Beware the Secret Sauce

If you’re a lead buyer then you’ve probably heard the term ‘secret sauce’ from one of your lead generators and if you are a lead seller, the chances are you have been tempted to use the term at some point to describe your marketing methods. 

Now I am not about to criticise workplace and industry jargon, who doesn’t love to ‘reach out’, ‘circle back’ and ‘throw some sh!t at the wall’ - I’m getting carried away - but one term I would like to consign to the office shredder is ‘secret sauce’. 
Lead generation companies promising high intent converting leads have existed as long as the companies who buy their leads. Whether it be financial advice, home improvement services, new car sales or any other professional service, all kinds of different businesses have looked to marketing professionals and lead generators to provide qualified sales prospects to help grow their business.  

Like everything else, marketing methods have moved with the times and as the Internet age began, traditional lead generation methods such as door to door surveys and cold calling (thankfully) gave way to what promised to be a new era of lead generation: real-time online leads delivered straight to your inbox (pre-API era). It sounded too good to be true and in many cases it was. Throughout the early 2000’s, the 2010’s and now in the 2020’s online lead generation has enjoyed/endured a chequered reputation as countless marketing companies sprung into life promising the best leads that money could buy.  

There were many good companies out there but also many bad ones and the lead buying landscape was a very different place to what it is today. When I joined a Silicon Valley backed online lead generation start-up in 2007, the term ‘secret sauce’ was part of the training manual and our lead buyers were almost comforted by the reassuring term, blindly placing their trust in their chosen lead generation partners to deliver what they promised.  

Groundbreaking online lead generation businesses such as Leadbay, LeadPoint and Finance Leads Online pioneered the eBay style blind marketplace model, building extremely successful and valuable businesses selling thousands of leads to financial services businesses of great reputation who had no idea on what website their leads were applying on, let alone the marketing methods used to get them there.  

The sands of time have shifted again and in the past 5 years there has been a significant move towards transparency and partnership between lead generators and lead buyers. The best digital marketing campaigns are now collaborative affairs with experienced lead buyers and sellers working together to improve outcomes and ensure a positive experience for the consumer. 

So if the secret sauce has expired, what now are the key ingredients for a successful lead generation campaign in the modern Internet era? 

  1. Certified transparency: Independent third party data certification provides oversight on the customer journey, enabling lead buyers to know with absolute certainty what website landing page a lead has applied on. 
  2. Simple Technology integration: Integrating with multiple partners for lead delivery and feedback data sharing is complicated and costly. Lead buyers can save time and money by adopting a single API to cover all their integration needs. It’s quick, efficient and enables lead buyers to focus their sales process.  
  3. Real time feedback data sharing: Sharing outcomes on lead data is the single biggest driver for improving lead performance. Shared in real time via API makes it even more compelling as sophisticated sellers can feed the data directly into their marketing campaigns to optimise performance and drive ROI. 

There are of course still some bad apples in the barrel and a successful lead generation campaign is not an exact science, but transparency, trust and collaboration between lead generators and lead buyers is delivering greater results for all involved, not least the consumer at the heart of each lead. That is why I now say with passion, beware the secret sauce.  

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