the B2B space. If you’re looking to compare audience data and CPL pricing, you need to reach out to every publisher you wish to consider. 

Once you choose a publisher and run a campaign, the process of optimizing and making changes is equally manual, often involving outreach to a customer success or service team. And when you add up manual processes, you add up costs. 

The CPL needs to include the cost of each of the people and steps involved in the sales and service of the program. It helps cover the commissions for sales, salaries for customer success reps and the license fees for any platform they use in the process. And don’t forget the markup.

As a result, the cost of a single-touch content syndication lead averages around $50. For more sophisticated programs like BANT or high-quality lead programs offered by many publishers, the CPL can reach as much as $200.

Dig deeper: Redefining ‘leads’ in B2B: Why data enrichment is key for lead gen

A ‘DSP for lead gen’

Karl Van Buren is a B2B media veteran and the co-founder and CEO of Audyence, which launched its real-time demand (RTD) platform on Feb. 5. Van Buren and co-founder Roland Deal want to improve the efficiency and performance of lead gen by taking the best of programmatic paid media and applying it to content syndication leads.

“At agencies, media planners have a center of excellence deploying [programmatic] campaigns for multiple clients,” Van Buren told MarTech. “We are the DSP for lead gen.”

Advertisers running lead gen with Audyence work in one platform, get one invoice and have access to a wide ecosystem of publishers.

“Advertisers have the opportunity to pick and choose publishers and the percentage of their budget they spend with each publisher,” Van Buren said.

The key to successfully bringing the advantages of programmatic to lead gen is, of course, data, which is abundant in the world of programmatic display.

The more data Audyence collects from campaigns running on its RTD platform, the more it can help advertisers optimize campaigns. Van Buren foresees a scenario where the platform eventually makes optimization decisions for the advertisers. 

For now, however, improving efficiency in terms of time and cost is the primary goal. 

After its first full month in beta with agencies and advertisers in verticals like finance, services, enterprise software, healthcare and insurance, Audyence users report CPLs falling 47%, on average, and their campaigns going to market 95% faster than through traditional content syndication and lead generation.

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About the author

Mike Pastore
Staff
Mike Pastore has spent nearly three decades in B2B marketing, as an editor, writer, and marketer. He first wrote about marketing in 1998 for internet.com (later Jupitermedia). He then worked with marketers at some of the best-known brands in B2B tech creating content for marketing campaigns at both Jupitermedia and QuinStreet. Prior to joining Third Door Media as the Editorial Director of the MarTech website, he led demand generation at B2B media company TechnologyAdvice.

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