The Importance of Offline Lead Generation
July 25, 2016
With so much attention focused on online lead generation tactics nowadays, it’s easy to assume that traditional offline methods have completely passed their prime.
Marketers can get so caught up in digital lead generation efforts that old school processes are often neglected. In addition, online media giants often give the impression that traditional lead generation methods are now passé.
According to Bob Kemper, Director of Sciences at MECLABS, “Conventional marketing wisdom is that the Internet has been — and will continue for some time to be — the fastest-rising channel, in importance, for effectively conveying marketing messages to customers and prospects.”
On the surface, that seems to be that main sentiment among marketing and sales practitioners, but survey results reveal another layer: Marketing Sherpa released a study that says more than half of the marketers surveyed believed that there is an “…increase or no change in the importance of offline tactics.”
If you’re moving your lead generation strategies online and completely ignoring offline methods, you may want to think again. There’s no reason to dismiss older but well-tested techniques just yet. Here’s why offline lead generation is still important. Both methodologies have their strengths and weaknesses, and you’re better off learning which ones to apply on a case by case basis.
To help you evaluate which technique will work best for you, it’s best to know the pros and cons of both methods. Here’s how online and offline lead generation tactics differ from each other:
1. Cost per contact of online leads is less expensive than offline methods
With traditional lead generation efforts, the cost ranges between 300 to 500 dollars per lead, which covers a field staff person’s salary, per diem, travel, accommodation, and other incremental costs (stats via Salesforce).
Online costs are significantly less, ranging from just 25 to 30 dollars, which covers an inside sales person doing the lead generation for the company. However, this is just one side of the story, considering the higher conversion rate for offline methods, which brings us to point number two.
2. Offline prospects have a higher conversion rate compared to online methods
Studies show that conversion typically hovers around 40% for face-to-face prospects, whereas that number takes a big dip at an 18.5% conversion rate for online virtual sales prospects. In essence, this offsets the incremental costs incurred in traditional lead generation efforts, which proves that a highly personalized approach to selling is still effective if you want to turn qualified prospects into buying customers.
Building and nurturing relationships also increases the chance of transforming leads into loyal customers as well, thereby increasing their profitability and lifetime value.
3. Online leads respond best to immediate attention after receipt of an online query
Although online leads are typically more sensitive to pressure tactics during the follow-up stage, the ones who initiate contact through your website expect an immediate response. And it pays off to act quickly because the odds of leads entering the sales process or becoming qualified are 21 times greater for those who respond immediately and with persistence.
There is a critical 5-minute window for successfully qualifying a lead, after which the odds go down significantly with every passing 5-minute increment. If you act within the first hour after the inquiry, you have up to 60 times more chances to convert compared to your conversion chances after that window (stats via Leads Response Management’s Study). Clearly, time is of the essence when it comes to online lead generation methods.
4. Neglecting offline tactics can cause you to miss part of your target audience
Let’s face it, you can’t easily target every one of your customers with online tactics. Certain people who need your products/services may not spend much of their time using computers. This is where newspaper ads, direct mail flyers, or industry events can complement your online efforts, reinforcing your brand with local prospects.
This point is particularly dependent on your target audience and various buyer personas. If they make up a young, tech-savvy population that spends much of their time online, then digital efforts are likely to be more effective. However, it’s likely that not all of your buyer personas fall into this category, which is why you need to embrace alternative outreach techniques to target them effectively.
5. For B2B companies, offline lead generation yields more leads
There’s nothing quite like the experience of having a face to face interaction with potential clients. It’s still the best way to convey sincerity and personalized service, which is why offline lead generation is still important. This is mostly attributed to the level of personalization you can impart when communicating with prospects offline, and we all know that a little marketing personalization goes a long way.
In the B2B realm, offline lead generation reigns supreme. One study showed that 76% of B2B leads come from offline sources compared to 18% generated via online methods. Of course, this particular case is circumstantial, but over three-quarters of leads generated is a figure that simply cannot be ignored.
Combining the best of both online and offline lead generation methods
The best lead generation strategies expertly combine both online and offline methods to suit their target audiences. It really depends on your audience’s demographics and preferences, as well as the nature of your business, product, or service offering.
For example, you can opt to use offline lead generation channels to drive traffic towards your landing pages without decreasing your online lead capture efforts, thereby optimizing the performance of both methods. Remember that offline brand recognition can lead to online traffic and conversions.
Continue to test a combination of each methodology until you find your lead generation sweet spot. Once you discover the perfect brew tailored for your business, iterate on it and watch as a steady stream of conversions result in a more robust bottom line.
Don’t have the resources to implement offline lead generation? Why not leave it to the experts?