The broad concept of "leads" has been around ever since there have been sales, but the Web provides a viable platform for leads that makes them more useful than ever. As a result of this increasing popularity, there are many types of leads. There are those focused on quality (the primary goal of Senior Homes), and those which are focused on quantity.
The quality vs. quantity question exists in most businesses. Chevrolet looks to provide a level of quality that enables them to have lower prices versus their competitors, and that, in turn, means they focus on higher volume of sales for success. Lexus sells a lower volume of cars, but they get higher margins for the quality they provide. This is replicated in fine restaurants vs. McDonalds, Wal-Mart vs. Nordstorm’s, etc. The same is true with Internet-driven leads, though there is one important difference.
The difference with the other products mentioned is expectations. With McDonald's burgers, Chevy Malibus and clothes at Wal-Mart, most consumers have an expectation of what they will get, and that expectation is typically met. Unfortunately, too often expectations are not appropriately set for leads. There are some vendors who push to provide a high volume model of leads to an extreme, but they often do not warn about the lower quality of their leads. Often, as a result, this affects the perception of leads, even when many reputable suppliers exist.
When choosing a lead vendor for assisted living, independent living or other facilities, you should require them to be explicit in setting your expectations (on conversion rate, volume, information included, type of traffic source, etc.). If this is done before an agreement in made, you can decide if you are receiving an appropriate quality for your marketing dollars.
Some buyers are willing to take lower quality leads, because they want greater volume. All buyers, however, should have a defined bar that they apply to their suppliers. Reputable suppliers will be able to stand behind their quality.
We know we will.
Here's a link to a lead gen conference presentation with additional useful information on this topic from an lead generation industry analyst