SEO continues to be the top lead generating channel among U.S. digital marketers, while PPC’s effectiveness as a lead gen channel is dropping significantly. B2B marketers are even saying that social media marketing is now more effective than PPC as a lead gen channel.
That’s according to the 2nd annual State of Digital Marketing survey from WebMarketing123, an online agency based in California.
As they did a year ago, Webmarketing123 surveyed more than 500 U.S. marketers, 65 percent of whom self-report as B2B marketers. Reps from companies including GE, Sony, Cisco, Olympus, Bose and FedEx took part. Survey respondents were fairly well divided in company size, with 32 percent coming from businesses with 1,000 or more employees and 23 percent from companies with 50 or fewer employees.
Most Effective Lead Generation Channels
This year, 59 percent of B2B marketers and 49 percent of B2C marketers credit SEO with having the biggest impact on lead generation — in both cases, those numbers are significantly higher than both PPC and social media. As the image below shows, B2B marketers are now saying that social media (21 percent) has a bigger impact on lead generation than PPC (20 percent).
Both B2B and B2C marketers are giving SEO more credit this year for lead gen than a year ago and less credit to PPC. We took Webmarketing123′s results from both years and made our own charts showing how marketers’ opinions about lead gen channel effectiveness have changed.
On the B2B side, PPC saw a five-point drop from last year (25 percent down to 20 percent) and, on the B2C side, it was an eight-point drop (34 percent to 26 percent).
Measuring SEO = A Challenge
Though most marketers say SEO is their top lead generation channel, they also say that measuring the true ROI of organic search remains a challenge. About half of those surveyed are relying on what Webmarketing123 labels “basic” measurements — those related to traffic and rankings — and only about a third are measuring SEO by how many leads or sales it generates.
Not shown above: More than 30 percent say their biggest frustration with SEO is “difficulty in measuring results” and about 70 percent say they’re not able to accurately attribute leads or sales to organic search. That latter number is actually contradictory to the data above about SEO being the most effective lead gen channel — are the survey respondents really sure about that if they’re struggling to attribute leads and sales to organic search? Or, would SEO be credited as even more effective if more respondents were able to accurately track it?
You can get the full report from Webmarketing123′s website (contact information required to download) and draw your own conclusions if you’re so inclined.
Also see Survey: Facebook Best For B2C Sales & Leads; LinkedIn For B2B on our sister-site Marketing Land, which looks more at the lead and sales effectiveness of various social media channels, as found by the report.