A new survey of digital marketers, albeit based in the US, has found experts believe SEO is the best way to generate leads online.

The study looked at what industry experts considered to be the best ways in which to generate leads online, in a three-way battle between SEO, PPC and social media.

The report looks at marketing in both B2B and B2C spheres, establishing a difference between the three when it comes to lead generation.

Over 500 respondents participated in the survey, of which a little over two thirds work in B2B marketing.

It seems that in the B2B space, SEO is still having the most significant impact on lead generation, with 59% of those questioned citing it as the most important element of their activities at the moment. In comparison, 49% of B2C marketers took this stance.

Social media accounts for 21% of B2B and 25% of B2C lead generation, at least in the opinions of those in the industry. Meanwhile PPC is considered as the most important aspect by a fifth of B2B marketers and 26% of B2C specialists.

Perhaps the most important thing to note here is that B2B marketers are actually ranking social media above PPC, the latter of which is down by five per cent compared with the results in last year’s report.

Meanwhile social media has risen in the estimation of B2B marketers by three per cent, with SEO seeing a two per cent increase in 2012, which shows that these two areas are continuing to grow in importance.

In B2C sectors, social media has remained flat over the past 12 months, with PPC falling by eight per cent and SEO rising by the same percentage in a seesaw effect.

Of course, it is worth pointing out that most marketers admit that it is difficult to accurately assess just how cost effective SEO, PPC or social media can be for a business.

The majority of respondents said that traffic volumes and ranking were the only significant drivers guiding their judgement.

Roughly a third stated that they look deeper into these factors in assessing the number of leads that are generated and sales made as a result.

The report also examined the frustrations experienced by today’s marketers, with 30% saying that the inability to accurately measure the effectiveness of SEO is their biggest issue.

As the tools available for analytics and the use thereof continues to mature, it is reasonable to assume that a multi-channel online marketing strategy will become ever more accurately accountable.

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About the author:

Alistair Harris is ClickThrough’s head of content. A double-award-winning senior journalist, Ali holds both the NCTJ and NCE qualifications and has more than ten years of experience in traditional press and PR. He has worked in digital marketing and SEO for the past three years and is passionate, enthusiastic and committed to quality.