Lead Gen: Where the Good Names Are.


We’ve talked a bit in this blog (and will talk much more in the future) about the concept of content marketing, and one organization that works hard to create new customer engagement through educational content is the team at Swanson Russell. The latest Quick Tips mailer from this Nebraska-based agency with a long history of success in the ag and ornamental horticulture industries focuses on an area that gets surprisingly little discussion among our clients: lead generation.

I’ve been wanting to develop a post or series of posts on lead gen for awhile, so I will start by sharing some of the tips from Swanson Russell.

Lead generation — the process of the identifying and cultivating new sales prospects — matters for every organization, although those companies that sell through distribution obviously emphasize it less. Swanson Russell’s report looked at key findings from a recent benchmarking study of business-to-business marketers and their lead gen activity with each tactic evaluated based on four criteria:

  • The frequency it was used;
  • The quality of leads it produced;
  • The quantity of leads it produced; and
  • The cost per lead.

Email and SEO Lead the Way

In-house email marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) are the only channels that ranked near the top on all four criteria. These are the most frequently used lead gen channels, are viewed as generating the highest quality and high quantity of leads at among the lowest cost per lead. It is important to note that email marketing through third-party lists was not perceived to generate such high quantity or quality leads.

Social media: Low cost, but low quantity and quality

Social media (not ads) was viewed as being among the lowest cost-per lead sources, and social media ads were not too far behind. However, both channels ranked near the bottom in quantity and quality of leads. Social media is the third most widely used channel behind in-house email and SEO.

Four high-cost, quantity and quality channels

Trade shows / events, telemarketing, third-party lead originators and third-party webinars are all seen as generating some of the higher quality leads and above-average quantity of leads, but at a higher cost per lead.

This was expected. What is surprising is that all four of these channels still ranked slightly behind in-house email marketing and SEO in perceived lead quality.

Mixed perceptions of digital ads

Search engine ads rank at the top for quantity of leads and ranked above average for lead quality. On the other hand, online display advertising scored below average for lead quantity and at the bottom for quality of leads. Somewhat surprisingly, both ranked worse than average in cost per lead.

Free trials, live demos, and webinars

B2B marketers also were asked to rate the quantity and quality of leads generated by 12 types of content offers. Free trials, live demos with reps and webinars all ranked among the top in quantity and quality. White papers ranked high for quantity, but lower for quality. Price quotes ranked second among offer types for lead quality, but in the middle for quantity.

The author is Director of Interactive Sales at Meister Media. To further discuss lead-generation ideas, you can contact him at 440-602-9129 or bwest@meistermedia.com. For more marketing insights from Swanson Russell, check out their blog here.