When it comes to choosing a lead provider, advertisers are spoilt for choice. There are plenty of companies offering lead generation services from digital agencies, specialist lead generation companies, vertical specific suppliers to lead marketplaces and platforms.

So how do you cut through all the marketing spin and work out which one is right for you?

As the UK Online Lead Generation industry continues to gain a foothold in the digital marketing landscape, many brands will begin to make their first tentative steps into lead purchasing and the first challenge they will face is to choose the right lead provider.

For would-be lead buyers there is already a vast array of choice from digital agencies, specialist lead generation companies, vertical specific suppliers and lead marketplaces and platforms.

They all have their strengths and weaknesses but there are a few key questions to consider that should help you make the right choice.

How many links are there in the chain?

In other words, how many intermediaries are there in between the consumer and the advertiser and what role does each one perform? At the most basic level, more links mean higher lead costs which can have a real impact on campaign performance.

For example, a direct marketer might use affiliates to drive traffic to their landing pages and the resulting lead might then pass through a lead platform and then onto an agency who then passes the lead to the advertiser.

The physical process might only take a micro second but each additional organisation in the chain will inevitably drive up the resulting lead cost. As long as each link adds value, e.g. a platform might validate the lead data then there is plenty of room for everybody but prospective lead buyers should be aware of this when choosing a lead provider.

How are the leads generated?

From co-registration to premium lead generation, each method of lead origination has advantages and disadvantages but as a lead buyer you want to find a partner that understands all these different methodologies and how they may impact upon campaign performance.

For example, a new brand that wants to build a large customer database in a short space of time would be more suited to buying co-registration leads at 20p per lead than premium leads. Alternatively, a finance brand wanting to use leads to power an outbound call centre would be better suited to more expensive and qualified leads generated through a more premium journey.

You want your lead provider to understand which type of lead generation is most appropriate for achieving their campaign objectives. Often, it makes sense to work with a lead provider that has experience in generating leads in your particular sector as generating leads for a finance brand is a very different skill to generating leads for an FMCG brand.

What technology do they have?

Online lead generation is becoming an increasingly technology-focused discipline from validation of lead data in real-time to the ability to track every lead and report back on the outcomes. Quite simply, the more sophisticated the technology, the better.

Some of these technologies can provide a very real monetary benefit very quickly. For example, if you purchase 500 life insurance leads per week from a variety of lead suppliers there will be a small but significant duplication rate as consumers fill in multiple forms online. At £40 per lead, even with just a 1% duplication rate if you work with a provider that can de-dupe in real-time (meaning you pay for each lead only once) that’s a saving of over £10,000 per year.

Where do the leads actually come from?

The other big question, is how transparent will your lead provider be? Will they tell you the source of the leads or can they pass a code so you can see the mix of suppliers? Lead quality will vary from supplier to supplier and to paraphrase Orwell, “all lead sources are equal but some lead sources are more equal than others” and if you are buying a blind blend of leads from various sources then you will be receiving some good leads and some bad leads and of course you really only want the good stuff.

Every lead has value but without any transparency you can’t find out what that value is. The most efficient form of lead purchasing is through a value-based pricing model where you pay a CPL based on the performance of the leads. This is more often than not determined by who the supplier is.

Justin Rees

Published 13 July, 2010 by Justin Rees

Justin Rees is founder of Talking Customers and Cofounder of Currently.

15 more posts from this author

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Comments (5)



Experience of the lead provider in the particular sector is very important. Over time, this helps to prove the methodology and work out the most relevant mechanism to benefit the advertisers toward having higher conversion rate. And technology behind the leads generation always needs less intermediaries in between and must tend to create fast and far standing gains.

about 8 years ago


Peter Bell - Funnel Lead Marketing

Very true, transparency is key.

Without measurement by source it is incredibly difficult to employ direct marketing techniques in online lead generation.

Whilst OLG cannot be 100% transparent by publisher due to the involvement of networks, meaning you may have to buy blind for very good reasons, ie. ad networks/email providers not wanting to reveal their CPM inventory is available on CPL. You should do everything possible to trace the origin of the leads so you can effectively manage the volume and quality.

The 5 compenents of lead quality are:

1. Origination

2. Consumer Motivation

3. Lead Age

4, Lead Exclusivity

5. Verification/Validation

about 8 years ago



Don't forget to use Jigsaw for lead generation and cold calling. I use it to find just the right people to call. That improves my success.

about 8 years ago



Very interesting article. In my business field (sales of health insurance through the web channel), we work with several providers. And we saw the follwing effect : one lead is brought by a provider (eg : a site to compare) and the same lead comes from other channels (AdWords, e-mailing, another site of comparizon, by our own sites...). We also see that our performance increases with duplicated leads : our conversion rates grows up if the lead comes from many sources compared to our average rate from leads that comes from a single and only source.

I'd also add a question : what is the average final conversion rate with the leads delivered by providers ?

almost 8 years ago


Bangalow Accommodation

Good advice, especially the 4th point.

almost 8 years ago

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