What are companies finding to be their most effective sales and lead generation activities? That was the objective of a recent survey conducted by Web-Marketing 123, a California based, nationally recognized online marketing company. They surveyed over 500 US companies. About two-thirds of respondents operated in the B2B space (marketing to other businesses) with the remainder marketing directly to the general public (B2C). The participating firms were of all sizes, from firms with fewer than 10 employees to those with more than 1,000, and the mix was pretty even, making the results representative of the business community.
Asking these companies what they wanted to achieve most from their digital marketing activities, those in the B2B space wanted to generate leads on which their sales efforts could close the deal. For those in the B2C space it was all about generating sales. In response to the question about how they measure their digital marketing success, all companies said overall website traffic was their main benchmark, followed by lead generation and sales.
For all companies, search engine marketing (SEO and Paid Search) was their most effective lead generation and sales tactic, with 75% of companies indicating so. This was followed by social media marketing, which was reported 25% of the time as having the biggest positive impact. As the social media world evolves, it appears companies are learning that social media may be a more of a branding and awareness tool than a lead generation and sales tool.
Furthermore, the survey asked for responses relative to social media marketing – specifically with which social networks the participating firms were most active – and separated it between those in the B2B and B2C space. Not surprisingly, Facebook was by far the dominant network for B2B. For B2B companies there was a more even distribution of activity. When asked if they had ever generated leads from their social media marketing activities, LinkedIn was found to be the most effective lead generation source for B2B, while Facebook clearly was the leader on the B2C side.
Finally, responding firms were asked about their marketing budget allocations and how they will change going into 2012. Historically, search engine marketing has dominated marketing budgets with 60%+ going to this medium, and 10-15% going to social media depending in what space they operate.
This is a great, revealing survey but what does this mean to you and your business, and what should you do? The following two graphs show what has been and what will be marketing investment allocations going forward into the new year. Here are some suggestions:
- Who are your main competitors and how are they positioned in the search engines compared to you? Search engines being the most positive online lead and sales generation tactic, it is important to assess your positioning here and decide how to allocate marketing budget and what search engine strategy makes the most sense for you.
- Depending on what space you operate in (B2B or B2C) you should evaluate your positioning in Facebook and LinkedIn. Are your competitors active in these mediums? How good is their content and is this an opportunity for you to develop a specific "personality" in FB or LI and carve out a niche for yourself?
- Ask someone knowledgable in this space for what he/she sees working for other companies. Search engine marketing may be the best lead and sales generation tactic, but it may not be best for your type of company. Same with social media. It is attractive because it is essentially free, but it can also be time consuming. Do your customers want to interact with you on the social networks? Are your customers even using social networks for their business dealings? These are all questions you can ask yourself and someone else to determine where your marketing budgets should be allocated.