Join thousands of weekly readers and receive practical marketing advice for FREE.
MarketingSherpa's Case Studies, New Research Data, How-tos, Interviews and Articles

Enter your email below to join thousands of marketers and get FREE weekly newsletters with practical Case Studies, research and training, as well as MarketingSherpa updates and promotions.


Please refer to our Privacy Policy and About Us page for contact details.

No thanks, take me to MarketingSherpa

First Name:
Last Name:
May 08, 2012

Marketing Research Chart: Inbound lead sources more important to marketers

SUMMARY: Nearly 95% of marketers report that SEO has become more important as an inbound marketing lead source. In the recently released MarketingSherpa 2012 Inbound Marketing Handbook, we asked more than 1,500 search marketers about the importance of their top inbound lead sources. Look at this week’s chart for more results.
By Kaci Bower, Senior Research Analyst

SEO and social media lead sources increasing in importance

Q. Which sources of leads have become more important and less important to you over the last 12 months?

View Chart Online

Click here to see a larger, printable version of this chart

Leads obtained from inbound marketing tactics, such as SEO, social media and blogs, have increased in importance over the last 12 months, particularly when compared to leads from outbound marketing programs. Inbound marketing tactics tend to be cost-effective, and offer an efficient option for generating highly qualified leads.

More than 90% of marketers surveyed indicated that SEO was increasingly important for driving new inbound leads. This is a predictable trend, as the source of most external traffic is search.

In fact, on average, search drives 41% of traffic for organizations, according to the Q1 2011 Outbrain Content Discovery and Engagement Report. This is not an insignificant amount. With so much riding on this source of traffic, SEO should not be an afterthought.

SEO efforts are not just about getting listed and being highly ranked in SERPs. Ultimately, SEO is about creating content that searchers would want to find, and helping search engines find it!

According to marketers, social media is also an important source of inbound leads, with over 85% of firms turning to this tactic. Interestingly, social drives an additional 17% of external traffic.

It’s important to evaluate your lead sources. The worksheet below will help you quantify the value and importance of your lead sources.
  • Allocate the percentage of your total leads that each lead source represents.

  • Rate the value of these lead sources in terms of their importance. Has the lead source become more important to your organization over the last 12 months? If so, give it a score of 3. If not, assign it a score of 1. If there’s been no change in its importance, then give it a score of 2.

  • Calculate the total score per line by multiplying the second and third columns.

  • Calculate the final score by adding up all the scores in the last column. This will give you a look at the average value and importance of all your lead sources and help you identify where you might shift more money and attention. For example, if your total score is 1.7, you would know that your leads as a whole have been decreasing in importance because the score falls between 1 and 2. You could then identify individual lead sources that may be driving this decline.

View Chart Online

Click here to see a larger, printable version of this worksheet

For additional research data and insights about inbound marketing, download and read the free Executive Summary from the MarketingSherpa 2012 Inbound Marketing Handbook: Synchronize search, social, and content to get found more often, more effectively, by more customers.

Useful links related to this research

Webinar Replay -- How to Accelerate Lead Quality and Conversions with Content Marketing Optimization

Overall Content Marketing Strategy Leads to 2,000% Lift in Blog Traffic, 40% Boost in Revenue

Content Marketing: How employee content drove 200 leads per day at Guitar Center

Content Marketing: Effort reduces cost-per-lead 90% and achieves 30% clickthrough rate on barrier page

Improve Your Marketing

Join our thousands of weekly case study readers.

Enter your email below to receive MarketingSherpa news, updates, and promotions:

Note: Already a subscriber? Want to add a subscription?
Click Here to Manage Subscriptions

Todd /article/inbound-lead-sources-more-important