Many people consider the terms “lead aggregator” and “lead generator” to be interchangeable, but the fact is, they are not: a lead aggregator’s job is to purchase leads that have already been generated, and classify them into categories in order to resell to appropriate businesses. A lead generator’s job is to employ the marketing techniques necessary to generate leads, many of which will eventually be sold to lead aggregators. Lead generators are also referred to as lead distributors or lead providers, however “aggregators” are another breed entirely.
Lead generation has always been the basis of the sales process, however lead aggregation really came into its own in the internet era. This industry had noble beginnings, the concept being to purchase generated leads, then proceed to sort, classify and ultimately distribute the leads in efforts to help companies streamline their selling processes and subsequently, increase conversion rates.
Lead aggregators promoted themselves as being providers of quality leads in high volume, and at the outset, there was probably a commitment to both lead quality and volume. But the game changer came in the early 2000s, as the number of people searching online for products/services started growing exponentially.
Businesses responded by building their web presences and online marketing efforts in order to capture some of this burgeoning consumer market. However, not all businesses understood the world of internet marketing, nor could they keep up with the rapid pace of technological advancements. The consequences were that most smaller businesses did not succeed in driving their sales skyward. Some blamed the internet itself, while others realized the problem was their lack of relevant knowledge; they had not succeeded in transitioning their businesses to the internet, and in order to do so, they had to make the choice: invest internally to acquire the relevant technology, plus hire and train staff, or consider outsourcing.
Since the idea of investing internally to acquire the technology, then hire and train the personnel to manage it, seemed overwhelming to many business owners, they decided to outsource, and consequently the number of companies offering lead aggregation services increased to meet the demand.
Unfortunately, the number increase resulted in a quality decrease; rather than distributing legitimate leads to appropriate customers, many lead aggregators were now acquiring and selling leads with little or no related interest in a particular product/service; the so-called “legitimacy” of the lead was a name, a phone number and an email address. Lead aggregators were everywhere on the net, offering free gifts, tips on making millions of dollars, and whatever else they could dream up in order to entice viewers to click through with their contact information.
Many visitors did click through and consequently found themselves being harrassed to distraction by emails or phone calls from the multitude of companies that had purchased their contact information from these less than reputable lead aggregators. The number of companies competing for the lead was bad enough, however some of these companies were not even relevant to the lead’s need!
A most unfortunate consequence of these unethical practices has been the effect of such practices on businesses not using lead aggregators; such businesses use a variety of other online marketing techniques, however their potential to build their businesses may have been hampered, as many potential customers, having been repeatedly harrassed, may have decided to abandon online searching entirely, and seek information on products/services elsewhere.
Although many more business owners today are aware of the potential risks associated with lead aggregators, these services are still in demand. And though not every lead aggregator is unethical, a business owner or manager who decides to obtain these services must do the due diligence first, in order to separate the wheat from the chaff in this industry.