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Real-time visibility – how APIs provide the missing link for financial services lead generation

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It has been widely reported that digital transformation accelerated rapidly during the last two years. (opens in new tab) However, this has usually involved digitising back and front office processes as wide-ranging as manufacturing and payroll (opens in new tab). But are sales and marketing (opens in new tab) departments falling behind the digital maturity curve with their disconnected legacy systems?

Recent industry research shows 43% of sales and marketing executives cite “lack of accurate/shared data on target accounts and prospects (opens in new tab)” as the biggest challenge when it comes to aligning sales and marketing departments. 

In fact, 90% of sales and marketing professionals point to multiple disconnects across strategy, process, content, and culture.

Lead buying and selling in financial services is ripe for digital change

Lead buying sits at the heart of sales and marketing strategies (opens in new tab), particularly in financial services, and would certainly benefit from its own digital transformation – especially in light of this departmental disconnect. 

It’s also important to note that lead buying is an industry in need of better transparency and oversight over seller credentials. It’s here where digital lead gen platforms, using API (opens in new tab) integration, can harness multiple information streams to provide a two-way bridge between lead sellers and buyers.

Greater integration will underpin three key benefits for lead gen operations – lead certainty, marketing agility and compliance:

1. Certainty: Legitimate sellers can clean up their act with real-time lead certification

Firstly, embracing API-based integration of existing systems provides a wealth of opportunities for marketers to benefit from features such as lead certification in real-time to protect brand integrity. 

By integrating into a digital lead generation and compliance platform, every seller has to certify all of their all of their landing pages and forms, and work with the lead buying platform to generate data certificates.

These are then transferred to the buyer with the lead data. Each certificate can be labelled with a unique URL, which can be stored in a CRM system or database. 

As certificates are generated, the lead generation and compliance platform analyses the journey and triggers alerts in real-time which notifies buyers when data rules are breached, bot activity is uncovered or when suspicious duplicate or fraud-like behaviour is detected.

An always-on platform also benefits legitimate sellers – when errors are flagged, they can quickly remove any fake leads or follow up genuine leads which may contain inaccurate information.

2. Agility: Buyers can action leads in real-time

There are also speed and efficiency benefits to this integrated approach for lead buyers – including faster sales team outreach at the earliest possible stage of the customer journey. 

The greater transparency provided by an end-to-end digital lead generation platform allows organisations to intelligently monitor, analyse and action lead flow. Real-time notifications can immediately alert sales personnel of an active and legitimate enquiry – and this will translate into more conversions.

Consider one of the most influential pieces of research into online sales leads in the last decade, from the Harvard Business Review. The study found the average online lead response time was 42 hours. 

However, firms that tried to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving a query were nearly seven times as likely to qualify the lead as those that tried to contact the customer even an hour later – and more than 60 times as likely as companies that waited 24 hours or longer. There is significant value to be gained with instant alerts and prompt sales follow-up.

3. Compliance: A transparent and secure marketplace for lead generation

Lead buying and selling is a marketplace under increasing scrutiny from a combination of both internet search providers and regulatory bodies, particularly in highly regulated industries such as financial services. Previously, lack of compliance tooling and industry coordination has meant it's historically been difficult to tackle problem lead sellers.

But from August 30 2021, all Google financial advertisers have had to demonstrate they are authorised by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Advertisers will require an FCA number and be directly authorised by the FCA or become an appointed rep of another directly authorised business.

A key part of a third-party lead generation and compliance platform is that any lead generation company that wants to sell leads to a financial services provider must integrate into the third-party platform and meet its compliance criteria. 

When consumer details have been sent from the lead gen company, the platform can provide ‘data receipts’ to the buyer that prove conclusively how a consumer was advertised to and if they gave their consent to be contacted. Any financial services or intermediary firm using the platform will know whether the advert the consumer has seen is legitimate or not.

APIs create a new lead generation ecosystem

Many financial services sales and marketing processes are ripe for digitisation, and lead buying and selling is one area which can significantly benefit from increased digitisation and integration. 

Only by relying on APIs to link the buying and selling process into a single lead generation and compliance platform can financial services firms reap the benefits of greater lead certainty, agility and compliance – while also better aligning sales and marketing teams.

Alain Desmier is Managing Director at Contact State (opens in new tab).

Alain Desmier
Alain Desmier

Alain Desmier is Founder and Managing Director of Contact State, a RegTech business transforming European lead generation through online digital certification. Contact State's 'Certify' product is the industry standard for lead generation buyers in the UK and Contact State works with a number of well-known financial services brands and lead generation businesses. Alain previously co-founded and scaled the British lead generation agency, E-Finity Leads and the business grew from a bootstrapped startup to £10m in annual sales and was sold to private equity. Alain started his career with LeadPoint Inc, and draws on a wealth of online experience in financial services marketing in Europe and the US.