According to a recent study by CSO Insights, (seen in eMarketer) marketing departments are slowly starting to increase their budgets for lead generation. A sign of ongoing economic recovery? Maybe that's reading too much into it. Even in a bad economy, smart businesses know they need to spend money to attract customers.
More interesting to those who manage lead generation activities is the breakdown of which areas are receiving more and less funding. Here's the chart from eMarketer:
Website design/content deserves is a logical choice for increased investment simply because it supports so many other lead gen activities: whether they're attracted by email marketing, social media, banner ads, or any other online activity, many prospects are likely to explore beyond your landing page to learn more about your company, so a information-rich, easy to use web site is critical.
Email, new media, and search optimization are the top three activities in this report -- but the fairly even distribution as you go down the list suggests that marketers are spreading out their investment and efforts to cover their basis.
eMarketer also highlights the fact that 51% of the marketers surveyed report that web marketing tactics need improvement to be effective lead generation campaigns. To me, this dissatisfaction combined with the increased budgets implies that many businesses feel like they haven't solved the puzzle of effective web marketing yet - but they're confident that there are good returns waiting for them when they do.
One great detail that's a little bit buried in the eMarketer report is this nugget:
Among those companies that had not adopted a lead generation management system, 65% were dissatisfied with the performance of web-based lead generation efforts. But among marketers that did have a system in place to track leads, only 37% agreed--putting the web on par in effectiveness with traditional media advertising and ahead of direct mail or telemarketing.
For executives and marketers who don't have an intuitive 'feel' for web marketing -- and few do, as the landscape changes so quickly that intuition isn't reliable for very long -- measurement is absolutely essential. We've made that point before, but this report just provides a little more evidence.
What about you -- how are you planning to spend you marketing budget this year? Are you starting to increase your investments in online lead gen, or are you still on the sidelines? Let us know in the comments.