It’s the Website Stupid (for generating online sales leads)

Breaking news:  personal connections and referrals still rule the roost when it comes to generating sales leads. Next in line?  Your company website.

We’re so bombarded with information about how social media marketing is going to transform everyone’s business and turn us all into lead generation machines, that we sometimes lose sight of the fundamentals of online business development.

I’m certainly not arguing that social media channels aren’t effective for lead generation. They are, especially when used as part of an integrated marketing campaign.

But again, some businesses become so focused on every shiny new online marketing toy — i.e., the social media platform du jour — that they can lose sight of how they grew their business in the first place.  That would be via the digital shingle — the company website — and personal connections.

A report just released by Demandbase and Focus says that a company’s website can be up to seven times more effective in generating new sales leads.

Here’s the rundown on what’s working hardest to generate leads, according to the survey:

  1. Personal connections and referrals
  2. The corporate website
  3. Social media

“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,” said Chris Golec, CEO at Demandbase.

When a potential customer receives information about a company via some form of social media, email, a banner add or through search , what’s their next action?  Typically, they head straight to the website.

“…traffic driven from online marketing initiatives always intersects at the website,” added Golec.

A challenge for companies is their ability to squeeze more effectiveness from their websites. If a corporate website is a company’s primary online source of new business leads, then why aren’t companies spending at least as much time addressing a site’s short comings as they are investing in social media marketing?

For example, 80 percent of the survey respondents say their company website isn’t maximizing lead generation potential — though it is their number one online new business lead generator.  So while a company website may be the leading online lead generator, websites are also still vastly underutilized.  A few more facts from the survey:

  • IT respondents are most at a loss about their company’s website’s shortcomings vs. non-IT respondents, who are acutely aware of what’s not working;
  • 87 percent said their websites need to do a much better job of capturing data about unregistered site visitors, and
  • About half of the executives polled have no idea on which web pages or website section(s) visitors jump off their site.

It’s not just about getting customers to your front door, but having a plan in place for how you are going to keep them once they are inside.

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