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How To Get Leads: The Best & Worst Leads

By on June 16, 2015 in Marketing, Websites and SEO, What We Do with 9 Comments

It’s Simple, You Either Buy Them or You Earn Them!

Buying leads is quicker. Earning leads is longer. Which method is best and which is worse?

If you stick around and read this article, you will benefit from my professional experience of helping local painters both buy and earn painting leads. Then you will be able to judge for yourself regarding which leads are the best and which are the worst.

Intro To The Article, How To Navigate It & A Little About Me


Questions

Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about leads, lead generation, websites, seo, social media, etc. I will be happy to give advice and let you know what I think (who isn’t happy to share their opinion).

Name: Garret Merkley
Phone #: 678-723-3558
Toll Free #: 877-830-3075
Website: www.eWebify.com

Buying Leads

When you buy a lead you are buying the information of a person or business that is interested in your product or service. Buying information is a tricky business. It is not like picking up an apple and seeing that it is bruised and rotten and then making the obvious choice not to purchase it. The sad thing is that most leads are just a bunch of rotten apples but there is hope because “one bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole bunch”.

Hands down the best lead to buy is one that turns into a paying customer. However, nobody has a 100% conversion rating on converted leads and you don’t need one to get a ROI on your investment if the price of the lead is right.

Paying The Right Price For Leads

Finding the right price per lead should always be based on an accurate conversion %. How do you come up with this? Below is an example (warning: it may feel a little like those math question from school).

Example:

Mike’s Roofing Company signed up with Lead Pros and agreed to pay $40 per lead. After 1 year of buying leads Mike averaged a 10% conversion on the leads purchased and averaged $900 per job that was converted. Based on these factors alone what is Mike’s ROI per job sold.

Answer:

In order for Mike to sell one roofing job he would have to buy 10 leads because his conversion percentage is 10%. These 10 leads would cost him $400 and his revenue is $900. If his only expense was leads, he would profit $500.

Tracking Your Leads

Most local business owners wear a lot of hats and are extremely busy doing a lot of things. When a small business owner decides to put on yet another hat, the hat of buying, tracking, and converting leads there tends to be some uncomfortable adjustment and even the need to take off or pass on some of those hats.

Regardless of how busy you are don’t forget to track your leads. You need to know what your conversion percentage is. When you know your average conversion percentage you can determine if you are paying too much for leads, create and implement a plan to improve your conversion percentage, or simply stop buying leads all together.

Tracking Phone Numbers

The easiest way to track leads is through call tracking numbers. I have used multiple companies that offer call tracking numbers and can only recommend one call tracking company. If I were you, I would use Call Tracking Metrics to track all phone calls that come into your business.

With Call Tracking Metrics you can buy new phone numbers, forward the calls to anyone you want, set up unique schedules for forwarding, record phone calls, get ROI reports, and more. Knowing if your leads are converting will help you make better marketing decisions.

* Visit Call Tracking Metrics Here If You Want To Start Tracking Your Phone Calls.

3 Questions To Help Avoid Rotten Leads.

1. Is the lead current?

Everybody knows that when it comes to finding a delicious apple it is about timing. You can’t eat it to early and when it is too old it is no good. The same is true with leads.

A lead that isn’t really ready to spend money yet is unlikely to turn into a sale anytime soon. A lead that is delivered or responded to too late can’t be consumed because it is no longer edible. Good luck getting your foot in the door once someone has already made the choice to go with another company.

Just like food, the point when a lead is too early or too late varies. Most business owners know the time frame it takes for people to progress from start to finish and it is different in every industry. For example, someone that needs their car fixed in order to drive to and from work isn’t going to wait around for days, weeks, or months.

2. Is the lead relevant?

When buying leads almost every lead generation company will have plenty of options to help you so that you only get relevant leads. However, many business owners don’t understand how to exclude or opt-out of irrelevant leads and as a result they end up buying pickles when they really want grapes.

There are many other factors you should consider when determining if a lead is relevant or not. When creating your own list of relevancy remember that not every lead generation service has the option to exclude or opt out of every factor that you have. Try to determine the most important factors and make them a priority when looking for a lead generation service.

3. Is the lead exclusive?

What is an exclusive lead? It is a lead that only comes to one person. Believe it or not almost every lead generation company makes most of their money on selling one lead multiple times. Yes, this does decrease the value of the lead but it makes them 3 to 6 times more money. In fact, it is this one fact that turns so many local business owners away from buying leads.

Be Aware of What Exclusive or Premium Leads Usually Means

Although some lead generation companies offer some type of exclusive lead generation option it will cost you more money. Be aware that when buying an exclusive lead and paying a premium price for it that it might not be exclusive. The lead might be exclusive to them but the person who gave their information over to the company have most likely done the same thing on other websites or will almost have certainly called or emailed other companies too. In fact, your chances of competing with other companies is almost always certain when buying leads regardless of it being exclusive or non-exclusive.

How To Prevent Irrelevant Leads

Create a List of Relevancy Factors

Knowing what you don’t want is a great place to start in the beginning. Remember that if you don’t make this clear you will almost certainly end up buying a bunch of leads that will never turn into paying customers.

Here are some examples of factors that should be considered when determining if a lead is relevant or not.

  • Location of Lead
  • Services Needed
  • Product Needed
  • Project Size
  • Time frame
  • Budget

Become Familiar With The Process

Each lead generation services/company has its own unique process of collecting, delivering, and billing for leads. Speak to one of their representatives and be guided on how their process works. The better you understand the process the better your experience and outcome will be.

Most lead generation companies have video tutorials, written guides, FAQ sections on their website, and live operators to ask questions to.

Don’t Ignore The Fine Print

Be sure that you understand what you are agreeing to with each company you work with. It is always smart to know the small details that can get overlooked but have a huge impact on you.

Know The Refund Policies For Bad Leads

Regardless of what you do before you buy a lead you will undoubtedly be sold a bad lead. Be sure to become familiar with the process of getting refunds for bad leads or if there is any possibility of refunds.

How Do Leads Get Old?

The process of leads aging varies based on how a lead is collected, delivered, and responded to. The list below of the various aging stages is based on leads coming in via email. These steps can also be applied to leads that come in through text, written form, or other methods. However, they may need some adjustment.

1st Time a Lead Ages: Someone fills out a form online to request a quote. Once that person hits submit it is either sent straight to an email or goes through a lead software system. This is the first aging stage.

Here are some questions to think about. How long did it take from the time the person clicked submit and the information was delivered to the appropriate buyer of the lead.

2nd Time a Lead Ages: The lead has been sent out via email and is in the air traveling to your email.

Who do you use for email? Sometimes emails take a couple minutes to come in and I have even experienced 30 minutes before. Why? I have no idea but I know it has happened with me.

3rd Time a Lead Ages: The lead is waiting in your inbox or is it in your spam folder?

How often do you check your email? You could have your phone buzz with alerts every time an email comes in but that ends up making you pretty useless at work. Oh and do you get a lot of emails? Do you often miss emails because they get pushed down with all the other emails you get?

4th Time a Lead Ages: The time it takes from seeing the lead and actually clicking on it or responding to it in some way.

Are you like most people and delay responding to emails right away? If you are a busy business owner, than most likely you can’t answer emails right away. Because of this every second, minute, hour, and day that goes by leads gets older and older.

5th Time a Lead Ages: Ring, Ring, Ring, Ring…Voicemail.

When you finally get around to calling the person did they answer? If not, when will you try to call them again and did the other contractors reach them before you? (Most lead generation companies sell a single lead to multiple contractors)

6th Time a Lead Ages: The time between setting up the appointment and the actual appointment.

Most people want quick service and getting an appointment as soon as possible is often a priority. If you can’t get out to them soon, that lead may be too old to turn into revenue.

Earning Leads

Caring About Customers First

I know this one isn’t directly tied to earning leads via the internet and there are many people who earn leads via the internet who don’t do this. Regardless of this I couldn’t leave it out. Why? Because at the end of the day the most important thing is to care about people and be good (this is my personal opinion). If you make a million dollars and had to treat people horribly to do it, the million dollars will never be worth it.

Building Good Relationships With Customers

This is a very important part when it comes to earning leads online. Having a good relationship with a customer will always produce more revenue for a business. Here are some of the obvious ways a good relationship will earn leads.

  1. When the customer recommends your business online.
  2. When the customer talks about your business and shares what you did for them with others.
  3. When the customer leaves a review on any of the many sites that collect customer reviews.
  4. When the customer calls you back to help them again.

Having a Highly Optimized Website

*Be Aware: Although there are sites on the internet that rank well online even though very little time has been spent on them, this is the exception. It almost always takes a lot of effort and time to properly optimize a website. For example, we have invested hundreds of hours into just one main template we use for client websites. We have tweaked, improved, coded, optimized, tested, tracked and analyzed the website so that it converts traffic into phone calls and gets ranked on Google.

This method of earning leads online is often the “unknown” for many business owners. They have heard the terms SEO or Search Engine Optimization but have no clue where to start or what to do. In fact, the internet is littered with advice, tips, guides and so forth on how to do this properly. Guess what? What worked in the past may not work anymore. The playing field of how to optimize a website keeps changing.

Where To Start

First, determine if optimizing a website is really something you want to take on all by yourself. I recommend really evaluating your time, energy, and current responsibilities before diving into the world of Search Engine Optimization. Remember to focus on what you do best.

If you have decided to tackle this one, here are some tips. This is a basic list and is in no way complete.

Your Domain Name

Don’t worry to much about this. That being said there is a lot of value in a domain name.

Here is a list of what to stay away from.

  1. Abbreviations in Domain Names
  2. Dashes
  3. Numbers
  4. Really long domain names
  5. Overly keyword stuffed domain names

Here is a list of what to do in regards to domain names.

  1. Keep them as short as you can
  2. Try to include your brand name
  3. Use your main industry keywords
  4. Use geographic based keywords
Your Hosting Provider

You will always be able to find cheap hosting. Here is my advice when it comes to cheap hosting. Don’t do it! If your time is worth something and the time of your website visitors is worth something, get the right hosting provider. If you need some recommendations, please give me a call (678-723-3558) and I will point you in the right direction. People want websites that are quick to load and navigate through. If your website is slow, you will lose many customers throughout the lifespan of the website.

Your Website’s Structure

The structure and layout of a website is an important part of the optimization process. A badly structured website will make it hard for Google to index content.

Example: About 3 years back a local business owner contacted me because he needed help optimizing his website. He had his website built a couple years before then by a local company. I came to learn that the local company was merely a graphic designer who dabbled in web design.

The web designer almost entirely built the website using images. Instead of putting in actual written text she created an image with the written text. Google had no way of knowing what the website said or was about.

Using The Right Tags, Meta Tags, etc

When it comes to SEO and meta tags the most important one is the title tag. The description doesn’t really matter when looking at it through SEO. Your home title tag is very important.

Example: When I first started working with local businesses I built a brand new website for a company. Years later they had the site rebuilt and the new web designer deleted all of the title tags and replaced them with generic title tags like Home, Contact Us, About, and so forth. Because of this one change her site dropped from first page rankings for major keywords in her industry.

Another example of this is improper use of H1 tags or not using them altogether. Each page should have one H1 tag and it should be focused on the keyword or keywords you want that page to rank for. You should also have one or more H2 tags that focus on the keywords for the page as well.

Original Full Content

For most it is difficult to write. Do not let this stop you from making a website that has plenty of original content. Google is always anxiously looking for sites with useful information. When you create a page try to make it 600 – 800 words minimum. *Remember that it doesn’t help you to jam a bunch of keywords into one page hoping that it helps you rank higher. Write for your users and all will be well.

Backlinks

The internet is a popularity game. The more people talk about you and link to you the better…actually that isn’t always true. If people(websites) that are spammy or of low quality link to you a lot, then you better start worrying. Getting the wrong websites to link to you will hurt your website now or in the future.

If You Optimize It Right, They Will Convert

Remember that a website should never be built just for Google. In the end the most important person is always the real human being that is visiting the site. Try to think about it from their perspective. Who is your visitor? What do they want or need? What are they looking for? What will capture their attention and win their trust? Oh and don’t forget to give them clear actions you want them to take.

Do you want them to click on specific parts of the page? Do you want them to read specific things? Do you want them to pick up the phone and call you?

It isn’t about getting traffic. It is about getting traffic to do something of importance.

Building Relationships With People Online

I think I am safe to say that the best way to get ahead in life is to build quality relationships with the right people. Everyone of us have heard “It isn’t what you know but who you know”. This theory is often true online. To gain credibility online in people’s eyes and in search engines’ eyes you really should build online relationships. Remember that the best way to build a relationship will always be face to face. If you can’t build the relationship face to face, do the next best thing and talk to them over the phone. Here are some examples of building online relationships.

  1. Join an online industry related forum and participate in the community in a real/non spammy way.
  2. Find Facebook groups made up of people with common interests as you. There are many industry related Facebook groups with real active communities.
  3. Provide value to people who own websites in your industry and invest in a win win type of a relationship with them.
  4. Join industry related associations, groups, clubs, or websites.
  5. Become active on Google+ by finding real people that use it in a non-spammy way. Get to know them, ask them real questions, care about them first, and then after long enough they will start caring about you and sharing your business. But remember that you really have to commit to genuinely caring about them first.

Sharing High Quality Information Online

The internet is littered with crappy content. In fact, it is safe to say that the majority of info online isn’t that great. That being said there is plenty of amazing content online. Don’t add to the spam. Instead make a conscious effort to provide high quality information that real people would actually find useful.

Some ideas…

  1. Create local guides for various aspects of your city
  2. Answer local FAQs on your website (You will be surprised at how often people search this type of stuff)
  3. Review local non-profits and clubs and write about it on your website. (Most likely they will link to you)
  4. Share jobs that you have done with real pictures and a real story.
  5. Write a really good bio and company history section on your website with real pictures.
  6. Create some useful how to guides or informational articles about various aspects of your industry.
  7. Create a recommended vendor list for your local community and urge the businesses in it to create one on their site too.

Earning & Collecting 5 Star Reviews

Have you ever purchased something on Amazon.com before? If yes, then you most likely made your purchase decision based on real customer reviews for the product you purchased. Did you know that most people search for these same type of reviews online for local businesses. In fact, most people will choose one company over another based on this factor alone. Do not undervalue the real impact 5 star reviews have on your company.

FYI: One bad review doesn’t spoil the whole bunch. In fact, one not so good review accompanied by a professional response often wins people over more than having all 5 star reviews.

Ranking On Google

If you consistently follow the previously mentioned methods above, this one should come naturally and surely. Remember to get your website listed in all the major database directories and to make sure your NAP(Number, Address, & Phone Number) is consistent across the internet. Remember to gain credibility by getting high quality backlinks to your website. Remember to consistently publish high quality information to your website.

Be Easy To Recommend On Facebook

Is Facebook an important focus for local businesses? Yes. How and why? By far the #1 benefit Facebook has for local businesses is that it provides an easy way for people to ask their friends for recommendations. It happens thousands and thousands of times each day.

If you have a Facebook page that is full and complete, people will easily be able to tag (@businessname) your business in a comment to their friend. Their friend will then be able to click the link, read reviews on your Facebook page (If you have received them), find your number, visit your website, etc.

Where Can You Buy Leads?

*Disclaimer: I don’t have experience with all of these website and lead generation systems. As I gain more experience with some of them I will be sure to come back and add more useful information. If you have additional experience that you would like to add here, please make a comment of what you know and if it is good I can include it.

There are countless companies out there that sell leads to businesses. However, Blogging Painters is a place for painters and other types of local business owners in the service industry. The following list is based on this type of an audience. Be aware that this list in no way indicates a recommendation by Blogging Painter or myself. This is just an honest compilation of lead generation companies and what I think of them.

Some of these companies don’t sell leads in a pay per lead type of a way but have some type of advertising cost associated with them and their websites.

Google Adwords

Payment Method: Pay Per Click

Google Adwords is the primary way that Google makes their money. It is a pay per click system which means that every time an ad is clicked the advertiser gets charged. The cost per click or the Max Cost Per Click is set by whomever set up the ad. This is often times the local company or a marketing company they have hired. There are many options in Google Adwords that gives it a competitive edge over other advertising methods.

How Do They Bill You?

Google Adwords requires an active card on file. Google will bill you every 30 days or when your balance reaches $500. It is automatically done.

Refund Policy

This one I am going to give the unofficial refund policy for Google Adwords. I have run many ad campaigns through Google Adwords for clients and their system isn’t perfect and human error is always present with such a complex and multifacet system. This being said Google will hear your complaint or request for a refund but I have never been able to get them to refund money based on invalid clicks even though they have clearly been invalid.

What is the process of trying to get a refund from Google Adwords? First, you get the evidence and information together on your end. Next, you contact them by phone and talk with a representative. After that they will often tell you that their team will analyze the issue and get back to you. They often get back to you in a couple days telling you their findings or that they need more time. After this they will often hand you off to another team and another and another when eventually most people will just give up because the time it is taking is costing even more money and that is where I also ended.

Have you had any other types of experiences with getting refunds from Google? If yes, please leave a comment at the bottom. I would love to hear your experience because in no way is mine necessary 100% true all the time.

Is It a Good Lead Generation System?

Yes: Google Adwords is a fantastic system for a local business owner that wants to quickly get relevant traffic to their website, Facebook page, Google+ page, etc. Why? Because a business can target the exact people at the exact time that they are searching for their exact services they offer or want to get more jobs for. This is very hard to do with other marketing systems.

Google Adwords is a great choice for businesses that are familiar with its system and know how much they can spend per conversion and are able to track their results.

No: Google Adwords is a terrible decision for local business owners that can be categorized in the following:

  1. Have zero experience with marketing
  2. Don’t know how Google works
  3. Don’t have time to monitor and adjust their ad campaigns
  4. Don’t know what keywords are
  5. Don’t know what URL stands for
  6. Don’t know how to track results
  7. Don’t know how to exclude words or why they should exclude
  8. Don’t know what their desired Customer Acquisition Cost is
  9. Don’t have a high converting landing page
  10. …etc

Google makes millions off of people that have no idea what they are doing and end up spending too much money on clicks that will never convert into revenue.

Facebook Ads

Payment Method: Pay Per Click

Facebook Ads almost always operate on a Pay Per Click basis but can operate on a Pay Per Action basis as well. Pay Per Click is by far the easiest method to use when activating or running a Facebook Ad campaign.

Is It a Good Lead Generation System?

Yes: Facebook is a good way to reach a local audience. It definitely takes more creativity and a better understanding of what makes people click on ads, convert through ads, etc. Facebook Ads will be far less costly when it comes to a Pay Per Click or Pay Per Action model but I have found that the percentage of conversions is usually significantly lower for local business owners in the service industry.

Facebook Ads are constantly changing to better serve those that advertise with them. That being said when it comes to Facebook you can expect similar results for local businesses. Facebook Ad campaigns fit into a specific marketing type. I and many others call this Interruption Marketing. This means that someone is engaged in something that isn’t related to what you want them to be engaged in and you put some type of message in front of them to try to get them to switch gears and become engaged in you or your company. This method works but it works at a much lower rate.

eWebify

Payment Method: Pay Per Call

Hi, my name is Garret Merkley (I wrote this article & eWebify is my company). I am going to give you a transparent and honest view of how we help clients.

First, we make our money on a Pay Per Call basis. We have done other methods in the past and have found that a Pay Per Call system is the best way to service customers based on results. Results that can be tracked, recorded, measured and improved. In fact, all of our calls are tracked, recorded, accessible, and inputed into a ROI report each and every month and available for our clients to access 24/7. This is the only way we feel comfortable marketing for local businesses who desperately need to see real results in order to feed their families and keep local workers employed.

How Do We Generate Leads?

We primarily generate leads by earning them. In the beginning of this article I highlighted the fact that there are two ways to get leads. A lead is purchased or earned. How do we earn leads for clients?

  1. We earn leads for clients by ranking them high on Google.
  2. We earn leads for clients by collecting real reviews from their customers and showcasing them across the internet.
  3. We earn leads for clients by getting them listed and optimized with the best 3rd party websites.
  4. We earn leads for clients by networking their company online with other local business, associations, groups, clubs, government organizations, and more.
Have You Thought About Earning Leads Yourself?

If you are a business owner and have given any time to researching internet marketing, you have most likely read time and time again that ranking on search engines is important. You have probably also read about getting reviews online and maybe even blogging. I bet you have even asked people to “Like You On Facebook”. Have you ever wondered if Facebook is even worth your time? The list is truly endless and it can be daunting to even think about tackling it. In fact, if that thought gets you overwhelmed, then the realization that you just don’t have enough time is even more stressful. However, in this day and age marketing online is something you just shouldn’t avoid or put off.

Because earning leads online is so technical, labor intensive, and ever changing we invite good businesses to partner with us. We invite them to let us wear the marketing and lead generation hat for them and with just a little participation on their part each week (30 minutes to 1 hour) we make our client’s as amazing online as they are offline. The best part is that we get paid when we deliver results (quality phone calls).

Is eWebify a Good Marketing Choice?

No: eWebify is not a good marketing choice if you are any of the following.

  1. You are too busy to take before and after pictures of jobs you have done or are doing.
  2. You are not good at answering your phone or calling back quickly if you missed a call.
  3. You only want a couple of new calls a week.
  4. You have done a bunch of things online and have really messed up your online presence.
  5. A local business that doesn’t focus on quality but merely gets jobs because you are always the cheapest in town.
  6. You are hard to communicate with and don’t follow through with commitments.
  7. You have a history of not meeting financial obligations.
  8. You are not willing to network with other local businesses and become an active participant in your community.

Because we promise so much we work hard to find the right companies to work with. Many times this means saying no to local business owners. Earning leads online is just as hard and time consuming as earning referrals offline. It takes time, hard work, and doing things right over and over again. However, when done correctly a business becomes confident to grow and serve the customers the way they should be able to serve them because they have a consistent flow of high quality leads each and every month.

Yes: eWebify is an excellent choice for companies that want to get a consistent flow of high quality leads each and every month. eWebify is a good choice for companies that don’t want to wear all the hats but want to partner with someone that is 100% capable to wear the marketing hat for their company.

Home Advisor

Payment Method: Pay Per Lead

Before I go into Home Advisor I want everyone to be aware that I have limited experience with Home Advisor but feel confident in my advice about them. Home Advisor as we know it today was first called Wisen.com and then ServiceMagic.com and is now known as Home Advisor (You can learn more about the history of Home Advisor on Wikipedia.) Home Advisor has multiple ways that they charge local businesses. Their primary method is a pay per lead method. Their lead prices vary based on multiple factors. Some of these factors include geographical location, industry type, type of job, size of job, whether it is an exclusive lead, and more.

Is It a Good Lead Generation System?

No: Before I give my top 10 reasons why I think Home Advisor is a bad choice for leads I need to give you some background. First off, I use all types of websites and avenues to earn quality leads for my clients. I have even given Home Advisor a shot (although my gut was telling me not to). Here is what my experience was like.

My Story With Home Advisor
First, I am always on the lookout for quality websites to earn leads from for my clients. I had never seriously considered Home Advisor as a reliable source. However, a couple months back I decided to take the risk in order to know if Home Advisor could be a good partner for getting leads for clients. I reached out to them and went over all the details and concerns I had with the sales rep before making my decision. Of course I also informed her of my client’s exact needs for leads, prices, delivery methods, and more (because I am in marketing and I am not clueless about how marketing systems work. I made sure I didn’t miss anything…or so I thought).The sale rep at Home Advisor addressed my concerns and explained that they could deliver what was needed. They even quoted me prices for the leads which were reasonable and at those prices we could work with them. My client was background checked and we were approved.I was expecting some type of “welcome” phone call explaining the next process and so forth but nothing ever came. Three days later I decided to reach out to them after I had quite a few unanswered questions about their system and noticed that we had been billed for leads (email leads).This was the first broken promise because the sales rep said that we could opt out of email leads and only pay for exclusive phone call leads. I was later informed that this was impossible.When I called them the story had completely changed and so had the price of the leads. The price of the leads had nearly tripled and we weren’t really able to get exclusive phone call leads and couldn’t opt out of email leads.My overall experience was that they were dishonest about how the leads worked, the price of leads, and other things. We were also required to pay to have an account with Home Advisor which gave us listings on various sites (the listings have not and most likely will never turn into a phone call from a real potential customer).When I tried to cancel and get a refund they refused and said that there was no way they would refund the money. I was a little shocked but took it as a lesson learned and remembered once again to follow my gut.

My Professional Opinion As To Why Home Advisor Leads Are Almost Always Bad

1. Non-Exclusive Leads: Almost all of their leads are sold to multiple contractors in the same area. What does this mean? This means that when a home owner tells Home Advisor that they need a professional to paint their house Home Advisor turns around and sales that home owners information to multiple painters. I am not sure if they have an exact number that they sell to but I could only imagine that they sell it to 3 – 10 painters.

2. Lead Generation via Forms: Throughout my years of marketing experience I have come to learn (based on real results) that people who fill out forms are less likely to convert into revenue. Of course some of the people will but the conversion percentage is a lot lower than people who pick up the phone and call. As far as I know almost all of Home Advisor leads come from people filling out forms. Please correct me if I am wrong.

3. Price Shoppers: For almost all of us it isn’t hard to search the internet. In fact, it is even easier to find local businesses online without ever needing a 3rd party directory or listing website. That being said why would someone use Home Advisor to look for a local business when they can go to the local businesss website, ask friends on Facebook, get live referrals from friends, family and neighbors, go to BBB, etc? Because they are looking for a quick way to get a bunch of quotes and prices for a project that they are thinking about. Many of these people are looking for the lowest price yet want the best quality. These types of customers need to be avoided at all cost.

In fact, over and over again local business owners express how frustrating it is to have their limited time wasted by people who are just price shopping and don’t really have any interest in actually doing something.

4. Not Current: The best leads are those that are immediate. For example, the longer a lead goes unanswered the less likely it will turn into revenue. Although Home Advisor most likely has a pretty robust lead collection and delivery system there is still a lot of opportunity for that lead to go bad. Why? If you haven’t read my explanation yet, here is the link on leads getting old.

Best Way To Use Home Advisor

My overall opinion of Home Advisor is bad but that doesn’t mean that Home Advisor hasn’t worked for local businesses. In fact, I have a client that uses it and he says it has worked well for him. However, he is above the norm when it comes to answering & responding to leads and scheduling appointments. Here is what I have learned from him regarding using Home Advisor in a positive way for your company.

1st: Know what the most you can spend per customer is in order to see a ROI. I refer to this as a Customer Acquisition Cost.

2nd: Know exactly what your cost per lead is with Home Advisor.

3rd: Know all the various types of leads and ways they deliver them to you.

4th: Become very acquainted with Home Advisor’s website, how it works, how to move up on the site, how to gain more credibility, etc.

5th: Make sure you limit the aging process to as little as possible by getting immediate alerts via email, text, phone (if possible), and any other type of alert they have available.

6th: Make sure you or someone else can respond to the lead right away.

7th: Make sure your business is operating where you can get an appointment scheduled as quickly as possible.

Craft Jack

Payment Method: Pay Per Lead

Craft Jack is a pretty popular lead generation system for home service companies. I personally don’t have any experience with Craft Jack. I do know that Craft Jack was acquired by Home Advisor.

BBB

Payment Method: Listing Fee

The BBB technically is not a lead generation company, website, or system. However, they do generate leads for local business owners. By far one of the most valuable things about the Better Business Bureau is the quality do follow link you get when you become accredited with their company.

If you are signing up with the BBB, to get calls I would highly recommend using a tracking number on their website. This way you will know for sure if you are getting calls from their service. *Remember that the do follow link can take you from page 2 to page 1 on Google. It can even increase your rankings to #1 on Google for some of your local search terms which will almost certainly bring in many calls every month.

Yelp

Payment Method: Free & Pay Per Click

Technically yelp is free to get listed but they also have an advertising program where you can advertise on thier site and show up above the free listings. I personally haven’t used yelp a lot to get phone calls for clients. However, it can be very beneficial.

Some of the biggest ways yelp can benefit a local business is when Google ranks a businesses yelp profile in the top 3 search results for local terms. However, my advice would be to rank a website that represents your company 100% at the top of Google above Yelp.

Thumb Tack

Payment Method: Pay Per Lead

Thumb Tack is another lead generation company. Thumb Tack was launched in December of 2009 and is pretty big player in the industry. I have zero experience with Thumb Tack but would love any additional feedback on them.

Porch

Payment Method: Listing Fee

Porch is a lead generation system/listing website run by Lowes and offered to home service companies. I have talked with a few local business owners that have used Porch and learned what they thought of it and how it worked.

Basically you don’t pay per lead but you pay to be recommended/listed by the zip code. So if your primary city you service has 10 zip codes it could cost $500 to be listed if each zip code cost $50. I imagine that their costs per zip code vary based on competition, size, and market share.

YP.com

Payment Method: Listing Fee

YP has a lot of advertising options. They have pay per call options, listing options, direct mail options, and more. YP is definitely on the higher end when it comes to cost and their leads are all generated on their website. So if you decide to give them a shot I would make sure that you can respond to leads quickly so they don’t age and become useless.

Kudzu

Payment Method: Listing Fee

Kudzu.com is a listing service. The main benefit I have witnessed with Kudzu is the do follow link that comes when you get a paid profile. You do get a do follow link on free profiles but they don’t really hold much juice. When you have a paid profile it is promoted more heavily on the site and has more internal backlinks going to it. In the past when I have researched various websites’ backlink profiles I have seen sites outrank competition with this one backlink from Kudzu.

Be aware that Kudzu can be quite expensive. I have been quoted $600 – $1,800 a month with a 6 month contract and no promise of calls or leads. You are paying to just be listed on their site.

Red Beacon

Payment Method: Lead Point System

Red Beacon is a lead generation system owned by Home Depot. They have gone through a series of methods and options for home service companies and currently don’t charge anything for their service. They primarily use their service as a way to motivate contractors to buy their equipment, tools, and products at Home Depot. It operates on a point system where you earn points by spending money at Home Depot. Then when someone asks for a referral from Home Depot they recommend their Red Beacon members and deduct points from their account for the lead.

The lead quality from Home Depot is alright. However, from my clients’ experience Red Beacon leads are not quite the leads you want or need. Many of the people are DIYers or looking for the lowest price. Many are not that interested or ready to get something done but are just thinking about it. However, the do follow link on the Red Beacon profile page is worth the time and effort in setting up an account.

Yodle

Payment Method: Monthly Fee

I have never used Yodle but have clients that have and with all of them they have repeated the same thing to me. They found that Yodle’s services were poor and lacked performance. Basically Yodle works by building a separate website to represent a business. They promise to rank this website and get calls/leads to the business owner. This idea is not bad but it seems that Yodle isn’t really interested in investing a lot into the website or ranking the website.

They seem to put minimum effort into the website, create a poor cookie cutter website, and hope that their minimal efforts will get just enough calls for the business so that they don’t cancel after their 6 month contract is up.

The Best Leads

In the end you will be the person who judges on whether a lead is good or bad. However, here is my list of factors that make a lead “The Best”. This list is based from the perspective of a local business.

  1. The lead came via a phone call.
  2. The lead is brand new or in other words it is current.
  3. The lead is local.
  4. The lead’s needs can be met by the company.
  5. The lead isn’t looking for the lowest price.
  6. The lead learned about the company and then called them.

The Worst Leads

A bad lead can turn into revenue for a business when they are extremely good at responding to them and converting them. However, I would recommend that companies avoid leads that fit into these descriptions.

  1. The lead came via an email.
  2. The lead was generated through a form online.
  3. The lead came through a 3rd party website.
  4. The lead was sold to multiple companies.
  5. The lead is too expensive. (Too expensive means that the cost and conversion percentage is higher than the desired Customer Acquisition Cost established by the company buying the lead)
  6. The lead is not in the right service area.
  7. The lead is old.
  8. The lead is simply price shopping. (Remember that a lot of people seem to be price shopping when they really just need to be sold. Don’t write somebody off because they seem to be just price shopping. A good salesman over the phone or at their house can get someone to become a happy customer.)

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There Are 9 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Garret says:

    Thanks for allowing me to share this information with your readers. I hope that this helps some local painters with their business. If anything, it will help them save hundreds and even thousands on avoiding bad leads.

  2. Great article. I’ve gone through a lot of lead generating services and am backing away from them. They were very helpful when the business was new, but the ROI is weak. Here is my assessment of those that I have used.

    Google AdWords: The most productive of any service that I pay for. It’s hard to get customers to identify whether they found us through paid Google listings or organic, so tracking is hard, but I get more calls when AdWords campaigns run, which is the important metric. Their CSRs actually try to be helpful, and I try to have phone calls with them 2-4 times a year to stay on top of things.

    Home Advisor: They get the best and freshest leads. They are also the most expensive. If you have the time to chase down all of the leads and are willing to compete with 2 or 3 other contractors on a strictly price basis, you can do well with them. I use HA during the off season only. It took writing a letter to the company president to get someone to agree that I could turn off leads for several months at a time, instead of the two weeks that can be managed through the website. Last year I tried to keep leads turned off for the whole busy season, but there is no way to overlap those two week off periods, and I always got 2-3 leads in the single day that wasn’t turned off, and always people who wanted to start right away. Long and short of it was that I spent just as much on leads when I was trying to keep them turned off as I did during the slow season when I needed the work. Customer service is crappy and refunds are rarely issued. Still, if you need to get a few jobs lined up right away, Home Advisor can make it happen.

    Thumbtack: This is an uncomfortable service as you have to give a price based on a customer description before you get an actual lead. I have limited my exposure on Thumbtack to a few very specific project types that I can bid sight unseen. The price per lead jumped from about $9 to about $40, so I haven’t been on Thumbtack lately.

    • Garret says:

      Randall,

      Thanks for the comment and adding your assessment of lead generation companies. If it is important for you to know which calls come from adwords and which for organic, I would recommend reading the section about tracking leads.

      I use call tracking software and the number switches when the visitor comes from Google adwords and changes for organic visitors so that I know how many and which came from each marketing source. In the above section I also gave a recommendation as to who I absolutely love using.

      Sincerely,

      Garret

      • I don’t know that it’s important enough to track organic vs paid clicks to justify the inconvenience and expense of multiple phone lines. I may try eWebify, but frankly I like wearing the marketing hat in my company.

        • eWebify says:

          I completely understand that. The real value of tracking through phone numbers would be to know if you are getting a ROI on your clicks but if at the end of the day you can mentally say “yes this is working” without any worry then you are right, it isn’t worth the extra work load.

          The big difference with my company is that it is a partnership where we invest in each other in order for both of us to see a ROI. For instance, with every new customer we always invest more upfront then they ever do. Because of this we have to be certain that we are working with a company and people that will achieve a ROI for both parties.

          Sincerely,

          Garret

  3. writetoaiko says:

    Great to see an article that goes in depth about how leads work and what we should be on the lookout for. I can definitely see how this could have taken 30 hours to write: it’s a goldmine!

    I also love that Garret is explaining all of this very clearly (leads are not my field of expertise yet all the information came across easily) and is transparent about telling us about who he is, what he knows and where his company stands.

    This is exactly the type of relationship I think every client should look for when hiring someone for lead generation. Garret’s clarity, honesty and expertise are priceless.

    Bookmarked and shared -thanks for taking the time to write such good content!

    • eWebify says:

      You are welcome…writetoaiko., Name? I hope it helps save a bunch of businesses a bunch of money. For me there is nothing worse than spending money and not getting a ROI.

      Sincerely,

      Garret

  4. Bob Ransley says:

    Beutifully written and well explained articles are always good. There are lot of things to learn from this article. But I will give 1st rank to know right service area. Tracking and analysis your customers on various parameters and their areas become the most important point. So, promoting a well optimized site having 5 star rating, over sites like yelp will definitely boost the leads of a company. Garret has cleared all ideas on how to get leads. So thanks for her great posting.

    • eWebify says:

      Thanks for reading this article Bob. I am glad that you found it useful. I did my best to cover the topics clearly and completely while providing an easy way to navigate the article with the table of contents.

      How long have you been painting for? I am assuming that you are a painter.

      Sincerely,

      Garret

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