Is Pay Per Lead the future of Marketing Demand Generation?

Is Pay Per Lead the Future of Marketing?

HRPA 2016 Toronto EntrancePay Per Lead at HRPA?

Pay Per Lead and Cost Per Lead solutions are an odd insight to garner from HRPA’s tradeshow this past week. HRPA being the Human Resources Professional Association. HRPA’s 2016 annual tradeshow was run in Toronto this year. Having done quite a bit of Product Marketing for Human Capital Management (HCM) businesses, I chose to drop in to see what is new.

Analytics is huge these days. It is NOT only a major new paradigm for Marketing. Human Resources (HR) Analytics is huge in the HCM business. Every new Payroll & HR (HCM) systems now boasts People Analytics, or HR Analytics. No surprise here when 70% of an average company’s operating expenses are workforce related costs (according to a Human Capital Management Institution White Paper).

Applify Case

Beyond the new analytics models for managing people, recruiting is a big part of this industry. Here too, I found an interesting parallel to Marketing. One company with which I spoke is . Applify is testing the boundary of using digital advertising (promoting) technology in recruitment. They offer a business model based on paying for applicants who actually complete the job applications process. As with abandoned ecommerce in-carts, many job applicants abandon applications. Applify’s model is akin to Google Adwords, but not paying on a Cost Per Click (CPC) basis. Imagine paying for a Google Adwords system in which your marketing budget focuses ONLY on the leads with which Sales can follow up. LogoIn Applify’s case, they take open hiring positions from a client’s site. They set a price per applicant, or the client’s budget. Applify then promotes the job throughout their network of digital assets, and affiliates (think affiliate marketing). Applicants then flow from the digital assets to the company’s site. Digital assets might include targeted association pages, vertical and profession specific publications, specialist social communities, and so on. Finally the client only pays when they have an applicant who has completed their full application. Applify offers a Pay Per Applicant model.

Were Applify in the Marketing business, they would offer PPL. As a digital aggregator and affiliate model, this seems like a natural direction for marketing. Marketer could budget according to the guaranteed leads coming from a vendor? Such a model could result in a more effective marketing budget spend.


If you are in demand generation marketing, or are wisely using marketing automation – you know this already exists. These services are called telemarketing. Telemarketing agencies can offer a pricing model based on Price Per Lead generated. It is not as elegant as a purely digital, affiliate program. However, when tied to your own marketing automation process – it is not bad.

If you do approach PPL models, remember that not all leads are created equally. A concern about the Applify model is that a company may get droves of applicants who are not qualified to do a particular job. They might be tenacious and fill our the application, yet be incapable of doing the job. Similarly, you can get leads that are purely kicking-the-tires. You may end up with many leads who would love to have your product, but who cannot afford it.

When setting up such a relationship, you must have a firm understanding with the vendor. Clarify that you need well qualified leads. Droves of unqualified leads will only cost you money, without converting into revenue.

PPL or PPQL Marketing?PPL or PPQL?

If you are approaching a PPL model, make sure you do not provide the funds for the project in escrow. In other words, make sure that you pay only for the leads that meet your agreed upon criteria for being “qualified.” You may want to call it Pay-Per-Qualified-Lead (PPQL). Paying the agency in advance, will not guarantee their focus on the quality of the leads you get. Holding the purse strings will keep the vendor motivated.

The PPL model is very interesting. It is a major temptation for anyone on the demand generation an sales side. Just make sure that both sides are very clear about what counts as a qualified lead, then how much and the timing of payment.

Whether Pay Per Lead (PPL) models are the future of marketing, is a fascinating question. It all depends on trust. That being the trust between marketers and third party service providers like telemarketers. With a tight eye on the quality of leads and a long term relationship – we might start seeing more of the PPL model. Better yet if the PPQL model prevails!

Your Experience…

Are you making this work your marketing? Let us know.
What are you doing?
What are your top tips, and best practices?
Why is it working for you?
What suggestions do you have for other marketers?


About the Author:

Charles Dimov (Sep2015) Small HeadshotCharles Dimov is Director of Strategy D, a Digital, Content & Product Marketing consultancy ( He has 20 years of experience in High Technology, with 15+ years in Product Marketing functions – having successfully introduced over 80+ new product to global markets. Charles has a MASc.(MBA), BASc.(Eng), and a BA.(Econ), and loves Photography, Marketing Strategy, and rolling up his sleeves to drive market success. Reached Charles:

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