B2B Lead Generation Statistics

If you’re evaluating your company’s B2B lead generation strategy, it’s helpful to view statistics about various lead generation channels to help you decide where to invest. 

The following report contains data from 117 B2B companies across a 5 year period: 2016-2021. In it, we compare 10 of the most popular lead generation strategies, considering the average monthly cost, ROI, budget allocation, and time until breakeven. 

All of the below statistics are averages. Some notes on our dataset: (1) Average company size is 226 employees; (2) Median target audience is middle market businesses; (3) Weighted more heavily towards industrial, real estate, and SaaS businesses.    

Statistical Comparison of B2B Lead Generation Strategies in 2021-2022 

Strategy Monthly Cost ROI Marketing Budget Allocation # of Months Until Break-Even
Thought Leadership MarketingThought Leadership Marketing $10,000  748% 21% 9
Video MarketingVideo Marketing $15,000  126% 3% 11
WebinarsWebinars $7,500 430% 5% 7
PRPR icon $15,000  62% 7% 14
PodcastsPodcasts $9,500  527% 1% 12
Social/LinkedInLinkedin Icon $2,500 229% 3% 10
PPC/SEM $3,000–$30,000 36% 41% 6
Trade ShowsTrade Show Icon $10,000 – $250,000 (one- time fee) 85% 16% 8
Direct MailDirect Mail $1,500 – $10,000 (per mailing) 77% 3% 10

Ranking of B2B Lead Generation Strategies by Popularity

Our dataset includes the lead generation strategies B2B clients used during their engagements with us. Below are all the lead generation strategies with more than one incidence, ranked by raw number of incidences. 

We’ve also added arrows to indicate whether the popularity of each lead generation strategy has been increasing, staying steady or decreasing over the last five years. ( = increasing popularity; = staying steady; = decreasing popularity)

  1. SEM / PPC
  2. Trade Shows
  3. Enterprise Partnerships
  4. Webinars
  5. Cold Calling / SDRs
  6. Thought Leadership Marketing
  7. LinkedIn Marketing
  8. Video Marketing
  9. PR
  10. Outdoor Advertising
  11. Basic SEO
  12. Industry News Websites
  13. Networking
  14. Podcasts
  15. Public Speaking
  16. Referral Programs
  17. Direct Mail

While this ranking covers the lead generation strategies that are most popular overall, it can help to see the most popular strategies in each industry.

Top B2B Lead Generation Strategies by Industry

Industry Top 3 Lead Generation Strategies Notes
B2B SaaS
  1. Thought Leadership
  2. Enterprise Partnerships
  3. Webinars
B2B SaaS businesses often rely heavily on partnerships with enterprises that refer them leads. This reliance often cuts down profit margin despite being extremely valuable for the top line. Webinars are more valuable than most CMOs expect, but take 6-8 months to bear fruit.
Biotech
  1. Public Speaking
  2. Thought Leadership
  3. PR
Biotech companies benefit greatly from activities that enhance their reputation as an innovative industry leader, hence public speaking at industry conferences, thought leadership, and PR being top lead drivers.
Commercial Insurance
  1. Thought Leadership
  2. Webinars
  3. Podcasts
Commercial insurance agencies do particularly well from webinars, podcasts, and other forms of thought leadership due to the need for disambiguation inside HR departments and C-suites as rules change.
Construction
  1. Informal Networking
  2. Outdoor Advertising
  3. Trade Shows
Construction leads are generated primarily through relationships and on-site signage, though the pandemic has shown that online lead gen can work even in a multifamily and commercial context, as opposed to just in the distressed and real estate investment contexts. 
eCommerce
  1. PPC / SEM
  2. Basic SEO
  3. Trade Shows
B2B eCommerce brands still rely heavily on PPC campaigns and tradeshows but higher-end SEO in the form of thought leadership is quickly overtaking those strategies because of its higher effectiveness and ROI.
Financial Services
  1. Thought Leadership
  2. PR
  3. Podcasts
Financial services firms that accept the hurdle of FINRA compliance and produce thought leadership content see an extraordinarily high ROI, and the rise of podcasts reflect millennials beginning to make up a higher percentage of the capital under management. 
HVAC Services
  1. Thought Leadership
  2. Referral Programs
  3. PPC / SEM
Thought Leadership-based SEO has the highest ROI of all lead gen tactics in the HVAC industry by a wide margin, with customer referral programs being a strong lead driver as well. 
Industrial IoT
  1. Thought Leadership
  2. LinkedIn
  3. Webinars
Common pain points are often accepted as facts of life by industrial manufacturers, and educational content that demonstrates otherwise is excellent for lead generation.
Legal Services
  1. Thought Leadership
  2. PR
  3. Video Marketing
Personal referrals are the most important source of new clients for the majority of law firms, but not one that can be invested in. Investing in thought leadership creates a more regular and sustainable source of leads.
Manufacturing
  1. Informal Networking
  2. LinkedIn
  3. Webinars
Manufacturers continue to get business from customer referrals and relationship marketing above all other strategies, with LinkedIn being surprisingly popular in the last 24 months.
Medical Device
  1. Public Speaking
  2. Industry News Websites
  3. Thought Leadership
Medical Device and other MedTech companies drive substantial leads when they keynote conferences, with Industry News Websites also referring a high number of new customers. 
Oil & Gas
  1. Informal Networking
  2. Webinars
  3. Thought Leadership
Oil & Gas companies traditionally rely on personal relationships for the majority of their lead generation; the few who choose to invest in webinars and thought leadership see excellent returns.
PCB Design & Manufacturing
  1. Thought Leadership
  2. Webinars
  3. Video Marketing
Thought leadership content that offers in-depth explanations around common design challenges faced by engineers produce the most leads in this industry. 
Pharmaceutical
  1. PR
  2. Industry Conferences
  3. PPC / SEM
Because of the legal restrictions on many forms of marketing and advertising, the most effective lead gen for pharma companies are reputation-building strategies such as PR and conference sponsorships.
Real Estate
  1. PR
  2. Informal Networking
  3. Thought Leadership
PR and informal networking are both traditional methods effective at attracting investor interest, while thought leadership has grown in important as more business moves online.
Staffing & Recruiting
  1. LinkedIn
  2. Informal Networking
  3. Thought Leadership
LinkedIn is both a key recruiting and job hunting tool, making it the best lead generation investment for staffing companies.
Solar Energy
  1. Local PR
  2. Informal Networking
  3. Thought Leadership
Because solar companies primarily serve local clients, lead gen strategies that target specific geographic areas are the most effective. SEO thought leadership should be primarily focused on targeting local keywords.

Using These Statistics in Your 2021-2022 Marketing Strategy

The statistics in this report give you a sense of which B2B lead generation strategies established companies chose to invest in. The aggregate of the decisions their CMOs and marketing leads made should give you some fodder on which to base your marketing decisions.

If you have any questions about this report, would like a .pdf version of it, or would like to speak with our agency about our Thought Leadership Marketing or SEO services, you can reach out to us here.

Further Reading

If you found this report useful, you may wish to read our reports on B2B customer acquisition and conversion rates:

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