Pay Per Lead Vs Pay Per Appointment Vs Pay Per Sale

Beyond just an hourly or project based retainer, there are many pricing models that you can use when selling SEO services to local businesses.

Some of the benefits of these alternative billing models for local affiliate marketing include:

  • They are easier to sell
  • They are more passive
  • They have simplified reporting
  • They may potentially make you more money
  • You own the asset

So, How Do You Choose a Good Local Affiliate SEO Monetization Method?

Well, we would say that it depends on many factors, including the vertical you are choosing and your relationship to the client. We will break down the popular monetization methods, and their pros and cons.

In general the buying cycle from SEO marketing goes like this, but it will vary:

  • A click from Google
  • A call
  • A qualified lead
  • An appointment
  • A sale

As you go lower and lower in this funnel, you’ll be able to charge more and more for that lead.

Rank and Rent: Selling clicks

In most cases, we find it a bit harder to sell the rank and rent model because there is no guarantee of results. You only guarantee that they can rent out your real estate on Google. For the business owner, this is even riskier than pay per click advertising and can be unattractive to them unless you charge well below market value. Also, true rank and rent is largely untrackable, which creates a situation where the business owner might not be able to properly gauge their ROI.

pay per click

If you are going to choose this model, we would recommend not using the traditional light-box plugin method, and instead just put the client’s logo and branding on your site with a call tracking number. That way you can provide them reporting at the end of the month of how many calls/leads they got from your website.

Rank and Rent: Billing

We would recommend either getting them on a subscription that automatically charges them after certain amounts of time, getting their credit card information, or getting paid up front. If you are using PayPal, you can create a recurring payment button in the dashboard. Here are some tips on how to ask for money upfront.

Pay Per Lead: Selling Qualified Leads

This is probably the most popular form of local affiliate marketing and generally works well if you know what you are doing on the billing and client relations side of things. In our opinion, it is a little bit better than rank and rent because you are guaranteeing the business owner qualified leads. Savvy business owners will know what their approximate qualified lead to job ratio is, so they will be open to this model because they know they can make money in the long run.

Keep in mind though that affiliate SEO billing models may not work for all client, including when you work with broke business owners, with owners who are not good at sales, and/or with owners who are in industries that have long buying cycles. We recommend being prepared for those clients that won’t want to pay you by following the billing considerations below.

Pay Per Lead: Billing

Make sure to get paid for your leads upfront and/or get the credit card information of your client before sending any leads. In addition, there may be many missed calls with this pricing model, so let them know that each missed call that rings more than 4 times or so will still be billed as a lead. It is generally standard practice to also allow your client to have a call tracking dashboard login so that they can view the leads coming in and let you know if they would like to dispute whether any of them meet the billable criteria you provided them.

Pay Per Appointment: Selling Estimates/Consultations

This pricing model is most commonly done with cold sales outreach and B2B businesses, but can potentially also be done with B2C type businesses. Not all business owners will know what their closing rate is from online leads, but chances are they will know how many appointments they close on average. In this model, you will often need to answer the phone or hire an answering service to schedule the appointments and send the appointment details to your client/partner. One pro to this pricing model is that you should be able to charge more than you would for just a qualified phone lead.


Pay Per Appointment: Billing

We recommend using a similar billing model to pay per lead marketing and advertising.

Pay Per Sale: Selling Closed Deals

This is a classic pricing model that has been around since the beginning of business, and basically makes you and your client business partners. Pay per sale telemarketing or paid referrals is something many business owners are familiar with. In this pricing model you will receive a percentage of the revenue generated every time one of your leads converts into a job for your client (usually about 10% – 40%). This is a no brainer for the business owner, but can have some pitfalls for you as the marketer/SEO depending on the industry. For example, when someone is trying to get their roof replaced, they will often get multiple estimates before they decide to hire someone. The main issues with this in an industry like roofing are:

  • Slow turnaround time
  • Being largely untrackable
  • You are directly dependent on the clients sales process. We don’t see this as a huge deal though, because you are indirectly dependent on the business owner’s closing rate for the other pricing models as well. For example, a business owner will only buy leads from you if they know they will profitable on the payments they are giving you.

If you choose to go with this billing model, we recommend that you do it in an industry with fast buying cycles and where jobs can be booked over the phone. For example, locksmith services is one niche where the jobs are generally booked over the phone and has standardized pricing. Either you can answer the phone yourself and book the jobs for your client, or you can have the client do it and require that they bid the job over the phone. If the client misses a phone call or doesn’t properly bid the job over the phone, we recommend that you charge them a flat rate for the lead.

for sale

Pay Per Sale: Billing

We recommend using a similar billing model to pay per lead and pay per appointment lead generation.


With so many billing models to use when closing SEO clients, you will have to make the choice of which one works best for you and your client.

Let us know which model you prefer and why in the comments below!

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