Search Engine Marketing
The lead generation space is extremely competitive. Bids are high, CPA’s are low and everyone wants the highest margin possible. To combat this, many lead generation companies will utilize all internet marketing channels available – specifically SEM, SEO, email, social and affiliate marketing.
For companies in this space, ROI is what matters. How many leads you generate is not the deciding factor – it is what those leads are worth and how much profit you are making. Google and Bing are great sources of quality traffic, but they are also very competitive and can get very expensive. This has made SEM managers and lead generators into extremely resourceful traffic generators. By utilizing second-tier search engines and different ad networks, SEM managers are able to generate similar quality traffic at a fraction of the price.
Finding the right traffic source for your specific industry can be tough; you may have to weed out various networks and channels through testing to find quality sources of traffic that provide you with a positive ROI. To find the right mix of publishers to show your ads on you can easily test multiple ad networks for quality traffic. Take a small amount of ad spend, anywhere between $1,000 to $5,000, and spread it out over daily spend for a two-week period. Explain thoroughly to your account manager the industry you are targeting. You should be able to get an idea of the traffic quality pretty quickly, but a two-week period allows some time for optimization and fine tuning.
In order to speed up your process, here is a list of the top ad networks and second-tier search engines.
Advertise.com – This ad network offers PPC, display and remarketing solutions. Large accounts receive account managers who will work behind the scenes to find the right mix of publishers. Traffic on this network is dirt cheap compared to Google and Bing, but does send some quality visitors to your site. Their ads appear on sites like Maxim, Comedy Central, CreditReport.com and many others.
Ad Marketplace – This ad network offers text ad advertising on over 500,000 web properties. They claim to reach over 1.5 billion searchers each day. They recently launched a self-service platform where experienced SEM managers can set up their own campaigns and advertisements. For those with less experience they offer managed services as well.
Adside – Adside offers a unique two-step click system that results in a more targeted user. The user must first click on your ad that shows a brief message. Once clicked the user sees your full text ad. If they find your ad is what they are looking for they can click and be sent to your website. This can lead to inflated impression numbers and a low CTR, but it does send you a more targeted searcher. Another unique aspect of Adside is you do not have to prefund your account. You are billed on a post-click model.
FinanceClicks – This network operates specifically in the payday loans industry and shows display advertisements over a fine-tuned financial network. Recently launched in 2010, the interface leaves a lot to be desired but the traffic is targeted and converts well. This network is on the higher side of CPC’s compared to the other networks on this list.
Miva – Miva has a broad reach of publishers across multiple industries. They offer SEM, display and email marketing and accounts are assigned to Account Managers who will optimize the publishers your ads display on. They have an extremely large network with a ton of cheap traffic. It may take some time to find the cluster of publishers that work for you, but with the help of an AM Miva can be a valuable traffic source.
TrafficVance – This ad network offers both display and text advertising. You have the ability to target both keyword-based campaigns and content-based campaigns. Each account receives a dedicated account manager that will help you optimize your account, but there are also self-service tools for those who are more experienced. Their network focuses on Auto, Finance, Education, Gaming and Travel.
Elephant Traffic – A foreign company that offers type-in traffic, they have the ability to send quite a bit of traffic to your website but it can be pretty costly compared to some of the other networks on this site. The interface does not let you have too much control but a dedicated account manager can help you optimize your account for best results. Bids are made in $0.05 increments and you can pick and choose which websites show your ads.
7search – The cheapest traffic from anywhere on the web, 7Search is a PPC-based ad network. This network is keyword-based and is known for spamming Google search results, often posting multiple PPC ads for the same advertiser.
This is a guest post by Justin Freid, the founder and CEO of Front Street Consulting, a Philadelphia SEO and SEM agency. Front Street specializes in working with start-ups and emerging businesses as well as lead generation in the financial, education and insurance markets.
Photo credit: "Kaaterskill Falls Second Tier" by ScubaBear68