If you are not paying for lunch then you are lunch!
It’s a new media adage that suits free offerings such as Facebook, LinkedIn and so many more, yes it’s free for users but only free as they are the product. This audience is segmented and delivered to advertisers and your personal likes or tastes is now their big data and is incredibly valuable when sold on as targeted adverts as relevance is valuable as it reduces budget wastage. And you did opt in via the T&C’s.
The next level of user data exploitation is the Approved Supplier Directories, who really ought to be named as Lead Generation Brokers. Unlike Facebook who supply you with a benefits laden experience, they just ask you to upload your details, product needs and budget which they sell on, yes they really do. Why would you give a stranger so much commercial information? Probably as you have no idea that you are the product, they don’t care about your business needs but about how many times they can sell your data on as a live project to 4 or 5 design companies that they have never met let alone audited. You may not have heard of the way they gather and sell data but you will have heard of the names such as Rated People, Approved Supplier Index, WebsiteDesignerPrices (with 75% saving before without even knowing what you want).
These Brokers appear to offer you a link to approved verified, authorised suppliers near you. However all they do is take the data that you gave them when you filled in the webform and sell it on as a red hot sales prospect to between 3-5 companies, no questions asked, other than can I have your credit card number? They do not audit, verify or check out these suppliers they just sell the data on, multiple times. So are their customers getting access to the best in the market? No the opposite in fact.
How do the Brokers get the customers from? They users through disguised websites with the devil in the detail, in the small print they will mention the word leads. But to be generate web traffic themselves they need to spend a lot on SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to get their websites up the search engines rankings or by paid results via PPC (Pay Per Click). So the lead generators are paying Google to buy the attention of unsuspecting users whose business needs are then sold on to others. It’s a kind of marketplace of the blind, as they do not even suspect they are being exploited an sold on as leads. We recently came across an Edinburgh based web design firm now in liquidation who admitted to buying £17,000 worth of leads at £50 each, that’s not a great business model. If that lead is being sold on 3-5 times plus there in absolutely no guarantee that the end client will buy from any of the lead purchasers, or at all. So the cost of customer acquisition could be way higher than the £15-£50 prospect lead fee. Evolution has been targeted and even tried this route as it seemed to be too good to be true. And it was, usually the actual customer interest was way over reported and the budgets were not as high as stated, nor was the urgency as imminent. So a weak cheap cool lead was sold as a red hot one of high value.
Another Lead Generation Broker who contacted us recently is QuotationJunction, who ‘specialise’ in such diverse areas as Web Development to Franking Machines and Golf Buggies, any way to gather a lead. They spend a lot on PPC and their leads range from £15-£40 based on the project value and promise to only sell to 3 companies. 3 seems to be a common number but in such a wild west industry I’d not be 100% confident of that though. Perhaps they are even selling their own customers data on to other lead Generation companies?
Another recent link building tactic operated by Marketing Quotes is to set up a website (see left titled the British Marketing Community with a blog post on the Top 100 web design firms), this free listing is then followed up by a request to place a link back to Marketing Quotes website, thereby avoiding looking like a dodgy link swap which is frowned up by Google. The ‘community’ does not really exist it is just a webfront for a lead generation company. But one with inwards links from hundred of design companies – the very people they hope tom sell their new lead to.
But what if the Lead Generator is set up as some kind of industry body, how fair honest legal and decent is that? We recently joined one for the internet and after joining we were offered leads that their site had generated. They really do look sound and act like the quality control of the internet brigade. QC for your PC, but are in fact generating leads for sale.
Promises made by these online services really need to seen to be believed.
Take LogoDesignGuarantee they offer you a guaranteed 50% discount if you sign now as the sale always ends today – recently had website adverts banned by the ASA on 5 different complaints but will that stop them? They cannot even spell stationEry on their homepage, small point but desperately worrying as it is one of their core services. Not to mention would you buy a logo from a company called LogoDesignGuarantee who do not even appear to have a logo themselves. They also sell website design, and the same question should be asked judging by their website would you buy?
It seems to be a common error amongst online ‘designers’ here you can see WiLogo services page, would you buy stationery from them or rather stay stationary.
A mnemonic is that stationEry has an E for Envelope and stationAry has an A for Arrived.
By Neale Gilhooley Evolution Design®