B2B marketers rushing to acquire mass leads at the cheapest price have led to a commodity market and the proliferation of disreputable lead generation vendors. In turn, this has created a toxic environment for brand reputation and trust.

According to a CMO Council report titled, Are Garbage Leads Trashing Your Brand?, marketers are now rethinking their lead generation strategies, techniques and sources to ensure better lead compliance and brand trust.

New demands on marketing accountability and responsibility require structured, opt-in, permission-based and legally compliant processes from third-party lead generation providers.

In other words, marketers want to bring a higher level of compliance to lead marketing science for targeted leads, says the CMO Council, which is a global network of 16 000 marketing leaders controlling nearly a trillion Dollars in aggregated annual spend.

The new report looks at the growing use of low-cost, unverified leads from questionable, offshore, commodity list providers and the risks that this carries for B2B brands. The report helps marketers assess lead generation vendors and to determine lead quality — thanks to insights from in-depth interviews with IBM, Medallia, Pitney Bowes, ServiceMax, Eplexity and Digimarc.

Some of the interviewees' key insights include:
  • High-quality or medium-quality leads tend to convert 20 times more than low-quality leads.
  • The Lead Council found that 47.1% of marketers believe lead quality from third-party lead generation campaigns is declining, partly due to leads being oversold and provisioned through an unethical lead collection.
  • Examples of questions to ask a lead generation vendor, such as: Are you Privacy Shield Certified? Do you have a Security Incident Response Policy? Can you show lead authenticity?
"Unqualified, unreceptive customer targets from dubious lead merchants scraping Internet channels and communities speak loudly about the brand," notes Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council. "Angry, hounded people will express their displeasure over social networks with co-workers, at conferences, in emails and over review sites."

Marketers can ferret bad marketers out by asking hard questions and looking for telltale signs, the report says. Researching a lead generation vendor's website popularity, for instance, sheds light on the validity of its database.

On lead quality, marketers can employ a number of tactics, ranging from a sales and marketing "buddy system" to artificial intelligence in lead scoring. By focusing on lead quality, marketers reduce the number of irate customer targets assailing the brand, which has become prevalent in a quantity-leads strategy.

"Don't ever risk your brand reputation. At the end of the day, your demand generation impacts your brand reputation," says Craig Stacey, recent VP of marketing and demand generation at McKesson. "That always has to be a mandatory guiding principle in the choices you make."

The report is now available from the CMO Council here

For more information, visit www.cmocouncil.org. You can also follow the CMO Council on Twitter.