The Best (and Worst) Methods for B2B Lead Generation

Return on investment is the name of the game when it comes to lead generation. Whether it’s inbound or outbound, marketers have to identify the content types and channels that help them maximize outcomes.

The chart below uses data from a MarketingProfs report on the effectiveness of various lead generation methods. It is part of a larger infographic that comes from Placester. The effectiveness ratings used in the chart are derived from the experiences of 423 B2B sales and marketing professionals surveyed for the study.




Looking at the chart, some of its findings are relatively surprising. Techniques that some may consider antiquated, like telemarketing, were rated as very effective, while popular techniques, like online video, were rated poorly. We dive into some of the more surprising findings below.


The Best


1. Telemarketing

As mentioned above, telemarketing is a lead generation method that’s probably not at the top of most companies’ lists. People usually have a pretty negative image in their mind when they think of telemarketing. The type of telemarketing we’re discussing here is very different from the untargeted, pre-Do Not Call Registry phone farms that most people associate with telemarketing.

Today’s telemarketing is targeted and well-thought-out. Reps enter calls prepared. With this preparation, phone calls provide a stronger connection that most other non-face-to-face channels – an answered call provides guaranteed dialog and allows for client-specific pitches. Combined with reduced clutter in the telemarketing space, these factors add up to a pretty effective lead generation channel.


2. Executive Events, Tradeshows, and Conferences

In-person events – and, to a lesser extent, webinars – faired very well in this study. Events of all varieties found themselves toward the “Most Effective” end of the spectrum.

A couple factors are at work in making in-person events such an effective lead generation method. First, events offer face-to-face communication – something that’s increasingly rare in today’s digital, inside sales world. If nothing else, it’s harder to dismiss a person when they’re standing in front of you. Second, when businesspeople attend events, they tend to be free from many of the normal office distractions that might interfere with other channels. With face-to-face access to less distracted prospective leads, it’s no surprise that in-person events were rated highly.


3. Email and Newsletters

Email was another lead generation method that was surprisingly highly rated. Email in this sense encompasses newsletters, promotional emails, and outbound campaigns in general. Though inbound is typically seen the primary channel for lead generation, the respondents in this survey reported better success on the outbound side.

Looking deeper, it makes sense that email is a strong lead generation channel. For most people, email is the preferred form of business communication. It’s viewed as important enough to be actively monitored, but not too important to be shared. Marketing automation technology has allowed more complex campaign logic and more targeted email messaging. Overall, comfort, targeting, and personalization makes email a powerful lead generation method for savvy marketers.


The Worst


1. Social Media

In this study, social media preformed badly across the board. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+ were all rated as some of the least effective channels, while LinkedIn was rated only slightly higher. Considering the time and effort that goes into maintaining these social presences, it’s startling to see such a dissatisfaction in their ability to convert.

Lead generation is just not a role where social media excels, especially in a B2B setting. Social media is great for brand awareness and content distribution, but generally lacks the means to collect legitimate leads. In most cases, social media relies on referring traffic to a company website that has the additional information and forms needed to secure the lead.


2. Online Video

Though not quite at the bottom of the list, video was also rated as ineffective. Considering some of the unique applications for video, its placement comes as a surprise.

Like social media, video is simply better suited to organizational goals other than lead generation. Video is more effective in functions like brand storytelling, customer engagement, and product demonstration. Even if video was better suited for lead generation, its high costs mean that it would need to be incredibly productive to match other methods on per lead costs.



Let us know what you think:

  • What lead generation mediums have been most effective for you?
  • What lead generation mediums have been least effective?
  • Do you agree or disagree with those polled?



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