by Gareth Mountain. Lead generation is constantly evolving and, with the Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act set for implementation, big changes are around the corner. So, what to expect for the industry?

As in 2017, the lead-generation industry is continuing to prove itself as a highly successful marketing method, especially for the right products. Lead generation provides clients not only with a solid return on investment but also improved growth during difficult times. That said, it needs to be done correctly, and not many companies spend enough time on honing campaigns.


Looking at the lead generation locally, SMS marketing still dominates and remains a key channel to reach the mass market in South Africa. The volume behind SMS campaigns makes this a predictable option, offering not only a massive reach but also the ability to geo-target campaigns or segment it according to demographics.


It is in the email space where most of the action is, where lead-generation software is improving significantly. Importantly, there is software that now measures ROI in real time, while machine learning is also making an appearance here, with, for example, algorithms improving data segmentation. This will play a big part in lowering marketing costs for companies, alongside the ability to automatically manage delivery failures. The latter tracks incorrect email addresses and excludes them on future campaigns so that companies don’t get charged when sending them.

New email products are continuing to emerge, designed to gather more leads and, at the same time, drive down acquisition costs. Two worth mentioning are Read2Lead, and Click2Call. Read2Lead provides a soft-call from a call centre agent after a customer clicks on a specific article in an email campaign, eg “Short term insurance during the holiday season”. Those who hate completing webforms online to get someone from the company to phone them should take note of Click2Call. A link in the marketing email simply directs the interested party to a “Thank you” page, with a call-centre agent having received the instructions to initiate a call.

Call centres

The one to watch, especially with PoPI looming, is call-centre marketing, or outbound as it is also called. Set to flourish, the segment employs a significant amount of people locally, and this is perhaps one of the reasons why PoPI seems to be more lenient when it comes to outbound calls, compared to electronic marketing methods.

On the one hand, companies are allowed one outbound call to a person, through which they must require opt-in to allow further calls. On the other hand, electronic channels such as SMS and email will require explicit opt-in from the get-go from those being marketed to, and this is set to impact lead generation in a number of ways.

The significant impact of PoPI

First, the cost of marketing using an outside company’s data assets (mailing lists) will escalate. Therefore — and this can’t be emphasised enough — companies should start working on opt-in from their clients straight away. An opt-in database will be crucial for any business looking to stay in the game and should be seen as an extremely valuable asset. Start monetising this as a priority and invest in your own channels as soon as possible.

Secondly, since SMS and email marketing will be most affected by PoPI, we may expect innovation in lead generation outside of these channels. This means revisiting a call-centre strategy, making sure your website indexes well on Google, coming up with innovative social media strategies, and looking at pay-per-click models of advertising.

Working together is key

While the onus will rest on companies doing the marketing to comply with PoPI, and not those providing the lead generation channels to do so, there is no reason that these two parties shouldn’t work together. Lead-generation companies must help clients to not only understand PoPI and the implications of the act but also to innovate and help build intellectual property in their lead channels.

When it comes to PoPI, being both proactive and innovative will be key. There are going to be companies that will be made an example of and slapped with hefty fines to deter those that think that PoPI will be an act without teeth. Make sure your company is not one of them.


Gareth MountainGareth Mountain is head of sales at Olico, a PoPI-compliant lending and innovation company that is an online and mobile marketing partner.

“Motive” is a by-invitation-only column on Contributors are picked by the editors but generally don’t form part of our regular columnist lineup, unless the topic is off-column.

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