Digital Insights

What Channels Deliver More Leads Effectively?


Published: February 13, 2014

Which Marketing Channels Are Most Effective at Generating Leads?

Everything starts with a lead. No matter what industry your business is in, nothing happens without someone to sell your product or service to. This guide will provide an overview of some of the most commonly used lead generating methods, along with some insight into their effectiveness across a number of different business sectors.

BrightLocal, in conjunction with, recently surveyed almost 700 local businesses in 50 different sectors on the current state of local Internet marketing. In general, 54 percent of respondents felt that online channels were more effective at generating leads than offline channels.

#1 Word of Mouth

  • Word of mouth, or personal recommendation, was cited as the most effective lead generation method by 26 percent of survey respondents.
  • Online reviews, an important part of reputation marketing, are the digital equivalent of word of mouth. Some 85 percent of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase decision and 79 percent of those reading online reviews trust them as much as personal recommendations.
  • An overall positive online reputation, with plenty of good reviews, can be a very effective tool for converting business leads.

#2 Search Engine Optimization

  • SEO was named by 19 percent of respondents as the most effective lead generating channel.
  • Local SEO includes claiming of local listing and optimization of Google+ Local pages.
  • SEO doesn’t generate leads by itself. A well-converting landing page is necessary to turn visitors into actual leads.

#3 Local Directories

  • Local business directories were named the most effective lead generator by 15 percent of respondents.
  • Despite a shrinking audience for many directories, the citation value of directories remains an important factor in local SEO ranking.
  • All business information should be identical across all directory listings. The slightest deviation from one directory to the next could cause a listing to be flagged.

#4 Email Marketing

  • Emails were named by 10 percent of respondents as the best lead generating method, despite an average open rate of only 8 percent.
  • Emails should be highly targeted and personalized for best results.
  • Many businesses achieve better open rates by using a warm email as follow-up to a cold phone call or cold snail-mail letter.

#5 Pay Per Click Marketing

  • PPC marketing was cited by 3 percent as the most effective lead generator.
  • While the gulf between satisfaction with local SEO for generating leads (19 percent) and the low standing of PPC is hard to understand, it reflects the low acceptance of Google Adwords and Adwords Express among local businesses.
  • As with any successful PPC campaign, leads must be converted at a sensible ratio relative to the per click cost.

#6 Local Radio Advertising

  • Radio was named by 2 percent of respondents as their preferred method for generating leads.
  • The segmentation of radio and the rise of subscription radio stations has made radio a more costly and difficult medium to effectively target prospective customers.
  • As a completely auditory medium, radio is a challenging venue for presenting lead-generating offers.

#7 Local TV Advertising

  • Only 1 percent cited local television advertising as their preferred channel for generating leads.
  • Like radio, television is highly segmented, and can be a difficult and costly method of targeting prospects.