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September 3rd, 2010

By Marc Diana in: Lead Gen History

Background: Getting Started in Performance Marketing


To help understand my perspective, let me start by telling you a little about my background.  I got started in Internet performance marketing back in late 1998 / early 1999.  At the time, I was working at an interactive consulting company when Matt Coffin, founder of LowerMyBills.com, approached our firm about figuring out how the company he was working for, Miller Publishing Group, could leverage the Internet.

Through this relationship, he and I discussed his idea for LowerMyBills.com and I became one of his sounding boards in developing his business plan for the company.  Once Matt closed financing for LowerMyBills, I joined him as his second employee.  When we started, there were not many companies out there using the Internet for lead gen.  LendingTree was just getting started, but was not using the Internet.  Instead, they targeted customers with TV & radio ads.  The few companies that used the Internet for direct marketing were primarily in the telephony space such as GetConnected.

Initially, LowerMyBills started by targeting a wide range of categories.  As we evaluated market opportunities, we quickly saw what was working and shifted our focus to long distance and mobile phone service which appeared to have the most buyers at the best prices.  Phone leads remained the core focus of our company through 2001.  In 2001 we shifted our focus to insurance leads.  Then in 2002 our mortgage business picked up and surpassed insurance as our top performing category.

We started by sending our mortgage traffic to another company to monetize, but then I brought in Ameriquest to purchase our mortgage leads directly on an exclusive basis.  With this proving successful, we began selling all our mortgage leads direct to lenders.  Following LendingTree, we shifted mortgage lead sales from an exclusive to a shared basis.  With this shift, our mortgage business really took.

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