Lead Gen Faceoff: Search, Ads or Email?

Getting prospects through the conversion funnel takes a lot of time and effort, as marketers must find the most efficient and effective way to turn prospects into leads and, eventually, leads into customers.

That said, there are a variety of tactics one can use to obtain leads online and turn those leads into conversions, including search, advertising and email. Learn more about the opportunities and challenges of each of these established channels below:


Opportunities: With organic search, marketers are presented with a cost effective way to take intent based queries, which can be either informational or transactional in nature, and direct the person who is searching to exactly what they are looking for. This not only increases brand awareness, but also gets the prospect closer to becoming a lead. For example, if someone searches for high heel shoes and Macy's is among the top organic search results, the company should send the prospect directly to the women's shoe section of their website. Once the prospect arrives at the shoe page, they are more likely to become a lead either by creating an account with the retailer, making a purchase or simply returning back to the site at a different time - which provides another opportunity to turn the prospect into a lead. But aside from using organic search for lead generation, brands can also launch paid search campaigns to obtain pre-qualified leads, as prospects who click on these links are typically further along in the sales cycle.

Challenges: While obtaining leads with organic search can be more cost effective than other lead generation strategies, it does take a lot of time and effort for a brand to get their name on the top of the search results. In addition, it can be challenging to find the right keywords to target someone further along in the sales cycle with paid search. It is also important to note that, typically, the further someone is in the sales cycle, the more expensive they become.


Opportunities: The variety of advertising formats available on the 'Net help marketers grab the attention of prospects, while robust targeting options assist marketers in getting their ads in front of the right audience. Plus, brands can target different types of audiences when launching digital advertisements, as advertising campaigns can be established on a variety of platforms, including social networks like Facebook, on Google and with its partner sites and even on location-based service sites like Yelp. Moreover, prospects who click on ads are typically further along in the sales cycle and more likely to convert.

Challenges: The challenges of digital advertising include choosing the right targeting options, using the correct copy to attract leads and selecting which platform to launch a campaign on. Moreover, just like with paid search, having your ads displayed to prospects who are further along the sales cycle tends to be more expensive.


Opportunities: If you already have an email list, you already have leads. This also means that you have the opportunity to push these leads down the sales cycle in the hope of obtaining some conversions. In fact, email automation tools, segmenting and targeting features helps marketers consistently send personalized messages to their subscribers. For example, segmenting tools can be used to separate leads based on how far along they are in the sales cycle, so that messages can be tailored to their specific needs. Moreover, automation tools can be used to send relevant content to leads by using information such as their last experience on your website. For instance, sending an abandoned shopping cart email to someone who left your site without completing their sale is an opportunity made available by marketing automation.

Challenges: There are a variety of challenges when pushing leads through the sales cycle via email, one simply being enticing these potential customers to open the message. In addition, it can be difficult to segment subscribers into appropriate categories so that they receive relevant messages. Also, email marketers should remember that it typically takes a lot of time to guide subscribers through the sales cycle via email, so while this marketing tactic may be less costly than other strategies, it also takes more time to see results.