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Posted November 10, 2016
Posted November 10, 2016
As a B2B marketer you’re in the business of generating quality leads. It’s the all consuming holy grail that fuels your daily quest. Your mission is to find the ultimate wellspring of lead generation and bask in the glory of discovering the ultimate, reliable source. Over the years there have been a several options at your disposal for lead generation – some good, some not so good and some downright unethical.
With new artificial intelligence based prospect identification methods coming to the fore, it’s a perfect time to re-evaluate your lead generating methods and how they have served you to date. Are you following the best practices for effective and ethical B2B lead generation?
Customers want to start a relationship based on trust and respect. Here are the hallmarks of an ethical business character:
In the B2B lead generating arena there are clear SEO policies to follow. Rules put forward by the Federal Trade Commission(FTC) and American Bar Association (ABA) are there to ensure that companies are following the same code of ethics. They are the watchdogs ensuring that companies are not telling untruths in their advertising and are handling people’s information ethically. These rules are there to ensure that the user experience takes place in a safe and useful environment.
Recently the ABA changed a few ethics rules with specific regard to online marketing, including lead generation. The changes came about after the Commission on Ethics 20/20 was tasked with studying the impact of technology and globalization on the legal profession in 2009. For example, rule 7.2 says “lawyers may pay for “lead generation” services, including Internet-based client leads, as long as certain safeguards are followed.” (ABA Journal –Lead Generation Addressed) Comments pertaining to the change stated that the lead generator, “should not vouch for the lawyer’s credentials or abilities, nor should it create the impression that it is making the referral without payment, or has determined the appropriate lawyer based on an analysis of the possible client’s legal problems.”
At a recent FTC workshop, current lead generation practices were discussed across five panels. One of the biggest concerns was regarding the the collecting and later distribution of PII (personal identifiable information). There was a huge concern that lead generators were not handling sensitive customer information responsibly. The question was asked, “how is the industry working towards making a unified effort to regulate this?”
(The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair practices in the marketplace.)
Potential customers of lead generation firms want to know if the the leads generated have been sourced ethically. This is why it is fundamental to your business that you are not engaging some fly by night company. B2B Marketers must follow state-by-state guidelines to ensure they are adhering to best practice in their lead generation efforts.
You want to find new ways to connect to your prospect that they will not perceive as aggressive, “spammy” or irrelevant. Email blasting to millions of people does not work. It does not build quality leads or ongoing relationships.
You can use methods like:
There are a range of unethical actions that are currently in play online – actions that risk the health and ranking of your website. Black Hat SEO describes aggressive tactics that focus on search engines and not humans online to drive leads to websites. Some of the familiar techniques incorporate spam comments, keyword stuffing, doorway pages, paid links, page swapping, cloaking and poorly written article spinning. These traffic guzzlers spammers break the rules and are very often associated with affiliate marketing. The risk? Getting your website banned or penalized.
Wearing a SEO marketing white fedora (hat) will see the following best practices observed:
All of the methods mentioned above require a deep knowledge of the customers needs. You do not want to be putting irrelevant content in front of today’s prospects. You want to cater to their needs in real time. That is where fact-based marketing and analytics become your best friend in targeting quality prospect companies and people.
With this technology you can get your perfectly crafted content in front of a targeted prospect when they are in the pre-buying phase. You can send very specific personalized messaging in real time to solve their needs. Its automated and integrated so you do not have to invest action hours. When you send the right content to the most receptive prospect you will see impressive conversion rates while saving resources. It is an effective and ethical best practice as it is targeting people when they are researching so you can reach them in the buying phase.
Never forget the most critical question when assessing your B2B marketing ethical practice: “Would I be suspicious of this offer if it was sent to me?”
Be your own ethical barometer for your B2B marketing best practices.