Paid Online Leads: What are they and why do they matter?

One section on my website that members have access to is called Paid Online Leads (POL), and I always gets a question or two about it. What does that mean? How can I take advantage of these opportunities? What’s the benefit? So here, in this blog, I’ll attempt to break down what these opportunities mean, and why they are extremely valuable to your destination. This is an abridged version of my two-part post on the members side, which includes helpful tips and tricks on how to best negotiate and maximize these partnerships.

  • First and foremost, like the regular Media Leads section on the site, the POL serves as a “heads up”–it lets people in our industry know who is looking for opportunities. The main difference is that POL are leads that you need to expect to pay for some coverage, these aren’t free earned media opportunities like the regular Media Leads.
  • The fees that these bloggers and writers charge all vary greatly. They can start as low as covering just the travel costs, and can easily go up to multiple thousand dollars per post. Of course this will all scale based on their readership and what different elements they are going to supply you with. These really are all negotiable, and before you get all worked up about the fees that they are charging, keep in mind that this is their time they are spending, and in many cases their full-time job.
  • For every POL we have listed on Sparrow, they are vetted as high-traffic sites. This means they have Unique Monthly Viewers (visitors to their site) of 50,000+. I don’t find sites under that amount of traffic to be worth your time or money to reach out to.
  • With that being said, if a blogger reaches out to you looking to help sponsor a trip, always ask for that Unique Monthly Visitor info. If it is less than 50K, that doesn’t mean they aren’t worthwhile working with, it just means you can negotiate with them more. If you think they are a good fit for your brand I say go for it! But instead of paying them a fee and covering all expenses, you could offer to cover a few nights of hotel or perhaps set them up with meals at a few top-notch local places to eat. Do what works for your budget!

Next question — what is the benefit of doing partnerships like these? I consider the main benefits to be three-fold.

  • Valuable content creation for you! Content is king, and I like to ask any incoming bloggers for the rights to use their images on social promotions. If I decide to use them for print, I tell them that I would negotiate individually on that fee. At the very least, you’ll be able to share their content on all of your channels — Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, e-newsletter, etc. — something they are very happy to have you do! It’s always great to have third-party reviews of your destination as readers will trust them more than straight from the tourism entity.
  • On that note, all of the things that the bloggers tags/link your entity in — blogs, social media posts, etc. — equates to upping your SEO. In layman’s terms, this means that more people will see your page pop up when they enter something into Google, obviously upping the chances of them coming to visit.
  • Inspiring their readers to take a visit! If you’re sponsoring a blogger, you’ve already researched who their audience is, and how many people can be expected to check out their content. As I mentioned above, nothing can help someone decide on a trip like one of their favorite bloggers going there and having a grand time. This is the new “word of mouth” marketing, so take advantage of it!

Good luck, and if you’d like to read the full two-part version of this blog or have direct access to our Paid Online Leads and sample pitches, sign up for Sparrow Travel Media today!