Why website leasing was previously a non starter
Leasing hasn’t really taken off in a big way so far but that seems likely to change. For the idea of leasing to work, we need three things that are all just starting to come together:
1) Public awareness and education. Ten years ago, if you owned a company with a telephone number, the chances are you’ll have been cold called from someone trying to sell you a website. Over the next five years, pretty much everyone already had a site so now it shifted to selling website marketing. At one point we had three companies call on the same day who all promised to get us to the ‘top’ of Google – highly entertaining if you’re bored and the person calling has no idea you’re a web company.
Originally, small businesses were just coming round to the idea of needing a site, but now their understanding has become about getting traffic to it. On the whole, businesses now understand the power of the web, and accept that they need traffic so there’s little educating that still needs to happen. Many companies also have some form of online spend, usually in PPC so it’s easy to make a quick ROI comparison when offering a site that delivers qualified leads.
2) Increased PPC costs – remember when you could buy clicks to pretty much anything for around $0.05 per click? PPC costs have continued to rise year on year as demand increases quicker than supply, and will probably continue to do so until people find viable alternatives. Companies who spend on PPC usually fall into two camps – either they want to reduce their spend, or their campaign is converting profitably and they want more clicks. The leasing option satisfies both criteria.
3) Massive distrust in Google traffic. With all the ranking and algo changes happening over the last couple years, building a marketing site and getting it to rank isn’t only difficult – it’s risky, as that top spot can be snatched away at almost anytime leaving you with little return for all your investment. Non web based companies who are savvy enough to have previously built their own feeder sites are now thinking twice about the effort and risk involved and seeking alternatives.
So it seems that if you’re thinking of selling and your site meets the criteria, now could be a good time to consider this as a viable option. I usually make a point of staying away from writing about things I haven’t done personally, but for this article I managed to pry some good advice from a pro, thanks to a cheap lunch and a (broken) promise of beers.
(note – If you’ve ever googled “Website leasing”, you’ll probably be fooled into thinking it’s something that it’s not, thanks to the majority of the search results being from web design companies trying to sell more sites. Leasing a site, in this context, refers to leasing an established site with a significant amount of traffic for a targeted niche. The real idea behind leasing a website (for the lessee) it that you still maintain your main source of marketing whether this be your own site, or a bricks and mortar storefront. What you gain from the leased asset should be complimentary to what you already do and not something your business depends on.)