To fully appreciate the value of various pool leads, you must first understand the 3 techniques used to generate pool leads. This is a very basic explanation designed as a starting point for understanding internet marketing. These are the same techniques used by both pool companies and lead generators.
#1. Paid Placement Ads
One option is to pay to have ads that show on search engines or websites. These ads may charge every time a visitor clicks the ad or some charge every time the ad appears. If you pay a set amount for each time a person clicks on your ad, that is called pay-per-click advertising. Sometimes you will pay every time an ad appears to a website visitor, this is called pay-per-impression.
The most common paid placement ads in the pool industry are Google' Adwords. Adwords can be an amazing tool for many businesses large or small. Unfortunately for us in the swimming pool business, all paid placement ad platforms have been saturated with heavy competition. This drives the cost of advertising up as most platforms charge based on the highest bidder. High prices and high competition also brings big talent. Their are extremely talented people paid very handsomely to optimize ads and increase performance.
For the newcomer in our field, paid placement is a very expensive method of generating pool leads. If you go this route, consider paying a competent firm to manage your ads. Basically, you are paying people to visit your website and hoping they contact you. It will cost between $.75 and $12 for every visitor. When a visitor calls or fills out a request on your website, we call this a conversion. This produces the valuable work lead. Typically you will spend between $10 and $30 to get a lead from paid placement. The most important number will be your cost per sale. How many $25 leads will it take to you to close a deal? The answer to that will depend on the quality of those leads and your ability to close them. We recommend Adwords for many businesses, but for pool builders we generally discourage it.
Here is where it really goes wrong.
Let's say you want your ad to show when people search for the exact phrase "Swimming Pool Builder Austin" the recommended bid is $8.50. Let's say it takes an average of 6 clicks to get a lead on your website, that's $51 per lead. That is a bit high for the average pool company, especially when lead generators will happily sell you $25 pool leads. However those lead generators are selling that lead to 3 to 5 other pool builders. Many lead generators get enough info from their visitors to sell the lead's personal info to other marketing firms. The lead generator can flip a lead for $75 to $150 bucks, so anything under that amount is what they are willing to pay per lead. It is extremely hard to beat lead generators in any industry.
#2. Affiliate Marketing
With this form of lead generation the buyer pays between $1 and $5 for every visitor that is referred and completes a pool quote form.
Example: A blogger signs up to have ads for fiberglass pools on his website. He will get $2 for every visitor that clicks through to a pool website and requests a pool price.
Ever bought a pool lead, and the contact swears they didn't request pool info? It happens all the time. Some lead generators will pay a referral from $2-$7 if another website sends them a lead. It's very common for people to enter false info in-order to earn that commission.
# 3. Organic Search Listings
This is when a website appears on the free search results on Google, Yahoo, etc. It is no small feat to get listed high on the search results for pool building related searches. However, the pay off is very rewarding. A website that gets listed in the top of relevant search results will get traffic sent to their website basically for free.
Improving a website's search rank is a science all it's own. Collectively referred to as search engine optimization (SEO), there is a booming industry trying to improve search rankings. Beware, there are sharks in the water of SEO. We get about 20 offers every week for SEO services. The sad part is, most SEO companies that we hear from are somewhere between mildly deceptive and outright fakes. On a local level, SEO firms tend to be honest, but typically are incompetent.
If you are considering hiring an SEO company, do your homework. Look for a solid portfolio of clients that are happy with their results. Call a few of their references to verify their legitimacy. It is common practice among SEO scams to build fake portfolios and then have the phone numbers forward back the SEO that is trying to get your money. If you get a call or email saying something similar to: "Hello, We noticed that you have a great website, but it is not ranking high in the search results. We can help you get your website to the top of Google....yada, yada, yada." Avoid spammy email marketing like this, most are computer generated and have never even visited your website. Most charge $300-$900 per month and may never do a thing for your website. After 3 or 4 months, you've paid a couple thousand and now their job is just to see how long they can keep you paying for it.
We have numerous examples that we show our potential clients. For example, our fiberglass pools website gets about 5k visitor each month from a variety of keyword searches. It ranks in the top three results for a few high volume and high value keywords. We have localized examples too. Checkout our Austin pool contractors, they also benefit greatly from our services.