Which Lead Generation Channel Will Be King?

Reflecting back on the last ten years of marketing, which lead generation channels were the most successful for your company or brand? With all the different tactics and strategies available today, it helps to take an inventory of what worked and what didn't. Doing so will help you get your priorities in focus, so you can set the proper goals for the next decade ahead.

In this post, we will take a look at the 3 most used and relied-upon lead generation channels in the marketing industry over the past decade. We will examine the success of each channel, as well as some of the major trends associated with them, in an effort to determine which one is most likely to rule in the new year.

Keep reading below to find out which lead generation channel is set to be the king of all!

Content Marketing

It was Bill Gates who first coined the term "content is king" back in 1996. His predictions were correct for much of the 2000s and 2010s, but will they continue to hold true in the 2020s?

  • Why it's one of the most used channels:  Content drives the internet. Anyone with a computer/mobile device and an internet connection can create and publish content. Because of this, content marketing is an easy channel for any marketer to get involved with. It doesn't take a whole lot of technical knowledge, just ideas, creativity, and a knowledge of your audience - all skills that any talented marketer will have readily available. Additionally, content marketing costs 62% less than other marketing channels, and generates around 3 times as many leads, providing a win-win solution for any company.[spacer height="14px"]
  • Why it's one of the most relied-upon channels:  Content marketing is a channel that answers the customer's "WIIFM" question, or “What’s In It For Me?” It focuses on them and what they want to see and discover, and so thereby the very nature of it is customer-focused. Customers have the choice of what content they want to consume, depending on what interests or attracts them. And with the analytic capabilities that marketers have acquired in the past decade, we can really get to know our customers and what they want. This means that we can tailor the content we create to them, ensuring that our content creation efforts are as effective as possible.[spacer height="14px"]
  • Major trends throughout the last decade:  The 2010s saw the rise of many content trends that are still huge today - blogging, podcasts, webinars, e-books, infographics, and online video to name a few. The content formats that worked best usually depended on a brand's audience, but creating relevant, personalized content that includes a lot of visual was, and still is, the major trend for brands looking to increase their audience and build engagement.[spacer height="14px"]
  • Outlook:  The future looks bright for content marketing, with many experts agreeing that it will continue its reign as king. However, content can take awhile to produce results, and many marketers need to focus on improving their distribution so that their efforts will cut through the noise of other content that their customers are served every day.

Social Media Marketing

With Facebook alone having about 2.5 billion active monthly users, it's easy to see that social media is HUGE. This is a channel that has evolved from simple platforms where people could keep in touch with one another, to a medium that people use every day as an integral part of their lives. But will this channel continue to bring a gold mine of leads to marketers? 

  • Why it's one of the most used channels:  Marketers go where their current and potential customers are, and that's on social media. It's not only a means through which people can express themselves and share their lives with others, but also an easy way for them to find out about new brands through their friends and other brands they like. It seems like everyone these days is active on at least one social network - celebrities, politicians and even pets! So there are limitless options to build word-of-mouth buzz about a brand. Most platforms are free, and many have user-friendly designs that are attractive to customers and offer great exposure for brands and their advertisements.[spacer height="14px"]
  • Why it's one of the most relied-upon channels:  Social media is one of the best ways for brands to build a fun and engaging presence online. It also helps them develop a strong relationship with their customers. Most platforms make it easy for brands to reach, engage and communicate with customers in a way that they love, on a platform where they are already regularly active. Additionally, 46% of customers use social media when making a purchase decision, and conversion rates for social media marketing have been found to be 13% higher than the average lead conversion rate.[spacer height="14px"]
  • Major trends throughout the last decade:  In addition to the explosion of new social media platforms all throughout the 2010s, it seems like there was also a never-ending flow of hot new feature trends - from hashtags, emojis, and selfies to ephemeral content and augmented reality... the list goes on and on. Not all trends have been good, however. Who could ever forget 2016's fake news crisis over the U.S. presidential election? [spacer height="14px"]
  • Outlook:  The popularity of social media marketing is certainly not expected to wane anytime soon, and its reach cannot be beat. But success with this channel seems to be harder than ever lately, especially for brands with undefined goals. Marketers have always understood that it takes hard work to stay ahead of the curve on social media, since trends are always coming and going, new platforms are emerging, and older platforms continue to evolve. In other words, what worked last year may not work this year! Privacy is also an increasing concern, as well as the mental health of users who feel that their life is not on par with the often glamorous ones they see in their social media feeds. Even so, companies who address these concerns and find a balance between setting goals and finding new ways to engage with customers will see a valuable return on investment.

Email Marketing

All throughout this past decade, predictions have been going out that email is dead. Luckily, most of those predictions were talking about some of the practices associated with email, and not the channel itself. Is email marketing still a contender for the king of lead generation?

  • Why it's one of the most used channels:  An email address is required to do pretty much anything online, and most people with internet access have one or more active accounts, with 99% of them checking their email every day. In spite of the rise of social media and chatbots, people still prefer to communicate with brands through their inbox, especially millennials! It's also the best method of permission-based marketing because customers opted-in to receive messages from you.[spacer height="14px"]
  • Why it's one of the most relied-upon channels:  It's safe to say that email marketing is a go-to strategy for many brands. Several marketers are now seasoned veterans with this channel, and skilled at adapting their strategies to the ebb and flow. And in terms of ROI, email marketing still can't be beat, with a $44 ROI for every $1 spent. This is around twice as much the ROI of other channels![spacer height="14px"]
  • Major trends throughout the last decade:  Trends for email marketing in the 2010s usually centered around getting personalization right and improving engagement rates. And as we mentioned above, this decade marked the passing of several common email practices, such as minimal design and impersonal subject lines. Other trends quickly took their place, like interactive emails, GIFs and video content. But the biggest event in email marketing happened in 2018 with the launch of GDPR in Europe. Aimed to give users better control of their online privacy, many marketers scrambled to make sure they were in compliance with the new standards.[spacer height="14px"]
  • Outlook:  With email marketing's consistently great ROI over the years, brands just can't go wrong with their investment in this channel. It's important for marketers to use all of the tools at their disposal to make their campaigns effective, especially analytics, automation, and segmentation. It is also important for marketers to do the proper research for each campaign so that they can make sure they are nurturing leads with the kind of email content they want and expect.[spacer height="14px"]

So which channel will rule as king? We'll let you decide, based on our findings above. Let us know what you think by leaving a comment!


Posted on in Lead Generation

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About the Author

Megan is the senior blog writer at Clench Media, a lead generation specialist company that generates high quality leads across multiple verticals domestically and internationally.
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