Looking for a place where consumers, contractors, manufacturers, and others can share installation and maintenance tips, and the finer points of various window products? Go to www.replacement-windows.com online discussion board.
ABCLeads.com, an Internet marketing company in Rhode Island, created the Web site. In the course of a year, the site and its companion — www.vinyl-replacement-windows.com, which also hosts a discussion forum — received at least 600,000 unique visitors. The idea was to create a neutral Web location with a freewheeling bulletin board, a place where consumers could begin researching products as they contemplated replacing their windows.
“What we've found,” says ABCLeads.com president Chris Pearson, “is that folks looking for replacement windows are thirsty for knowledge.”
Tom Audette, president of Renaissance Exteriors, in the Twin Cities, is a frequent visitor. “It's a good way to see what people's concerns are and to see what they're saying about different [window] products,” Audette says.
Leads Reps “Fight Over” Audette is not just an eavesdropper. Many of the Web site's visitors will end up buying replacement windows, immediately upon visiting or soon thereafter, and a good number will buy those windows from contractors affiliated with ABCLeads.com. That's because the site requires visitors who wish to participate in online discussion to register. ABCLeads.com queries visitors about their project needs and asks if they want to be contacted by a professional window replacement contractor. Assuming the homeowner says yes, ABCLeads forwards that contact information — at $25 per lead — to one of several hundred home improvement companies. Leads are screened and exclusive.
Companies buying the leads rave about them. Ryan Boggs, of Appleby Systems, in York, Pa., says that they account for about 5% of the window and sunroom company's business. “They're the best leads we have here.” Audette says they are “the leads reps fight over.”
Wayne Jones, marketing manager for Nescor, a window replacement company in Springfield, Mass., says the site produces “a very high-quality lead,” noting that the set rate for such leads is 75% to 80%. “We wish we could get more of them,” he says.
Answer Questions, Plug Products Pearson says ABCLeads monitors the discussion board, but generally stays hands-off. “We want to allow [contractors] to answer people's questions and plug their products a little bit.” Sales of leads to home improvement companies fund the two sites.