Or: How I Learned To Give Up And Love Lead Aggregators?
(Also, Or: To Aggregate Or Not To Aggregate)
It?s a tale as old as time. A question that has vexed web marketers since long before the internet sprang forth from Al Gore?s loins since before the internet was but a twinkle in Al Gore?s eye.
Should I trust my budget with lead aggregators?
It?s a simple enough question, with a similarly concise answer: it depends.
There is no dearth of options for your interactive marketing dollar, and that?s not even considering whether you should invest in?*gasp*?traditional media (which carries nearly as many channels all its own). As with all things marketing-related, you must begin with the end in mind.
What are your goals?
Are you simply looking for name recognition? Trying to drive enough traffic to prop-up your SEO efforts? Putting support behind a limited strategic initiative?
The most successful campaign managers undergo a simple exercise to determine their budget allocations.
First, determine your goals and work backward.
Let?s say you?re a trade school with a big 2nd quarter start. You know a given inquiry will take 90 days to become a fully-realized classroom student. You also know your inquiry-to-start conversion rates.
These are completely made-up for illustration (but pretty realistic):
- Website Organic ? 12%
- Website Paid ? 6%
- Traditional Media ? 10%
- Aggregators (including call centers) ? 3%
If you can make it this far in the process, the path is clear. Fill your buckets from the top down, right?
Again, the circuitous answer: sort of?
Filling The Buckets
The last factor to consider is potential and mix.
You want all the Organic leads you can get. Those users know your name and not only came looking for you, they did it via the medium with the largest breadth of information: your main website! However, any dollar you spend on optimizing your website will pay off, at best, in 60-90 days. You should do it. You should max out your potential there. But you should orient your expectations with reality.
Traditional media inquiries convert very well. Those people heard your name and rather than looking around online, they called you right away! However, very few modern users do that. Traditional media is worthwhile, but your lead-generation expectation should be just shy of non-existent (at best). On the other hand, every dollar you pump into traditional media pays off on your main website?s direct traffic (*cough* name recognition *cough*).
Paid Search is slightly less-valuable than organic search ? these users were likely either looking for you or at least your product offering ? but depending on your targeting strategy they may not be far enough down the funnel to make a decision. In short, the more money you pump into paid search, the likelihood is the lower your lead-quality will drop.
Your Competitors Are There!
So we come to Aggregators. Aggregators are a volume play, plain and simple. You can get a lot of website traffic in a short amount of time ? and likely relatively cheap ? but the quality WILL be lower. This isn?t necessarily a bad thing, but it?s something to be aware of. It is important to understand how aggregators operate in the interactive ecosystem.
If your website is the hub of your business, your SEO and PPC practices are what drive people there. However, not everyone searching (actively or passively) for YOUR TERMS will click on YOUR ADS.
Aggregators work by trying to rank on those same valuable keywords (either via paid or organic) to gobble up all that traffic that didn?t click on your offers. They also make their money by having as many of your competitors on their site as possible. This is why the traffic quality is so much lower: users are clicking on ALL those competitors, rather than just one from the Google SERPs.
Whether or not aggregators are right for you depends upon your goals, their resultant demand for traffic generation, and the depth of your budget and ability to decipher quality traffic. In most cases, aggregators will be toward the bottom of your budget priorities, but they may be at the top of your accounts payable (many education clients get as many as 80%+ of their traffic from aggregators). You may not love the traffic quality, but your competitors are there!
So the question remains: To Aggregate or Not To Aggregate?
And again, the answer: It depends.
Do you have questions SEO, Paid Advertising, or Aggregators? Robot Logic Marketing can help.