Although social media marketing and PPC have received a great deal of attention as ways to generate leads for B2B and B2C sales, SEO is still the most successful in the long term. However, many businesses indicate that they will be dedicating more of their 2012 budget toward social media marketing in an effort to generate leads.
Webmarketing123, a California online marketing agency, compiled the 2011 State of Digital Marketing Report. This report surveyed over 500 online marketers in the United States during the months of August and September 2011. The majority of survey participants identified themselves as business-to-business marketing organizations.
Regardless of whether a company identifies themselves as a business-to-business marketer or a business-to-customer marketing organization, almost all marketing specialists agree that SEO is the most effective method of generating leads and has the largest impact on lead generation. 57% of business-to-business marketing specialists identify SEO as the main method of lead generation. 41% of business-to-customer marketing specialists echo B2B marketer feelings regarding SEO and lead generation.
Website traffic, which is impacted by SEO efforts, are the best source of business leads, say both business-to-business and business-to-customer marketing specialists. And website traffic is the main way in which SEO success is measured. For both types of marketers, brand awareness by customers was the lowest measure of SEO success.
Regarding budgets, the Digital Marketing Report asked respondents several questions. One of the questions was about where budget funds are allocated in marketing. One-third of B2B marketers responded that the majority of their budget goes toward SEO efforts. However, for B2C marketers, in excess of 42 percent dedicate their budgets toward PPC efforts. This is in sharp contrast to B2B marketers, who place a strong emphasis on SEO for their budgets.
While SEO continues to be of importance, social media marketing is also getting a significant boost. 60% of all responders in the Digital Marketing Report indicate that they have plans to dedicate more money in their budgets toward social media marketing. 53% of responders indicate that they will place more emphasis on SEO and increase their budgets for this activity and only 40% indicate that they will dedicate more funds for PPC efforts.
One of the considerations to account for the marked increase in social media marketing budgets in the future is lead generation from social media outlets. Survey responders indicate that they have received significant lead generation from social media outlets such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. 68% of responders indicate they have received leads from these sources. Additionally, 55% of survey responders indicate that they have used social media outlets to close business deals.
The impact of social media cannot be ignore. However, with website traffic as the primary source of lead generation for marketers, SEO continues to be important to both large and small businesses.