Monthly Archives: July 2018

As we grow and succeed as a business, we believe it’s important to help others do the same. That’s why we’re on a mission to raise £10,000 to support the NSPCC’s fight for change.

At the beginning of the year, having identified NSPCC as our chosen charity, we lined up a series of challenges and fundraising initiatives to help us reach our target. The first was the Virgin Money London Marathon in April, which Anton Hanley and Ed Whelan completed in soaring temperatures – a brilliant achievement and one that got our fundraising started.

Our next challenge takes place this weekend, with Anton and Ed being joined by three other members of the TLA team – Abel Paz, Tom White and Joshua Duxbury – to take part in Man v Lakes, also known as the Rat Race.

Gruelling… but fun

Man v Lakes is a gruelling (but hopefully fun) 28-mile race through the Lake District, complete with a 4200 ft ascent, that is sure to push the team to their physical limits. It involves running across quicksands and through mountainous terrain and forests; immersing themselves in the Lake with short wades, swims, slides and jumps; and tackling a floating assault course – and that’s just for starters!

With two other members of the team, Antony Neill and Neil Cosgrove, in support roles, this will be a great team effort and one that can have a huge impact on the lives of others if it helps us reach our fundraising goal.

If you would like to support our NSPCC mission with a donation, you can do so through our Virgin Money Giving page and the whole team will be immensely grateful.

London to Paris

In addition to the Marathon and Rat Race, members of the TLA team and friends will be taking part in a London-to-Paris Cycle in September – a 165-mile, three-day journey that will begin at the Marble Arch and conclude at the Arc de Triomphe.

The line up for the cycle is: Steve McCann (I AM Impact); Alban Treglohan and Chris Langley (both PHD); Jess Douce and Jamie Kirk (both JLR); and Anton Hanley, Tom White, Ed Clark, Abel Paz, Neil Cosgrove, Ed Whelan, Michael Fitzsimmons, Stephen Pammenter and James McDowall (all TLA).

Fundraising for Change.

Acquiring the Driving Generation: 8 important stats about millennial new car buyers

Within two years, 40% of new car purchases will be made by millennials – a generation of early adopters and natives of the digital world.

As competition for market share in the new car market remains fierce, engaging this lucrative audience is vital for advertisers and agencies.

So, who are they and how do we reach them?

For starters, let’s clarify who we’re talking about. Millennials – or Generation Y, as they are also known – refers to people born between 1980 and 1996 (give or take two or three years depending on your source). They follow Generation X (1965-1976) and baby boomers (1946-1964) and precede Generate Z (1997 to present day).

The Driving Generation

Millennials are becoming known in the industry as ‘the driving generation’.

According to a study by MTV, millennials drive 72% more miles than baby boomers, and 18% more than Gen X. Spending longer on the road is perhaps why millennials are reported to have little interest in ‘flashy’ cars, but instead are in market for reliability and practicality.

Compared to baby boomers, millennials tend to take longer to decide on what car to buy, an average of 15.7 vs 16.9 weeks. The Gen Y/millennial consumer also considers a wider range of vehicles during their research. This suggests that their decision is malleable and can therefore be influenced, if approached at the right time during their buying journey, to ultimately find the car that is right for them.

Despite the lengthier period in market, millennials are keen for convenience. This generation grew up in a time when convenience was emphasised, whether that be via increased digitalisation, technological advances or innovation – simplification and convenience is a consistent theme.

What do your millennial consumers expect?

Millennials have grown up in a world of choice-paralysis. Numerous products from numerous companies and numerous ways of paying for them.

Ultimately, because of their wide range of options, it is essential to guide your millennial consumer along the right path and ensure that the process is as simple, easy and accessible as possible.

Quality of service and products are of high importance to millennial consumers. With the rapid speed of online connectivity, news can travel fast. Thus, meaning that despite how long it may have taken to build it up, brand reputation can be crushed quickly, and perhaps unjustly, due to poor customer experience during the buying phase.

The typical millennial car buyer expects a transparent approach to business proceedings. Clarity of information requests and honesty is important to consumers during a high-stake, high-expense purchase, such as buying a car. The consumer expects a good standard of customer service, and failing that, a quick response to minimise disappointment and rectify any issues.

The growth of digitalisation

Third-party sites are the most commonly-used platforms for automotive shopping, with 78% of shoppers using them as part of their search.

Furthermore, 88% of millennials take to the internet to research their car purchase. Exploring the reliability and practicality of cars is much more accessible and easier when done at the click of a mouse, with the immediate response of a chatbot.

The growth of digitalisation and connectivity has also allowed social media platforms and innovative technology to form an empowered generation of new customers. Millennials are demanding cars that are stylish and practical, with adequate tech features that will help them to stay connected.

This audience has grown up in an age where technology continues to improve at a rapid rate. They are, as a result, quick to embrace digital innovation, giving a distinct advantage to brands that lead the way.

Ultimately, there are big opportunities for advertisers and agencies that can meet millennials’ technological expectations and provide a credible, transparent and quality service.

Communicating with millennials

With 59% of millennials following a brand on social media before purchasing a product, and 81% viewing their twitter account daily, it’s a sure indicator that social media is one of the most effective platforms for targeting millennials. It therefore comes as no surprise that millennials are twice more likely as any other generation to turn to social, rather than phone or email, when communicating with a brand.

It’s clear that millennials prefer to engage online, whether that’s via social media or digital messengers, such as chatbots. When it comes to chatbots, 60% of millennials have used them, 70% of those report positive experiences, and of the millennials who have not used them, more than half say they are interested in using them. Chatbots link seamlessly with millennials’ expectations, bringing instant gratification, conversational engagement, digital connectivity, and convenience.

Through pioneering the use of innovative tech and intelligent targeting through popular digital channels, we can target the consumer with the right message at the right time. By adapting the wording and approach based on the consumer, website they are visiting and product of interest, we can tap into the buying journey of the millennial car buyer.

8 stats you need to know about millennial new car buyers

  1. By 2020, 40% of new car buyers will be millennials (Brandwatch)
  2. Millennials drive 72% more than Baby Boomers, and 18% more than Gen X (Advantage Tec)
  3. Millennials tend to take longer to decide what car to buy, an average of 16.9 vs 15.7 weeks compared to Baby Boomers (V12 Data)
  4. 88% of millennials use the internet during the research and shopping process when buying a car (Brandwatch)
  5. 56% of millennials say they would rather clean their homes than negotiate with a car dealer (V12 Data)
  6. 59% of millennials follow a brand on social media before purchasing a product (SproutSocial)
  7. 81% of millennials view their twitter account daily (SproutSocial)
  8. 60% of millennials have used chatbots, 70% of those report positive experiences, and of the millennials who have not used them, more than half say they are interested in using them. (Forbes)

Learn more about how our technology has made us a market leader in digital customer acquisition.


Life at The Lead Agency: Meet Software Developer Shannon Miller

Shannon Miller joined The Lead Agency four years ago, whilst completing her studies at Liverpool John Moores University, before joining us full-time as a Software Developer.

Here, she gives us an insight into her time at The Lead Agency so far…

What lead you to your role here at The Lead Agency?

I first started working here during my placement year whilst I was studying Software Development. Having spent a whole year in a corporate environment, it meant that I had a great advantage going into my final year at University as I had lots of new skills and a real understanding of software development.

What sort of responsibilities are involved in your role?

I work in the platform team, so our responsibilities are mainly to do with improving and maintaining the back-end systems, such as dealing with the call centre systems, and CRM amongst many other responsibilities.

How would you describe working within the platform team?

Everyone is super helpful – if you’ve got any questions people are more than willing to help you out.

We dedicate lots of our time to making sure that things are done properly and on-time. Everything we work on is vital to the smooth-running of our business, so the pressure is on to minimise risks. There’s some late nights and early mornings to do that but there’s always someone on-hand to help you out, even from out of office!

What project(s) are you currently working on?

At this moment, I’m working on the CRM which will be used across the entire company, from field sales down in London, to campaigns, processing and the call centre. Working on the CRM system has been one of our key focal points recently as it’s the main central system that the company is looking to use.

How would you describe the culture at TLA?

Even though we are busy, there’s always a nice and relaxed atmosphere. There’s also a great social side within the company, especially when we finish on a Friday.

I get involved in the free personal training sessions every Tuesday and there’s always other fun activities going on, such as Cake Friday at the end of the month and various charity events!

Which aspects of your role, or working at TLA, in general do you love the most?

Within our team, the day-to-day work is always different – one minute we might be working on a project and then fixing bugs the next. We have so many systems that we’re constantly switching between, so it makes my role extremely varied and fun.

There’s always new technology coming out that we’re open to trying and so we’re always learning new skills. If there’s something that you specifically want to work on, our managers are always willing to help us learn and incorporate the new technology to improve our current systems.

How would you sum up your experience at TLA so far?

Really positive! I’ve learnt mostly everything I know about software development from working at The Lead Agency and made some great friends along the way too.

Would you have any advice for someone who is starting their career as a developer?

Just be open to trying new things. When I first arrived at TLA I was expecting to become a web developer, but I ended up working on different projects and embraced the challenges and opportunities that I was given, and I’ve really enjoyed it.

We’re hiring! To find out more about our career opportunities, visit our careers page.

The Age of Transparency: How consumer attitudes have changed, and why brands must do the same

From GDPR to social media, the world of information has changed. And so too have consumer attitudes, with increased awareness and interest in data protection, ethical behaviour and transparency.

GDPR, the most recent and highly-publicised change, has perforated the public consciousness as well as the business community. Consumers are now more aware and therefore more cautious over how their data is being used than ever before.

The new regulation was put in place to ensure a higher standard of consumer consent. Yet, despite the heavily publicised lead up, it was reported that 60% of EU businesses were still unprepared for GDPR when it came into effect on 25th May.

However, the shift in consumer attitudes goes far beyond GDPR compliance. Consumers now want and even expect businesses to be transparent about their intentions across the full spectrum of business activities.

Transparency, consent, authenticity and trust are central to affirming all-important long-lasting brand relationships but they remain a challenge for many organisations. A study carried out by measurement and analytics firm Integral Ad Science (IAS) revealed that 56% of senior marketing professionals cite transparency as a key concern in their advertising.

Transparency in marketing

There are many customer touchpoints throughout a consumer’s buying journey. Understanding and improving the points can enhance user and customer journey mapping. Yet, each one brings about greater risks for businesses if their intentions are unclear.

As our head of performance marketing Paul Court argues, “understanding all customer touchpoints and ensuring that compliant and transparent activity is consistently demonstrated will lead to stronger results”.

Social media is a great example with sites such as Instagram and Twitter allowing for direct contact to be made between a consumer and a company. Consumers can even go so far as connecting with company directors (if they so wish), thus demonstrating an even higher level of openness, transparency and cultural awareness.

Transparency in culture

But transparency is not a tactic to help companies attract consumers. Authenticity is key and that must ultimately come from within – a company’s core values and culture.

According to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) 2016 Work and Well-Being Survey, only 51% of respondents feel their values match their employer. Failure to be clear and ethical in business proceedings has a negative effect on staff, leading to decision-making that can damage the external brand image.

A company’s core values should be in harmony with not only their staff but with their consumers’ attitudes, cementing a clear and mutual understanding of honest and ethical proceedings.

Transparency in data

Considering all of this, GDPR should not be viewed as a blocker, but as an opportunity to affirm the relationship between your brand and your consumers. Transparent companies will be able to disclose the fair and ethical reasons behind their regulatory processes, building trust in the process.

Research carried out by Forbes showed that when a company uses data in a relevant way and can be trusted, the customer is more willing to share their data. Offering reassurance and providing customers with the real reasons behind information requests online will therefore nurture the brand-customer relationship.

The assistance of third-party companies in that endeavour, whether that be in lead generation or other parts of the business, must be founded upon responsible and ethical practices. Partners must be committed to putting transparency at the forefront of their business proceedings to ensure that the delicate trust between brand and consumer can be strengthened even further.

To learn more about our transparent approach, read what ASE Global had to say about our GDPR compliant leads.

Automotive News Round-up – 11 July

The automotive industry is an ever-evolving industry thanks to challenging economic conditions, emerging innovative technologies and new generations of car buyers.

We’ve identified four automotive news stories this month that highlight some of the key challenges and changes being faced, with insights from industry experts on how automotive brands and their suppliers can adapt.

  1. Why car brands need to adopt customer-focused digital KPIsAM Online looks at the key findings from a Frost & Sullivan’s Intelligent Mobility event.
  2. Government plan to cut emissions gets mixed responseCar Dealer Magazine speaks to motoring groups about the Government’s plans to reduce emissions.
  3. World Cup of car manufacturingThe Telegraph compares the beautiful game with automotive prowess as it reviews which countries are the world champions of car manufacturing .
  4. Five original automotive campaigns driven by unconventional thinking – Get inspired with some of the latest creative work from the automotive industry, as chosen by The Drum.

Written a piece of content you’d like us to share? Let us know.

Leveraging the latest tech for digital customer acquisition

The digital marketing world evolves at a fantastic rate with new concepts and ideas appearing every month from established players and start-ups.

The proliferation of software as a service (SAAS) tooling has enabled non-technical staff to quickly establish live digital campaigns and acquire customers for your business – but this only touches the surface of what is possible.

The evolution of SAAS

For, behind the scenes, the world of technical development is also changing just as rapidly. There has been a gradual split in recent years with large tech-focused corporates like IBM, Microsoft, Google et al. accelerating away from the rest of the field in terms of newer technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence etc. Smaller companies could never hope to keep up with the levels of focused resource these businesses are able to throw at such major challenges.

But do they need to? The mighty tech giants provide access to all this technology via APIs, with microservices providing specific elements ready for the developer to build with.

This is the evolution of SAAS in that rather than taking a fixed system as a service, developers can take every micro-function as a service and simply pay as they go for what they consume.

Combining the building blocks

This approach spans across a range of fields so includes future giants like Twilio who provide use of multichannel contact functionality via API.

As a developer, you can now quickly create a system that takes in a message from phone, SMS, Facebook messenger and so on, understands the semantics of that message using AI natural language processing engines and then elicits a response based upon your own business logic. Just for good measure, you could throw in calls to a machine learning service to have the system learn how to do a better job next time around!

So, developers are being provided with ever more complex building blocks and their job is to combine these in unique ways with their own business specific code to create something new. This evolution has been ongoing for many years, starting with development of reusable components then through a proliferation of more complete development frameworks, which saved ‘rebuilding the wheel’ and allowed more focus on bespoke elements.

These more recent and highly-advanced service-based components are a game changer though, providing access to highly complex functionality your average developer or dev team could never build.

Advancing targeting intelligence

These advances break down barriers and create massive opportunity for those that have development resource that can make use of them. At the Lead Agency, we are focused on just this and have a long list of R&D projects continuously running alongside the ‘business as usual’ to look at how we can adapt such advances into our world.

It is such projects that give us the edge in digital customer acquisition. They allow us to target consumers in ever more intelligent ways, ensuring we present them with the right message at the right time in their buying journey. They help us find consumers in places others might not select for targeting and then change the ways we engage with them.

It is the use and shaping of such technology that provides us with the ability to create campaigns you can’t run through ‘off-the-shelf’ marketing tools.

Evolution of customer acquisition

There are numerous examples of TLA projects run over the past 12 months that have utilised these technological advances to change the way we work.

We’ve always run our own independent websites which allow us to target and attract in-market consumers using a variety of approaches. This year saw a significant addition to our capability with the launch of our publisher performance marketing system – a tool that enables us to run our performance-based marketing campaigns on third-party publisher websites, bringing a new revenue stream to them and allowing us to increase our consumer reach.

Our technology captures page context and, using our specific vertical knowledge, converts this into product data, thereby gaining product-based page context rather than simply keyword level data. With this level of understanding we can then utilise both our own and additional datasets to understand the type of consumer we are dealing with, the competitor model set, product options and current sales trends.

We then anonymously attempt to track the consumer across website pages, building a picture of their product interest which we use to determine buying cycle stage.

For instance, in the automotive space, if a consumer is reading reviews on a range of vehicles within the same sector, we will most likely consider them to be early in the buying cycle and therefore most likely to engage with a car brochure call to action. As they progress on their journey, the range of vehicles would be expected to decrease and this information can determine when best to target them with test drives or price-based adverts.

The ultimate aim is to ensure we present a consumer with the right message at the right time, adapting the wording and approach based on the consumer, website they are visiting and product of interest.

Working across a network of mainstream publishers, we are able to reach more consumers and, combined with intelligent targeting, generate incremental consumer enquiries.  Our internal validation and qualification processes then convert the most relevant consumer enquiries into sales leads for our clients.

This system currently uses a range of API-based software products to enhance its function and we are currently setting up a project with a technology-focused University to advance the machine learning aspect within it.

Bots and further automation

Another technology we’ve invested in is automated bots; our hypothesis being that if we can engage consumers in online conversation, we believe we can do a better job of converting them into an enquiry.

It is still early days for bot technology and we’re not quite at the point of allowing free-flow conversation, but the bot approach does open up opportunities and leads us towards speech-based interaction in future. Our existing bots are powered with vehicle, pricing and dealership datasets and able to offer a range of services to our consumers using a more engaging approach. Again, these rely on AI natural language processing (NLP) services provided by the likes of Microsoft and IBM.

We also utilise third-party software services within internal and client facing systems, whether for data validation, provision of our contact centre technology or even our client facing systems that provide real-time data insights and lead audit capability – all part of our customer acquisition platform.

So, what’s next? Well, for The Lead Agency and other tech-focused businesses: fantastic opportunities to combine the latest building blocks with business specific expertise and data to create more industry leading technology. Welcome to the world of XAAS (Everything as a service)!

Written by Ed Clark, chief technology officer at The Lead Agency

Contact us to discuss how your customer acquisition campaigns can benefit from new technology.