Making the case for a central lead marketplace

By Maria WoodAugust 16, 2014

Allstate Lead Marketplace

Should companies develop a leads marketplace? That topic was explored during “Case in Point: Building a Central Marketplace for Distributed Leads” held during the final day of LeadsCon 2014 at the Marriott Marquis in New York City.

James Riebel, executive vice president of software solutions at Underground Elephant, compared a leads marketplace to successful consumer platforms like eBay and HealthCare.gov (politics aside). A leads marketplace can provide that same service for the lead gen industry, he said.

Underground Elephant is familiar with building out the concept. In 2014, they collaborated with Allstate to launch the Allstate Lead Marketplace for the insurance giant’s agents. The platform took two years to develop, Riebel said, and currently gives agents the option of choosing from 16 different lead suppliers for its auto and home insurance lines. “It allows agents to focus on selling insurance,” he said.

Also on the panel was Allstate agent David Williams, who said that having the marketplace “simplifies the overall marketing strategy of the agents.” Agents now have “instant access” to multiple high-quality vendors. And since agents base their lead selection decisions on actual performance, lead providers are incentivized to enhance customer service, Williams said.

Riebel elaborated on the myriad problems buyers now encounter when attempting to buy leads in a fragmented marketplace: numerous lead generation sources from which to choose, price variability, inconsistent ROI, lack of oversight over compliance and the difficulty in analyzing important metrics.

A lead generation marketplace solves those issues by providing a centralized lead purchase marketplace, consistent pricing and real-time conversion tracking, Riebel said. Besides increased efficiency, perhaps the biggest advantage to a leads marketplace is the mitigation of compliance risk, he emphasized, especially at time when government oversight is on the rise.

Blair Baldwin, senior VP of marketing and analytics at Goji (formerly ConsumerUnited), said that a digital leads marketplace eliminates the painstaking and expensive process of inputting data manually on a spreadsheet.

During the discussion, a question was raised regarding whether it is better to buy direct or go through a marketplace. Riebel agreed buying direct is more transparent, but “that’s not a reality in this industry.”

Baldwin noted with so many lead sources from which to pick, the investment a company would have to make to evaluate all of them to justify the acquisition cost would be too high. “With a central marketplace, it’s easier to buy,” he said.

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