Lead Generation at SeniorHomes.com: From Launch to $5M in Funding – With Chris Rodde

How do you build a successful lead generation business to help the growing aging population in the United States?

Chris Rodde shares how he and his two co-founders, Jay Goldstein and Tom Blumer – who were all well versed in lead generation – took an idea and built it into a business that now generates millions in revenue.

In this interview, Rodde answers questions about building a senior housing lead generation business that can be applied to any other niche or market, including:

  • How market research was completed to verify the need for this lead generation business
  • What business area each of the three co-founders focused on, and how they worked together
  • The logistics of the contractual agreements that were made with 2,300 senior living communities
  • How to set a price per lead, how much per lead is generated, and how the quality of leads is preserved
  • How their website generates 200,000+ visitors per month from search engine optimization and marketing
  • Plans for growth, including affiliate opportunities for domain investors with senior living or senior care portfolios

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Chris Rodde

Chris Rodde, SeniorHomes.comChris Rodde is the CEO and co-founder of SeniorHomes.com, a service company that provides information for people searching for a senior home or senior care.

Prior to founding SeniorHomes.com, Rodde spent time at Seattle companies Microsoft and All Star Directories, a late-stage startup focused on lead generation in the education market.

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Chris Rodde Interview Raw (Non-Edited) Transcript

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Here’s your program.

Michael Cyger: Hey everyone. My name is Michael Cyger, and I’m the Publisher of DomainSherpa.com – the website where you come to learn how to become a successful domain name entrepreneur directly from the experts.

The oldest baby boomers, who are made up of Americans born between 1946 and 1964 are now turning sixty-five. There are forty million people in the United States that are sixty-five and older; and this number is going to more than double to eighty-nine million by the year 2050.

Here’s the question for today’s interview: how do you build a successful lead generation business to help the growing and aging population of the United States?

Joining us to answer this question today, from Seattle, Washington, right across Puget Sound from Domain Sherpa Headquarters on Bainbridge Island, is Chris Rodde. The CEO and Co-Founder of SeniorHomes.com – a service company that provides the most valuable, reliable, and truthful information on the web for people searching for a Senior home or Senior care. Chris, welcome to the show.

Chris Rodde: Thanks. Hi everyone.

Michael: For the part of the audience that hasn’t done any research on senior care, senior homes, such as myself – I’m just no in that place yet -, or hasn’t heard of or hasn’t visited SeniorHomes.com before, Chris, in a nutshell, what do you say is the main purpose of SeniorHomes.com?

Chris: So what we do is we help families find senior care and senior housing; and we really do that in two ways. We do that through our website – SeniorHomes.com -, where people come, they look through the options in their area, in looking for assisted living, or Alzheimer’s care, or independent living; they find one or two communities that they’re interested in and they can inquire to those communities through our site. The other way we help them is we have a free care adviser service, where they can call in and actually talk to a live person who is an expert in looking for senior care. And our care advisers are very knowledgeable. They know about how to pay, the costs, and all of that; and they help walk people through the process. So, on the consumer end, what we’re really doing is helping people find Assisted Living. That’s our main purpose.

Michael: Great. So if my mother were to need a place for senior care someday; instead of me typing in my city and then, senior care and having to go to, say, twenty different websites to try and compare and contrast and figure out what everybody has, I can, instead, go to your website, you’ll tell me all the senior care facilities in the area, and you’ll boil it down for me. And if I need to talk to one person who is sort of impartial to all of them, I can call your company up directly.

Chris: Exactly. That’s exactly it. And what we’ve seen, and what’s true in this industry, is that it’s often the adult children of a senior. Most often, the adult daughter. Most often, she’s looking for her mother because dads die early; and she’s often thrown into this role of caregiver overnight. So, she comes home; we see spikes in our business at Thanksgiving, at Christmas, on Mother’s Day, on the Fourth of July, on Memorial Day; whenever families get together, that adult child is going home, she’s seeing mom, and sometimes, realizing at that point that mom can’t take care of herself anymore. And so, instantly, she sort of realizes now she is the caregiver for her mother and has a lot of questions to get answered and a lot of just big decisions to make for which she’s often not prepared; and that’s where we step in.

Michael: Clearly you’ve said it’s a woman, who is going to care for the mother. Can you make distinctions around that person that’s contacting you in terms of education, in terms of income? Clearly, if it was a low-income family, they may not be able to afford senior care/senior living. So, do you typically find that it’s higher-income families that are contacting you to look for these opportunities?

Chris: We actually have all types of people contacting us of all income brackets. We have a harder time helping folks that are lower income. Medicaid does pay for long-term care, but you have to qualify. So the hardest category are those people that don’t qualify for Medicaid, but don’t really have the money to afford a more expensive Assisted Living community. So, if they call our care advisers, we’ll actually take the time to try to help them because it’s the right thing to do. And there are places we refer people. There’s a site that the Medicare/Medicaid Administration runs, called ElderCare.gov, that they can go and find places – find communities – that accept Medicaid. And so, sometimes we’ll refer there.

Michael: Makes sense. When people ask you, Chris, how many customers you serve, what’s the metric that you typically use? Are you looking at customers you’re serving per month, or leads you’re taking in per month and then providing to the Assisted Living facilities? What’s the metric and what’s the magnitude that you serve per month?

Chris: Yeah. Great question. We’re a media company. So media companies have their audience, their readers, their watchers, their site visitors, and they have their advertisers. So, I mean, at the highest, most simplistic level, we have consumers who come to the site and either browse the site or call us. We have on the order of around two hundred thousand visitors a month now; and that’s been growing every month since we started. And then we have our advertisers, who are the Assisted Living providers – the companies that operate these communities – and we have, on our site, around twenty-three hundred, twenty-five hundred different community locations that we serve that contract with us.

Michael: Okay. That makes sense. And so, you’re a lead generation company, which means that if I contact you and I say, ‘I’m looking for senior care in Seattle. Can you connect me with them?’, you’ll say, ‘well, we would recommend these based on your needs’ and then, you’ll actually take my information provided to those companies, and then they pay you, and then they send me the information.

Chris: Exactly. It’s a little different than what you said in that. One thing that is key to our model is that the visitors that come to the site; they’re selecting the home they want to hear from.

Michael: Oh okay.

Chris: So there’s a directory. They spend ten, fifteen minutes on the site looking in Boston for Assisted Living, finding the two that are a good match for them, and raising their hand and saying, ‘I want to hear from these two. The other seven around here are not interesting to me. I want to hear from these two’. And that’s actually pretty key in the quality. I’m sure we’ll talk more about this. Our leads are highly qualified, quality leads; and that’s how we’ve gotten to where we are today. And part of that quality is just simply that there’s a lot of self-selection that goes on. When somebody calls us, the second kind of mode in which we work, somebody will call in and talk to a care adviser who then walks them through and helps them decide where the two or three places that are right for them; and the care adviser then puts those leads through they system.

Michael: Okay. So I understand the business model; that you have a massive number of people that come to your website every month. We’re going to talk about how you get those two hundred thousand plus visitors per month; and a certain number of them will enter the funnel where they’ll sort information. Maybe some of them are not ready now, so they’ll just do their research and maybe come back in three months, and then actually go through the lead pipeline, where they’ll select the senior facilities and then, fill out the information and get it. You’re compensated by the Assisted Living facilities, or the communities as you call them. Do the communities also compensate you to be a part of your network? Is there an upfront fee or a one-time fee?

Chris: Nope. I mean that’s one thing that’s really simple about the pay-per-lead model, which is what we call it and what it’s referred to. In our industry, and I think in most industries, the pay-per-lead model; I don’t know of a vendor that actually charges any sort of upfront fee. It’s all about pay for performance. So we only charge them when we send them a qualified lead. And that’s it. It’s very simple. It’s easy to get started. We do all the work to get their profile page up and we actually spend some money up front. We have professional writers that write their profile, and make it look good, and make it fit on our site, but no upfront fees.

Michael: Great. I’m going to come back, later in the interview, and ask you about what makes a qualified lead and how do you affect the quality. We’ll come back to those questions, Chris, but before, I want to understand a little bit better about the company before we dig into the details. So, you talk about your two hundred thousand plus individuals coming to look for information. How many leads do you generate per month on the site roughly?

Chris: It’s in the thousands range. That’s not a number we typically share. We’re pretty happy with our conversion rates. It’s definitely something we’re working on now, but it’s in the thousands.

Michael: Yeah.

Chris: In terms of numbers of inquiries we send.

Michael: Okay. And are you able to talk about how much you’re compensated per lead?

Chris: Yeah. There’s kind of an industry standard in terms of pricing. I would say the range is anywhere from thirty to seventy-five, or a hundred dollars per lead. And that totally depends on the quality of the lead and conversion rates of those leads. We are a high quality lead provider. That’s what we’ve been focusing on from day one and that’s what we’ve been recognized as in the industry, so our prices are at the higher end of that range, but that’s basically the range.

Michael: Yeah. Okay. That makes sense. Excellent. So people can do their own math on this. We talked in the pre-interview, Chris, and I said, “are you willing to say what the revenue of the company is?” and you said that that wasn’t something you could provide at this time. So I’ll acknowledge that right now, but you’ve given a lot of great information right here and people can crunch their own number and make some estimates of what that is. Is SeniorHomes.com a profitable company right now, Chris?

Chris: We are nearly profitable, so we’re close. We’re getting there.

Michael: Okay. And we’ll dig into why you’re nearly profitable because you’ve actually taken some – I think two – rounds of funding in the past.

Chris: Yeah.

Michael: Okay. So I’m going to dig into that. And so, in the pre-interview we discussed that one of your competitors – actually, the largest competitor – in the marketplace is called APlaceForMom.com. Also located, funnily enough, or strangely enough, or funny enough – I’m not sure what the word is – here in Seattle. Is that right?

Chris: Yeah. They’re right in Seattle as well.

Michael: And APlaceForMom was recently acquired by a private equity company?

Chris: They were acquired in – I think it was – June of 2010, so almost two years ago. The rumored number was around a hundred or a hundred and ten million. APlaceForMom was founded sometime around 2000/2001, so they’re a ten, twelve year old company. And they’re really the gorilla in our industry. They’re way bigger than anyone else, but they’ve got an eight-year head start on most of the other companies.

Michael: Yeah. Definitely. All right. And prior to that 2010 majority stake by Warburg Pincus, they had a round a funding in 2006 that was, I believe, 9.5 million.

Chris: Yeah.

Michael: So that sort of sets the competitive landscape and sets where you fit into the competitive landscape, Chris. And now what I want to understand is, we’re going to back in time and figure out how you got to this place, how you’re generating thousands of leads per month at thirty to a hundred dollars per lead, and trying to take over the market from the eight hundred pound gorilla. So let’s go back in time. You have two other Founders in SeniorHomes.com. Is that correct?

Chris: Yeah.

Michael: Yeah. What are their names?

Chris: Jay Goldstein and Tom Bloomer.

Michael: Okay. So, Jay and Tom and you started SeniorHomes.com. But before you started SeniorHomes, you were working together at another company. Is that correct?

Chris: Yeah. We were at a company called All Star Directories, which did lead generation in the education space. And I like to say that the education lead generation space is the biggest niche that nobody has ever heard of. It is incredible. It’s a billion dollar industry; and that’s just the companies selling leads to the schools. So, All Star, at one point, I think it was around a seventy million dollar company. I think they’ve dropped a bit since then. They had around seven percent market share. There were dozens of companies there, in that education space. What prompted us to start SeniorHomes was we saw this great business model that was working so well in helping schools find students. And we also saw that, in addition how well All Star was doing, there were seven or eight other companies. They were about the same size; and seven or eight companies that sold between 2006 and 2009, all between the range of like forty million to around a hundred and fifty million, so there were all these exits in the education lead gen space. And around 2008, Jay and Tom and I – really, it was actually Jay and I at first – started looking around and saying, ‘what are the other industries we can take this great business model to? We’ve seen how All Star can make money off this. Let’s see where else we can do it’ and senior care just seemed like a great fit.

Michael: And so, if I look at educational institutions and I know that it’s a big market — if you go into Google and you type in Certification, or you type in Masters, or you type in Registered Nurse, you’ll see school, after school, after organization, after universities advertising and paying. And then, if you go to the Google Adwords Keyword tool and you have an AdSense account, you could look at the cost-per-click and the search volume, and it’s enormous. It’s a big industry. And so, do you know what the lifetime value of a lead to an educational company like that All Star Directories would deliver was and then, did you look at what it would be in the senior care space?

Chris: Absolutely. That was clearly something that drove our research in figuring out will this work in senior care. In education, most of the schools that were buying leads are for-profit schools. A lot of trade schools, so you have like Art Degrees, and Culinary Degrees, and even Business Degrees, and Psychology Degrees, but you can do the math. A four-year Business Degree, twenty thousand dollars a year, that’s an eighty thousand dollar customer for that school. That’s probably the very high end. A Culinary Degree, I think – this is three, four years ago now for me; I don’t exactly remember -, it was ten to twenty thousand dollars. So the customers are super valuable to these schools. And so, the pricing in education was actually very similar in terms of the cost-per-lead. So we looked senior care. In senior care, the economics are the average price per month for Assisted Living in the US is around thirty-two hundred dollars. The average length of stay is around eighteen months. So that’s order of magnitude around sixty thousand dollars that an Assisted Living Community is making off of a customer in terms of their revenue.

Michael: Yeah.

Chris: So we looked at that and said that, clearly, those providers are going to be driven to pay a lot of money to get leads to put people into their communities.

Michael: Okay. In your opinion, taking a step back and looking at lead generation opportunities, is that the best way to determine if a niche has value to create lead generation; looking at the lifetime value of a client?

Chris: Yeah. That’s one of the best. It’s also the size of the purchase and what’s required. Lead generation works where there is a research process involved. Buying a home. Buying a car. Buying an education. Signing up for school. Those are all big-ticket purchases, where people spend time doing research. And when they’re doing research, they’re going online, searching in Google, and if you can capture that traffic and offer something to that searcher, often you can capture their name and sell it to somebody that is willing to buy.

Michael: Yeah. All right. Great. So lead generation; make sure there’s a research process; take into account the size of the purchase, and then the lifetime value of a customer. And like education or senior care, if it’s somewhere on order of magnitude of twenty, thirty, fifty thousand dollars lifetime value, you can probably get cost-per-leads of about thirty to seventy-five dollars.

Chris: Yeah.

Michael: Low numbers. Clearly, if the lifetime value is ten thousand dollars, you’ll be maybe ten dollars per lead or somewhere on that order of magnitude. But for people looking for lead generation as an opportunity, there are some general guidelines.

Chris: Yeah. And I would say it works. It doesn’t even have to be in the tens of thousands of dollars. Some marketers that I know that lead generation work very well in. Things like adventure travel, where somebody is signing up for a five thousand dollar trip for he and his wife, for a couple. Cosmetic surgery is a big one. That’s four, five, ten thousand dollars I guess. Not quite as expensive as an education or assisted living, but those markets are very good. Insurance is another one.

Michael: Let’s say that a person goes to an adventure travel site and signs up for a service, or does a cosmetic surgery procedure; and let’s say that they only do one, so lifetime value is that one purchase of five thousand dollars. How would you try and determine what the cost-per-lead is in that case?

Chris: Well, I mean ultimately, it boils down to the profit that the provider is going to make and how much their willing to give up to market their service or their product. If, for example, adventure travel is five thousand dollars a trip and their making two thousand on that trip, they may be willing to give up a quarter of their profits to marketing.

Michael: To not have to do any marketing or exchange for the lead.

Chris: Exactly.

Michael: Yeah.

Chris: Yeah. But then you would have to take that and divide it by the conversion rate. So, say they’re making, at adventure travel, a thousand dollars off a trip and they’re willing to give a quarter a way to a marketer. That’s two hundred and fifty dollars per someone that signs up. And if you got a ten percent conversion rate, then twenty-five dollars would be the price per lead. Right? So you just have to look at every point in the funnel to see how the economics work.

Michael: Yeah. That makes perfect sense. Okay. So let’s get back into the story. So you, and I think you said Jay, at All Star Directories were looking at how successful All Star Directories was at the time, and you were looking at a bunch of outside companies that were being acquired. And you were saying to yourself, ‘hey, we’re smart guys. We’re doing a good job in All Star. Why don’t we look at some other opportunities for ourselves’?

Chris: Yeah. That’s right.

Michael: And so, what was the next step that you two took?

Chris: Well, we didn’t look at every industry. We looked at three or four. Senior care stood out because some of the reasons we talked about. Big transactions costs. At the time, three years ago, we looked and saw that it wasn’t a developed market. It was very immature. There weren’t many vendors like us out there.

Michael: Right.

Chris: APlaceForMom gave us some confidence because we saw them. We saw that providers were willing to pay them. At that point, I think we had heard, in 2008/2009, that they were doing twenty million in revenue. So we saw this it could work. And that was just one of several proof points that showed us that this might work in senior care.

Michael: Yeah. So, it was working. You probably saw that, in 2006, they got a round of funding for 9.5 million, so they were valued pretty high; and you didn’t see a lot of competition, so you decided that that would be the space that you’d want to pursue.

Chris: Yeah. That’s right.

Michael: Okay. And so, how did Tom come into play? And how did you guys decide that you were going to leave All Star Directories? Did you all leave at the same time?

Chris: Jay had already left. He left six months before. He had been at All Star four, five years and was taking a break. So he and I got together; we decided to do this. I left All Star, we spent a few months planning, and we lucked out because Tom, who I didn’t know as well — I was only at All Star for a year and a half; Tom was there for six years, but the first six years of the companies’ history. I was there for a year and a half sort of after that. Jay introduced us. We met and we were lucky because Tom was the first developer hired at All Star and built the whole team, and knew lead generation like nobody else on the technical side. And so, it was just a natural fit.

Michael: Nice. And so, Jay had quit, then you quit after him, and you two started working on the planning. So you guys weren’t employed. You were working fulltime, thinking about the senior homes market.

Chris: Yeah.

Michael: And planning out your strategy? Planning out your tactics? What were you doing during that time?

Chris: We actually put together a real business plan. We did some real research. We spent about a month talking to about fifteen people who had been through the process of looking for care for their parents and we also talked to some seniors who did this for themselves on their own. Now, a lot of companies started when the Founder goes through an experience by themselves. I didn’t do that. My grandparents were in Assisted Living, but I wasn’t really involved in that process. So we need to sort of steep ourselves into what that was like and is there a problem for them; is there an opportunity for us to serve them? And we, through that research, saw that there clearly was an opportunity. Like I said, these caregivers – these adult children – are thrown into this overnight. They have a lot of big decisions to make quickly and they need help.

Michael: Right. It’s not the kind of thing where you want to move your parents from one place to another place if it doesn’t work out. You want to make the right decision to begin with.

Chris: Exactly. Yeah.

Michael: And so, you saw the opportunity when you were at All Star. You decided that you wanted to go for it on your own, so you quit your job and then, you actually spend a lot of time doing research and coming up with the business plan. Was that because it was your intention to get funding for the company from the beginning, or was it that’s just the way you run business in general? You do your planning, you do your voice of the customer, and set a game plan for that.

Chris: Great question. It was a couple things. We knew we wanted to do a lead gen site – a lead gen business. Jay was passionate about it. I was very passionate about it. We knew there was going to be an opportunity somewhere. So part of the planning was, ‘is senior care the right area?’ After looking at these four or five that we looked at, let’s really dig and see, ‘do we think this is really going to work?’ and then we’re going to commit to it. So, part of it was getting our own personal commitment. Yes, this is it. Let’s go. And part of it was, we knew we’d probably end up raising money; and the business planning really helps on that end because you look much more buttoned up to anyone that you talk to.

Michael: Well, everybody is going to poke holes through it if you don’t do your research and are able to answer the questions on the marketplace and the competition.

Chris: That’s right.

Michael: Yeah. So what were the other three or four areas or niches that you looked at for lead generation before you settled on senior care?

Chris: Adventure travel was one. Insurance was another one. We looked at doing something in an education; although that would’ve been harder because we had non-competes with All Star. So it was really those two were the primary ones and there were some others that we took a closer look at.

Michael: Okay. So you put together your business plan, and you did you competitive analysis, and you did you voice of the customer, and you listened to people that went through the process, so you could figure out what to include and what not to include in your process as compared to the process that regular people would use in finding senior care and senior living facilities for their parents. And what was the next step that you took?

Chris: It was really two things. Well, once we decided to move ahead, we then contacted — we need a developer. Neither Jay or I; we’re the marketing guys; the business guys. We brought Tom in, got him involved, he was excited and started planning and building the site. That was one thing.

Michael: Why was Tom excited? He was one the first people at All Star Directories. He probably had some sort of options there. He had his technical background. He was probably a very valued employee there. What could you offer him that would steal him away from that opportunity and get him excited about your opportunity?

Chris: Yeah. Tom has had an incredible run. All Star was actually like his fourth successful exit from in a startup. So he’s one of these very lucky folks that have really succeeded across many startups. He had actually built a platform. He had left All Star two years prior to use getting together, and he had built a platform for doing lead generation. And he had worked with some other All Star employees too who were trying to do lead generation in other verticals. And I think he realized after two years that this licensing business wasn’t really going to work out and he needed to really be a part of some thing. And I think when he saw our plan and how well thought through it was, I think he realized this may work. And he wanted to do something. He’s passionate. He’s definitely a guy that’s not ready to retire.

Michael: Right. So he’s a successful entrepreneur. He’s always looking for a challenge; and you made this into that type opportunity for him and he went to work with you guys.

Chris: Exactly.

Michael: Yeah. Excellent. Okay. So you, Jay, and Tom are now onboard. Tom is the only developer of you three, so you say, ‘okay, Tom, we’re going to lock you in this closet. Go code up something so that we can go sell to communities, and don’t come out for two months’, or what was the next step?

Chris: That was essentially it. Yeah. I think we got his commitment in December of ’08. We launched in May of ’09, so it was about four months.

Michael: Wow.

Chris: He had the platform, but we needed to build out. We needed to design every page and build out the frontend of the site, which he and I worked together on. I served as sort of the product manager, defining how everything needs to work, working with a designer who actually designed the site, and then Tom was putting it all together.

Michael: Yeah. Makes sense. And so, May ’09 was your original launch date.

Chris: That’s right.

Michael: And so, you had pages on the website where people who were searching for senior care facilities could come. They could learn about how to find the right facility. They could use a wizard that allowed them to search by geography, or by clinical need, or what have you?

Chris: Yeah.

Michael: But there were no communities in the system yet, were there?

Chris: No. There were. So another decision we made that, well, turned out to be a really good decision was, we realized that searching for senior care is a very hyper local thing. You’re in Bainbridge Island, right?

Michael: Correct.

Chris: If you’re looking for senior care for your mother there, you don’t care about a place that’s in Renton.

Michael: Right.

Chris: Or even Seattle for that matter.

Michael: I’m not going to get on a boat. Yeah exactly.

Chris: That’s right. So we knew we needed a lot of options in any one area, so we actually launched in two states – in Washington and Oregon. As I was working on product with Tom, Jay was out there trying to land customers. He got enough commitment early on, so we actually launched with, I think in those two states, we might have had about fifty listings.

Michael: Wow.

Chris: So we had a pretty good density in those two markets from the very beginning; and we stuck with those two for the first six to eight months. And that’s all we did. And we built those markets out and really proved the model. We proved we could drive traffic. We proved we could drive it profitably and convert that traffic into leads that then would convert into move-ins for the providers. And that’s really the cornerstone we built the business on because once we proved to the providers that our leads convert, a lot of these providers work across states. Sunrise, for example. Brookdale. These big, big companies that operate hundred of communities. We were working with their communities in Washington and Oregon. Once we proved it there, we said, ‘hey, we’re launching California in November’ and all of them got onboard. And that’s how we essentially stepped across the country over the next two years.

Michael: Wow. All right. So that makes perfect sense. Everything is hyper local. I want to know in my zip code; I don’t want to know in my greater Seattle area because I don’t want to drive all the way across town. Or if I’m down in LA, I don’t want to fight traffic to go see my mom every day. And so, that makes perfect sense. So you were focused on the product – the frontend -, Tom was focused on the backend and building the technology that would serve everything, and then you’ve got Jay, who’s doing business development. He’s bringing in the communities into your organization. So I’ve got some question around that because that’s always the toughest thing. It’s the chicken and the egg. Jay approaches a community and says, ‘hey, we’ve got this fantastic community that helps individuals fine the best senior care living or assisted living facility. We want you to be a part of it’. And they say, ‘sure, that sounds great. How many visitors do you have per month’ and you said, ‘well, we don’t have any because we just launched’. Like, how do you actually convince, or how did Jay convince communities to actually join your platform at a reasonable cost-per-lead when you had no traffic to start with?

Chris: Great question. Part of it is that it’s low risk. As we said, there was no startup cost. They were only paying us when we send them a qualified lead. And so, that’s a fairly easy hurdle to get over; especially when you consider these communities have so much to lose when they have an empty room or bed. So we were fortunate. I think luck is always involved in startup. We were lucky on our timing. It’s way harder now because there’s a lot more competition. It’s a good barrier of (Unclear 35:13.9) for us. For future competitors, we knew how hard it was even to get to where we are now. Even being able to prove that. Even getting those national deals after we proved it regionally. Super hard to do. Took us eight months; a year in some cases.

Michael: Yeah. All right. So Jay went to the companies. They said, ‘no risk. We will deliver you qualified leads and we will charge you X dollars per lead’. How did Jay determine what the cost-per-lead should be when he was having them ink this agreement?

Chris: Great question. There was one competitor in the market, who was also doing price-per-lead, who had a year to two-year head start on us. And it’s amazing how much people share in this industry. We heard their pricing through customers and through other people. And so, we knew that there was sort of a market price.

Michael: Okay.

Chris: That’s what we went after.

Michael: So you heard through the grapevine what the cost-per-lead should be.

Chris: That’s right.

Michael: And so, when Jay would approach a community he would say, ‘we’d love to give you leads. Let me just tell you about what we’re doing’. He’d give them the whole sales song and dance. I’m sure he’s fantastic and convincing. And then, would you actually get them to sign an agreement saying, ‘I will pay you this much per lead and I will be invoiced at the end of the month’? And then, they sign that and you’re off to the races?

Chris: That’s exactly it. All of our customers signed a contract that says, ‘we agree to pay this much per lead that you send us; per qualified lead that you send us’. It’s a simple contract to sign because we give them a, you know, they can cancel on a two-week notice and there’s no real long-term commitment.

Michael: Yeah.

Chris: So that’s another thing. Often times, to get those really customers, we also gave price discounts. Hey, just try us. We’ll charge you twenty dollars a lead. Let’s see how it works out. Our standard price is forty or fifty, but we’ll try this for three months and see how it works out. And then, if it works out, we’ll move up to that other price.

Michael: So the agreement will say it’s a fifty percent discount on the cost-per-lead for the first three months; two-week cancellation; you’re no-risk. If we don’t deliver you any leads, you don’t pay.

Chris: That’s right.

Michael: All right. Fantastic. It all makes sense. I see how it’s all coming together. So, before we get into the marketing and figure out how you get so many people to your website that then start into the funnel and go through, let me ask you about the quality of leads because we’ve talked about that a few times and that is always the big question of lead generation sites. Are you producing quality leads or are they just people from India or China that we paid to come in and fill out a form? So how do you define the quality of leads to a community advertiser of yours?

Chris: Yeah. There’s really two ways to do it. There’s really one way to do it, but in the absence of actual weight and measure, there’s a second way. So I’ll explain what that means. Really there’s only one metric, which is what’s the cost per move-in? So, if we sell you a hundred leads at, say, fifty dollars a lead, you pay us five thousand dollars. If five of those leads move in, you’ve paid us five thousand dollars. The cost for move-in for our leads – for our business for you – is a thousand dollars cost per move-in. So it’s the conversation rate from lead to move-in combined with the cost you’re charging per lead to see what is the cost per move-in. That’s the ultimate barometer that providers should be using. What we learned very early on is that most of these providers, in senior care, are way behind the times. One of the biggest providers who operate over two hundred communities; until two years ago, were tracking their leads using index cards. This is in like 2010. I mean it’s crazy. So for them to even track and be able to understand what’s the conversion rate, many of them, they’re coming around now. The biggest guys are getting in now. They have databases. They track it per vendor. They track conversions. And they’re starting to talk about it in these terms in terms of cost per move-in. But in the absence of that, the second, really, way to measure quality is just the tangible nature of the lead. Does it look good? How many times does the name Selena Gomez come through as a bogus lead? Mickey mouse or 555-1212 in the phone number. Those kinds of things. How often, when I call these leads, do they call me back? That’s, at a community level, how they, for years in this business, have been measuring it. Just their interaction with the leads. So we’ve really, from day one, sort of recognized that and we tried to make sure that our leads were all good.

Michael: So how do you make sure the leads are good before community ABC received a lead from Justin Beiber?

Chris: We actually still do this today. We manually review every lead that comes through. Somebody looks at it. Reviews it. Gives it the sniff test. Does this look real? Does this look like a real person? We have comments on our lead forum. Comments are great. Often times the comments will say, ‘I’m looking for a job as a landscaper. Do you have any openings?’ So that, obviously, we would just credit. So just that manual review told us a lot. And there’s other things we do to just make sure that they’re qualified – they’re quality – leads and that we catch the vendors and the job seekers, and take them out of the pool and don’t charge our customers for those.

Michael: So if somebody submits a lead to community ABC and they’re looking for a landscaping job, you’ll forward it through, but then you’ll credit it as a credit as a lead because they may want to see it, but, clearly, you shouldn’t be charging them for it? Is that what you meant by credit them?

Chris: Yeah. That’s exactly it; and that’s still how we operate. We’ve talked about having more of a holding tank where those things get scrubbed and we’re working on something like that now, but that’s generally it.

Michael: That makes perfect sense. Because you don’t want every single communication, spambot, whatever flowing directly through your system to the end advertiser because if they’re bad, then it makes you look bad.

Chris: That’s right.

Michael: So you manually scrub every single lead going through. So that makes sense. So, you rate the quality of the leads; you look at them; you pass through the qualified leads. All right. And so, you built the technology. Jay brought in the customers. And now you were operational in two states – Washington State and Oregon State – and it seems like your job is the next one to kick in here, Chris, because you need more people coming to the website.

Chris: Yeah. That’s right.

Michael: So what were some of the first tactics that you used to drive more people to SeniorHomes.com? Actually, before I even ask you that question, I want to ask you about the domain name because Domain Sherpa is all about domain names. So, how did you first decide that SeniorHomes.com was going to be the main name of your business?

Chris: We actually started out, for the first year and a half, our name was AllSeniorHomes.com. We were able to pick that up for, I think, next to nothing. We spent a lot of time thinking about the ladder part of that name. SeniorHomes. Should it be AssistedLiving? Should it be SeniorHousing? Should it be SeniorCare? And we think we picked the right thing because it gives us breath in terms of the audience we can speak to. So we bought that. We launched the company with that. When we raised our first round of real funding – our series A round – it was, in fact, our lead investor who went out and he did the research and said, ‘hey, this domain – SeniorHomes.com – is for sale. You guys should buy it’. The price tag for us at that point — we’re this little startup. We’re like, ‘no way. That’s way too much’. This guy had funded Diapers.com and seen what they paid; and he’d seen the benefit of that. And so, after a month of kind of thinking about it, talking about it, we approached the person that was selling SeniorHomes.com and bought it. And it turned out to be a great decision obviously. We really think it works now for us.

Michael: Yeah. How much did you pay for SeniorHomes.com at the time?

Chris: We paid, I will say, in the range of tens of thousands of dollars. I have no idea if we overpaid or underpaid.

Michael: Well, yeah. Pricing is all in terms of the buyer.

Chris: I’m sure.

Michael: So if you were willing to pay that, it was a fair price. So, AllSeniorHomes.com. Was All Start Directories upset that you’re using AllSeniorHomes.com at the time?

Chris: Not at all.

Michael: It’s a typical prefix to a domain name.

Chris: Yeah. I mean we looked at other things and it just actually worked because, in the absence of having SeniorHomes.com, it does position you as a directory saying, ‘hey, we’ve got everything’. So that’s why we chose the all.

Michael: Definitely. And who was the investor that came on in your first round?

Chris: MentorTech Ventures. They are a venture capitalist out of Philadelphia and I had a connection to them. And they were interested and believed in what we did, so decided to come in.

Michael: Great. What was your total first round?

Chris: Total first round was 1.6 million. We actually did a friends and family round very early on. That was in 2009. And that was two hundred thousand dollars. That was a convertible note. And that was really actually critical because we actually hired a bunch of contractors. The designer, for example. We put up a lot of content, so we had some contractors. We had a lot of freelancers writing for us. We had a contractor that we doing production and editing. So we had some real costs. We had legal fees and other things, so that was critical to get it going.

Michael: All right. So you launched in 2008 and it was only until May 2009 that Tom got the backend up and running. You were working at the time working on the frontend, which was probably a lot oriented towards the advertisers as well as consumers that are coming there; but you didn’t have all of the pages that you have today. So once it was up and running and Jay brought on the advertisers, then you had to find a way to bring more customers to the site. So what were some of the first tactics that you used in order to bring more customers looking for senior care/senior living?

Chris: Yeah. I mean, just to be clear, Jay and I actually split up marketing. So he does paid channels and I do SEO. And search is really the main channel that we’ve used to date. We have plans to do a lot more other channels, but search has been really good for us. That’s what All Star Directories was very good at. They were great at both, paid search and SEO. That’s what we learned there. So it was really just translating that knowledge to senior care. There’s plenty of traffic on the paid site. It was just simply a matter of just turning up the volume and spending money to drive traffic.

Michael: In 2008, you were spending a majority of your budget on Google Adwords, or were you spending it on Yahoo?

Chris: It was mostly Google. We’ve been with Bing and Yahoo as well pretty much from that start though. I mean that gives us great incremental volume; incremental traffic

Michael: Sure. Okay. So you’re spending some of the two hundred thousand dollars of friends and family financing from 2009 on your paid budget. So you had a paid advertising budget. Did you do any partnerships with, say, AARP or anything like that to try and give them back a percentage of everything generated by traffic that they drove to you?

Chris: Good question. We haven’t really yet. That’s definitely something that is to come. To do more kind of partnerships like that. Traffic partnerships. Lead partnerships. It’s definitely on our roadmap.

Michael: Great. Okay. So when you started you were doing some paid advertising and then, some search engine optimization. So what did you do for SEO?

Chris: I like how Jay describes this. He says, for one, SEO is about content and links at the most simplistic. And we really focused on content and having really well target pages and content for the searches that we thought would convert into leads. And so, we invested a lot in content. Spent a lot on having good, high quality content that was all original. A lot of the sites that got hurt by Panda were sites that went and built these database-driven pages by taking a bunch of databases and putting them together and crafting a unique, or what looks like a unique, text blurb. We didn’t really do any of that. It was all really original content, and then trying to get links. So that’s really what it boils down to on the SEO side.

Michael: Great. All right. So the content makes sense. Did you go to a company like ODesk, or Media Piston is in Seattle? Did you go to a company like that and say, ‘I want to hire ten writers to write two articles per week and here’s what I’m willing to pay’? Or did you actually go out and find authors in some other way?

Chris: We sort of did two things. We had a range of writers for different types of content. We hired some very high-end writers. Our highest paid writer was actually a well-known Seattle Times aging columnist, who we paid around two hundred dollars an article for a four or five hundred word article. That was kind of at the higher end. We had five or six writers like her, who had their Masters in Gerontology, or worked as Geriatric care mangers who really knew the business. And that gave us credibility in going to these providers when they would come to the site to show that we really knew what we were talking about and we are a high quality site. On the other hand, we did hire about probably ten writers through ODesk to put the more kind of filler content that doesn’t take an expert. And so, that’s the approach we took.

Michael: Yeah. Great tactic to go for people that are well-known in the industry, that have a lot of acronyms after their name – RN; I’m sure there’s a bunch of different certifications in senior living/senior care -, and to go for those and then, be able to use those as credentials when you’re going to communities – to advertisers -, to say here is SeniorHomes.com; or AllSeniorHomes.com at the time. Great. Clearly, a lot of it is writing good content, which then drives links, but you also have to tell people that the content is there and ask for links. Is that what you were doing also?

Chris: To some extent. I would say we’ve done better than I expected without doing much link building. There are a lot of people that just beat the pulp out of us in terms of link building. And I think, with the latest update – Penguin -, that’s probably in hindsight a good thing because some sites that were so focused on the link building side of SEO got hurt. So we did do one thing that’s been a huge success. It drove tons of links in a more natural way. We held, what we call, the Best of the Web Contest, where we, essentially, went out and we found about three hundred sites on the web that were about senior care or senior housing. We put them into about seven categories. We nominated them in those categories and then told people, ‘hey, you’ve been nominated for this contest, called the Best Senior Homes/Best of the Web’. We built a page for each of them on our site and said, ‘go post this badge on your website, which links back to our site of course and try to get people to vote for you’. So we put a like button on each of those pages and we said, ‘the top like getters will proceed to the finals’, where we had actual real experts – it’s a panel of about twenty-five different senior care experts – rate those sites based on the quality of their content. So it was really a very legitimate contest. So, that’s how it worked and it was a huge success because the minute you tell somebody that they’ve been nominated, they go out and market the program for you. And so, they’re out there on Twitter, on Facebook saying, ‘vote for me. Vote for me. Vote for me’ and all these links are coming into us.

Michael: Right. And it’s all targeted traffic from websites that Google knows are authentic. That provide a service. That are in Google Places, so Google can verify them multiple ways. And now they’re all linking back to you for senior care awards, or whatever the keyword phrase was that you were using.

Chris: Yeah.

Michael: Brilliant. And I found that as part of my research in preparing for this interview, Chris. And I saw the press release. I saw the website page. It looks very professional and I noted it for myself because I would want to model after what you did. You guys did a fantastic job. So I’ll recommend to the audience, if you’re interested in that, type in SeniorHomes.com. Tack on the word awards or nomination and you’ll find all that information on Google. Okay. So we went through marketing. And so, would you say that, from a marketing standpoint, from a search engine optimization – search engine marketing standpoint, that it’s literally blocking and tackling, you’re producing good content on a regular basis, promoting it out through Twitter, Facebook, newsletters, and since your launch in 2009 to today, it’s just that regular delivery of that content that’s driven the two hundred thousand visitors per month?

Chris: Yeah. That’s it. I mean it’s just a lot of hard work and getting into the details at the keyword level. I would say really doing the research, knowing the keywords; knowing which keywords are important and which convert because some things you might think convert, don’t convert. And so, it’s about knowing which of those words you want to target and then, having the right content and focus there.

Michael: Yeah. So I assume you spend a lot of time on Google’s Adword Keyword tool, so you can type in a phrase and then see what the search volume in the US, which I assume you’re targeting.

Chris: Yeah.

Michael: And then try and pick article topics based on those keywords.

Chris: That’s right. Yeah.

Michael: How do you know which keyword phrase is going to convert better than others?

Chris: Well, I mean that’s learning, right? You watch Google Analytics after a period of time and you can see which phrases convert better. So that’s just part of learning. In any vertical, you got to launch, you got to start getting traffic, and then seeing what actually works.

Michael: Do you use the Google Analytics funnel on your website? Clearly, your conversion processes start with the wizard and lead generation forum and see who gets through the whole funnel. But then you look at which articles or which resources on your website are converting the best?

Chris: Yeah. That’s basically it. And we also have our backend system on our site. We track traffic and leads there, and so, we can track conversion rates there as well.

Michael: Got you.

Chris: So we really use both.

Michael: I know that communities are big on Facebook. You connect with your Seattle community on Facebook. I connect with my Bainbridge Island community on Facebook. And so, I could understand that senior care/senior living might be something that people would recommend. Hey, I just had a great experience at this senior facility and they might link through to your website so that their friends who are in the similar demographics, similar age category might want to look at it for their parents. Do you notice a lot of lead generation coming through social media nowadays, or is it primarily coming through search engines?

Chris: It mostly still comes through search. I think people are less likely to do a status update that, ‘hey, I just put my mom into Assisted Living’. It’s personal. It’s emotional. It’s a different type of experience than going and having a meal at a restaurant. So, we don’t really see that happening quite yet. There may be a way to do that. We’re testing things in Facebook to see if there’s anything we can do there, but it’s not really there yet.

Michael: Okay. So we talked about your friends and family round of funding for a couple hundred thousand. We talked about your next round of funding, which was about 1.6 million. Did you have a second round as well?

Chris: Yeah. We had a series B round, which was three million; and that we did in July of last year.

Michael: Oh wow. Great. So you’re valuation is pretty recent and people are still enthusiastic about lead generation as a business for senior care.

Chris: Yeah. Definitely.

Michael: What is your anticipate exit strategy, Chris?

Chris: Because we have institutional investors, they will want an exit at some point. We’re not in any hurry for that. There’s, we think, a broad range of buyers that might be interest in our company at some point. Two, three years, four years down the road, we’ll start thinking about that. At this point, we’re really just totally focused on executing.

Michael: Okay. So, from the beginning of the company, since you took funding, was your strategy always to build it and go for an exit rather than running as a lifestyle business, or running just as a business for the three founders to take advantage of?

Chris: Yeah. We sort of had that debate. And that’s, I think, possible. I think that would’ve been possible. It’s really about people’s personal situations. If they’re sitting on a nice nest egg and don’t have a family to support, it’s easier to just bootstrap something. But as you can see, we’re still not quite profitable. We’re almost there, but it’s taking a lot of money to get there. I think we may have some level of success just bootstrapping on our own, but there are things we needed to pay for and people we need to hire. There’s a lot of cost. It’s harder, I think, than it was ten years ago.

Michael: Yeah. Definitely. How many domain names do you have in total under the SeniorHomes.com umbrella?

Chris: We’ve bought about four hundred or four hundred and fifty that we, most of which, are not using. We bought them for two reasons I would say. One is to eventually use them, but it’s also sort of a defensive move to block other competitors from coming in and picking up domains that they can monetize. So it was really kind of both reasons to buy those domains.

Michael: Definitely. And do you find that you actually get type-in traffic from some of those domains? Since you’re not currently using them, I assume you’re (Unclear 1:00:56.5).

Chris: Not really. We probably need to do more there. There’s probably more we can get out of it and we just haven’t. I mean that’s the truth. We’ve just been focused and busy with other things.

Michael: Running the business.

Chris: Yeah. That’s right.

Michael: And what are some of the other domain names that you have? Are they focused on SeniorCareWashington.com, or things like that?

Chris: Yeah. We have a lot of kind of geographic terms. That makes up really a bulk of that. I would say that eighty to ninety of them are more, what we call, broad terms. So it might be ElderCare.net. I don’t actually know if that’s one we own, but something like that.

Michael: Something like that.

Chris: My bad. I can’t think of a good example. So eighty or ninety are more those general, broad terms; and then we’ve got about three hundred or a little over that terms that have a geographic spin.

Michael: Okay. Makes sense. So you’re targeting geos. You’re targeting keywords that you can clearly see befit for. Maybe not in use today, but in the future as the business continues to grow. And then, third, to just block the competition. If you own a great domain name that’s preventing a competitor from coming in and using that domain name against you.

Chris: That’s right.

Michael: Yeah. All right. Makes perfect sense. So are you interested in acquiring more domain names? We discussed this previously and a lot of domain name entrepreneurs who maybe want to stop buying or buying and selling want to develop lead generation businesses, which is why I was so excited to have you come on here, Chris, and talk about this. So people can see the parallels and how you did it so they can go out in their own industries and figure out how to do it. But if somebody owns ElderCare.com or something to that effect, would you be interested in knowing about that opportunity if they were interested in selling?

Chris: Yeah. Definitely. I mean we just, two weeks ago, bought FindHomeCare.com. So that was a decent domain. We’re often contacted because we own domains that are like other ones and somehow they find us.

Michael: I get those same e-mails.

Chris: So we just bought FindHomeCare.com because it looked like something we’d maybe use down the road. And so, we’d definitely be interested in other domains that are in that senior care space.

Michael: Okay. At the end of the interview, I’m going to ask you for your contact information; so if people have domain names, they can contact you about those. Let me ask you this. I see that SeniorHomes.com is not a WordPress site. I can go to BuiltWith.com and I can lookup and see what it’s built with. Why did Tom choose the technology that he did to build out your website and lead generation capabilities rather than going with an off-the-shelf system?

Chris: Well, there’s a lot our site does that is important from a scalability and operation standpoint. We have reporting that we have to pull every month to say, ‘what do we bill this customer?’ So, we’ve sent this customer ten leads this month. We’ve got twenty-five hundred of these communities. So to keep track of all of that and what they all owe us is actually, obviously, very complicated. And so, it requires a real database and some real reporting. As well, the lead delivery side gets more complicated as you grow. Initially, all our leads we sent via e-mail, but now, probably sixty, seventy percent of our leads are posted directly to somebody’s database. And so, just the lead delivery gets more complicated and reporting around that. And so, it’s important. I think a lot of affiliate sites, where you don’t have those operational needs, where you’re really just kind of sending traffic or leads to a partner who is monetizing it, it’s a lot easier to build a simple site out of WordPress; and I know a lot of affiliates do that and that works well.

Michael: Definitely. How many of your communities want their leads faxed to them?

Chris: We have not had that. I wouldn’t be surprised if we ran into that one day given this market.

Michael: All right. Most of them want it by e-mail, but some of the more advanced companies; they actually want you to drop the leads with all the information into the CRM system and they give you hooks in order to do that.

Chris: That’s right.

Michael: All right. That makes perfect sense. So you needed a technology that would be more extendable so that you can customize it so that you can run reports more easily and you didn’t want to have to worry about being locked into a content management system that somebody else defines.

Chris: That’s right.

Michael: Okay. That makes sense. Let’s see here. So we talked about marketing. We talked about how you were growing. How often do you publish new content, Chris?

Chris: Every week; almost every day. We have a very active blog that we use for news in the industry. Our blog is really more focused on the industry than consumers, but we publish new content almost every day.

Michael: Wow.

Chris: And so, that’s an important way to keep our site fresh.

Michael: Yeah. And what’s the best way to get that new content out to people so that you can drive more traffic? What’s the best way that you found to get more traffic out of that content?

Chris: Mostly it’s through, for the blog posts, we use Twitter and Facebook to sort of let people know that we’ve publishing something interesting. We also have an automated monthly report that goes out to probably around – I don’t even know the real number – maybe three, four thousand people that are associated with these communities. We’re sending the a report saying, ‘hey, here’s how many leads we sent you’. Part of that report, we surface some of the more interesting articles from our blogs, so we get some traffic from that.

Michael: Great. So you’re relying, again, on your advertisers, to some degree, to say, ‘hey, here’s some new content. They may find it really interesting’ and then publish an excerpt on their website linking through to your website to read the full article. So, a great way to build a link, drive more traffic, and get more potential customers.

Chris: Yeah.

Michael: Okay. The other interesting thing that we discussed about your business is that yes, you have people coming to your website and learning and submitting leads, but you also have a “call center”.

Chris: Yeah.

Michael: What was the phrase that you used?

Chris: Care advisers.

Michael: Care advisers. So I can come to your website, I can see a toll-free number, and I can call up and speak to a care adviser.

Chris: Yeah.

Michael: And a care adviser is, basically, exactly what it sounds like. They’re advising you on the care of whoever you’re looking for senior care for, but it’s an inbound lead generation call center.

Chris: Yeah. So it was really in those first fifteen interviews, in November of 2008, and talking to people who have gone through this. We asked, ‘hey, if you were doing this research and you saw a site and they asked you to fill out this form to contact them, would you do it?’ A lot of people said, ‘no; I’d rather pick up the phone’. And so, from day one, we had an 800 number. Initially, it was Jay and I ringing to our cell phones and we became expert care advisers for the first year, year and a half of the business. Of course, now we have a real team of dedicated professionals and that’s been great because we really learn a lot from the consumers on a day-to-day basis through just talking directly to them.

Michael: Definitely. And I think you told me in the pre-interview that you have eight advisers.

Chris: Yeah

Michael: Wow. That’s a fantastic call center; and they’re all busy throughout the day.

Chris: Yeah. Super busy. That’s the team we’re going to be scaling more really over the next year too.

Michael: Excellent. All right. So we talked about your customer service. What percentage of your leads come in via telephone versus the online forms?

Chris: It’s mostly via forums. It’s probably seventy, eighty percent. But the twenty percent that do come in via the phone are some of our highest quality leads.

Michael: Yeah. I can imagine. And do your competitors, like APlaceForMom.com or some of the other competitors that you have; do they have care advisers as well?

Chris: Well, every competitor is different. APlaceForMom; that is their core model. In fact, they’re less a directory than us. They’re more focused on the care adviser aspect of the business even more than we are. I mean things are changing a little bit now; a year ago they had four hundred advisers across the country in every market that actually were in every single metro area that you would talk to if you came through their site. They’re scaling that back now and going towards more of a centralized call center like we are because I think they realized that ninety-five percent of the cases could be handled centrally. And that’s one thing we’ve discovered; that is does work. You don’t have to live there. The core questions you get; you can answer without actually knowing exactly that specific market.

Michael: Yeah. All right, Chris. You’ve been fantastic on this interview. We really walked through from the beginning to today; going through business development, going through marketing, going through technology, going through even legal aspects, and here’s a tough question for you that I want to wrap up this interview with. How do you make sure that you balance what you do with how you do it? In other words, how do you make sure you’re not favoring profits over people in such an important area as senior care and senior homes?

Chris: I think it’s really focusing on the customer need and are you filling that need. And that’s, like I said, from day one, we’ve been focused on quality on the provider side for our advertisers, making sure that our leads convert. We’ve built out an account management team, now, of four people to handle those relationships with those providers and constantly be asking them, ‘are the leads converting’. And if not, let’s get in there and see why and fix the problem. And that laser focus on quality and staying in touch with quality has really helped us. And we do that to some extent on the consumer side, but we have even more plans there so that we know, ‘are we serving consumers well?’ We really want to be a service that people refer to their friends when they go through this.

Michael: Fantastic. All right, Chris. We talked earlier in the show that if people have domain names that they were interested in liquidating out of their portfolio, or they wanted to talk to you, they could contact you. What’s the best e-mail address for them to do that?

Chris: Yeah. I would say we’re both interested in looking at domains to purchase, and we’re also interested in partnering with companies that have domains or sites that have traffic where we can help monetize that traffic. And the best way to reach me is [email protected].

Michael: Excellent. @SeniorHomes.com. And so, if people are running a blog about senior living, senior assisted health care, or senior homes; anything of that genre and they’re looking to monetize the traffic that they have, there’s a potential partnership there as well as just domain names. And if people have a follow-up question for you, Chris, I’m going to ask them to go down below the video. We’re going to have a Q&A section down there. They can type in their question and they can ask you, and then I’ll ping you Chris and let you know that there’s a few questions in there. If they want to follow you, Chris, are you on Twitter?

Chris: Yeah. I’m on Twitter. I’m not super active. It’s @ChrisRodde on Twitter.

Michael: Okay. Great. And if they want to stay in touch with SeniorHomes.com on Twitter, can they do that as well?

Chris: Yeah. We have @SeniorHomes.

Michael: Excellent. Well, fantastic. Chris Rodde, thank you for coming on the Domain Sherpa Show, sharing your tactics for successfully building a lead generation company, and thank you for being a Domain Sherpa.

Chris: Thanks a lot.

Michael: Thank you all for watching. We’ll see you next time.

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16 Responses to “Lead Generation at SeniorHomes.com: From Launch to $5M in Funding – With Chris Rodde”

  1. Eric Jenkins says:


    Another outstanding interview. Thank you Chris for taking the time to share. There is a lot to be learned about lead generation in this interview, some super tips.

    Thanks guys,
    Eric Jenkins

  2. Adam says:

    Thanks Michael, very useful and informative interview as always! Has gotten me thinking about how to start my own lead generation websites.

  3. AK says:

    Michael: Great interview as always.

    Chris: What happens when the providers decide some of the leads are not good enough and do not want to pay? What is your procedure and does it happen often?

    Thank you

  4. • Thanks for Posting about this Video interview

  5. Arseny Kardash says:

    Thanks for sharing this with us, Michael.

    1. My pleasure, Arseny. Thanks for watching and commenting.

  6. Adi says:

    Great interview!!!

  7. Kees Kroos says:

    Valuable interview again,

    The questions you ask make such nice interviews
    so I always for a whole week full of energy and inspiration.

    Greetings from a fan from the Netherlands.


    1. Thanks, Kees. I appreciate you taking the time to write your comment. That provides a great deal of motivation for me.

  8. B2B Sales says:

    Your blog is so special for us…I JUST WANT TO SAY KEEP IT UP :-)

    1. Thank you. Much appreciated.

  9. Chuck Wallant says:

    Phenomenal interview! Excellent work Michael with your questions. You really provided me with the education and inspiration to get going on developing a lead generation domain name I’ve had in my portfolio for a while. Kudos!

    Chris, you’re successful for a reason. Thanks for sharing your wealth of information with us! Karma to you…you’ve really done a great thing for other aspiring entrepreneurs! :)

    1. Chuck: Appreciate the feedback. I found Chris to be extremely inspiring as well. :)

  10. Troy says:

    Excellent interview. Wonderful example of providing a service with value and making a living at it. Thank you!

    1. Thanks, Troy. Glad you found it useful.

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