Give a business a lead and you feed them for a day

How to generate your own leads instead of buying them

We often get enquiries from businesses asking if we sell leads (we don’t), so thought it an opportune time to explain why we don’t and, in fact, why you really shouldn’t be buying leads from a third-party source anyway.

Just as the old saying goes: “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”, the same is true with lead generation. Generating your own inbound leads through effective marketing is much more sustainable. You don’t have to keep buying more each time the first batch runs out – you end up with a lifetime supply instead.


Generating your own inbound leads means the quality is also significantly better. If you’re buying leads then they’re a mixed bag because, wherever on earth they came from, those people were not specifically seeking your company or your product or service. Even if those people happen to be looking for your service, they probably aren’t looking in your price range. And, most likely, the company you bought those leads from also sold those same leads to all your competitors too; so already you’re in competition with other providers before you even contact them.


Buying leads is ultimately much more expensive. Someone, somewhere, is making a profit from those leads, and it’s not you. The leads you buy might not seem expensive at face value but don’t forget that you’re then paying someone (either yourself or your salespeople) to work those leads to try to close them. Salespeople don’t come cheap. If the lead quality is poor, then your close rate will be low and those leads are really costing you a small fortune for the results you get.

In “lead generation” generation is the prerogative word: if you want good leads you have to generate them. Instead of taking a short cut and buying leads that keep your expensive team of sales people busy all day but with meagre results, let’s take a look at how to generate your own good-quality inbound leads at a reasonable cost instead:

Step 1 – Get your value proposition right

Your Value Proposition is the way you communicate what you do and why you are better to your target market. In a nutshell it’s the thing that makes you attractive to customers. If you don’t communicate this effectively, and people don’t understand why they should come to you instead of your competitors then you’re never going to get good results from any marketing spend.

For example…

BMW – The Ultimate Driving Machine

Mailchimp – Send better emails!

Dollar Shave Club – A great shave for a few bucks a month!

Evernote – Remember Everything

T K Maxx – Big brands. Small prices.

…and our own at Due NorthWhere businesses come to grow.

Step 2 – Build a great-converting website

Note that I didn’t just say “a great website” or even “a great-looking website”. Yes, it should look good too, but it needs to do the job of converting the maximum possible number of visitors into enquiries. Why? Because otherwise you’ll spend too much money on marketing and your cost-per-lead (or Cost Per Acquisition) will be really high, and you’ll probably go back to buying-in your leads again thinking that its cheaper.


Let’s say you have a modest budget of $1,000 per month to spend on marketing activity and for that you manage to get 350 visitors to your website and 10 inbound leads per month – that’s a 3% conversion rate and you’re paying $100 per lead. If your website does a good job of converting those visitors – let’s say a conversion rate of 6% – then you get 20 leads per month from your 350 visitors instead and now you’re only paying $50 per lead. You’re going to more sales from 20 leads than from 10.

Conversion Rates

To achieve good conversion rates, you need to understand your customer well and carefully plan the “customer journey” to build the right content and conversion paths into your website. If you know your customer is really on your website seeking pricing, then give then a “Get a Quote” button not a “Get in Touch” button and you’ll see a big increase in conversion rates. Sometimes it really is that simple.

Step 3 – Drive people to your website very efficiently

“Very efficiently” has two parts to it: Firstly, you need to attract the right people at the right time and, secondly, you need to attract those people at the lowest cost per visitor you can.

The reason you want to reach the right people at the right time is that you’re obviously going to get more conversions that way. For instance, running ads on social media for your family portrait photography business might bring lots of people to your website who love your pictures and would love to get a family portrait done one day. But running Search Ads for people who just searched “family portrait photography melbourne” on Google will bring a lot more immediate enquiries. If your goal is inbound leads rather than brand-building this is going to be more efficient.

Sticking with the same example, if “family portrait photography melbourne” is the most popular keyword for your service then obviously you want your Ads to show up when someone searches that keyword right? But you have a finite budget remember – and your goal is really just to get as many leads as possible for your $1,000.

Let’s talk Numbers

Instead of targeting “family portrait photography melbourne” at $2.85 per click you could target “family portraits melbourne” at $2.35 per click. Granted there are fewer people searching the second term but there are still plenty of them and by targeting the cheaper keyword you could get 425 clicks for your $1,000 instead of 350.

You probably also want to see your Ad in position 1 on Google ahead of all your competitors, right? Position 1 gets the highest click-through-rate but that just means you’ll go through your budget more quickly; plus you’ll have to bid higher to get position 1. Why not bid less (say $2.00/click) and appear in position 3 instead? You’ll end up using all your budget in either scenario but now you get 500 clicks for your budget, which (at the 6% conversion rate) means you’re getting 30 enquiries per month for your $1,000 instead – down to $33 per lead.

Better still, what if you could improve your organic search rankings too (which is another reason why you need a good website) and get some of your traffic for free? Even if you can’t rank on Page 1 of Google for your primary keyword, if you rank on Page 1 for a handful of less competitive keywords and you add 200 organic visitors to your 500 paid visitors then now you’re getting 700 visitors and 42 leads per month at a cost of only $24 per lead.

The Result

By getting your value proposition right, getting your website right, and getting your digital marketing campaigns running very efficiently you can generate your own never-ending supply of good quality inbound leads – people who actually want to get in touch with your business because they want your product or service – instead of having to buy crappy leads from a third-party forever!

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