Online Demand Generation: Top Media Vehicles for Driving Leads

On October 2, 2012, Marketing Sherpa released one of their popular “Charts of the Week.” This one is focused on what the top media are for driving leads on behalf of your company.

Below you can view the chart for yourself. Keep in mind that the respondent base was a mix of B2C and B2B marketers. They also included “traditional” mass media for comparison’s sake.

As you will see, your colleagues and competitors are well along the way to modernizing their marketing techniques using the web.

Online Demand Generation: Top Media Vehicles to Drive Leads
Source: Marketing Sherpa

Analyzing the Data

As you might expect, email marketing remains the top perceived source of leads among marketers.

While I concur that email is the most important medium to get right, I question whether it should be considered a lead gen vehicle at all. If you are emailing them, they are already on your list of leads.

Using email right means that you are just catching existing leads at the right time to move along into the sales funnel. But I’m splitting hairs, and email remains the most important marketing tool for identifying “hot” leads.

Online Demand Generation is Key

The next five vehicles on the list are near and dear to our focal areas. Let’s look at each one individually for a moment.

Search Engine Optimization / SEO

While many in the industry are growing more skeptical of the value of SEO, these results scream loudly and clearly that it is in no way obsolete. Yes, SEO is a lot of work, it keeps changing, and you can suffer through a drastic change overnight.

But if you are doing everything by the book and listening to what Google tells you they are working on, the risk is very low. The return, on the other hand, has a very high ceiling. Ignore the skeptics and prioritize SEO at the top of your marketing to-do list.

Social Media

Every company should at least have an idea of what social media can do for their business. Even a basic, low activity program can provide value in the way of increased awareness, better customer service, and real leads for the sales team.

When you add in the fact that social now greatly impacts SEO success, then these numbers should come as no surprise. After SEO, Social Media is the next most important area to dedicate, time, budget, and other resources. If you don’t figure it out, your competitors will.

Website Optimization / Management / Design

Website optimization goes beyond just the words on the page. It requires strategic long-term thinking and ongoing adjustment.

  • Is your site usability as good as it can be, so prospects can self-identify as easily as possible?
  • Does the design indicate that you are a serious business or look like you are a fly-by-night operation?
  • Is the content on it valuable, written well, and easily scannable by busy users?
  • Do the pages load as fast as possible or should you tweak your infrastructure, hosting, or CMS/theme?

The questions go on, but the premise remains the same – have you optimized the user experience of dealing with you online? The website is a huge part of that experience, so get it right.

Content Marketing

If you know me personally, you know that I beat the content marketing drum nonstop. There’s a good reason for it – good content is the basis for successful efforts in SEO, Social Media, website optimization, and even Paid Search.

But most of all, content marketing works! If you don’t believe me, check the Alexa rank of Return On Now. We kicked off a content marketing program In early July 2012, when our Alexa rank was just under 2.3M. The last I checked, it was closing in on 607K. And we’re nowhere near finished!

Paid Search / PPC / SEM

Paid search is the easiest of these top online marketing vehicles to sell to “old school” executives. They already get traditional advertising as well as direct marketing, and PPC essentially melds together the two concepts. It’s keyword-targeted advertising without the print costs of direct mail, replaced by a per-click cost.

I would expect it to be mentioned by more of the respondents, but it comes in at just under 50%. To do it right, PPC is a ton of work. I’d wager that too many companies try to fake it with a marketing intern or new college grad, then cancel the program when they can’t make it ROI positive.

I’ve seen it work well for companies in a wide variety of industries, and we have even saved programs on the verge of being cancelled. Don’t eliminate PPC from your list of programs based on low results in the past. Bring in someone who can do it right before you put the final nail in its coffin.

The Rest of the Pack

As expected, traditional vehicles like trade shows, print advertising, and direct mail are losing popularity. My hunch is that they remain relevant in industries where the audience simply is not online. As the younger, more tech-savvy generations become a larger percentage of the population, I anticipate a major shift toward the online media listed higher on the list.

It is somewhat surprising to see webinars and mobile marketing so low. For webinars, I get that they require a time commitment. On demand webinars are the preferred option, because time-squeezed prospects simply can’t guarantee to be available at a specific time on a specific day during work hours.

Mobile is probably just on the upswing and not well represented among marketers yet. This is a chicken and egg problem – a lot of marketers tell me they don’t want to waste time and effort on mobile because it doesn’t drive enough traffic or lead volume yet.

I beg to differ. Have you stopped to think that you might not be driving activity on mobile because you don’t offer it yet? Whether you are in B2C or B2B, get serious about mobile sooner rather than later. It has become a key part of the buying process for both audiences.


This is great data, and it aligns nicely with our view of the world. Are you doing some or all of these? What works best for you and why? Why aren’t you doing it all?

Touch base with us to discuss any of these media that you want to test out and we can customize a program to get you off the ground. Your peers are using them for a very good reason – they work!

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As Founder and President of Return On Now, Tommy Landry provides the vision behind our SEO and SEM methodologies. With over 25 years of business experience and a deep understanding of modern internet marketing techniques, he spends his time providing hands-on consulting, insightful content, and engaging public speaking appearances to Online Marketers of all skill levels.
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