5 Lead Generation Tactics that Wreck Campaign Performance

By the end of this article, you will realize how your approach to lead generation tactics needs to be tweaked in order to align with the conversion process instead of lead volume.


We’ve all been there—sales are down, and we need to make some strides this quarter. Because not only do we have to hit this quarter’s numbers, but we have to make up for last quarter’s miss. And that means we’re starting from behind.

Enter: Marketing. Sales needs an assist, so whatever we're doing to drive online lead generation, we need to do more of it until we can figure out how to get our close rates up. And no, you can’t have more budget. Didn’t you hear? We missed last quarter’s numbers! Now go get ‘em, slugger.

There are two typical and familiar outcomes:

  1. Marketing struggles to generate online leads without more budget. Sales says they got bad leads, and now we’re down two quarters. Budgets get shifted. Sales people leave. Try again…”but harder.”
  2. Marketing and sales pull together and really swing for the fences. Goals are reached. Sales people get bonuses on top of commissions. (Marketers are told “good job”...maybe.) Now do it again for the upcoming quarter, and wait, what, you say you need more budget? (The answer is, “No.”)

When sales are down and business is in a tough spot, marketers are often forced to utilize some lead generation tactical hacks...and some are guaranteed to hurt your future opportunities. Here are the top 5 harmful hacks, along with a different approach to increase performance (in the short term!) without sabotaging long-term success:

1. They Turn to Broad-Match Keywords

How does that tactic hurt lead generation in the long run?

This is the old “let’s cast a wider net of even more unqualified prospects and see what happens...” tactic.

Academically, it means that your ads are running on irrelevant search terms, or at the very least on search terms that have no indication of intent.

Financially, that means that you’re spending money on traffic that will never convert. But hey, you got (cheaper) traffic to your site up, so...#winning, right? No.

What is a different approach?

Optimize the time of day that ads are running. By optimizing time of day, you can increase the number of views during your peak times and save budget during the "off hours." If you’re already on a reduced budget that has you operating on a limited time frame, pause ads running to all but your top 5-10 keywords—or as many as it takes to max out your impression share on top-performing ads.

But you don’t want to stick with this strategy for long—you’re losing campaign momentum every time you hit “pause” and “unpause.” Digital campaigns are like gas mileage: you go much further on the same tank of gas when you’re cruising consistently down a highway instead of starting and stopping every block as you drive through town.

2. They Double Their Social Media Posting Frequency

How does that tactic hurt lead generation in the long run?

Posting more on social media is a thing you can do, but doing it without a purpose or strategy is more noise. You push your audience to unfollow. Your posts become more spammy as your social media manager feels the need to drive more leads. And companies invariably start talking more and more about themselves, and less and less about the people reading their posts.

What is a different approach?

From a B2B perspective, you should instead talk to the sales team, and get a rundown of exactly what challenges customers were trying to solve last quarter when they bought your product or service. Then start talking about those challenges (not the clients) and how they can solve their challenges with your offering.

In short, get relevant, not verbose.

3. They Email the Same Messages to Everyone in Their Database...Twice a Day

How does that tactic hurt lead generation in the long run?

Unsubscribes, spam complaints, DNS blacklisting, opportunity cost, the right audience gets the wrong message, which means you get no money… You understand.

What is a different approach?

This is where you’re going to duplicate the social media strategy, in a format for email. Keep your lists segmented, and address what’s relevant to making the problems they faced today much easier tomorrow.

4. They Buy Email Lists

How does that tactic hurt lead generation in the long run?

Email service providers are now putting out “Trojan email addresses” that can only wind up in a list-buy, which means that if you send an email to that Trojan address, then you immediately get blacklisted. And once you’re blacklisted, you can’t email anyone, period. And what’s the return you could get from muddying your brand and sending emails to people who don’t want to hear from you? The potential for a lead, yes; and when was the last time that sales closed a lead that came from a list buy?

What is a different approach?

Rather than emailing new people, consider a re-engagement campaign to leads that said “No” 6+ months ago. Maybe it was not a good time then, but it could be now. You have a list of people who have given you permission to reach out to them, and they have already identified themselves as having a need.

5. They Partner with Programmatic Companies that Can’t Convert

How does that tactic hurt lead generation in the long run?

Programmatic can be great for awareness. You’ll get plenty of clicks to your website, and a portion of that audience might return in the coming months with more intent. But the traffic is generally unqualified, which does not solve your problem this quarter.

What is a different approach?

You need people who are further down their customer journey than programmatic tends to provide. Retargeting gets you to the people who have already visited your site. Lookalike audiences give you a more targeted cross-section of the market than programmatic buying can guess at.

6. Bonus: Focus on upselling your current clients

This is a sales tactic, but it’s one that often gets overlooked. Your most qualified audience is the audience that has already bought from you. If the sales team, or customer success team, would like marketing’s help here, then you may want to consider a few of the following tactics:

  1. Hosting customer events
  2. Creating an upsell email nurture series
  3. Conducting customer satisfaction surveys

The Possibilities Are Endless

These are just a few of the ways marketers get in hot water; and the solutions you’ve read here are a small sample of the myriad options available to you to drive more activity on the same budget. What you should take from this article is that different is better than “better.” What are you going to do that’s different from your current methods in order to get results that are different from what you’re getting today?

Rogue's ROI Bundle is full of templates and tools to help you avoid pitfalls and measure what matters.

You have to go beyond “hacking” to get what you need; you have to go rogue, and step away from the tried and true. If you need any help with that, there’s a bunch of Rogue marketers who have walked this road many times. We’d love to show you the way.