01 Aug Online Directory and Small Business Lead Generation Sites

Online directory and small business lead generation companies build and rank websites to obtain traffic interested in specific topics, and then sell inclusion in the directories or the leads to businesses. They are available for most businesses and if used correctly, can help to generate additional customers. If done incorrectly, the results can be disappointing.

ONLINE LEAD GENERATION DIRECTORIES

small business lead generation Online lead generation directories can be organized like a phone directory and include every business category; or they can be targeted exclusively to a particular niche, such as lawyers, chiropractors, etc. With a general directory, people searching them will enter the type of business they are looking for plus a location. The directory then returns the businesses listed in the directory. Many include a free listing for businesses to get them to participate and then sell sponsored listings at the top of the results page. Most will have different policies for displaying offers.

The niche specific directories can offer the same free inclusion and charge for sponsored ads at the top of the page. People searching will usually type in their location if its niche specific, e.g. chiropractors or lawyers, will organize the directory by type of practice and then return results by location.

In our experience, we discovered many local lead generation directories were hurt in their SEO rankings when Google updated their algorithm, code-named “Panda.” This affected their traffic. To be fair, online directories are working to recover from this change and you should just confirm that you are receiving a return for your investment.

In most cases, a free listing may not return many leads but having a link to your website from the directory helps your with SEO, as well as helping with your Google+ Local ranking.

Things to Consider when Evaluating Marketing Lead Generation
If you decide to try a sponsored listing, you should follow these suggestions:

1. Sign up for the shortest period of time available to test your return.

2. Verify that your web designer installs Google Analytics on your website so you can track the traffic received from the directory.

3. Use a tracking phone number in the directory ad to see how many calls you receive. Some directories offer this, as well as traffic statistics.

4. At the end of the contract, review your statistics and conversions before you decide to renew.

small business lead generation sites

There are various types of small business lead generation sites available targeting most niches. These are typically dedicated to a specific type of business, for instance, plastic surgeons. An example is Service Magic which offers contractors leads in their specific area. There are different business models available and what you need to determine is the quality of the lead. Leads can be either qualified or not qualified.

“QUALIFIED” LEADS
A qualified lead means that the vendor has screened the lead to fit a predetermined profile and will then send the lead via email or call you directly and transfer the call. It is then up to the business to invite the potential customer in and close the business. Even if the lead does not close, the business has to pay for the lead.

“NON-QUALIFIED” LEADS
Non-qualified leads mean that as visitors to the lead generation website fill out a website form, their contact information is forwarded to the participating business. It remains up to the business to contact the lead, introduce themselves and screen the lead. The close rate is typically low for this type of lead generation system.

ROTATION SYSTEM
Most local lead generation systems use a rotation system to distribute the leads. Many limit the amount of participating businesses to prove enough of a return. Others send the same lead to multiple businesses directly who must compete for the lead.

Obviously, a qualified leads program is much more expensive but the results are stronger than a non-qualified leads program. Before you consider investing in a lead generation service, you need to first determine the value of a new customer to your business. Is the customers’ purchase a one-time occurrence or do they offer a long-term revenue stream?

Once you run a lead generation program, you can then determine your cost-per-lead from the service to see if it’s worth continuing. As there are no guarantees, testing the alternatives in the shortest period of time possible is the correct approach.

NOTE: Some small business lead generation companies offer a guarantee, such as a “double your money” return for participation in their program. While this sounds attractive, most will not write you a check. Rather, they will continue to run the program until you do receive the promised return. The thing to consider is that if it’s not working for your business during the contract time, why will it suddenly work if the program continues?

ALTERNATIVE TO “NON-QUALIFIED” LEADS SYSTEMS
We do not recommend subscribing to non-qualified lead generation services. Instead, incorporate an effective digital marketing program for your website and online marketing campaign. By achieving good rankings, you will drive targeted leads to your website and can achieve a higher conversion rate.

WEBSITE LEASING OR RENTING OPTIONS
Many digital marketing firms offer the ability for you to rent or lease their niche specific website or blog. These sites are usually already ranking on Page One and what they are offering is an opportunity for you to advertise on their site. This is a form of lead generation plus you have exclusive use of the site for a monthly price. Usually they will try to sell you other services once you begin receiving new leads from the site.

With the introduction of Google+ Local, which takes a dominating portion of Page One, you need to guarantee the traffic generated by the site is worth the investment. Many Internet marketers will register an exact match domain name for a long tail keyword phrase or a phrase that returns fewer Google+ Local listings in order to rank higher on Page One. This can result in the site only ranking for a single keyword phrase that does not generate a significant amount of traffic. However, niche targeted traffic that is steady can increase your revenue if the keyword phrase converts.

QUESTIONS TO ASK
The following questions are important to ask if you consider website leasing as an option for your online marketing campaign:

1. How old is your site and how long have you been ranking on Page One?
2. What keyword phrases has the site been optimized for?
3. What is the “exact match” local monthly traffic for each keyword phrase?
4. Where is each of these keyword phrases ranking in Google? Can I see a ranking report for the site?
5. Have you tested the keyword phrase(s) for conversion? If so, please show me your conversion report.
6. What is the monthly traffic generated by your website, and for what keyword phrases? Please show me a monthly report for the last 90 days.
7. Will I receive a monthly Google Analytics report?
8. Do you provide call tracking on the site?
9. Has anyone else previously leased the site? If so, why did they discontinue their lease?

NOTE: A Page One ranking without traffic is of little value. Unless there is consistent traffic and a high Page One ranking for the keyword phrases, then you may be disappointed with the return. On the other hand, even ranking for one keyword phrase that generates consistent targeted traffic can be worth the investment.

Do not sign a long term contract. You want to test the conversions before you commit long term. Just because a keyword phrase ranks on Page One does not mean it is a buyer’s keyword phrase.

ANOTHER RENTING OPTION
A different model is when an Internet marketing firm charges you several hundred dollars up front to build a lead capture site, which they own. They will inform you that there will be no billing until the website attains a Page One ranking for a keyword phrase in your niche. Then the Internet marketing firm will register a domain name, which they also own, and will want to take control of your Google+ Local listing to link to the new site.

If you decide that you no longer wish to participate, they will attempt to lease the site to one of your competitors. They usually rank for a low traffic keyword phrase or add your zip code to the beginning of the keyword phrase to achieve ranking. They must do this, especially in competitive niches, or it could take up to a year for them to achieve a Page One ranking to get paid. For a low traffic keyword phrase and new domain name, it can take from several weeks to three months to rank, depending on the keyword phrase. They usually count on the Google+ Local listing to rank, as opposed to their website.

We do not recommend this option at the time of this writing. If you decide to invest in this option, it is important to track the traffic and conversions produced by the site to see if it is worth continuing.

PURCHASING A LEASED WEBSITE
Many digital marketing companies will offer to sell you their site once it has achieved a top Page One ranking. While it is good to have an additional site that is ranking, you
must realize that rankings are not permanent. If you do not continue an effective off page digital marketing program, and the site becomes stagnant, the site can drop off of Page One over time.

To preserve your investment, we encourage you to hire a professional digital marketing resource to maintain and/or improve the site’s ranking. The site owner will probably offer you an SEO package if you purchase the site. Also ask to review the traffic statistics prior to purchase.

The Niche Dominance digital media marketing strategies are designed to evolve with the rapidly changing search engine environment so your business can achieve a competitive advantage in today’s growing competitive landscape. We can also advise you in evaluating the effectiveness of your small business lead generation alternatives to ensure you invest in the best solution for lead generation.

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