Study Claims SEO to be Best Form of Lead Generation in 2012

Internet marketing is growing in so many ways. I was just thinking about this on the drive home the other day. Internet marketing consists of so many elements:

And each of these forms of marketing has their own subsection and offshoots that grow and die overnight. For businesses owners without marketing experience it is very hard to know where to invest time and resources. There is always trial and error, but in many cases it is simply better to piggyback on someone else’s knowledge. In this case, we are piggybacking on a recent study reported on by Search Engine land. In the study of 500 U.S. marketers, 65 percent of whom self-report as B2B marketers we learned the following information.

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.

It was really interesting to see SEO with such drastically higher numbers than PPC and social media. Of course at SEO Inc. we believe they all work together, so it’s hard to attribute so much weight to one. But according to the study 59% credited SEO as having the biggest impact for B2B and 49% felt it had the biggest impact for B2C. Furthermore, in B2B 25% felt PPC was the most important and in B2C 26% felt PPC was the most important.

SEO Best Lead Generation Source in 2012

In the social media space this year 21% felt social media had the biggest impact on B2B lead generation. This high percentage allowed social media to actually beat out PPC this year, which makes a strong argument for using social media for B2B lead generation. Social media barely lost to PPC in B2C lead generation, coming in with a 25% vote, just behind the 26% vote for PPC.

So What Does this Study Mean?

Overall, this study is telling us that these 500 marketers are more confident in SEO as a B2B and B2C lead generation source than social media and PPC. They are significantly more confident actually. As an Internet marketing expert myself I have seen all the sides of the equation. I’ve heard people grumble that PPC is too expensive and doesn’t work, I’ve heard others say it’s their entire business. I’ve seen huge businesses built only on PPC and others only built on SEO or social media, or even email marketing or TV ads!

When it comes to online marketing it’s all about finding the marketing mix that works for you. Every channel should be explored. The more diversified your approach to generating new business online the less chance you have for failure should one medium stop performing. While that is all true, this study shows that support for search engine optimization is stronger than ever. So why are marketers favoring it so much?

Why Would Marketers Favor SEO over PPC and Social Media?

Longstanding SEO Presence

SEO takes time. It can take 6 months to a year, or even years to build large volumes of traffic. But if you’ve already paid your dues you are now reaping the rewards. When the leads are coming in continually due to past work that is something marketers appreciate.

New Longtail Keywords

Smart search engine optimization experts are pushing new boundaries by segmenting their keywords and building out new dynamic sections that allow them to attack hundreds or thousands of longtail keywords. If marketers are applying these strategies they are reaping the benefits.

PPC too Expensive

Pay Per Click can get pricy and competitive. It’s hard to watch thousands or tens of thousands of dollars be spent each month. While that is true, if there is ROA then marketers should have nothing to be begrudged about. But it can be a mental thing, you know…

Problems Measuring Social

I’ve heard a lot of people complain about not being able to measure their social media marketing or SEO efforts. If you don’t know how to measure the value you are with the wrong agency. Just look at your Google Analytics and count the revenue. If its not there, all it is doing is potentially helping your SEO and growing the brand. But in some cases it might not even be doing that if you don’t have the right methodology in place.

Better Conversion Rates

Marketers may feel that SEO has better conversion rates for lead generation. After asking many people about this it’s pretty clear that the majority, not everyone but the majority, appreciate natural rankings over paid when they are selecting a product or looking for information. Marketers understand this.

Summing it Up

At this point I think we have beaten this topic to death. But if there is one thing to take away that would be SEO is as popular as ever and social and pay per click are just behind. Make sure your company is making good use of the marketing mediums.

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