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Most Effective Medium for Lead Generation: is there such a thing?

I recently read an article about the effectiveness of different channels for online lead generation. The article was based off a survey of marketers from companies ranging in sizes and variety (slightly heavier B2B than B2C). Overall it stated that the marketers felt SEO was the top lead generator and the effectiveness of the PPC medium is decreasing.
The article brings up a several interesting questions. The three main questions I asked myself were:
     1. How are marketers determining their top lead generating channel?
Many analytical suites leveraged by companies use the “last-touch” model in determining where the credit for a lead generation should be attributed. This suggests the final medium in which a visitor came to the website prior to generating a lead gets the credit. However, over the last several years we have been exposed to multi-channel attribution theories discussing how to give credit to any other medium or channel the visitor may have interacted with prior to the conversion. Recognizing that mediums may overlap is important in determining their individual value.
     2. Why are marketers saying that PPC’s effectiveness is decreasing?
The article stated that not only did marketers feel that SEO was the top lead generator, but that the effectiveness of PPC was decreasing. As an advocate of PPC marketing, this makes me uneasy. I fear that marketers look at PPC too narrowly: the visitors who click an ad either do or do not convert.
Although PPC makes it easy to draw fast conclusions like this, it does not necessarily mean you should. If a user is searching and sees a PPC ad for the same website several times, they end up deciding to go to that website (great!). However, after seeing the ad several times they might get to the site by typing it in directly or opting to click an organic listing that hopefully appeared at least once during the searching as well.
     3. How can marketers compare key performance indicators between PPC and SEO?
As a search marketer, I see the value of both PPC and SEO, although I do not leverage them for the same goals. As a result, I find it difficult to compare their value apples-to-apples.
For example, with PPC, marketers tend to measure ROI with the money invested in the clicks to the money or value generated by those visitor’s leads. Again, this is last-touch focused and misses outs on the indirect impact of PPC. Marketers tend to have a more difficult time measuring ROI for the organic medium because there is no media investment.
If marketers cannot identify KPIs equally between the two channels, it makes them difficult to compare and “choose” one over the other in regards to value in lead generation. This, along with the points about channel attribution and PPC effectiveness in the other questions I brought up allow me to draw at least one conclusion from the survey:
A marketer should not invest all their time, trust or money in a single channel or medium. I say this because a single channel would not bring value to a website without the others.

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Allie Kelly

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