Lead Generation Experimentation Continues – Not Rich Yet!

I had to throw that “not rich yet” line in the post because the more I learn about lead generation the more complex I realize it is. I have a lot of respect for people that are successful in lead generation – it’s a hard business to get-into and a whole new model when compared to PPC or Affiliate Marketing. People like Braden from Legal Brand Marketing get it and I’ve been doing my best to learn from guys like this.

There are really two ways to learn, you can do it 100% yourself, ignore all outside influences and give it a shot – that’s pretty much how I started in the industry. For development it worked as I was able to get some lucrative sites running in a much shorter period of time than I was expecting…however it took me three years to learn what I know now and my strategy is completely different and more successful because of it. So what did I do? I got social, met other Domainers and worked hard to learn from people that were successful in an area I wanted to be successful in.

Take my good friend Patrick (you probably know him as Chef Patrick), when we first met my blog had been out longer than his but nobody had heard of it and his was the talk of the town. While I thought I got it, I didn’t, but with Patrick’s help I was able to get much more engaged in social media and blogging. I’ve always been very appreciative of the help Patrick gave me, and I don’t let him forget it!

Now I’ve working hard to grow my brokerage business so I’m talking to successful domain brokers and trying to learn from some of the pros in the field. One of the most incredible things about this industry is all the great people willing to share their advice and tell you what’s worked for them. The advice I’ve received has helped me dramatically change my brokerage business and improve my liquidity.

Okay, so now to the main topic of my post – my lead generation experiments. I have been working on two lead generation sites and putting most of my focus into these and making them successful before building more lead gen sites. I always think it’s smart to get the model right and then replicate, however I think a lot of Domainers do it the other way around! Lead generation requires some serious work up-front to build-up people to sell your leads to. On one of my sites, TexasDWIAttorney.us – I am going through a person in Southern California that already has those relationships and has gone through the hard work of making those connections themselves.

Texas DWI Attorney

For my second lead generation site, WestwoodDentists.com I have found my own buyer, my dentist! When I went to the dentist I started talking to them about how they market online. It turns-out they are working hard to expand their business and their online presence. I asked if I could provide leads for them, potential patients, would they be able to commission me on these. They were interested!

Westwood Dentist

I am driving traffic to these sites through both organic search as well as paid Google AdWords. Texas DWI Attorneys is a big niche and one that I may have to go local in to really be successful. Since this is such a competitive niche it’s hard to get good data about how well my site converts without using Google Adwords to drive some targeted traffic to it. The problem is I’m still trying to master which keywords I can afford on Google based on how much I make per lead. The way I’m doing my math is:

How many visitors will it take to fill-out the form once?
I’m going to guess this is about one every one hundred people.

How much do I make per lead?
For this particular site I make $15 per lead

What is the maximum I can pay for a click?
0.15

In a niche as competitive as Texas DWI law the CPCs are high so I have to go hyper-local to get reasonable positioning. I’m just starting with AdWords on this site to supplement the organic traffic it is getting from search which is only around 1-2 people per day right now.I think once the site has a few hundred people a month coming to it I’ll really start to get some good data, and hopefully some good leads too!

I am doing some link-building with the site as well, writing articles on services like Helium as well as cross linking from some of my other properties. This is a long-haul project and I’m not looking to make a fortune overnight, my goal is to build-up a solid ranking in the search engines so I can put the business on auto-pilot.

Now for WestwoodDentists.com my website for finding dentists in Westwood California (where I live). This is a VERY small market, there are less than 200 people a month searching for dentists in Westwood. However, I was one of the people searching and I found my dentist through an ad I clicked on Google. It turned-out the site was a lead generation site that fed leads to a number of different dental offices based on location. After talking with my dentist and seeing their interested I decided I’d get started!

This is a very low potential niche but a much easier one to rank well in. I think this site makes a great testbed since I can really try to dominate the niche and learn how to make my sites even more effective. I could see myself having this site as part of a network of sites in the future all centered around a hub – a lead generation site for dentists in California, the USA, who knows! What I do know is that so many people start with the big one – they try to build a directory for dentists all over the US or in their state. I think there’s a great benefit to starting small, going hyper-local, and making sure you have the model right before going after the big fish.

Since Westwood Dentists is such a small niche in only a few weeks I’ve been able to go from a newly registered domain (I hand-registered WestwoodDentists.com) and onto the first page of both Google and Bing for Westwood Dentists.

So this is, as I said in the post title, “an experiment,” I’m still learning and if you want lead generation advice I’m probably not your guy. I know how to build great sites that rank well and monetize well. While I haven’t made much in the lead generation space I am working hard to change that – getting these two sites right is important for me. It’s about starting-out small and building upon a platform that you know works. This is what I did in 2008 and 2009 with my sites and the results far exceeded my expectations.

I think the best way to really make money in lead generation is to have a direct relationship with the lead buyer. Once I get these two sites working I’m going to put an increased focus on finding direct relationships with buyers in the variety of lead generation categories I have domains in. This is a start, it’s going to be a journey, or an adventure as I often say…and I look forward to sharing it with all of you!

{ 12 comments… add one }

  • Leonard Britt September 16, 2010, 3:50 pm

    While I have no experience with lead gen I believe a conversion rate of 1% sounds low. I know of (don’t know personally) an individual experienced in lead gen who once shared his experience with one of his sites on NP. I can see his site and Adwords campaigns are still active so the program must still be making money. Based on where his site ranks by searching for two key phrases and using GAKT I would guesstimate he is paying $0.30-$0.40 per visitor for traffic. He had mentioned he was selling those leads between $5-$7 and making five figures annually from a fairly simple site. Lead validation is an additional expense so it would seem he is converting at least one in ten visitors.

    Thanks for sharing your experience as I would eventually like to offer lead gen on some local geo sites but I realize there is a bit of upfront work:

    -you need to find businesses willing to pay for leads from someone who has never done lead generation before (what unanticipated factors might make the process a losing proposition or just more resource intensive than I can handle?)

    -you need to price your leads at a level where the buyer is interested & yet you can make money given that lead generation (buying traffic) isn’t free

    -you need to have the resources (hire or your own time) to validate incoming leads because if you continually sell bad leads eventually your buyers will stop buying

    -the likely scenario is you will have to buy traffic via Adwords and consider conversion rate in the pricing of leads; ask too many questions and noone completes the form; don’t ask enough & your leads may not be of high quality

    -you need an exit strategy in the event the program is losing money either due to low conversion rates, higher than expected bid rates or nonpaying lead buyers

    Reply
  • John Humphrey September 17, 2010, 4:00 am

    Morgan, do you know, or can you help me figure out, how to track local lead gen where I’m providing visitors to my site with a discount coupon that gets redeemed at a local business? The merchant has various sales staff, may have multiple coupon offers, and may not be as diligent about keeping track as I’d like. Also, I might have coupon offers to multiple merchants so it could busy at my end. Would appreciate your thoughts.

    Reply
  • Grant September 17, 2010, 4:48 am

    Morgan,

    Grab yourself a local number for both of these sites, you can get one for cheap at Kall8, you can then forward it to a local dentist/attorney and it tracks the calls via email.

    When you switch buyers of your leads you simply change out the number forwarding.

    Reply
    • Morgan September 17, 2010, 11:54 am

      @Grant – that’s a great idea! Thanks for the advice – I’ll start playing-around with this right-away! Have any other tips to share?

      Reply
  • Joel September 17, 2010, 8:07 am

    @Grant –

    This is exactly what we do, using Google Voice… we have many different local numbers controlling the destination and/or client who gets the call.

    We have been doing this since the inception of Pay-Per-Call. (Owning/Controlling the number I mean)

    Reply
  • Duane September 17, 2010, 8:44 am

    @Jon Humphrey

    ever thought of actually selling the coupons? Then you can care less if they are ever used or not.

    Set up 1 – 20 different coupons worth the value of your choice and then sell them for 5 or 10% of there value. Payment could be made by paypal or credit card. After payment arrives , coupons could be sent by email or a download link. Customers just print them out. Just make sure the coupons are valid and accepted by your retailers.

    Reply
  • ValueDrops.com September 17, 2010, 9:16 am

    hey Morgan,

    thanks for the info, it’d be great to also hear some general terms you have with the dentist, how you forward the lead, how he pays, how you count etc.

    also, you might want to test out your sites in IE as well, at least in IE 7, the positioning is broken. This is why I love html tables vs css.

    Reply
  • PPC Ian September 17, 2010, 9:43 am

    Morgan,
    AWESOME post! I really enjoy these case studies. Lead gen is big business (just look at the market cap of QuinStreet, a company I worked at that IPO’d this year, and I just sold my shares). Your sites look awesome!
    Best,
    Ian

    Reply
  • DNLingo September 17, 2010, 10:42 am

    See, this is the stuff I am trying to learn. I need to get my domains developed instead of just sitting on them and you make it look so easy. Lead gen will be a complete different beast for me to tackle but it seems like you have a good approach on it. Are those two sites custom made or are they landing pages provided by the affiliate? They are affiliate sites right?

    Reply
  • Low Cost Insurance Quotes September 22, 2010, 5:48 pm

    Morgan,

    Great case study post on lead gen!

    As you know, I’m working very hard on lead gen in parallel with you. I definitely consider myself a “lead gen guy” now instead of a “domainer”. I’m making $XX in commissions every month now on my three lead gen sites using only SEO and Local Search. No Google Adwords. None of my sites rank well in Google — all my leads to date have come from Bing, Yahoo Directory, and other local and insurance directories. Based on growth over time, I should be at $100+ per month in a month or two. Then, I hope to scale up from there, especially a year from now after I’m out of Google’s “sandbox”, which is where I think I am with Google SEO at the moment.

    I chose insurance to cut my lead gen “teeth” on because it’s fiercely competitive and it pays well. Plus, I’m a bit of a financial expert and understand insurance well. I figured if I can make progress in insurance lead gen + SEO, I’ll be learning a ton along the way that will benefit me in other, less competitive niches later — I’ll be able to get those sites up, running, and optimized much faster than it has taken me with the three insurance sites. My strategy has worked well thus far — I’m learning a ton and making a little bit of money while I learn. Much bigger things to come later!

    Logan.

    Reply
  • lee September 25, 2010, 3:44 pm

    Hey Morgan. Maybe it’s just my laptop.. but your site is rendering very odd in IE8 but is fine in Firexfox..

    You might wanna check it out, just in case.. if it seems fine.. soz.. it’s my laptop!

    Regards Lee UK

    Reply
  • lee September 25, 2010, 3:57 pm

    I mean your dentist site!.. not this one!

    Reply

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