4 in 5 Companies Report Steady or Increasing Costs-Per-Lead

Ascend2-Cost-Per-Lead-Trends-Oct2014A slim majority of marketers and salespeople from around the world say that their lead generation effectiveness is improving, while just 1 in 10 see it worsening, finds Ascend2 and its Research Partners in a new study [download page]. While that may be the case, respondents (chiefly B2B-focused) were more likely to say that their costs-per-lead are increasing (25%) than decreasing (19%).

Data quality appears to be a significant problem area in the report. In a worrisome juxtaposition, improving marketing data ranked last on the list of important lead generation objectives, even though lack of quality data and list resources tied with the lack of an effective strategy as the most challenging obstacle to lead generation success. Slightly fewer said that inadequate marketing budgets are most challenging.

Budgets, however, have been blamed for not meeting sales lead generation targets, according to a recent study from 360 Leads. Respondents to that study were more apt to blame budgets than data quality issues for missing their targets. Interestingly, marketing and sales respondents to the 360 Leads survey pointed the finger at internal company issues as a chief obstacle.

Lack of marketing-sales alignment isn’t one of the primary challenges to lead generation success in the Ascend2 study, though. In fact, contrary to other reports that have found little evidence of marketing and sales agreement on the definition of a sales lead, the Ascend2 survey results indicate that 37% of respondents believe that marketing and sales are closely aligned on the definition of a lead, with another 52% saying they’re somewhat aligned.

As relates to lead generation tactics, email marketing (51%) and content marketing (50%) rank as the most effective, followed by company websites (46%). Of the 8 tactics measured, though, content marketing ranks as the most difficult (48% of respondents citing), while email (17%) and websites (15%) are considered the least-difficult to execute. (See here for a variety of perspectives on the most and least effective lead generation tactics.)

Other Findings:

  • Improving lead quality (59%) sits ahead of increasing lead quantity (49%) on the list of most important lead generation strategy objectives in the year ahead, with these being the top two.
  • While two-thirds rated their lead generation efforts as somewhat successful, respondents were more likely to rate them not successful (21%) than very successful (13%).
  • Only 44% of respondents exclusively use in-house resources to execute lead generation tactics.
  • The majority are using marketing software either extensively (26%) or in a limited capacity (36%), while another 23% aren’t using marketing software but plan to in the future.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 375 marketers and salespeople, 72% of whom are in North America. Close to 8 in 10 identify their primary marketing/sales channel as B2B.