Outsource Online Lead Generation

There are a number of online lead generation models, and they all center around the concept of providing relevant, targeted, current (even real-time) sales leads.

In addition to continuing your own lead generation strategies – online or otherwise – an additional option is to outsource this activity. In exchange for payments on a per-lead basis, you can follow up with fresh leads as they come in.

Internet Lead Generation Agencies

There are outsourced agencies that provide online leads that can be used for a variety of purposes such as list building for e-newsletters or direct sales. The idea would be to call the leads immediately (for a telephone sales organization), or to plug the leads into an appropriate sales funnel.

Internet lead generation agencies may develop their own websites to capture leads and/or partner with other lead generation sources who have their own websites.

Various models of online lead generation exist, but typically, a consumer who encounters a lead-generation website enters their contact details in exchange for a free offer of some sort.

♦ In some cases, the info seeker would enter his/her information directly within a banner advertisement and the lead could be sent directly to the advertiser.

♦ A full-page lead generation advertisement may promote some free offer to encourage visitors to enter as much personal information as required to process the lead and for the individual to receive their free item. This type of online lead generation can result in lots of leads, some of which can be low-quality, including leads with purposefully inaccurate information, since the information was entered for the purpose of receiving something free and not as a result of a sincere desire to be contacted.

♦ Another common Internet lead generation model is through co-registration advertising (Co-Reg). Through this process, an individual is offered the opportunity to receive additional free information while registering for some other service. For example, while subscribing to a magazine or ordering printing services, a consumer might request additional information that is being offered. In other words, the demographic info provided by the consumer, as well as the service they were signing up for would indicate the category of lead. Following the same examples, someone who was signing up for a health magazine subscription and also requested info for a nutritional product might be categorized as a “Health and Fitness” lead or “Weight Loss” lead, depending upon the specifics of the nutritional product. A consumer who is purchasing online business cards from a printing service, and who also registers for information about working at home, could be categorized as a “Business Opportunity” lead.

Pay-for-Performance (P4P) leads and sales represent another category of lead generation or sales programs. Some of the above examples might be conducted on a P4P basis, or not. Meaning, on the one hand, you pay for the leads regardless of their quality. And on the other hand, some P4P models might base remuneration on actual sales. Such will typically cost more, but of course, you’re not paying unless you get results.

These are not the only ways lead-generation agencies generate their inventory, but they are some of the ways that lead agencies can provide current, targeted leads to your phone or email inbox.

Like everything else in the marketing world, you would be wise to start small and test the effectiveness of a given online lead generation service (or several such services) and scale up your efforts for a lead source that shows promise.

Of course what is understood is that you have a lead processing activity already in place, to effectively utilize these paid leads, whether that might be calling the leads immediately, or including the purchased emails into your existing sales funnel.

Simple Email Lead Generation Flow Chart

There are many ways to generate leads. Heck, there are many ways just to take advantage of online lead generation, which is only one component of all the channels that can be used to drive leads to your business. (Check out Ten Lead Generation Models).

In the world of online marketing, incorporating email into a lead generation campaign would be considered a mature practice, since it’s been so thoroughly and routinely utilized going back to the 90’s. (I began my email marketing career back in 1995 and have never stopped.)

The accompanying graphic of a simple email lead generation flow chart depicts the flow of a stream of Internet visitors moving through a website, getting sorted into segmented databases and leveraging those databases to maximize marketing leads and sales.

Free Offer in Exchange for an Email Address

It all begins with some kind of offer – and it’s typically a free offer. This can be as simple as a free download that would be valuable to the targeted market segment. The download could be a PDF, or an audio program or a video, or even a multi-part email educational “course.”

The offer should be something desirable for your target audience. As an example, if you were generating leads to cultivate financial service clients, you would offer something of value to those types of clients. If you were offering leads to potential students for educational products or services, you would need something that specific target audience needs, and it should also relate to the product or service you are selling.

Regardless of what the offer is, it should be emphasized that it needs to be valuable. Over the years it’s gotten harder and harder to inspire visitors to part with their email address in exchange for downloadable information, and if what you provide is not truly deemed valuable by the recipients, then you will have lost the opportunity to convert those visitors into new customers. In fact, they might not be interested in anything you have to offer at any time thereafter.

Conversely, if you truly delight them with your offer, they may be inclined to consider that if you provided that much value for free, you’ll probably provide even more value for your paid products or services.

Do You Really Need More Info Than Your Visitors’ Email?

By the way, the more information you ask of your visitors, the less of them who will respond. Of course all marketers typically want as much information as possible from their potential leads, but that’s not always the best practice. In other words, if you ask for more info than their name and email (such as their phone number, and address, etc.) many visitors will decline your free offer.

It’s more acceptable to simply ask for name and email. Some marketers only ask for an email (and no name), knowing that the more visitors that they convert into their database, the more FUTURE opportunities there will be to get more contact information, and more importantly, MORE SALES.

Lead Generation: Quality vs. Quantity

Some marketers are willing to accept less potential leads, and instead, ask for as much information as they believe is necessary to qualify a lead upfront. This is simply a business decision. Do you want a larger volume of leads? Or do you want a more qualified stream of leads?

However, this particularly flow chart highlights a process that attempts to gain a higher quantity of leads AND a higher quality by guiding visitors through an initial two-step process. It’s simple and gives visitors more control over their experience while gaining more demographic information for the marketer.

More specifically, the initial offer in this example only requires name and email. However, once that is provided, an optional survey is presented, which has several qualifying questions, and also makes an optional request for a phone number. Since a visitor can choose whether to provide their phone number or not, most that do enter their phone number, can be considered to be amenable to a sales call. (Especially if you make it clear that someone will contact them if they leave a phone number).

By the way, if you want to make this simple flow chart even simpler, then the survey can be dispensed with.

Database Marketing

This flow chart represents a simple, rudimentary and initial aspect of database marketing. In this example, ALL emails that are exchanged for the offer go into a central “All Prospects Database,” and those that give their phone number are segmented into a “Hot Prospects Database,” whom are immediately contacted via telephone as part of a sales process.

Of course, not all the prospects that are included in the sales process will be reached by phone and of those that are contactable, not all will turn into customers.

However, by way of the ongoing email follow-up campaign, which integrates more information about the topic that is of interest to the visitors (as well as additional marketing email messages), these follow up emails represent the crux of this campaign as they can continue on indefinitely until the subscriber buys a product or service or unsubscribes from the database.

Bear in mind that most prospects will “not” provide their phone number, which means the majority of conversions from inquiries to actual hot prospects will be a result of the ongoing email marketing efforts. It is only then, after those who are reading the emails get to know your business better, that they will select themselves into the “Hot Prospects Database” by contacting you to ask questions or to buy your product or service.

And the best part is that the entire lead generation process is automated up to the point that prospects enter the sales process. (If interested, you are welcome to contact me about which email services may be best for your business).

Email Lead Generation Conclusion

There is certainly more that one can know about online email lead generation, including testing the offers and landing pages, testing which survey questions yield the best results in terms of prospect engagement and qualifying the leads.

Furthermore, there is more that one can know about tuning the variables of quantity vs. quality of leads.

And there is definitely more that can be known about database marketing and lead segmentation, especially as it relates to gaining more demographic information from your email database as time goes on and as your readers receive more of your mailings.

But this simple flow chart does serve as an example of one method that can be used to construct an email lead generation campaign to increase your business profits.

Ten Lead Generation Models

Pay-for-Performance Video Advertising

Generating an ongoing flow of sales leads is the most fundamental component of marketing for every business that requires new sales to sustain itself and/or for established businesses that want to expand.

Lead generation includes any, or a combination of, the following:

Broadcast Advertising: Infomercials are a prime example here. Not only is an obvious product being sold, but that sale results in a valuable lead for additional and similar products. Such products may be sold by the same company and/or the lead may be sold to other companies that sell similar products. (Radio advertising would be another aspect of broadcast media).

Online Lead Generation: This is a very rapidly growing and evolving arena as new methods for online lead generation are tested and other ones are refined to produce greater results. Online lead generation includes pay-per-click models; search engine optimization activities; video marketing; downloading free (or paid) information in exchange for lead info; responding to surveys; registering for online services; webinars; in short, any way that you can observe or imagine how to inspire an individual to enter their name and email (or more info) online could be a component of lead generation. Some businesses may want to look into pay-for-performance lead generation opportunities, as well.

Direct Mail: Lead generation through direct mail still works today, as evidenced by the amount of junk mail you and I continue to receive each week, in spite of the rising mailing production costs. Becoming effective at direct mail lead generation can make or break a lead-generating marketer, since the costs demand critical attention to testing, comparison and refinement. In my opinion, this is a fantastic proving ground for the development of any marketer worth his/her mettle.

Event or Trade Show Marketing: This is a traditional form of formal and informal lead generation. The formal aspect of this is represented by all the ways that exhibitors desire to engage attendees at these expos. The informal aspect of trade shows is represented by the nature of many professionals who attend such conferences for the purpose of establishing new business leads through personal networking.

Seminars or Training: You name it, and there are entities who provide seminars and training sessions for popular subjects, such as health, finance, insurance, software, marketing, etc. The seminars may be low cost or free and/or may be an important revenue stream in and of themselves. But for many such activities they primarily exist to generate leads. In recent years there has been a trend towards greater use of telecommunications, which includes teleseminars, and webinars, especially as an important aspect of online lead generation. However, in this paragraph, I’m primarily referring to its more established offline activity which is still a workable lead generation channel for some markets.

Publicity and Public Relations: Getting people to call your business through mentions in the press is a very effective way to not only generate new leads, but it’s also a way to bolster each and every other method, too, since independent media lends greater credibility to your business. For some businesses, online press release services have become a primary driver of new leads.

Whitepapers or Product Literature: Requesting free information from a company is a classic lead generation strategy that has been prominent forever and is one of the earliest methods on this list that was translated over to the online world. Because it is so commonly utilized, it is most effective with significantly unique and valuable research and/or some very creatively presented information to make it stand out in your industry.

Email Marketing: Lead generation using email is still effective, even if somewhat less so than the past. When done well, it can be among the lower cost channels to identify and convert leads into sales. Of course spam is universally vilified, and we are not talking about that. We’re talking about email marketing, as a subset of internet marketing, whereby prospects are offered something valuable in exchange for their email address so that you can follow-up with them with more emails, about their interest and also advise them about your products and services.

Telemarketing: In the United States, telemarketing was restricted way back in 2003 with the opening of the National Do Not Call Registry, which gives consumers the opportunity to limit the telemarketing calls they receive. Regardless, the list only applies to residential phone lines and not business lines. As well, telemarketing can be conducted to residential lines for political organizations, charities, surveys, and for existing business relationships.

Social Media: Lead generation through social media channels is noted separately here, even though it is an online activity. Social media merits a special mention because social media channels, such as YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., command such a large amount of Internet traffic. They have become a force independent of search engines and offer their own paid advertising opportunities. An important point to note is that for most businesses nowadays paid social media advertising is much more predictable at lead generating than just maintaining a social media presence and posting content.


Whether you are generating leads online or offline, the necessity for testing, monitoring, comparing and refining are the factors that will determine the best results from any lead-generation campaign or model.

Lead Generation and Sales Conversion Statistics

Lead generation, as part of the marketing and sales process, boils down to connecting buyers with sellers. The overall process can be very short, such as when a consumer lands on a web page and determines that they will make a purchase right then and there. (For example, buying a book or a DVD).

However, for businesses that have more expensive and/or complex products, as well as businesses that provide service offerings requiring person-to-person conversations, there is an inherently longer sales process. Of course the more expensive or more complex the offering, the longer the sales process.

Lead generation is a vital component of establishing the initial flow of potential customers or clients (beginning with an “inquiry”), who would then move through a sales process, ultimately resulting in money being exchanged. Of course, not every inquiry will turn into a sales-ready lead, and only a percentage of the those leads will become qualified prospects, and in turn, only a percentage of those will become customers or a clients.

Lead Generation Statistics

The above chart represents “Ecommerce Conversion Rate by Product Type.” Pay particulate attention to the different color bars in each product type. The purple represents the “median” conversion rate and the green represents the top 25%. Your first goal would be to get your conversion rate up to the median and then optimize for the top 25%.

Suggestions for Improved Conversions

Improving your conversion rates is a never-ending process. Strive to regularly optimize your performance, or your competitors will pass you by.

It may seem obvious, but your ad and landing page should work together towards the same goal. The more directly they are connected the better. If your ad is for a specific product but the landing page takes the visitor to a category page, you’ve lost many potential customers in the first few seconds.

Split Testing: You should always test at least two ads a time. Keep improving your existing ads and endeavor to come up with new ones that will beat out your higher performing ad.

Make your text easy on the visitor: Your features and benefits calls to action should be simple to read and immediately accessible.

Emphasize your Call to Action: This is worth underscoring. Make it very and clear what the visitor should do. Buy Now. Watch the Video. Subscribe Now. It might seem too obvious, but these CTAs are proven to increase conversions.

Testimonials: Highlight that your product or service works. Show reviews and testimonials and quotes from the press.