Almost half of companies surveyed are failing to exploit online lead generation as a way of growing their business, according to a new study by E-Consultancy and Clash-Media.
Four out of five online marketers (82%) said they see online lead generation as a growth area and 64% of online marketers see it as its own distinct area of online marketing. But only 44% of B2C marketers said that their organisation is effectively exploiting it as a way of increasing revenue.
In effect, the survey, which questioned over 400 marketers during January and February 2007, found that a worrying 47% of marketers said that their company is not effectively exploiting online lead generation as a way of growing B2C business.
Online lead generation was defined for the survey as the technique of using the web as a means of garnering contact information for qualified prospects or leads. This takes place before a conversion or sale of a product or service, whether the sale is conducted online or offline.
Multi-channel approach taken
The study did find that almost three-quarters (74%) of respondents working for multi-channel organisations said that their companies are currently generating leads online with the intention of converting them offline.
According to Linus Gregoriadis, E-Consultancy's head of research, there are significant opportunities for companies to generate leads online regardless of whether they are eventually converted online or offline (e.g. in stores or by telephone): "Our research found that online methods are deemed to be more effective than offline methods when it comes to generating leads in the B2C context."
Simon Wajcenberg, CEO for Clash-Media, added: "The advantage of online lead generation is that it is a way of obtaining measurable results. But, despite its importance as a marketing tool, online lead generation has only recently begun to emerge as a distinct marketing discipline."
Other key findings of the research included:
- The traditional press (i.e. newspapers and magazines) is the method of offline lead generation most commonly used to generate consumer leads (61%), followed by direct mail and postal data (51%).
- The online methods most likely to be used to generate leads are natural search (78%), paid search (72%), and e-mail marketing to in-house lists (72%).
- Only 16% of respondents said that they buy lists of targeted prospects from online aggregators, compared to 77% who are not using online lead aggregators at all.
- The most effective methods of generating leads are all online. More than half of respondents (52%) said that paid search was very effective while almost as many (48%) said that natural search was very effective.
- E-mail marketing to in house lists (38%), affiliate marketing (34%), shopping comparison sites (26%), viral marketing (25%), and acquiring leads from online aggregators (25%) were also thought to be very effective techniques.
- Paid search has the biggest share of online lead generation budget allocation (28%).
- 60% of company respondents said they are either "excellent" (11%), "good" (22%) or "quite good" (27%) at measuring the effectiveness of their online lead generation activity. However, there were many respondents who feel there is room for improvement in this area, with 27% saying they are "average" and a further 8% saying they are "poor".
For those who have tried it, the difficulties associated with measuring the effectiveness of online lead generation generally fell into three categories:
- Difficulty of tracking leads through to conversion in a multi-channel environment;
- Lack of technology or poor technology for online tracking;
- Lack of resources.
Interestingly, one-fifth of respondents collectively "haven't come across this" (12%) or "don't understand how it works" (8%), suggesting that there is still an opportunity for aggregators to educate prospective clients about this type of activity. A further 8% said they lacked the time to research the technique.
The survey report has been made available for download from E-Consultancy's web site - click here.