Daniel Burstein

Lead Generation: 81% of marketers use email marketing

We surveyed 1,915 marketers for the 2012 MarketingSherpa Lead Generation Benchmark Report, and asked them about their most widely used lead gen practices. Here is what the data says…

Q. Which of the following lead generation tactics does your organization currently use?

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To help you improve your own lead generation efforts, here are some insights and tips from our audience…

Email Marketing

“Interesting chart, Daniel – thank you for sharing it with us. Do you have any correlation between method and its associated level of effectiveness?” asked Hank Boyer, president and CEO, Boyer Management Group. “For example, email marketing may be the most-used method, and often has the distinction of replacing junk mail with junk email…however, its level of effectiveness is likely pretty low on the list.”

Jann Mirchandani, owner and chief marketing officer, Marketing Café, added “This chart is interesting in that it shows which tactics are being used. It does not, however, show which tactics are producing results. I would argue that email marketing is a tactic that most business owners understand and have been using a long time.”

Excellent points Jann and Hank, so let’s take review at a chart that shows which tactics are producing results.

Looking at some further data from the 2012 Lead Generation Benchmark Report that shows level of effectiveness, we can see that Hank has a valid point in his skepticism of email marketing being the most commonly used lead generation tactic for many marketers, however, he may be underestimating this lead generation tactic’s effectiveness:

Q. Please indicate the LEVEL OF EFFECTIVENESS (in terms of achieving objectives) for each of the lead generation tactics your organization is using.

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“Is email a lead gen tactic?” asks Brecht of Distressedpro.com. “If you have the email already, isn’t that the lead?”

That’s an excellent point Brecht, but it brings up another question in my mind – Is an email address really a lead? For some companies it may be, but your marketing team should have a Universal Lead Definition, mutually agreed upon with Sales, that defines exactly what a lead is. I would argue a true “lead” is whatever information most efficiently and effectively leads to a sale.

But that’s just my two cents. Here’s how Tommy Landry, founder, Return On Now addresses the question after he himself raises it…

“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,” Tommy says. “But I’m splitting hairs, and email remains the most important marketing tool for identifying ‘hot’ leads.”

Search engine optimization (SEO)

As we can see in the above chart, SEO was rated as very effective by a third of marketers, and this tracks with Hank’s experience.

“Our company recently rebuilt its website and we utilize both SEO and optimized Web design to enhance stickiness and click through,” Hank said.

“Early analytics from the site shows a significant improvement in traffic and time spent on the site. We believe this has been achieved by the inclusion of quizzes and assessments and relevant blog content, plus enhancements to the site’s navigation.”

Website optimization/management/design

On the MarketingExperiments blog (sister blog to the B2B Lead Blog Roundtable), we’ve found website optimization to be a very effective tactic, with double- and triple-digit lifts in reach for marketers.

If you are looking to optimize your own website to improve lead generation, here are a few tips from Tommy:

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.

Source – Online Demand Generation: Top Media Vehicles for Driving Leads

Content Marketing

“Content marketing works! If you don’t believe me, check the Alexa rank of Return On Now,” Tommy said.” 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.”

If you’re looking for an example of content marketing, let me do a little horn tooting for just a second, and suggest you look no further than this blog and the MarketingSherpa article that prompted the responses you are reading now.

At least, so says Rebecca Caroe, founder, Creative Agency Secrets, “Daniel – great chart, great blog post and a superb way to demonstrate leadership in lead gen is to follow your tactics:

  • Invite reader response
  • Credit contributors
  • Enable future content to be written based on submitted readers’ views.”

If you’d like to be featured in a future blog post, simply sign up for the free MarketingSherpa Chart of the Week newsletter and share your actionable advice on a marketing industry chart that tickles your fancy.

Related resources

Why 75% of Marketers Are Experiencing Lead Generation Pain and How to Stop It Before It’s Too Late

Lead Generation Strategy: 5 signs you’re selling like it’s 1992

Coaching a new biz dev executive…. part 4

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Lead Generation



  1. October 15th, 2012 at 19:34 | #1

    My business is an online business exclusively. After I get an email I look to move the subscriber through an automated education process with periodic calls to action to either give me more information (either by opting in to other offers or answering questions directly). There is no 1:1 involvement on my part or on the part of anyone else in my organization so this is why we consider the email opt-in the lead.

  2. October 15th, 2012 at 20:01 | #2

    Following your own advice:

    Anyone who wants to use content as a new business generation tool, follow this quick guide to readers –

    What Daniel actually did was this.

    1 – he published this post and its predecessor both here on the blog and also in the Marketing Sherpa LInked In Group (huge membership).
    2 – he reaad and responded to comments (always good practice)
    3 – he made up a third blog post (the one here) incorporating the comments from both places
    4 – he messaged us inside LInked In to say that the post was published and included our comments
    5 – he tweeted it out as well.

    Joining-the-dots of all channels of communication can be laborious, but it’s got Daniel a new blog post, returning readers and commenters and unique content that couldn’t have been created another way.

    Congratulations.

  3. October 17th, 2012 at 13:55 | #3

    I think the contrast in the survey results between email usage and perceived effectiveness is interesting – and telling. Where SEO is a methodical, strategic targeting of the type of search and buyer intent you choose to rank for (and takes thought, planning, time and conscientious implementation), often email is seen as a quick hit to results – and it’s “free.” Batch blasting without proper behavioral or firmographic understanding is sure to depress the effectiveness of this channel (not to mention crashing your deliverability) – master marketers I speak to in B2B who are conscientious in persona development and targeting messages by industry and other traits, see far better results from email.

  4. October 18th, 2012 at 13:27 | #4

    Hi Daniel, that pretty much sums it up – I agree with the 81% of marketers use email marketing for their Lead Generation practices. Thanks for this post! very – very informative. http://bit.ly/ayeen8

  5. October 23rd, 2012 at 16:16 | #5

    I absolutely agree with the 81%. My company (The Bokka Group) provides online marketing for home builders, and email is always the best performing tool in the arsenal (from an ROI standpoint).

    I would also like to expound upon Tommy Landry’s key point about using email to move existing leads along the sales funnel. This is especially important in new home sales, where the buying cycle is measured in months. Email *can* generate new conversions in terms of forwards to friends (minimal), but is most powerful when used to get existing leads back to your web site to facilitate further action (driving directions, phone call, live chat, etc).

    We refer to email marketing as: “An opportunity to turn all leads into A-leads”

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