Internet Leads: Where They Come From and How to Get Them
21 minute read
June 8, 2023


I know we’re supposed to be talking about internet leads here but do you remember the movie Glengarry Glen Ross? 

Alec Baldwin’s character says “A guy don’t walk on the lot lest he wants to buy. They’re sitting out there waiting to give you their money!”  

He’s talking about leads.

A person doesn’t fill out a contact form on your website unless they’re interested in buying whether it’s getting a mortgage, insurance, or real estate.

But what about all the steps it took that person to discover your website? 

From seeing an online ad, or having a conversation with a friend, there are many avenues that redirect people to your lead conversion website. 

As a salesperson, you should dig into and understand where your internet leads are coming from and the journey your potential consumers have been on to create a sales experience that will delight them.

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What is an internet lead?

An internet lead is a person—never forget that.

In addition to being numbers in a spreadsheet cell, these leads represent real people who need your expertise. It’s why they filled out the form on your website. 

However, to be more specific, an internet lead is a person who has found one of your online channels (your company website, social media profile, etc.) and submitted a contact form with their personal information requesting more information. 

To be honest, the term “internet leads” seems a bit redundant, because these days, most of your generated leads are coming from online! 

You’re probably not sending out thousands of direct mailers, but instead are spending that money generating online advertisements (Google Ads and Facebook Ads) or investing in a company website and digital marketing strategy to generate new leads.

Obviously, internet leads are hugely important for any sales pipeline—a funnel that casts a wide net of new prospects and eventually narrows down to find leads with the highest intent. 

The different types of internet leads explained 

Not all of your internet leads are going to be of the same importance.

Recognizing the different types of leads is important for developing an effective follow-up strategy. 

It provides insights into each lead’s position in the sales funnel and their level of interest, allowing salespeople to change their communication approach to send more timely and relevant information to their leads for greater conversion success rates.

Here are the common types of internet leads to be aware of.

Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)

These are leads who have shown interest in your company by engaging with marketing materials, such as filling out a form on your website, downloading a piece of exclusive content (a lead magnet), or signing up for a newsletter.

However, these leads have not shown any buying intent yet, signaling they have a lower intent than other types of leads and will need continuous nurturing to get them sales-ready.

Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs)

These are leads who have taken actions that clearly express a buying intent.

For example, these leads might have requested a product demo or asked for a quote. SWLs are typically “ready to go” for direct sales contact.

Product Qualified Leads (PQLs)

These are leads who have used your company’s product or services and have expressed interest in becoming paying customers.

For instance, a user who has reached the limit of their free trial demo could be considered a PQL.

Building impressions offline in your community 

While most of the people discovering your company’s website aren’t familiar with you at all, there’s a good chance that some of those people have heard of you from their friends and family.

Having conversations at church, a child’s dance recital, or a little league game can get the word out to your community that you specialize in sales, whether it’s insurance, real estate, mortgage lending, etc.

Often, these offline conversations then prompt people through word-of-mouth.

“Hey, I was speaking to this real estate agent at my son’s baseball game. Here’s his name. Google him to find his website.”

Once that person Google searches your name or company, you better hope they can find some sort of profile or company website! Or else their search is done and they’re looking for somebody else.

Having a LinkedIn account or Facebook account is a great place to start, just so people can find you first. 

But the real power is having your own personal website because you can design your own lead generation forms and create a branded experience that’s more impressive than a standard social media profile.

From researching to contact forms—the journey of an internet lead

Let’s go through a common scenario of how most of your internet leads will discover your website and become a lead by submitting a contact form to become a new internet lead.

The research (discovery, referrals)

People have a problem that requires a professional’s expertise. They need a mortgage, they want to buy a particular home, they need insurance, etc.

Often the first place people turn to is an internet search or asking a friend or family member for a referral.

In both cases, these people will likely use a Google search to find their answers, whether they’re typing in a particular salesperson’s name, or looking for general advice online.

If a person doesn’t have a referral, they may begin with a simple search such as “mortgages” or “mortgage broker near me.” Or they may begin with a broader search such as “How many years of income do I need to show to get a mortgage?”

From there, the searcher will usually click on the highest-ranking articles in a Google search to begin their research.

The inquiry

Once the Google searcher has clicked on your website’s search result, they’ll land on your website and either read your helpful blog post or browse your website to see if you’re legit or not.

If your blog post satisfied their curiosity, they might begin reading other blog posts on your website.

Or maybe they’ll decide they’re ready to reach out and press the “click to call” button or fill out a conveniently placed contact form.

Lead scoring

After you’ve collected a ton of leads, you’ll need to rank them according to their perceived value to your company—because not every lead is created equally.

Lead scoring is a strategy that prioritizes leads, improves response and follow-up times, and increases the rate of lead conversion.

In a lead scoring system, “points” are assigned based on various criteria, such as:

  • The lead’s interaction with your website
  • Their response to your marketing activities (click-through and open rates for emails)
  • Demographics (age, occupation, salary)
  • Geographical location 
  • Budget
  • Engagement level
  • Lead source

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How do I get internet leads for my business?

You really only have two options for getting internet leads: generate them yourself, or purchase them from lead providers.

Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, which mostly relate to time and money. 

Buying leads is quicker but may be more expensive. 

Generating your own leads can start off slower, but can be more sustainable and efficient in the future.

Buying leads from lead providers and aggregators

If you need leads to call today or tomorrow, then you’ll have to buy them from a lead provider and aggregator sites such as: 

  • LendingTree
  • Experian
  • NextGen Leads
  • Bankrate
  • Smart Assets

Then you’ll have to ask yourself another question: Do I want to pay more for exclusive leads or save money and buy shared non-exclusive leads? 

Let’s break down the different internet leads for sale.

Exclusive internet leads

Exclusive leads are the most expensive leads you can buy because they’re one-of-a-kind and sent to you in real-time so you can contact your lead instantly for greater success.

You are the only person to have the lead’s contact information, and thus, have virtually no competition from other salespeople.

However, that exclusivity is going to cost you big bucks, somewhere around two or three times the price of a non-exclusive shared lead.

Are exclusive internet leads worth it? Sure! They may be if the leads are good enough and your success rate is high. But they might not be the most sustainable option for your business.

Semi-exclusive internet leads

Semi-exclusive leads are second best to exclusive leads. 

Instead of being the sole owner of the lead’s information, maybe two or more other people have also purchased that lead, giving you more competition.

With semi-exclusive leads, you really have to be on the ball to contact these leads as soon as they come in or somebody else will get to them first.

If you plan on working with semi-exclusive internet leads, make sure you have a solid lead follow-up strategy.

Shared, non-exclusive internet leads

These are the most affordable leads you can purchase because they’re completely non-exclusive — they’re sold to anybody who wants them.

This, of course, will drastically lower your success rates — unless you are the greatest salesperson of all time (not saying that you aren’t!).

Is it worth it to pay for leads?

Just remember that when you stop paying for leads, the leads stop coming in. 

This is the downside to buying leads. You haven’t created any sort of system that can generate leads for you, like a company website that publishes blogs every week to bring in Google traffic.

In this sense, it’s a lot like online advertisements. Online ads stop showing once you stop paying for the ads.

However, buying leads is a shortcut to boosting your business while you’re building your own platforms.

Start getting leads now.

Generating your own internet leads

Many of you are probably not buying leads. 

Instead, you’re generating them on your company website, Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, Google Business profile, or through email marketing, basically, anywhere you can get them online. 

But if you’re a full-time salesperson, you might lack the savvy of a digital marketer who understands the digital playing field a bit better. 

I’m talking about understanding search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, keyword planning, pay-per-click ads (PPC), and all that other digital marketing stuff that’s constantly changing and getting more confusing.

Generating exclusive, branded Internet leads requires the right strategy and skill sets, which sometimes means hiring an experienced digital agency that specializes in lead generation.

I encourage you to set up as many free and paid profiles and online channels as possible, including:

Content marketing strategy

Writing blogs is one of the greatest ways to attract potential leads to your website.

When people are searching for answers on Google, let your website’s articles give them answers, and maybe you’ll generate a lead yourself.

Your content could be in the form of blogs (the most common), whitepapers, infographics, or YouTube videos.

Email marketing and newsletters

Email marketing remains a powerful tool for lead generation. Sending out regular newsletters will keep your brand at the top of your audience’s mind, while sending personalized email campaigns, or “drip” campaigns can nurture leads through the sales funnel.

Using social media for lead generation

Social media platforms provide a space for businesses to engage with potential customers, share content, and generate leads.

Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and TikTok offer unique ways to reach and engage your target audience.

Webinars and podcasts

Webinars have really taken off since the pandemic, and podcasts are still growing in popularity, giving companies new platforms to share their expertise, built authority, and engage with a massive audience.

These online formats provide in-depth, valuable content that can attract high-quality leads.

Video marketing

Video marketing is a rising trend, with short-form reels and videos taking the spotlight in 2023. Think of YouTube Short, TikTok videos, and Instagram Reels.

Posting video content can attract and engage audiences, particularly younger audiences, and builds trust to enhance lead generation.

AI and chatbots

New AI-assisted chatbots are revolutionizing customer service and lead generation for websites.

They offer a quick and efficient way to engage with website visitors, answer their questions, and gather common questions that can help you turn visitors into leads.

Social media lead gen forms 

Did you know that multiple social media platforms offer lead generation forms?

These forms give you a unique advantage, in that they can automatically populate with your lead’s contact info.

This means that when users interact with these forms, their details are pre-filled, making the form-filling process a breeze.

This convenient feature enhances and simplifies lead capture, which drastically improves conversion rates!

Take advantage of lead generation forms on these social media platforms:

  • LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms
  • Twitter Lead Generation Cards
  • Instagram Lead Generation Ads (through Facebook Ads)
  • YouTube Lead Generation Forms (through Google Ads)

Buying aged leads 

Your last option is to purchase aged internet leads. The beauty of buying aged leads is that you can buy thousands of them so super cheap. 

They’re called “aged” leads because they’re old enough to no longer be considered a “real-time” lead.

Technically speaking, an aged lead could be only a few days older than a real-time lead and be considered aged.

However, many aged leads are usually 30 days, 60 days, or 90 days and older, with each pricing tier getting more inexpensive the older the lead is.

I know a 30-day lead may sound old, but for huge purchases such as mortgages, buying aged leads can make a lot of sense, because many people aren’t actually ready for a mortgage when filling out that form.

Are aged leads as effective as real-time leads? Maybe not, but there’s still plenty of gold in there to be found!

Let us generate leads for you.

How to build your own lead generation ecosystem

A lead generation ecosystem is essentially your main website that’s been interconnected and linked with all of your auxiliary social media accounts and profiles across the web.

Because ultimately, every social media profile and online account you’ve registered in your name should be funneling people back to your company’s website where they can fill out a conveniently placed form to become a lead.

At the center of the ecosystem is your company’s website, so let’s begin there.

Build and design a website optimized for lead conversions

Your website is the “home base” for your internet leads.

Lead generation websites are designed to answer questions, overcome objections, and frictionlessly move consumers into lead generation paths that prompt them to fill out a web form or place a phone call.

Take a look at’s website to understand its internal linking strategy to keep visitors on its website and eventually fill out a web form.

When a person lands on your website, make sure you have the following features to keep them on your site long enough to fill out a form:

  • A mission statement at the top of the page (Homebuying made simple!)
  • About us page
  • Contact us page
  • Specific pages for each of your loan products (FHA Loan page, VA loan page, etc)
  • Contact forms on every single page with a call-to-action CTA (Book a consultation, Get a free quote, Apply today!)

Figure out who your “target audience” is and what websites they browse on

Perhaps you already know what kinds of people you’re targeting — college graduates, first-time home buyers, retirees, etc. 

The next step is doing a bit of audience development to see which marketing channels they use. 

For example, if you’re targeting professionals, then you may consider setting up a LinkedIn profile. Or if you’re targeting younger, first-time buyers, maybe you should set up a TikTok or Instagram account.

Here’s the other thing about social media — don’t feel like you need to set up an account with every social media platform ever created. Stick to what you know and what you’re familiar with! 

Maybe, for now, it’s just setting up a Facebook page and a Google Business profile.

Optimizing for mobile traffic

Have you recently checked your website’s analytics to see what percentage of visitors are browsing on their mobile phones?

You may be surprised at how many people are viewing your website on their phones. 

It could be potentially half of your website visitors.

If you haven’t taken the time to make sure your website is mobile-friendly, now’s the time to do it!

Having a mobile-friendly website isn’t just “nice to have” it’s essential for generating leads. 

For one, Google’s search algorithm prefers displaying mobile-friendly websites to its users. Secondly, if your website isn’t mobile responsive, anyone viewing your website on a phone is going to leave it almost immediately before they ever fill out a form.

Generate traffic to your website: Google searches, blogs, and SEO 

Your biggest challenge in generating online leads is getting enough traffic to your website.

Lead generation is a numbers game. Not everybody who visits your website will fill out a form, but if you get enough traffic, that won’t matter because you’ll generate enough leads for your sales pipeline.

How did your lead find your website? Through a Google search most likely!

Here’s the secret to generating traffic to your website using Google searches—you have to write blogs!


Also known as content marketing, writing blogs is your key to generating traffic to your website without using paid ads. 

It’s a form of search engine marketing because people are searching Google for questions such as “How do I qualify for a conventional mortgage?” 

More often than not, the people writing these blogs are mortgage lenders attracting people to their lead generation websites. Because if you can help them understand mortgages better, they’ll trust you and decide to work with you!

Content marketing is closely related to search engine optimization (SEO), which involves adding the right keywords and search phrases on your website that your audience is searching for. 

In other words, if your mortgage website has thousands of mentions of the word “mortgage” it’ll probably come up in a Google search for mortgages! 

So, if you’re trying to generate leads to sell more mortgages, you should be blogging about mortgages to capture all that Google traffic.

Similarly, if you’re trying to generate real estate leads, then you should be blogging about how to find the perfect home and other related topics.

Remember this — it might take a few weeks or months to see traffic for specific blog posts. However, once they start ranking on Google, you’ve created an evergreen form of content that will last essentially forever, and potentially generate leads for years to come. 

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Generate traffic to your website with paid advertisements: Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and PPC ads

Don’t have time to wait a few weeks for certain blog posts to rank on Google? 

Invest in some Google Ads and you can have your website’s URL on the first page in no time! Just know that it may be pretty expensive.

Google Ads, especially the text-based ads you see in Google searches cost money every time they’re clicked. It’s why they’re known as “pay-per-click” advertisements.

To buy these ads, you need to “bid” on a specific keyword or search phrase, such as “conventional loans.” 

For example, you might say, “I’ll pay $15 every time somebody clicks on this ad for the keyword ‘conventional loans’” to outbid somebody else who only wants to pay $14 for the same keyword. 

When this happens, your Google Ad will be shown whenever a person types in your keyword into a Google search.

Hopefully, if your ad’s headline and text are captivating enough, the Google searcher will click on it to be redirected to a special “landing page” on your website.

Your landing page will be a carefully designed webpage on your website that educates your reader about the specific topic they’re researching, gains their trust, and hopefully gets them to fill out the contact form on the same page.

Influencer marketing and guest posting

Influencer marketing involves partnering with social media influencers in your industry to take advantage of their large fan base online.

When an influencer recommends your product or service, their followers are more likely to trust and engage with your brand. In fact, getting an endorsement from an influencer is as good as having a family member refer a product to someone, it’s that persuasive!

Guest posting, on the other hand, involves writing and publishing an article on someone else’s blog or website. This form of cross-promotion can help you reach a broader audience, build authority outside of your own website, and generate leads.

Affiliate marketing

This is a performance-based marketing strategy where you reward affiliate members for each visitor or customer brought in by their marketing efforts. 

It’s a cost-effective lead generation method as you’ll only pay for the results, e.g. new leads coming in. 

Convert website traffic into internet leads

Once you actually get traffic to your website, you need to get them to fill out a contact form to “convert” into becoming a new internet let.

Is placing a million contact forms on your website enough? No! 

I think by default, most people tune out those ugly, generic forms on websites. They’ll do anything, except fill out those forms! 

By the way, this is all trackable using Google Analytics — you’ll actually be able to see the number of people coming to your website versus the people who convert by filling out a form. So if you have a high amount of traffic and low conversions, your contact forms may be to blame.

In our experience, generic forms don’t work. Do you know what does work? Progressive field forms. 

Progressive forms are those smart, pop-up bubble windows that ask one simple question at a time. They’re attractive, intuitive, and user-friendly, and as a result, convert much more visitors over generic forms!

There’s another term called a “lead path.” A lead path is essentially a clickable button on a website that is used to pop up the progressive field form.

So, instead of displaying an ugly form, instead, you have a clickable button that says “Buy Home” or another one that says “Free Quote.” 

This is a sneakier and more effective way to generate leads over using clunky forms.

Analyzing and improving

Lead generation strategies depend on analyzing their performance and making necessary improvements continually

Key metrics, or KPIs, to track for lead generation include:

  • Conversion rates
  • The number of leads generated
  • Lead source
  • Cost per lead

By looking at your metrics, you can identify what’s working and what’s not to make data-driven decisions to optimize your lead generation strategy.

Tools like Google Analytics, HubSpot, and Salesforce can show insights into your lead generation metrics to help you generate more leads.

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If you’re looking for mortgage leads, hard money leads, and other fintech leads—reach out to see what kinds of leads we can offer you.

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Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

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