Like the water filter man who went door-to-door in my youth, selling overpriced water-filters which “You could not buy in any store, ever..”, lead generators have their place in creating a new market.
So it is with online lead generators like Realtor.com, Zillow, Home Store, Expedia, Hotels.com, Angie’s List, Legal Zoom… these and thousands of others created the marketplace online by spending huge amounts in venture capital on pay-per-click advertising in recent years, so that they could resell pay-per-lead advertising, upgraded listings, websites, etc. By bidding up the words on Google PPC and others beyond what the vendors could cash-flow, they have fed the media bank accounts, and created the largest media in the world: Youtube.
However, just as you can buy a pitcher, and two water filters which will last for a year at Walmart now for $13, this too will change, slowly. Because these bloated, over-funded behemoths still account for most of the revenues, it will take time, but it will happen.
Run any broad real estate, hospitality, legal, medical or other lead generator search on Google, and you will see what I mean. These sales funnels, who turn Joe consumer into Joe “the Internet shopper from hell” by selling the leads seven times so that seven hungry salespeople start calling all at the same time, will be removed because nobody wants to find a page populated A-Z by salespeople. What consumers want is information, not an obstructive sales funnel collecting their information for resale.
Furthermore, they are messing up the search results, and not paying Google for the organic advertising revenues; and that, my friends, will change any minute, with one stroke of Google’s algorithmic pen:
“To improve the lead-gen process, the majority (64 percent) said they will emphasize lead generation more in the next 12 month. Most respondents (49 percent) cited new creative approaches, followed by greater agility (34 percent), better lead capture (34 percent), better content (30 percent) and better attribution (29 percent) as tactics to advance their lead-gen programs.
The report also said B2B marketers plan to tackle underwhelming lead-gen programs by changing areas of investment. In the next 12 months, respondents plan to boost spending in content marketing (70 percent), email marketing (51 percent) and social media (40 percent). At the same time, those B2B marketers expect to cut spending in trade show/event marketing (40 percent), pay-per-click ads (34 percent) and other digital ads (23 percent).”
The smart thing for Google to do (and they are smart) is to make it impossible to get to the first page organic (non-paid search results) without creating good content, not sales funnels or competing advertising platforms. I predict that they will do this any minute. The middlemen will slowly fade, and they are fading, in favor of cleaner content-marketing techniques, which are more consumer-friendly. I am as sure of that, as I am that this article will rank for “the slow death of lead generators in 2014” by the time you read it!
How-to articles and books will always work well, as they always have. I have found this methodology extremely effective in media and tech markets: because nobody will pay for what they do not understand, and, when they do understand, they would rather pay me the small amount that I charge than try to do it themselves.
Besides, what I will say about y clients, would be immodest if they said it!
In seven years and counting since I made it, this video is still perfectly relevant:
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