Businesses are failing to leverage the most effective technologies and methods for generating leads and driving business awareness, with social media tools overused and executive events, telemarketing, webinars and search marketing underused, according to a lead-generation methods report by cloud-based sales acceleration technologies and solutions provider InsideSales.
The report found inside sales was the highest rated method for generating leads and driving brand awareness, followed by executive events and telemarketing. Company Websites, email or e-newsletters, and tradeshows were also highly effective at generating leads and were used broadly among the 423 survey respondents.
Despite their effectiveness, executive events and telemarketing are only used by one-third of the study respondents. Other underused tools for lead generation and business awareness include webinars and search marketing, which are used by less than half of companies in the study.
The report also indicated generating leads and improving the quality of those leads are the most common challenges faced in business-to-business (B2B) marketing, yet salespeople and marketers are giving priority to channels with more perceived than actual value, such as social media strategies like Twitter accounts and Facebook pages.
"Social media showed very poor lead-generating effectiveness. Even though LinkedIn was rated the most effective social media tool in the survey, it barely reached above the bottom quartile in marketing method effectiveness," the report noted. "LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are all overutilized considering their poor effectiveness."
Social media tools--specifically, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest--are the least effective for generating leads or driving brand awareness. However, LinkedIn and Facebook have more than 50 percent adoption among those surveyed. Many flashy and interactive Web 2.0 tools were mostly ignored, including podcasts, virtual, on-demand events, and other Web 2.0 tools.
"This study indicates that companies can better focus their marketing resources into those channels which are most effective," Ken Krogue, president of InsideSales, said in a statement. "While there's a lot of buzz surrounding it, social media's very poor lead generation and business awareness effectiveness means marketers are over-utilizing LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Companies should more frequently use executive events, telemarketing, webinars and search marketing to improve their results in these areas."
The results also indicated budgetary restrictions also influence the choice of lead generation tools. Only 12 percent of respondents said they have marketing budgets adequately large to allow them to undertake large-scale campaigns such as broad-reach marketing.
Outdoor media, TV advertising and public relations did not perform as well for generating leads directly, but they performed better in generating awareness. Webinars were strong performers in generating leads, and are even stronger in driving brand awareness. The report noted it was surprising that less than half of companies surveyed were using them.
"We find that generating leads is a more common problem for companies than driving brand awareness," the report concluded. "Companies should more frequently use executive events, telemarketing, webinars and search marketing to improve results in this area. Webinars not only effectively generate leads, but are also rated highly in driving brand awareness."