Below is an article that I published on Forbes.com, which you can also read here
Looking to start a business? You may want to consider joining the lead generation industry. Most companies rely on a steady flow of leads in order to grow. Industries like insurance, mortgage, home improvement and loans are just a few examples that have a massive demand for leads.
Lead generation is part of the digital marketing industry. The U.S. will spend $120 billion by 2021 on digital marketing. If you want to start a business that has huge demand, can be run by a solopreneur, is mostly automated and has the ability to scale quickly, then this business is for you.
Choose An Industry
The first step is to choose an industry that needs leads. Nationwide industries are more desirable because it’s easier to advertise a nationwide campaign online as opposed to a local campaign.
You also want to choose an industry that is currently in high demand. Take auto finance, for example. These lenders provide auto loans for used vehicles to consumers who are not able to get approved for a new car loan through traditional banks.
An astounding 107 million Americans — about 43% of the U.S. adult population — have auto loan debt. That’s up from 80 million Americans in 2012, when those with home mortgages outnumbered those with auto loans.
Choose A Marketing Strategy
The most popular paid marketing channels are Facebook, Google Adwords and YouTube. In most cases, Facebook is the cheapest way to generate leads today and has the ability to send more volume than other marketing channels.
Facebook targets specific audiences, and they do a great job at it. They make it possible to target your ads based on the type of car someone drives, their income or even their net worth. For auto finance leads, you’d want to target consumers with lower income and who are looking to buy less expensive used cars. Facebook makes this easy to accomplish.
Set Up Automation
Automation is key to success and is the best part about running a lead generation business. A lead is generated by placing an ad online. For example, let’s say you place an ad on Facebook. The consumer sees the ad on Facebook, clicks on it and is redirected to your website. On your site, the consumer will fill out a form that sources various fields of information. Once they fill out the form, they are now considered a lead, and your lead buyer’s customer relationship manager (CRM) will be automatically notified via your lead distribution software.
Once your advertising is set up, your lead buyers are in place and your software is configured — your business becomes completely automated. The only work that is required is managing your marketing campaigns to make sure your lead cost remains as low as possible to maximize your profits.
To monetize leads, you should have multiple lead buyers. You never want to put all your eggs in one basket. If one buyer stops accepting leads, you should have another one ready to go. If you are generating 100 leads per day, make sure your buyers can handle that level of volume. You never want to be stuck with leads you cannot sell.
You can also monetize your existing leads into other industries by adding additional fields to the form on your website. If a consumer is looking for an auto loan, they might be interested in auto insurance, too. So you should also ask the question: Are you interested in auto insurance? If the consumer says yes, you are now able to sell that lead to an auto insurance company.
If you are selling the lead to different industries (e.g., auto finance and auto insurance), you will not have a problem. But you want to be careful that you do not sell a lead too many times because then it will be harder for your buyers to close deals. Which means they will be less likely to order leads from you again.
Lead generation is the ultimate scalable business that you can operate very efficiently as a solopreneur. It is always in demand, is mostly automated and has a wide range of clientele. I highly recommend you research lead generation further if this business fits your skill set.