More sales leads stem from websites, not social media (survey)

Social media may not be the marketing gold mine it has been cracked up to be as a new survey reveals a more traditional, and reliable, source.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Although many marketing agencies, retailers and more business players are looking at social media as the last frontier for reaching out to consumers, a new study suggests that they might be wasting their time -- at least for now.

A company’s corporate website was found to be the top source of new sales leads online -- second only to personal referrals, according to a study conducted in partnership between marketing technology company Demandbase and online business network Focus. In fact, corporate websites are seven times more effective than social media right now.

Here's a look at some of the other more telling stats:

  • The website was cited by executives as the top online source of sales leads (23 percent), followed by e-mail (14 percent), online advertising (7 percent), and social media (3 percent).
  • IT respondents said they are "far less aware of website’s shortcomings," with roughly one-half (52
  • percent) reporting that it was not living up to its potential, vs. non-IT respondents, who recognized its limitations (90 percent).
  • Enterprises emphasized the importance of measuring volume (44 percent total), while small businesses emphasized quality of leads (40 percent total).

Chris Golec, CEO of Demandbase, explained in a statement that the website is really the heart of the sale more than anything else:

Social media may be heralded as the silver bullet to bring B2B marketing up to snuff but, despite its increasing influence, it’s important to keep in mind that no business sale is made without the buyer going to the corporate website first. Regardless of its origin -- social media or e-mail, banners or search — traffic driven from online marketing initiatives always intersects at the website. And, while businesses are investing heavily in their sites, the study shows that they are then ignoring the very audience they worked so hard to attract.

Of course, that doesn't mean that the corporate website is the best source no matter what. The survey found that website still "vastly under-performs in terms of lead generation," and that most companies don't know the behavior of customers while on the site and what drives home the sale.

Approximately 87 percent of respondent said that corporate websites need to improve tracking and reporting of unregistered site users. Additionally, almost half of executives that responded said that they don't know where (i.e. web page or section) their users are most likely to abandon the website.

This isn't to say at all that businesses should abandon social media. It's really only the beginning for this realm of marketing, and other studies and analysts have shown that this medium really resonates with younger generations. Thus, these results could be vastly different within a few years.


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