About Me

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As Director of Marketing and Business Development at Underground Elephant my role is to develop high-level relationships in the lead generation and performance advertising verticals. My focus is in the Education and Financial spaces. I am an avid animal lover and member of the humane society. Whenever I have free time I spend it playing with my puppy, watching sports and reading up on trends in the industry.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Great Article on Debt

Fascinating article I read on the New York Times on Consumer Spending and Debt. At Underground Elephant we generate literally 1000s of debt leads each day so it isn't surprising to me to see statistics to support the fact that a large percentage of American's are spending more than they make. It is fascinating to see how much more debt Americans have acquired since 1975. Looks like we can blame computers and shiny technological devices that we've been putting on our VISA for that.
Thought you'd be interested in the article, share your thoughts.

Consumer Spending and the Economy

The U.S. economy is predominantly driven by consumer spending, which accounts for approximately 70 percent of all economic growth. But if consumers are to continue to drive the economy, they must be in a sound financial position; if they become overburdened with debt, they are not able to maintain their position as the primary driver of economic growth. To that end, consider the following table which shows the total amount of household debt (all consumer loans and mortgages), total nominal gross domestic product, total nominal disposable personal income, the ratio of household debt to G.D.P. and the ratio of household debt to total disposable personal income. All numbers are in billions:

The table clearly shows that over the last 30 years, the typical U.S. consumer has increased both his total amount of debt and the percentage of that debt relative to overall G.D.P. and disposable income. While there is no bright line rule for “too much debt” in an economy, it is fair to say that at some level, the total amount of debt — and the percentage of debt to key economic numbers such as G.D.P. and disposable personal income — becomes so large that it forces consumers to slow their spending on other items in order to start devoting a larger amount of their income to paying down debt.

This observation is hardly new. In fact, it is largely based on the writings and observations of Irving Fisher, whose 1933 paper, The Debt-Deflation Theory of Great Depressions, provides a tremendous amount of insight into current situation of U.S. consumers. Mr. Fisher observed that slight misallocation of economic resources were generally not responsible for depressions. He noted that, “Any of them [traditional business cycle dis-equilibrium events] may suffice to explain small disturbances, but all of them put together have probably been inadequate to explain big disturbances.”

As a present example of the previous point, the wheat market specifically and the grain markets in general are currently experiencing what Fisher called “dis-equilibrium” – an economically unbalanced situation where supply and demand are not perfectly equal. Earlier this year, the Russian wheat harvest was severely damaged by fires throughout Russia, eventually leading the Russian government to ban all wheat exports. These events led to an increase in wheat prices because of the decrease in available product. While disquieting, the wheat market “dis-equilibrium events” were not serious enough to cause a depression. Instead, two interrelated and regular economic events occurred: the overall market experienced a period of higher prices caused by a decrease in product and new supplies and suppliers started to emerge.

The recent events in the wheat market are indicative of numerous events that occur throughout a market economy on a regular basis; too much of one product is produced, leading to lower prices to clear excess merchandise or too little of a product is produced, inviting new companies and producers to enter the market. However, Fisher argued even large numbers of these events occurring at the same time are typically not severe enough to cause a depression. What really caused depressions was “over-indebtedness to start and deflation following after that.”

Fisher argued when an economy has too much debt, it becomes susceptible to the following chain of events. An event occurs which creates a “mild gloom that shocks the conscience.” In other words, a news event occurs which lowers consumer confidence, leading investors to sell assets to start to pay off debt. As asset prices fall, investor confidence is lowered further as others see the value of their investments drop. This leads to further selling, lowering prices further. At some point, consumer’s net worth drops to a point where they slow down their purchases, lowering business profits, which eventually leads to lay-offs, further exacerbating the downward cycle.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Underground Elephant Just Keeps Getting Bigger

In the last month we've added several new team members at Underground Elephant. I've been with the company so long I remember when we were only a few people feverishly working day and night to make the business work. Now we have such a large and diverse crew here at Underground Elephant. Due to our success we were able to hire Alex Chang--tech wizard of sorts. I'm so proud to have him here.

Check out Mr. Chang's info and detail in our press release here.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Great Article On SEO

What You NEED to Know About Search Engine Optimization and Lead Generation
Throughout all the forums, blogs, and everything else there is always discussion about search engine optimization (SEO) and relating it to lead generation. So over the next few days I will post my step by step process to successfully use search engine optimization to your benefit.

Check out the full article here:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Who wants incoming calls?

Exciting new program launch and Underground Elephant! Incoming Calls! So far clients are loving the new service.

Live Transfer Phone Leads: A New Benefit at Underground Elephant
This summer, Underground Elephant launched their call-transfer program to provide an ancillary service to their debt clients. This program offers current clients additional value on the traditional internet lead by generating inbound calls into their call center. Underground Elephant, an industry leader in the lead generation space, constantly monitors the marketplace looking for new ways to improve the utility for their clients and the experience for their consumers. Full article on incoming calls..

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

QC article

Great article on how QCing a lead prior to delivering the lead to the client actually lowers conversions.

To QC or Not to QC, That Is The Question
Millions of home owners feeling the economic crunch are turning to the internet for financial salvation. The current landscape of mortgage lending and financing markets has caused lead generators to re-evaluate their company’s policy on lead quality measures. One of the most common practices is to establish an on or off-site call center to check the quality (we’ll use the abbreviation QC for Quality Control) of delivered leads. With an ever-increasing level of competition in the financial leads market, creating a strong customer base is dependent on the positive experience they have in dealing with your business. In fact, it can cost nearly ten times as much to draw new customers, for your leads, in as it does to keep the existing ones satisfied. The reason that the most valued customers keep returning for business is because they have had their needs met each and every time. Even if your track record with a customer has been stellar for years, one off-putting interaction can cause them to seek services elsewhere. Customer loyalty is directly linked to the company’s consistent performance, making quality control a major priority. However, the traditional methods can backfire.

One option that hasn’t crossed the minds of many in this industry is to eliminate the call center entirely. Now before you start lighting the torches and assembling the mob, take this thought into serious consideration. There are major issues with call centers both on and off-site that can cause serious damage to your company’s reputation and ultimately your bottom line. Let’s say you wanted to keep your call center internal to your company. Unless you are one of the few industry leading corporations, you simply do not have the resources to accommodate the performance and quality needs of the customer base. Combining the necessary man-power, knowledge, and skilled calling agents can end up costing more money than you would be saving in keeping customers happy.

This dilemma has created a large market for third-party call center providers. Outsourcing to these companies should be looked over with careful precision. While there are options available to monitor the calling centers call log, you usually are unable to monitor the agents’ actions during the calls. It’s difficult to trust your lead in the hands of someone checking Facebook photos or playing Tetris while they interact with a customer. This can often be the best case scenario, as most call centers are outsourced overseas taking your input completely out of the picture. Wanting to be able to track your leads, the quality of the agent’s performance and the customer’s satisfaction level can be a tall order for most third-party calling centers. Even checking up on how the off-site calling center is meeting your requirements, could be misleading data, as most dissatisfied customers will not complain when asked about the quality of the interaction. However, they won’t miss the opportunity to complain about the experience to close friends and other businesses, leaving you in the dark about your lower revenue numbers and high QC costs. One satisfied customer is a ringing endorsement, and an unsatisfied customer is just the opposite at an exponentially greater level.

So is the decision simply whether to maintain a call center in house or outsource, or is there another option: Elimination? Realistically, the point of QC is to achieve greater revenue. The shocking part about eliminating the calling center entirely is you do away with the high cost of an on or off-site operation, and increase your customer satisfaction and revenue gains. The goal driving all of these QC efforts is to decrease fraud in delivered leads, increase contact ratio, and ultimately close more deals. In theory by QC’ing the leads, you are trying to eliminate fraud, and therefore greatly increase the contact ratio for your clientele. Lead generation companies, however, have been decimated by calling the leads before they are sent to clients. The method used to combat fraud has actually backfired tremendously. In fact, using QC to verify leads decreases your contact ratio by 10 percent and causes a litany of other issues.

This practice delays the sales process, putting more barriers in the way of success. Not only are the leads being called by someone with little or no knowledge of what the business’ service or product is, but they are not being contacted in real time. Only after this unsavory first impression is made are the leads passed on to the buyer. Beyond just customer satisfaction, contacting prospective clients in real time is the deciding factor for increasing ROI on lead purchasing.

In a recent study to determine the impact of speed on lead conversion rates it was found that calling a lead within the first two minutes of generation was the single largest driver lead conversion. The sample size of the study was to the tune of several million Internet-generated leads. It revealed that sales leads called under 60 seconds showed an astounding 391 percent improvement over average conversion rates. The study also found that leads called between 60 and 120 seconds after they were generated converted 160 percent more often than the average. If leads cannot be reached within the first few minutes, it is still worthwhile to attempt to contact the lead as quickly as possible. This is because leads called within 24 hours are still 17 percent more likely to convert than those that were not. Overall, it was determined that 88 percent of leads that eventually convert were called within the first 24 hours. While the consumer may indeed continue to search for other providers of a service, there seems to be a sense of loyalty that brings them back to the vendor that they heard from first. Price is not the end-all be-all factor in selecting a partner. There is value in educating consumers which results in a strong social and psychological bond that will override competing offers.

None of these remarkable results can be achieved when the leads go through the traditional QC process. Customer interest has an expiration date on it, and it starts decaying as soon as the user hits “submit”. With such a limited timeframe the costs of verifying leads may far outweigh the benefits to your client. For more on Lead Generation best practices check out 100leads.org.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Power of Video: Search Marketing with YouTube

With billions of searches being made each and every day, the majority of purchase cycles include the use of a search engine. In all of these search queries, there are some surprising numbers involving the incorporation of video into search marketing. Google spiders are very keen on quality content found in videos, giving even more reason for their purchase of YouTube back in 2006. Video is vying for the throne as the prevailing form of online media, and it’s starting to pull away.

Viewers of YouTube are watching over 2 billion videos each and every day. To put that number in context Google gets around the same number of searches per day. This was unthinkable even just a few years ago. YouTube continually provided quality content and great site interaction building their website the right way. Now they are a powerhouse provider in a unique niche market.

With so many viewers making so many searches, marketers are pushing hard to capitalize on this massive market space. Businesses and services are putting everything from commercial advertising to client testimonials on YouTube. This is a great opportunity to promote your company to an ever-growing audience on top of improving your link building efforts. If done correctly your promoted videos will rank highly against searches in a similar fashion as a Google pay-per-click advertisement.

Looking at the bigger picture there are great long-term benefits from both promoted ads and organic videos. YouTube ranks their videos in an organic fashion, allowing views from either effort to shed positive light on the videos long term ranking.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Social Media Forming Brand Behavior

It’s pretty evident that social media and networking sites are the best thing since sliced bread, but new research is confirming that they decide which loaf you will buy. Controlling market trends is no easy task, but social media has found a unique niche in the online market. A recent study was conducted by ROI Research Inc to investigate the affect that social media has on our lives, with an emphasis on consumer behaviors. In particular, our attitude’s towards particular brands and products was studied. The sample of three thousand social network users led to resounding results.

• 50% of Facebook users click on Facebook ads to "like" a brand
• 37% learned about a new product or service from a social networking site
• 32% of respondents have recommended a product/service/brand to friends via a social networking site
• 32% of Twitter users re-tweet content provided by a company or product Source: ROI Research, June 2010

Frequency of Activities on Facebook (% of Respondents)

Social Activity

Facebook Respondents (Once a week or more)

Twitter Respondents (At least once a week)

Make comments about other people's post


Visit company or product pages


Login to other sites using Facebook


Share an opinion about a company



Click on an ad on Facebook


Make a recommendation



Re-post content


Ask for a product or service



Source: ROI Research, June 2010

  • More printable coupons [49%]
  • Notifications of sales and special deals [46%]
  • Information about new products [35%]

Average Online Spending by Time Spent on Facebook & Twitter ($ in Q1, 2010)

Type of User

Facebook Spenders

Twitter Spenders













Source: ComScore, May 2010 (User: Heavy, top 20% of visitors by time spent on site; Medium, next 30%, Light, lowest 50%)

The social media champion from this study is without a doubt Twitter. Twitter users are more inclined to make an online purchase than Facebook users. Those who love to Tweet have more interest and awareness on brand updates, new products, and updated company services. What really drives this study home for me is according to eCommerce by the end of 2010 nine out of ten corporate businesses will be using social media networks. I’d say that’s better than sliced bread.

Sales tactics in the Lead Generation Market

Despite the best efforts of cash for clunkers, stimulus plans, and bailouts most businesses public and private are making massive cutbacks or shutting down completely. The deteriorating sales numbers found in many industries including lead gen require the bold to take action, and the meek to fall by the wayside. I have never been one to be meek, but the solution is very complicated. With marketing efforts and sales force budgets slashed and dashed, it is difficult to create a positive result from such a negative situation.

What cannot get lost in all this mess, is the importance of being proactive about the problem. Industries that refused to advance with new technologies or customer desires are now stuck making rash reactive measures. Staying aggressive in your approach is important, but it does not necessarily have to be a thorny endeavor.

Sometimes, going back to the bread and butter of running a successful business is necessary, because it is so often overlooked. Build your brand through a happy and loyal customer base. Consumer loyalty is the best marketing because they give you client referrals, testimonials, and return business.

It is also very important to re-examine your product or service. Many times there are hidden values or costs left unattended that can financially cripple a company. Review market trends and avoid industry fads. If you have lasted this long in the market count your blessings and keep moving forward.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Jedi Marketing Tricks

Searching for successful strategies to increase consumer awareness and ultimately grow your business is no easy task. Creating effective advertising to your consumer base requires a great deal more than most companies are willing to put in. Gaining new customers often requires you to need to change their thought processes and their behaviors.

There is no end all answer to achieve this result. However, well thought out marketing and advertising tactics placed through multiple channels can achieve this desired end goal. When formulating your strategy, keep in mind the goals you wish to achieve from both your marketing and promotional advertising efforts.

Your marketing approach should be centered on the thought processes of your clientele. Effective marketing gets the consumer to subconsciously acknowledge or even select your product or service. Seeing a well placed Pepsi can in latest blockbuster movie is no coincidence. Most marketing campaigns and strategies are formed through the lens of the consumer. What would they want to see? What are they thinking when they enter a search query into Google.

The second tier in this plan of attack is promoting your product. The difference in approach is that advertising changes the consumer’s behaviors and actions. Hopefully, your marketing efforts have planted the seeds of change in the consumers mind. Your advertising campaign is the last push towards choosing your companies product or service over the competition.

Think of it this way; marketing gets your business into the consumer’s brain waves, advertising gets them to sign the check.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Speed Kills: Response Rate and Revenue

In the lead gen industry, everyone is always searching for ways to bolster revenue and increase results. A research study was recently conducted to conclude the impact of speed on lead conversion rates. While quickness in response to lead inquiries has always been at the forefront of successful conversion rates, the results of the study exemplified the point as speed of the response-to-call is the most important factor of lead conversion. Responding to their inquiry within the first two minutes after the lead was generated gets instant help for the consumer and quick turnaround on the investment from the business. This study was based upon the data of search-generated leads.

Findings from the study indicate that leads called between sixty and one hundred and twenty seconds after they were generated converted one hundred and sixty percent more often than the average. In addition, if these leads can’t be reached within the first few minutes, attempting quick contact is still necessary and achievable. Leads called within twenty four hours are still seventeen percent more likely to convert than those that were not called. The final test of the study found that eighty eight percent of leads that close were contacted within the first twenty four hours. These leads might not necessarily convert within these twenty four hours, but establishing the contact at this juncture is critical to conversion rates no matter the length of time.

The critical importance of this speedy response time has become universally accepted as the driving force of lead conversion. Titans of industry in successful business to consumer services from finance to education place great value on quick response time to increase conversion rates. There are other influences, however, that feel steadfastly convinced that interested and qualified consumers will not be conducive to fast responses. The results of this current study definitively show that the speed of the response rate is a crucial determinant every type and quality of lead.

What you can apply from this research study as a lead purchaser or provider is how you can put this thought process into a business practice. The companies that can achieve the fastest speed to call rates when responding to consumer queries will rise to the top of the industry. Meanwhile, those with slower efforts to respond and less tenacity to achieve contact will be left in the wake.