Which Channels Do Marketers Find Best for Generating and Converting Leads?

Ifbyphone-Marketing-Channels-Best-Ability-Lead-Conversion-May2014Which marketing channels have the highest potential to convert leads into sales? Offline methods still do the trick, according to Ifbyphone’s “2014 Marketing Measurement Survey Report” [download page]. Asked to choose which of 9 channels presents the best bet for sales revenue conversion, a plurality 35% of marketers cited in-person visits, with inbound phone calls (20%) next. Those two channels also garnered the highest overall ratings for their ability to generate high-value revenue. While the share of marketers indicating in-person visits to be their most valuable declined from last year, the overall ratings ascribed to this method for its potential to bring in high-value revenue actually increased. This year, in-person visits received an average rating of 7 (on a 9-point scale) for its propensity to garner high-value leads, up from 6.5 last year.

Beyond offline methods, PPC clicks/website visits and email inquiries were tied, with 11% of marketers tabbing each as their most valuable channel for lead conversion. But email inquiries scored a higher average rating (6.3) than PPC clicks/website visits (5.4) for their ability to generate high-value revenue.

Compared to last year’s survey, marketers this year seemed less enthused by webinar attendance and instant messaging. Those channels were at the bottom of the list in terms of lead conversion ability and ability to generate high-value revenue – and both were down from last year on each measure.

Interestingly, while offline methods are seen best for converting leads into sales, respondents to the study find online channels to be tops for sourcing high-value leads. Email led all channels for sourcing leads (57% preferring), followed by SEO and PPC (55%) and social media (44%). Each of those channels saw an increase in share of respondents from last year.

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By contrast, the next-most preferred lead generation channels, conferences, tradeshows and events (39%) and direct mail (26%) were relatively flat from last year. Fewer respondents this year (23%) see PR as a preferred channel for generating high-value leads. And while slightly more recognized print ads (16%) and TV (9%) as valuable, those channels are still solidly in the minority. (It’s also worth noting that these results may correlate with actual usage, as marketers are likely much more apt to be using email marketing and social media than to be buying print or TV ads.)

In other results from the survey, three-quarters of respondents indicated that their CEO is either totally (38%) or significantly (37%) committed to marketing, up from 67% responding that way last year. Respondents are also providing marketing measurements to their CEOs and leadership more frequently this year: 6 in 10 do so daily (8%), weekly (25%) or monthly (27%), up from 55% doing so at that frequency last year. Across 12 metrics, 10 are being used by a greater share of respondents this year, with the top metrics – increase in sales/revenue – seeing a big uptick in use from 49% last year to 69% this year.

Despite an increase from last year, only a minority 45% are measuring marketing ROI. Respondents indicated that they need more attention to the measurement process (42%) and more budget (39%) in order to be more successful in measuring marketing ROI this year.

About the Data: The survey garnered 551 respondents. More than 1 in 5 are president/owner of their organization, and another 35% hold a marketing management position. A majority 57% of respondents come from organizations with less than $5 million in revenue. Agencies, technology firms and consulting organizations represent just over half the respondent community, with healthcare and financial groups making the top five sectors.