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[edited by: eljefe3 at 5:30 pm (utc) on May 7, 2005]
When I had the thing running 50 to 100 leads a day was pretty standard.
Does anyone know where I can sell these leads? I haven't had any luck finding an outlet.
I'll step off my box now and just say good luck.
Sure, if you want to top the PPC's then it's pricey and you might lose money, but so would anyone adopting that policy. The trick is to find the low cost keywords that still convert.
Hint - "mortgage" is definitely NOT one!
I know a few mortgage lead companies with over 40 employees and a few over 100 employees. To make a few thousand a month on mortgage leads can be done by yourself, I agree, but to be a "real" company, it takes a lot. I think this is obvious otherwise these companies would not have all of the staff. As far as time goes, I think most of these companies have about half of their employees as sales people / customer support. The other half is spread amongst technical/design people, SEO/PPC/Affiliate management, accounting, and management.
So really, I think your 50/50 time split is really about right. Finding leads and getting paid are the two hardest things (I had a customer with $200K in bad debt one year) but customer support and just "operations" takes a big chunk of your time.
Again, before somebody chimes in that they make tons of $ on leads with almost no work, I am talking about dedicated lead companies that have employees, etc. I am not talking about making money from affiliate programs.
I'm also looking at setting up a full service operation. Stepping up form affiliate to affiliate/merchant.
Although I can generate a good number of leads at a reasonable CPA through PPC/SEO affiliate marketing the problem is finding brokers. Actually, I can find brokers but I need to fine enough to support the entire business.
Letís say I want to covers all US 50 states. Most brokers only cover 1 or 2 states so conceivably I'll need a bank of 50 brokers. Now I could just have one generic price per lead but in reality some leads are worth more than others and some brokers will not take all leads so I will need to break up the 'types' of leads. Looking at some existing programs 8 different types seems to be a good number.
Now I have 50 states with 8 types of leads or 400 different buckets that I need to fill.
If I don't fill every bucket then I'm going to waste leads that fall into that specific spec, which will in turn blow out my CPA for the leads I generate.
Now just to make this really fun I realize that brokers come and go, forget to deposit or go on holidays. So I need more than one broker per bucket (Ideally 3-5).
What am I left with, assuming I want to cover 50 states with 8 types of leads with an average of 3 brokers per bucket and each broker on average covering 5 buckets I have 320 individual brokers.
So I totally agree with you bjseiler, we are going to need a significant sales force to support this kind of enterprise.
In both models, brokers bid for leads based on geographic and other criteria, such as if it's a refinance, home mover, first time buyer etc. In some cases, there are minimum LTV criteria to reduce the occurence of unsaleable leads.
From what I've seen of both operations, they successfully address the issues of matching merchants and affiliates and are gathering a good following. Affs are paid a percentage of the bid price for all leads sold, and each lead may be sold up to three times.
Of course, I can't post the URL's here, but anyone considering setting up this type of nationwide "matching" service might benefit from checking out this competition first.
I would also add that my own mortgage leads achieve a higher CPA through private deals than I achieved through my own testing of these lead broking services, so they're not THAT great!
I would say that you are right and wrong with your addition of minimum number of brokers. The bad news is that it can be even worse than you describe because many brokers will say things like, "I only want CA, refinancing leads, >$150K loan amount, excellent credit, with LTV less than 90%." That is a very specific criteria but fairly standard. It would be a common lead in CA but if somebody in North Dakota only wants ND leads like that, it will be hard to keep that customer happy.
The good news would be that there are companies like Ameriquest who most lead companies deal with. They take leads in almost all of the states I believe but they do de-dupe on you. What that means is you can send them a file of leads but if they have any of those leads in their database as having filled out a lead form in the past year, then they will not accept that lead. I don't know how you find the person to talk with at Ameriquest, but I assume it is easy since I know everyone deals with them. What many lead companies also do is charge extra for CA and CO leads and then also for "extra filters" so that if somebody wants >$150K and less than 90% LTV, then they get charged an extra $5 or $10 per lead.
As for the "lead auction" system mentioned above, it makes me smile because I was a partner in a company called [snip] and we did attempt this about a year and a half ago. We did not buy or sell leads, just acted as the monitoring middle man. Problem being that the lead quality coming in was just to horrible because there are so many dishonest lead companies who attempt to recycle leads as many times as they can get away with it. If somebody has a working model of this business, I say great! But, always go into any of these deals thinking that somebody is going to try and rip you off. It is the worst part about my job because I have learned that many of the people in this industry are crooks. Having clients that are crooks is just not fun.
[edited by: jcoronella at 3:20 pm (utc) on May 17, 2005]
Wow, I am impressed that somebody doing 7 figure deals so easily visits these forums.....but, I hate to say that "easy as pie" and "7 figures" are not often put into the same sentence except in infomercials and by the naive. I will gladly eat my words though if you send me a screenshot of your 7 figure bank statement :-)
I know people right here doing 50-100k profits per month selling leads. That was my point. They are not employing tons of people or spending all day in negotiations. I am sorry your experience was so difficult.
LAstly, who the heck would keep 1M + in the bank?! If you think it is rare that folks who have made good money post here, you are sadly mistaken :)
I guess my other question for you is, why on earth would these lead companies hire employees at all if one person can handle everything? The employees would just be wasted expenses. To counter the obvious arguement of "I can make 7 figures and without working because I have somebody else doing it" then why would these companies need more than 1 employee?
I am not promoting our product at all in fact. I would say I am doing the opposite by saying that selling leads can be time consuming. If I was promoting our product, I would say it is a piece of cake and no work at all.
If you have the ability to create a site that generates leads on its own and you can find one or a few wholesale lead buyers, I will stand behind everything you have said. I have seen several lead companies fail though because they don't have the ability to do either. If you can build sites generating good mortgage leads and you have found large wholesale buyers that are honest, you are talented and my hat is off to you. I am being totally sincere in that. It can be a competitive market (look at the PPC rates) and those who can generate leads through SEO have solid skills in my opinion.
What I am saying is, there is no such thing as an easy seven figures otherwise there would be a lot more millionaires roaming the streets.
Well, there are 8.2 MILLION households with over 1 Million doallars in the USA alone, so it's really not all that "rare".
Anyway, the point is, that if you do get traffic for finance leads, which many here do, it is not really that difficult to find lenders that will buy them for good prices. No, making lots of cash is not easy, but the hard part is getting the traffic at a cost effective rate, not selling the leads, IMO.
I agree with that 100%.
I did not make a point I really should have. I think that it would be wise to start making revenue first through affiliate programs where you know you will get your money and then to move over to selling leads directly. Some people even migrate by pushing leads they can't sell to affiliate forms and keeping the leads they can sell on their own forms (like step one, select your state....).
I have seen a few companies kill their reputation in the beginning by taking on brokers whose orders they can not fill. This is especially damaging if you land a whale that wants 500 leads per day and you can only fill 10. Even if you grow your lead volume, that company will probably never come back to you.
I have learned a lot from these boards but I don't post very often b/c I am no expert on affiliate marketing, seo, etc. I'm definitely not trying to push our services though, just giving my thoughts after having worked with lead companies for 3+ years.
We kept a back up of our affiliate system in case we had problems and we've almost reverted a few times. The hardest part is on the client relations end. Certain clients will take 1000s of leads and not bat an eye, while another will call you at only ten leads and start complaining about quality. That is one problem that you do not seem to have as much with the affiliate model. It's a lot less formal than taking on actual clients.
There is much, much more money involved with taking the data yourslef. How manyother services do you think you could promote to these people? Secondary income from email marketing almost equals what we were making as a whole through affiliates!
Great point for people there. Lead companies often spin one lead into many things. For example, one mortgage lead (somebody selling a home for example) is actually a good lead for both a mortgage broker and a realtor (or even two realtors if you are buying in one area and selling in another). A lot of lead companies then also market directly to those same leads at a later time trying to generate home improvement leads, insurance leads, moving leads, etc. I think it would be possible to actually turn one mortgage lead into about $200+ worth of sold leads if you have all your ducks lined up. After all of the near term marketing is done, "list" companies will often buy old mortgage leads for resale to telemarketing companies who use the data to cold call people in the future.
I have cycled through probably 10 mortgage merchants in the last two years, who always start off by promising the earth, then realise that their model just doesn't work online.
I've even recently taken to suggesting that merchants REDUCE their CPA's to levels that match the rest of the market - this way they've got more chance of making a profit and I've got more chance of them liking the numbers and becoming a long term client.
To make really big money from anything like this takes work, but the work is in setting up the traffic flows and long term merchant relationships that mean that once the cash starts flowing, there's no daily maintenance required. To get to this point takes effort, for sure, but to pretend that I actually work more than 45 minutes a day now it's all set up would be wrong :)
I'm starting off with London and then England, in time I'll and Scotland. Wales and N.Ireland.
Thanks for all the posts guys.
I am having trouble keeping broker accounts live with funds at the moment but I'm hoping in time this will be less of an issue.
I run a strict '1 lead 1 broker' service but I am thinking of selling these leads off to complimentary markets.
But I'm not sure if I should start up a new system i.e. a whole new site for 'removalists' or just set up a good follow up email service with a tracking link.
If I do things right I could run break even with the core business and then make 100% profit on the additional industries.
For what it is worth I know the 7 figure statement is true too.
mfishy's right - I am in the 50-100k per month club, and you're all right when you say it's not easy. mfishy, I believe you too wear the "golden bathrobe" sir?
I'd be lying if I said it was a peice of cake at this level. But it beats working 9-5 for someone else.