How Hot Are Your Leads?

Typically a prospect will go through 5 phases of motivation as they are searching for a product or service online.  An experienced search marketer can identify what stage a prospect is at based on the phrases used.  By targeting phrases in Phase 3, we can reduce cost or increase the quality of a lead- because at that stage the prospect has already identified what she wants and is likely to be looking for a vendor that she is comfortable doing business with.

Meet our example – Sally

Sally is the owner of a 10 person investment management firm that specializes in serving high net worth women who are widows.

The economy is down and Sally has noticed a drop in the number of new sales inquiries.

Her business has primarily been built on referrals. She suspects that since the economy is not doing well, her clients are not talking with their friends about money or investing.  If her clients aren’t talking about money, then her firm doesn’t have a chance to be recommended.

Sally realizes that more and more of her typical clients are using the internet these days and also realizes that people are tending to search for financial advice online instead of buying books or going to the library.

A few years ago Sally hired her nephew- a smart kid studying web programming in college- to make a website.  The website looks nice and accurately describes Sally’s firm.  She hasn’t done anything with the website since it was launched, other than putting the address on her business card.

Phase 1: Awareness

Sally recognizes that she needs to do some advertising.  Since she is a sharp business owner she starts with an analysis of her best customers and also determines profitability of her existing clients.  She makes a spread sheet of all her clients and profiles them.  Sally finds

  1. The average age of her ideal prospect is 70
  2. The customer lifespan of her ideal prospect is 10-15 years
  3. Typically the death of a husband is what causes a prospect to assess her financial situation and become a client

Sally is excellent at advising her clients on how to make their retirement money last- typically something that was done by the husband.

In addition Sally looks at her current business model:

  1. Sally charges a flat 1% annual management fee
  2. Her average client has a $1M portfolio
  3. Her average client will produce $10K of revenue each year
  4. Her net profit margin is around 60%
  5. Each client costs $4K in office expenses, employees and other operational expenses

Since each client will bring in $6K in bottom line profit to the company, Sally makes an educated guess that she can to pay up to $3K to get that client.

Now that she is aware that she needs to do some advertising, Sally decides she must first learn a little about advertising.  So Sally searches for information about advertising on Google.

She searches:

  • advertising for financial planners
  • how to find clients for my financial planning firm
  • radio advertising for financial planners
  • local TV advertising
  • advertising costs for the Oregonian

At this point Sally doesn’t really know the solution to her need- only that a need exists.  Her searches take her to a hundred websites which are either companies pitching their type of advertising or informational articles about the subjects she is searching for.

Phase 2: Research

After a week of thinking about it and hundreds of Google searches – Sally has identified 5 types of advertising that she could use:

  1. Local newspaper ads
  2. Local radio ads
  3. Local TV ads
  4. Direct mail
  5. Internet Marketing

So she begins to research the pros and cons of each type of advertising.  Now that she recognizes the type of service she is looking for she starts using a different type of search phrase.

She searches:

  • Portland newspapers for older women
  • Portland local TV ads
  • advertise on Oregon Public Broadcasting
  • radio shows that older women listen to
  • Portland postcard design
  • Portland direct mail
  • Portland internet marketing firms

Again, she finds hundreds websites which are either companies pitching their type of advertising or informational articles about the subjects she is searching for.

Phase 3: Comparison

Sally contacts many of the companies she finds through searching to get an idea of costs and what she might expect.  At this point she has not yet decided on which particular channel she will choose. She wants to compare the products against each other.  After reviewing another hundred websites, talking to a dozen sale reps, and asking her associates at the chamber of commerce, Sally decides that Internet Marketing is probably the best channel, since it offers the lowest cost to entry and is extremely track-able. Sally loves stats and numbers but more importantly she wants to control costs.

Now that she has selected a specific type of product or service she wants to identify and compare vendors.  Her search terms become much more specific:

She searches:

  • Portland web designers
  • internet marketing consultants in Portland
  • Portland internet marketing
  • Portland pay per click marketing consulting
  • internet marketing firms in Portland

Sally identifies 10 local vendors and bookmarks their websites.  She thoroughly reviews the portfolio of each company and calls the clients who are featured in each companies portfolio.  She narrows this list down to 5 and sets up interviews.

Phase 4: Selection

When Sally goes to each interview she is surprised to learn that there are three ways to do internet marketing:

  1. Company A specializes in something called SEO (Search Engine Optimization)- which is the process of getting a website to appear #1 on a specific search phrase.  They say that their method is best because once your site is established in Google, you will get a perpetual steady stream of visitors.  You won’t have to pay per click- Google will give you prospects for free.
  2. Company B specializes in something called PPC (Pay Per Click)- which is advertising on Google where you pay for every person who clicks your ad (typically $1-$4 per click).  They say that their method is the best because you can be number one on any search phrase you want immediately.  This will allow you to get results within a week.  They say SEO is slow- and they are right.  SEO takes time.  Company B’s pitch is very compelling as Sally wants results now, not 3-6 months down the road.  But Sally is a bit put off by their proposal- which is to spend $20K per month in advertising with a 6 month commitment.  On top of that they charge a 10% management fee so the total cost of the campaign is $132,000 over 6 months.
  3. Company C specializes in something called CPM (Cost Per Impression)- which is running banner and graphical ads on other websites.  Sally is intrigued by this because she knows that there are websites which her clients frequently visit.  These websites are, and the Wall Street Journal online.  In this type of advertising Sally will only be charged when her ad is shown.  The cost sounds very good – Only $30 per thousand impressions.  This means 1000 people will see her ad and she will only spend $30.  She could show her ad to 10,000 people for only $300. Sally inquires about how many people will click her ad and visit her website.  The sales rep tells her that on average advertisers get a .3% click thru rate.  This sounds really low to Sally – “wait, so out of 1000 impressions I will only get 3 clicks? That is $10 per click – no thanks”.  Sally leaves disappointed.

Phase 5: Purchase

Sally goes back to her office to compare proposals.  She doesn’t really like any of the proposals.  She doesn’t want to signup with a company for 6 months with the hope that she can get her website ranked for 5-10 search phrases.  She isn’t confident that those 5-10 phrases will even work.  Company B said – ‘What good is being #1 on a phrase that no one uses”.  That advice really made sense to her.

She really liked Company B’s proposal but a $132,000 ad campaign is way more than what she was expecting.  Sally really only needs 25 new clients – which would increase her revenue by $250K per year.  That would be plenty to get her company back on track. Company B’s proposal is just too big.  Sally can not handle such a high volume of new clients with out increasing her staff size.

Company C’s proposal was totally ridiculous- Sally is not a national brand trying to create brand awareness- she doesn’t need to show her ad to 100,000 people.  She doubts if there are even 100,000 people who match her target customer profile within a 50 mile radius of her office.

Since none of the proposals were acceptable, Sally will now repeat the process by going back to Phase 3: Comparison – She is now very aware of what she is looking for and has done the research needed to know what she wants.  She wants to run Pay Per Click advertising but needs to find a firm who will work with a lower budget.  To a  PPC management company Sally is now a hot lead.

So she goes back to Phase 3 to find and compare vendors who specialize in “low cost PPC campaigns”.

She searches:

  • low cost ppc management Portland
  • ppc internet marketing for small companies
  • Portland small business ppc advertising
  • low cost Portland ppc consultants
  • ppc managers in Portland

She finds 40 different vendors and compares their web sites.

From the 10 she selects 5 for and schedules interviews (Phase 4: Selection).

From the 5 she ends up purchasing from one.

Sally finds a small 4 person firm that has been in business for 2 years and experienced great client success.  That have a short but excellent record of producing results for small clients and Sally really likes their personalized service and the fact that everyone at the firm will know her account.  She signs up for a 6 month campaign with a $30,000 budget.  Since her campaign is small, she must pay a $2,000 per month management fee- but she doesn’t mind – it’s a small price to pay for the ability to test the adverting on a small scale with out a large risk.

That’s great for Sally, but my company has a small budget.
How can we get high quality sales leads?
Is there a better way?

Yes.  There is a better way – its called Cost Per Lead Advertising.  CPL advertising is a blend of all three of the above strategies where the agency takes on the cost and risk of the campaign.

eHotLeads offers an easier way to do Internet Marketing. We offer high quality sales leads on a Cost-Per-Lead (CPL) basis.  We primarily focus on PPC but we do a little SEO as well.

Did you notice how the phrases Sally used changed the second time she went to Phase 3: Comparison?

The first time she was searching for “internet marketing”  the second time she was searching for “low cost ppc management”.  Notice how one is much more specific than the other.

Proper understanding of how keywords are used – we call this “Search Linguistics” – gives us the ability to connect with the people who are ready to make a purchase.  If you look at Sally’s story, she interviewed a total of 10 companies but chose one.

The first 5 companies didn’t really have a chance of getting Sally’s business because Sally didn’t really want what they were selling.  At that point in the sales cycle Sally was an uneducated buyer who did not specifically know what she was looking for.

It is important to realize that and also realize that prospects at this stage can convert to buyers, but they must be treated differently than prospects who are further down the sales cycle. The second 5 companies had an excellent chance of closing the sale, because they were found under very specific search phrases.  Proper targeting gets the results you want.

With eHotLeads you only pay when we produce sales leads for your company.

We take care of the sales text, the graphic design, the website programming, the statistical tracking, the Pay-Per-Click management, the SEO and provide you with high quality sales leads.

Our unique approach allows you to engage an expert Internet Marketing agency with out costly upfront fees or long term commitments.

For a free no-obligation price quote please call 503-776-0764.

When you call you will get a recording asking for your name, phone number, email address and website.  Please speak slowly and give us your contact information.  We will not call you back unless requested, but we will provide a price quote via email and our lead generation experts will spend an hour reviewing your website. In addition to your price quote and website review you will receive a special report containing an easy to implement strategy that we have used to boost our clients response rates by 37%.

Published by

Chris Chong

Chris Chong is the President and Co-Founder of eHotLeads. He started his internet marketing career in 2002 and has since founded or helped launch over a dozen internet companies. As a serial-entrepreneur, his passion is to grow companies by applying proven direct marketing techniques in new ways.