Photo by Dave van Hulsteyn

Buying leads always seemed to be one of those murky areas of marketing for me.

Full disclosure: I have never bought a lead, know very little about the process and would probably try and build my business an online business through SEO, blogging, a laser-focused PPC campaign and building a kick ass web site before I ever bought a lead.

But, that said some people have had a lot of success buying leads so I can’t really discount it as a tactic.

And it looks like despite all the pronouncements of the death of lead generation there are definitely some new twists on this old concept – most clearly with the recent launch of Zillow’s Mortgage Marketplace (see Questions About New Zillow Mortgage Marketplace).

Marketplace definitely seems to be the hot buzzword right now since Reply.com has recently relaunched itself as a leads marketplace too.

Now I know I’ve given these guys a hard time in the past (see Reply Needs to Pull Its Head Out) but I actually kind of like this idea.

If I’m looking to find leads I can just go in and bid for them. If I have too many (a problem most would love to have….) I can go and sell them on to others. Right now they are trading leads in the real estate and mortgage sectors, as well as in insurance and automotive too.

The idea that I could potentially monetize any excess leads (generated off this blog for example) to others is especially fascinating.

The one thing I didn’t like about the experience is that, as a buyer, Reply asks for your credit card right up front before you’ve even dived in to the site. I think this is short-sighted quite frankly – I would have loved to go in and at least gotten a snapshot of what I was bidding on before having to input my personal details (and be referred to as a “lead” myself – ugh).

The normal caveats on leads apply here too – I want to see the quality, the freshness and the quantity of the leads before I bite.

Nevertheless, I think the marketplace is an interesting concept and a good direction for Reply to take.

And if they can fix that initial sign-up process, I might even consider buying a lead.

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