Traditional Media Not A Good Source of Leads, Say B2B Marketers [Corrected]

December 3, 2012

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article, with the headline “Traditional Media Delivers Low Quantity ”“ But Highest Quality ”“ Leads, Say B2B Marketers” used data provided by Software Advice that inverted the quality ratings provided by respondents. The article has been amended to reflect the corrected data.

Despite marketers and consumers generally believing that traditional media is best for advertising, print, radio, and TV advertising campaigns are rated poorly for their lead generation capabilities, according to results from a Software Advice survey conducted in partnership with Eloqua and

Looking first at opinions on lead quality, just 4% of respondents rated leads generated from print, radio, and TV ads as high quality, tied with display/CPM advertising at the bottom of the list of 14 identified channels. On the other spectrum, 40% rated the leads generated by email marketing (house list) as high quality, with organic search (SEO – 36%), telemarketing/cold calling (35%), and trade shows and events (35%) also seeing a significant proportion rating their leads as high quality. That trade shows appear towards the top of the list confirms recent research finding that B2B content marketers rate in-person events highly for their effectiveness.

Looking next at opinions surrounding lead quantity, third-party lead originators and publishers get the most favorable ratings, with 34% saying they deliver a high quantity of leads. Search engine advertising (30%) is next, followed by email marketing – house list (25%) and trade shows & events (22%). Towards the bottom of the list again, just 9% see print, radio, and TV as generating a high quantity of leads, while 75% say they deliver a low quantity. Joining those media at the bottom is social media advertising: just 5% say it generates a high quantity of leads, and two-thirds say the lead quantity is low.

Looking at quality and quantity together, email marketing (house lists) appears to be a tremendous source of leads. Of the 14 channels identified, this channel rated #1 for high-quality and #3 for high-quantity.

Traditional Media, Events Seen Most Costly for Leads

Further complicating the case for traditional media as lead sources are their cost. Print, radio, and TV are seen as the most costly lead sources, with 79% rating them as high-cost. Closely behind are trade shows and events, with 76% seeing them as high cost.

There is then a dramatic drop to the next tier of channels rated as high-cost: search engine advertising (49%); display/CPM advertising (48%); third-party lead originators/publishers (47%); and direct mail (45%).

Once again, house lists win out – just 2% rated leads generated from this channel as high-cost, the lowest of all the sources identified. Social media (not paid ads – 3%) and SEO (6%) also were among the less costly options.

Traditional Media Budgets Set to Decline

Further results from the “B2B Demand Generation Benchmark Survey” indicate that perhaps as a result of their high cost – or low quality and quantity of leads – respondents are looking to spend less on print, radio, and TV ads next year. 40% said they would spend less, compared to 42% who said they would maintain their spending level, and 18% who said they would spend more. Direct mail was the only other identified channel to see a higher proportion planning to cut (29%) rather than increase (24%) spend.

Looking at net budget plans (% increasing minus % decreasing), social media (not paid ads) wins out with a 53% net increase in proportion of respondents planning a budget increase. Specifically, 55% plan to spend more, compared to 2% who will spend less. This is probably a result of just 3% identifying this channel as being high-cost. Next is social media advertising, with a net gain of 45% of respondents (53% to spend more; 8% less) and retargeting, with a net gain of 44% (55% vs. 11%).

About the Data: The survey was conducted from September 25 to November 8, with a sample size of 155. 48% of respondents have annual marketing budgets of less than $250k, while 31% have budgets of $1 million or larger. In terms of staff size, 60% of respondents are from companies with 1-99 employees, with another 19% hailing from companies with 100-499 employees.

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