Most Marketing Is Now Online

"Follow the money," as the old saying goes -- but when it comes to marketing budgets, it's possible the money is following something else: the online consumer. That's the finding of a new report that concludes, for the first time, that the majority of marketing spending is now directed to online channels.

“Marketers and advertisers are looking for a more-predictable way to track the effectiveness of their efforts,” says Matthew Conlin, director of sales at Clash-Media, a performance-based data marketing firm and sponsor of the report. “Tracking lead generation is a tangible way of doing this. You can follow the purchasing activities of opt-in consumers.”

Spending on lead generation marketing efforts grew to a projected $2 billion this year, up 71 percent from a year ago, according to the report, which was conducted on behalf of Clash-Media by international research firm E-consultancy. The rate of growth is twice that of Internet advertising as a whole, according to Conlin.

According to the survey, over 90 percent of marketers see online lead generation as a growth area -- up from 82 percent last year. More than 70 percent of those using online lead generation use search engine optimization, paid search, and email marketing to in-house lists.

“The way to achieve the best results is to realize that many methods have their own individual benefits,” says Christopher Petix, president of Clash-Media U.S. Even allowing for a case-by-case approach to generating leads, however, the research shows that the use of offline marketing methods has largely decreased, with only press and television advertising growing -- a distinction that Petix says is deserving special attention.

“It is interesting to note that the only two offline marketing methods [that] have increased in use are press and television. These are the two offline methods which can be most easily linked to online marketing channels such as search engine optimization and proactive online lead generation. Companies are increasingly taking an integrated approach to their advertising -- which is good because no one marketing tool will ever be 100 percent efficient.”

Brand advertising -- the kind of awareness-building efforts that national firms such as McDonald’s spend significant portions of their marketing budgets on -- will always have an important place in the overall advertising budgets of many firms, Conlin says. “That will never go away," he says. "But companies can complement their brand-marketing efforts with online lead generation, which provides a cost-effective [return on investment]. It provides companies a good way to identify prospective customers and it gives companies an effective way to work around Do Not Call and Do Not Mail lists.”

The survey also shows that 56 percent of U.S. respondents feel that they are effectively exploiting online lead generation, compared to just 37 percent for European marketers. Conlin suggests that, to be more effective using the online channel, firms need to ensure that they're making offers that are relevant to the targeted consumers.

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