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Todd Bairstow

Jay, great post. It really highlights the enormous spectrum of "quality" when it comes to internet-generated leads.

To Jason's point, we see over and over and over again that our clients would rather pay a significantly higher rate for a significantly higher quality lead. Our best clients know their conversion rates on our leads COLD and come to rely on the quality -even if they have to pay for it. Our clients also buy leads from more traditional lead sources (the big home improvement guys) and get 10X the leads at 10% of the quality.

IMHO, "better quality, higher prices" is where the industry is heading, even if it has to be dragged there. As buyers gain more experience with Web leads, they're going to understand that model as being more efficient at the end of the day.

Jason Stoffer


Great post- as always. It is very true that it is difficult to move lead buyers away from their insistence on buying a certain number of leads a month.

However, at Career Ed, I always pushed to base measurement of lead vendors on not only CPE but some measurement of lifetime value per student. Personally id rather pay $100 a lead instead of $25 and get 4x higher conversion. The unwritten cost here on the lead buyers part is the operational cost of calling so many filler leads. You have to hire more salespeople than you want and they spend more of their day dialing leads that won't answer the phone.

Mara Fineshriber

Jay makes some really good point here. The one I have the most heartburn over as a school is the idea that other schools help perpetuate some of these affiliate worst practices that contribute to worse quality leads. If schools would just think in terms of an ideal CPE (cost per enrollment), than it shouldn't matter what the cost of a lead. Not at all. I would happily pay a vendor $300 for leads if they converted consistently at 30%. If lead gen vendors begin to work harder on providing better quality for schools, and schools pay more for those leads, the school still comes out ahead because they save sooo much time and money from not having to work and send print material out to all of those really bad leads that were never going to convert anyway.

If a vendor sends a school 1500 leads a month from a particular lead source and 10 of those convert, does it make the school feel better or worse than a vendor who sends them 150 leads and 10 of those convert. Yes, the one vendor didnt send enough leads to fill the pipeline like the other did, however, the ultimate outcome was the same... 10 students. I would take the source that sent 150 leads any day over the one sending me 1500. I would save a ton of time and money with the one versus the other. Volume is not my friend, good quality leads are my friend. Whether a source only sends me 5 a month or 500, I am always HAPPY to receive any good quality leads. Those vendors that understand that will always stay on my buy. Those that don't quickly get released.

I could go on and on, but basically, wish other schools would help each of us out by holding the vendors more accountable for the quality of leads sent us. If we don't put our foot down, they will never feel the motivation to stop mixing the bad with the good to make more money.

Sean P. Fenlon

Great post, JW.

It's a great summary about transparency -- subid is a subset of transparency.

You gotta admit your Baltimore experience influenced the crab metaphor! :-)

Me too...



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