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The Most Effective B2B Lead Generation Methods

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The most effective methods for generating B2B sales leads are outbound marketing (telemarketing, virtual/remote sales), event marketing (tradeshows, webinars, and seminars), and online marketing (email newsletters, websites, search, and blogs), according to a recent report by InsideSales.com.

On the other hand, the B2B sales and marketing professionals surveyed rated social media as the least effective lead generation strategy. Among the top social networks, LinkedIn was rated the most effective tool, but it still barely reached above the bottom quartile in marketing method effectiveness.

Below, additional key findings from the report, which was based on a survey of 423 B2B professionals, the majority of whom (57%) have marketing budgets under $500k.

Most Common Lead Generation Methods


Company websites, email, and tradeshows are the most common lead generation methods employed.

Brand Awareness

The same methods effective for generating leads (outbound marketing, events, and online) were also rated highest for driving brand awareness.

Top B2B Marketing Challenges

Generating leads and improving the quality of those leads were rated as the biggest challenges faced in B2B marketing.

About the research: The report was based on a survey of 423 B2B sales and marketing professionals. Only 12% of respondents have marketing budgets large enough to allow them to undertake large scale campaigns such as broad reach marketing.


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Ayaz Nanji is an independent digital strategist and the co-founder of Inbound ContentWorks, a marketing agency that specializes in content creation for businesses and brands. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. His past experience includes working for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, AOL, and the New York Times.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji

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  • by Adrian Jobson Wed Jul 24, 2013 via web

    Very clear, well reasoned article that has turned my intuition into knowledge. Thanks Ayaz - very professional

  • by Ayaz Nanji Thu Jul 25, 2013 via web

    Thanks Adrian!

  • by Bob Foster Thu Jul 25, 2013 via web

    Cold calling by telephone is rapidly diminishing in effectiveness. I used to make 30 phone calls, talk to 20 people and set 10 ten appointments. No longer. My best advice is to walk trade show floors, search on LinkedIn, collect e-mail addresses anyway you can. Then begin e-mailing the prospect. This gets me in front of far more people than "smiling and dialing." If I get in front of prospects, 75 percent of the visits result in a proposal. 50 to 60 percent of the proposals result in sales. Think digital.

  • by Allison Tetreault Fri Jul 26, 2013 via web

    Interesting study. A lot of people have been touting that social media tools such as Pinterest can generate just as many leads as teleprospecting does. This article seems to prove that that's not true, and that face-to-face communication, at trade shows or conferences, is actually more effective. Glad to finally see a professional study done by InsideSales.com, instead of more opinions. While I agree that the future of digital is nigh, we also can't forget the basics; using digital AND non-digital forms of communication with prospects is key. I featured this article over at AG Salesworks (http://ow.ly/nlKRg ) because I thought it was so interesting. Thanks for writing it!

  • by Sarah Fri Jul 26, 2013 via web

    Much appreciated. As I constantly struggle to manage effective lead generation and block out the noise of daily digital hype, it's nice to be reminded and reinforced that the methods that got us here (trade shows, outbound calls, effective website) will allow greater conversion than social media. It's all about balance but rarely are we reminded that "tried-and-true" is still relevant. Thank you!

  • by Ben J Bradley Wed Jul 31, 2013 via web

    Interesting info - but I think what this really key to consider here is that not all methods above should be ranked with the same metrics. The goals of these should be different, so the metrics should be as well. For example, Is social a tool for developing sales ready leads, or is it a tool for engaging and developing relationships?

    I have a blog post that expands on this here - http://b2bbradley.blogspot.com/2013/07/metrics-to-success-in-native.html

  • by Nasif Kazia Mon Aug 5, 2013 via web

    This is wounderful article and will help a lot to promote online business,Especially business Such as were interation of manufacturer and Whole-seller is required.

  • by John Scharf Thu Aug 8, 2013 via web

    It is without a doubt that the most effective methods for generating B2B sales leads are outbound marketing. However in online marketing we need to gather a lot of contacts and lead prospects, good thing there are sites that serve as mailing list which made prospecting and generating leads more affordable and more efficient for all sales people, recruiters, insurance agents, small business owners, entrepreneurs, etc, so they can spend more time closing deals and less time searching for leads and prospecting.

  • by Stuart Armstrong Thu Aug 15, 2013 via web

    Thats a great "leadgen" overview. sales 1.0 tools meets sales 2.0.

    Interesting to see "events" rank very high in effectiveness and are generally underused. (including live F2F and webinars, virtual trade shows etc.)

    I think we may forget that an meeting/appointment with a C level or LOB Manager buyer is a face to face event and thats what they prefer when the "buyer eval process" gets serious. "we won't buy until we see the whites of their eyes", or "belly to belly" sales process as Boss Hog may say to "Bubba".

    CEO's prefer face to face... this Forbes study is a bit dated but still holds true.
    http://www.forbes.com/forbesinsights/Business_Meetings_FaceToFace/

    (still the best ROI for marketing is to fine tune their database of ideal customer profiles, personas and make sure that ALL sales reps have a database of a minimum of 500-1000 "prospects" that are 85%++ accurate- thus NO reason to not make a few cold calls or emails!)

    regards,
    Stuart Armstrong
    Canada

  • by Jerry Grayson Tue Sep 24, 2013 via web

    As more and more businesses and media go online--i recently read about an interesting media combination used by a home improvement company. It consisted of a radio personality promoting their business expertise on air, then also a part of the station's digital marketing platform (eblast to 14,000 fan base of VIP listeners), ads on the station's audio stream combined with Facebook/Twitter social media with their listeners. The home improvement business also sponsored a "business forum" the station had with a well-known keynote speaker. According to their results--over five years of partnership with this unique media mix--has grown their business to over $12 million per year. They've actually had to stop their schedules twice due to too many leads and not enough installers. I'm sure they still have a booth at the Home Show, etc--but this was definitely profitable for them. I believe the site has a free download of an ebook about this concept. It's www.ondemandadvertisingsolutions.com.

  • by Jean-Paul van de Wiel Mon Jun 16, 2014 via web

    Very clear insight. Both confirming, interesting as sobering the hypes. Of course everyone has to explore and experiment for his own best mix. This survey offers a good starting point for it. Thanks and regards, Jean-Paul van de Wiel, Breda, Holland

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