Here are some suggestions about what to look for - and what to avoid - when evaluating a lead generation service:
- Exclusive vs. Resold leads - The big companies, like Home Advisor - get a lead and then sell it over and over again. In the past year or two smaller lead gen companies are emerging that work exclusively with one client per area. This does not mean that the client on their own may not contact other roofers on their own, but it saves you from being one of 3, 4, 5 or more roofers contacting the same lead.
I should acknowledge that services like Home Advisor, Angie's, etc have some benefits that a smaller exclusive lead gen company cannot offer...like the centralized reviews on a high traffic site for instance. So my suggestion is always to use both for a while, maybe permanently. Do enough on those large sites to keep a positive profile. But use the exclusive model to really focus on build your business in the long run.
- Call vs Email leads - The dominant online model of lead gen has been through email capture. Basically a website with an email sign up form is used. Typically some freebie is offered to get people to sign up. These leads are then processed and sold (and resold) by the lead gen company. Leads like this are cold to luke warm at best and put the total responsibility for contacting the prospect on you. Often the prospect doesn't even remember signing up or they just signed up for the freebie. So the quality is low and the prospect cold.
The newer model of lead gen is to publish a phone number on many sites, articles, videos, social sites, etc across the web. This number is forwarded directly to the exclusive client. Ideally the number is published on pages and sites that are keyed to immediate need ("my roof is leaking, what do I do?"). So the typical caller is much more motivated to use your roofing service.
The idea is to get them chasing you, not you chasing them!
- Long Term vs Short Term - The exclusive model also allows for a different type of relationship between the roofing client and the lead gen company. Again using Home Advisor as the contrast point, they don't really care if you buy their lead or not, because they know that they will still get 3-5 other local companies to buy that cold email lead. Their focus is immediate here and now (primarily), and any long term focus they have is on their own bottom line, not yours.
But when you are the only client in the area for the lead gen company they are going to be focused on working with you to grow your company over the long term. They will get to know all of your services in detail. They will work to maximize the outreach for those services into every nook and cranny of your service area.
- Narrow vs Comprehensive - This is a bit difficult to explain, but most lead gen companies just want to do the minimum to bring in a good return for their efforts. So if they can get away with just doing one website in an area, great!
A lead gen company that is committed to your long term growth will have a different perspective. This relates to the "nooks and crannies" I mentioned above. They will be seeking to get your contact info out to every place possible. For example, I recently told a client that my goal was to have the contact number showing on over 10,000 places on the net within a year. He thought this was a bit crazy and perhaps an inflated number to make an impression. But this is entirely reasonable and doable.
When you start multiplying number of services by high quality urgent keywords by all cities and neighborhoods in a typical metro area and then add multiple listing for all of the above...........well the numbers do get very staggering. This kind of comprehensive approach will give the roofer a degree of exposure that really could not be imagined before.
This is getting long so I will end it here. Hope this helps.