Online Sales Lead Methods Rival Offline in 2004

Technology vendors who have realized the value of online advertising are upping their Internet appropriations for 2004, a collaborative report from Bitpipe, Inc. and Sam Whitmore’s Media Survey (SWMS) found. According to the late 2003 survey of 359 tech vendors conducted by InsightExpress, the increases to online advertising and online lead generation were slight, but encouraging.

Respondents indicated that 14 percent of their budgets were allocated for online advertising, and 26 percent for online sales lead generation. These figures each represent a 1 percentage point increase over 2002, but are 2 percentage points behind the projections for 2004.

More than half (54 percent) of the respondents indicated that they would increase their marketing budgets in 2004, while 31 percent expected their allocations to remain flat. Only 7 percent revealed that a decrease would be imminent. Nearly one-quarter (24 percent) projected that they would allocate over $500,000 for their marketing activities and sales lead generation in 2004, while the majority (39 percent) planned on spending $50,000 to $100,000.

Webcasts and online newsletter advertising were the sales lead generation methods that were expected to show the most growth in 2004 over the previous year. While more than half (55 percent) of the survey participants indicated that they used Webcasts in 2003, nearly three-quarters (73 percent) were expected to use the medium in 2004.

SWMS editor Sam Whitmore noted that Webcasts represent an exciting use of media, and that Webcast vendors often sell special circulation packages along with the technology. “Webcast vendors can have their own databases or buy targeted lists,” said Whitmore. Webcasts that already come with targeted audiences can be very appealing to companies, and a valuable method for generating sales leads.

The report revealed that 60 percent of the respondents would be using online newsletters to generate sales leads in 2004, compared to 44 percent in 2003. The projected surge in online newsletter advertising is the result of people living in their inboxes, Whitmore observed. Combining editorial and advertising messages allows e-mail users to have targeted information immediately, rather than waiting for them to access their bookmarks or go to specific Web pages.

Other online sales lead generation methods that show growth in 2004: search keyword purchase (58 percent compared to 2003’s 49 percent); and search engine optimization (63 percent compared to 2003’s 53 percent). E-mail promotion and banner advertising gain 2 percentage points and 1 percentage point, respectively.

The report shows that there will be modest increases in offline sales lead generation methods for 2004. Direct mail will grow from 59 percent to 63 percent; telemarketing will increase from 51 percent to 56 percent; and print advertising will be essentially flat — 48 percent in 2003 to 49 percent in 2004.

Other methods of sales lead generation that respondents deemed important: white papers, case studies, analyst reports, and product literature.

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