One thing which many Dallas-Fort Worth business owners and decision makers face is how to deal with the constantly updated information regarding their search engine optimization (SEO) and social media services areas.
The traditional business model has been to sign up for these services via a monthly fee in the hope of gaining improved rankings and/or exposure. This business model CAN work for the business owner, but only if the following points are defined and clarified before the signing of a contract:
- The consultant or company seeking to perform the SEO or social media services has to have a track record in the business owner’s particular city and/or industry
- The track record can be proven with current first-page rankings, increases in social media followers that may be likely prospects, and/or quality metrics in accordance with the company’s online paid advertising strategies
- There is some form of agreed-upon tracking inherent in the contract between both parties
- The business owner has some sort of protection so that he/she has a way to terminate the contract should the efforts not produce tangible results.
There is a new alternative, however, which many local business owners can now choose to consider, especially in high-population areas across the United States. One example would be the suburbs of Dallas Fort Worth which each have populations of over 100,000 residents, such as Plano, Arlington or Carrollton. This newer business model is a “pay per lead” (PPL) service.
What Is Pay Per Lead And Why Should I Consider This?
If you have received nonstop solicitations online or on the phone for SEO and/or social media services, then you are probably familiar with the sales pitch. Very few of these companies, however, offer some means of showing that they genuinely care about your business.
Pay Per Lead (PPL) companies actually bear some of the risk that you otherwise would assume. Here are some examples of what pay per lead advertising can do for your business:
- Other than initial setup fees and time spent discussing your industry’s specifics (e.g. needing to have certain items online for state/national compliance purposes, reviewing accuracy of content articles and providing photos to which you own the rights), the pay per lead company will bear most of the time and financial risks.
- PPL advertising companies will get paid only when a “lead” actually takes place which has high odds of generating your business new revenues & profits. Such a “lead” can be a phone call through a tracking phone number, tracked clicks to a specific landing page on your website (especially through specific online ad campaigns), or e-mail leads through a dedicated e-mail address or dedicated contact form.
- PPL companies likely will charge you a significant amount for a “lead”. Depending on your industry, pay per lead services could charge you well over $100 per phone call. While this initial “sticker shock” can be scary at first, taking a look at the numbers often will indicate that PPL advertising could be one of the most INEXPENSIVE actions you can take. This is because there are minimal wasted efforts as your business only will get charged once a “lead” (defined beforehand) comes into your business.
This business model often is the “next best” option you have to hiring commission-only sales staff. It is often difficult to get people to work for your business and get paid only when a transaction takes place. Pay per lead advertising is your next option as you only have to pay when a pre-defined lead comes into your business. While you won’t have 100% conversion from a lead to actual business, defining what is a “lead” with the PPL company increases the odds that the qualified lead for which you pay can convert into an actual customer or client.
What Are The Pitfalls?
Once you are comfortable with the idea of paying for leads, the biggest potential pitfall is that you may become solely reliant on the PPL company after it starts delivering quality prospects. Many business owners become dependent on those leads as the primary mechanism to grow their business.
You should continue with your own SEO efforts, providing quality content and value on social media, consistently analyzing your paid ad efforts, and growing your business in the real world with local networking and word-of-mouth referrals. Always consider the pay per lead company as an adjunct to your marketing and advertising efforts.
Other pitfalls can include:
- Not defining ahead of time what is a “lead.” Be very clear on this up front. Some examples could include phone calls lasting less than 30 seconds should be deemed a non-lead, incomplete contact forms, or sales calls from soliciting firms which call the tracking phone number.
- Having inadequate processes on your end. These might include having grumpy people answering the phone, not responding to e-mails, not checking your bulk/spam e-mail folder in case prospective customers’ e-mails end up there, and not following up on prospective client phone calls.
- You should understand that should the company or consultant perform well, then you, ultimately, may pay out more per month than if you had agreed to one of the monthly SEO or social media offers you receive. The benefit to paying more per month, of course, is that you would have received enough quality inbound calls or e-mails that your business should have grown by a decent amount.
If you are receiving lots of leads but they are not converting into paying customers/clients, then you have some choices:
- Figure out if the prospective customer/client is not receiving replies or is receiving unprofessional service (especially on the phone)
- Work with the PPL company to better “pre-qualify” the prospective customer/client before the call or e-mail. This should reduce the number of leads for which you have to pay; but the quality of those leads, presumably will be better
- Cancel the PPL service, with the understanding that the company has the right to contact one of your competitors to handle the incoming leads.
Does This Work In Any City Or Industry?
This process works in most cities and industries where the total lifetime value of a new customer, not including any referrals coming from the new customer, provides a significant amount of profits. This can be calculated by just one transaction or if the new customer often uses your service.
For PPL to work, both parties need to benefit. Anytime a new customer will produce a good amount of revenue, then a small percentage of that revenue – as compensation for the lead – should be a fair amount for both parties.
Assuming that your industry and your prospective customers make sense for both parties, then PPL should work for most major cities and suburbs. As for smaller towns, this would be a case-by-case basis.
How Does The Pay Per Lead Company Generate Leads?
In terms of how a third-party PPL company generates quality leads for your business there are several methods. If the agreed-upon lead tracking is through a tracking phone number (another number which automatically redirects the caller to your primary phone number) then the PPL service has several options. These can include:
- Creating its own website which is optimized for the search engines around relevant keywords and your desired geographic areas. The phone number on that site would be the tracking phone number
- Same as above, but using YouTube videos
- Paid ads through Google’s Display Network, targeting your desired geographic area(s) and age groups/genders to the created website
- Google Ads which get seen specifically on devices which can make phone calls, such as smart phones
- Facebook paid ads, based on the targeting of your desired prospective audience
- Other social media paid advertising such as that through Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and other platforms
- Online classified ads
- Any relevant local online forums
- Additional methods of traffic generation to that tracking phone number
Here is an example of a basic website which deals with heating and cooling in the DFW region. One of the verticals (“silos”) is for commercial repair service. Companies serving specific regions will have the tracking phone number or e-mail address for each desired town.
There are other methods to generate these leads, so discuss any state-mandated restrictions your online marketing needs with the PPL company. Examples of such industries needing precautions include financial services, attorneys, real estate, plumbing, medical services and other industries with significant regulatory requirements.
If you would like to discuss if your business lends itself to pay per lead advertising and marketing efforts, then you are welcome to contact us. We look forward to discussing your specific situation and determine the best lead generation strategy that will provide a sound approach for your desired outcomes.