How Facebook Is Making It Easier to Generate Sales Leads Among Mobile Phone Users

Land Rover gets results

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Filling out forms is a cringe-worthy chore for most people. And that's why lead-generation marketing—the art and science of getting consumers to take five or 10 minutes to write up or type out personal information—has always been a tough gig. But it is even harder in an era when so much media consumption occurs on smartphones, which typically have small screens and keyboards.

Facebook may have a mobile-minded ad unit to make the job easier for folks in the lead-gen field, which generally consists of the automotive, insurance, educational, medical and credit card industries. The social network today is announcing the wide availability of Lead Ads, a product that has been in beta since late June. After being tested by brands such as Land Rover, it is now available to marketers worldwide in 30 different languages.

It entails a two-click process, where consumers tap an ad button and then agree to submit their auto-filled name and email address or phone number to get a quote, a follow-up sales call or the like. Such personal information is already part of Facebook users' profiles, enabling the easy second step. (At the same time, people can edit their contact information before submitting the form.)          


Email marketers, in particular, should find the list-building possibilities intriguing. As evidenced in the image above, a car marketer can add a third step to clarify when the auto shopper plans to make a purchase.

"It takes less than 10 seconds," said Paresh Rajwat, product management for feed monetization at Facebook.

Land Rover used A/B testing recently to see how the Facebook ads perform across devices. 

Kim Kyaw, digital marketing and social media manager at the car manufacturer, said that "Facebook's native lead ads outperformed link ads driving [people] to the website to fill out a lead form in terms of total leads and conversion rate, while driving a [quadrupled] reduction in cost per lead compared to previous social lead generation tactics."

Rajwat said such test marketers have seen leads volume increase between two and four times thanks to the ad unit, with cost-per-lead rates dropping by 60 percent in some cases. His team spent eight months building Lead Ads, which should include video capabilities before the end of November and Facebook's carousel feature sometime in the weeks thereafter.

"We started out building an ad and ended up building a complete solution," Rajwat said, adding that, data-wise, Lead Ads includes the custom and look-alike audience targeting that Facebook has offered for many months.

The Menlo Park, Calif.-based tech giant has partnered with customer relationship management technology providers Salesforce, Marketo, Eloqua and others to let Lead Ads marketers who use such vendors automatically feed their leads into their database systems. In addition, advertisers with a Facebook pixel on their proprietary Web channels can retarget their site visitors on Facebook with a promo, as well as measure conversion rates for actions like sales after the lead ad form is filled out. 

Alexi Venneri, CEO of Digital Air Strike, which serves automotive clients, suggested that Lead Ads hold promise. "Adding in lead capture increases the value of the ads to our clients—as anything that makes it easier for consumers to share their information is always a win for businesses," she said.

Coincidentally, another major social media platform, LinkedIn, also unveiled a product upgrade for salespeople today called the Social Selling Index. The index assigns an individual score from one through 100 based on how effective a sales rep is at establishing the company's brand, finding leads with data, and building relationships. 

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.