Generate your own leads on the net

Generating your own leads through a website is an effective way to sidestep paying external lead generation firms, but you might need specialist help to set one up, says Frank Eve

On the subject of lead generation, I recently suggested mortgage brokers should focus on their own consumer-facing websites with the aim of producing mortgage leads for less. This week and next I will concentrate on the most common ways of driving traffic to a website.

First, set up a well planned and exciting site with simple functionality designed to lead the enquirer to leave their details for the broker to follow up.

Once the site has been established the broker will need to employ the same techniques as the lead generator to drive traffic to the site. One of these is to use a ‘pay per click’ service, which means paying an agreed amount each time a consumer clicks through to your site.

All the major search engines such as Google, MSN and Yahoo have a key word bidding service. This service is either provided by the search engine themselves such as Google Adwords or is provided by an outside company such as Overture or Miva (formally Espotting).

Overture, for example, partners with portals, ISPs and meta-search companies to provide search results on their sites. In the UK it includes Yahoo, Lycos, Altavista and Wanadoo.

When a user does a search on any of these sites, Overture advertisers have the potential to get this traffic. More than 95% of Overture’s traffic is generated through its network of search traffic partner sites and this now extends to 80% of internet users in the country.

Overture delivers over 30 million searches per month, which promises to be an important channel for mortgage advertisers.

Most pay per click services give the user a host of online tools and help to set up an account. It should only take a few hours to become familiar with the functionality and set up an account. Overture’s Sponsored Search allows mortgage brokers to bid for placement in the search results on terms that are relevant to their business. These search results are screened for relevance by Overture’s editorial team and are then distributed to the UK’s leading search providers, reaching more than 85% of the country’s online population.

The mortgage broker pays Overture the amount of their bid only when a consumer clicks on their listing, providing a cost effective way to drive targeted customer leads to websites.

Overture uses a number of methods to ensure all clicks reported to the broker are genuine. For security reasons, it does not disclose details of this protection methodology nor does it give visual or system clues that click protection is active.

Using pay per click advertising through companies such as Overture and Miva generates instant results and can be cost-effective but unless you fully understand the process, get some specialist help. Mortgage brokers should be able to undercut many lead generators’ costs but the more obvious search terms can be expensive and managing the bidding process needs careful and constant monitoring to achieve the full value of this resource.