Lead generation is starting to become interesting again.

I used to really love lead generation – checking the stats, seeing where and how the traffic to our sites was trending from, and trying to figure out how to engage more efficiently with the various inbound traffic groups.

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Then Facebook became a monster of outsized proportions and lead gen was reduced to running ads on FB essentially.  Boring.  Maybe you like looking at FB stats, but they make my eyes glaze over and my attention span bottom out.  I simply cannot get interested in FB advertising any more.

Trends in lead generation are shaping up to be much less focused on social media traffic.

I have a couple of charts here that I wan’t to show you and talk about.  They address a growing trend in traffic, or a diminishing one, depending on the orientation of your glass – away from social media lead generation and back to search, especially mobile search using AMP, which is short for Accelerated Mobile Project.

Parse.ly chart showing external referrals May 2018

Image credit: Parse.ly

 

So it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the big green line is trending ugly over the past year.  I don’t know if people have had enough of social media in general, or just FB in particular, and the Twitter/Pinterest numbers in this chart don’t give us enough data (maybe because there’s not enough traffic there) to go on.

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I’m a bit surprised by the Flipboard numbers, although I was just sitting in bed looking at their app on my iPad the other night wondering if we should potentially give them another look.  Just a thought, and one that you might want to consider when you are sitting in bed with your iPad as well.  Or not.

Is this really a big trend in traffic acquisition?

I think it’s definitely a trend in traffic – we’re talking about a huge drop by volume, and a significant drop by percentages.  The next chart I’m going to talk about, below, is from Chartbeat, and it shows the relative difference in lead generation traffic from Facebook and Google, broken down by mobile and desktop.

 

lead generation traffic sources from Google and Facebook, mobile and desktop

Photo credit: Chartbeat

 

Google’s recent shift in preferences for displaying mobile friendly search results across the entire spectrum of search is starting to show trends when you compare it to both FB mobile and to desktop from either of the two.

Google certainly has the ability to swing the trend lines in nearly any direction, simply based on how the display results are organized and pushed out; however the difference in Google mobile traffic purely versus FB mobile traffic is another indication, like the chart above, that FB, and perhaps all social media, is beginning to suffer from the law of diminishing returns.

Does this mean a pivot back to search engine optimization for lead generation?

I’m going to go with not exactly as my personal answer to this question.  The last chart I’m going to bring into the mix is oriented around Google’s AMP structure and how these pages are being delivered as a priority by Google.

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AMP, if you don’t know it, is specifically designed to generate pages – or versions of pages – that are lightweight, fast loading, and very mobile friendly.  The markup has been around roughly as long as the Facebook Instant Articles or the Apple News format, but Google has the power to push AMP formatted content in a way that neither FB nor Apple can when it comes to reach online.  AMP traffic rose nearly 20% last year as a deliverable to Parse.ly’s referral network, and the network certainly gets enough visitors to be able to quantify the impact.

google AMP traffic vs FB Instant Articles traffic

Photo credit: Parse.ly

Enough with all the pretty pictures! Just tell me what to do!

Haha, calm down.  It’s not that difficult and it’s also pretty easy to get organized to move forward with mobile; if you set it up correctly you can extend your mobile reach in a good way while you incorporate AMP and mobile friendliness into your campaigns.

The first thing to realize is that social is a tool – and a tenuous one at that.  You’re at the mercy of each platform and how they update their terms, policies, etc.  And some of them (err, FB, Twitter, Snap) have gotten so big that they don’t have to really care much about advertisers right now.  That, of course, will change if these charts are still showing such sharp downward trends (or lack of upward trends in some cases) later in the year.

Mobile is not going away – and it’s the best lead generation resource.

You should already be compiling an AMP formatted version of all of your content that qualifies.  If you’re using WordPress then you simply need the AMP plugin and perhaps the Glue from Yoast if you use them for your SEO.  There are strict rules for content formatting in order to be AMP compatible, so you can’t produce anything beyond the plainest of pages – but wow!  – these super plain pages actually look really nice on mobile devices.

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Visitors can actually view and read content delivered in AMP – it’s not full of pop ups, page covering ads, and other distractions.  The formatting is always the same, and it is very easy on the eye.  While it’s a bit restrictive from a purely aesthetic point of view, the sameness of it drives the content into the position of importance, instead of CSS tricks or other fancy things like animation.

Once you’ve made sure your website is both responsive (have to pass the Google mobile friendly test) and that you’re offering an AMP’d version of any of your content that qualifies, then it’s time to take your mobilization one step further.

People respond extremely well to mobile content delivery.

Utilizing mobile to deliver as much of your message as possible is a mission critical item for going forward and seeing successful campaigns and building your business.  Any time you build on top of someone else’s platform – like Facebook or Twitter or eBay or Etsy – you are going to be subject to the whims and policy decisions that are put in place on the platforms.

The alternatives for mobile campaigns are pretty simple – build your own app or leverage another mobile delivery method.  Building your own app, as I have said time and again, is only break even or better if you are in the app building business.

The average SMB will never see the black side of the ink on the costs incurred to build and support a stand alone app.  So that leaves you with finding alternatives that can carry the weight without breaking the bank.  We are pretty partial to using the mobile wallet as more of an advertising platform than a payments platform at the moment – it makes nothing but perfect sense and it’s easy to deploy, simple to update and so cost effective for small business owners that it is crazy, just plain nuts, to not use the technology.

 

Did you hear me say that?  It is just plain nuts to not use the mobile wallet campaign technology to build your business.  Drop me a line if you need some help getting started.