Professional services firms generating 40% or more of their leads online grow 4 times faster than those with no online leads, according to [pdf] a November 2011 study from Hinge Marketing. Data from “Online Marketing for Professional Services Firms” indicates that the median 2-year growth rate was highest (63.9%) among the firms surveyed generating 40-59% of their leads online, followed closely by those generating 80-100% of their leads online (60.7%). Firms that did not generate any leads online grew at a median rate of 15%. The study notes that given the potential of very large and very small firms to skew the results, median values were selected as the most stable measure of central tendency. Among the survey respondents, over 77.1% generated some new business leads online. 48.1% reported generating less than 20% of total leads online, while about 14.8% generated 40% or more.
Profitability Also Impacted
The percentage of leads generated online appears to also correlate with profitability. Firms that generated 80-100% of their leads online showed a median current profitability of 32.5% of revenue, ahead of profitability for those generating 60-79% and 40-59% of their leads online (30% and 25% of revenue respectively). Firms that did not generate any leads online showed profitability of 15%, just ahead of those with 1-19% of leads coming from online efforts (14%). According to Hinge insight, one explanation for increased profitability for those with higher percentage of online leads is that online marketing simply costs less than traditional marketing.
LinkedIn Most Commonly Used
LinkedIn and email marketing are the most widely used online techniques for online lead generation and recruiting among the professional services firms surveyed, ahead of search engine optimization (SEO), web analytics, and white papers and ebooks. Pay per click (PPC) and and banner ads appear at the bottom of the list, with a majority reporting no focus on these techniques. Among those reporting a heavy focus, email marketing and SEO are tops, while PPC and banner ads again have the least devoted users.
Blogging, SEO Prove Effective
Respondents reported that white papers and ebooks, SEO, blogging, email marketing and company newsletters were the most effective techniques for achieving their online lead generation and recruiting goals, while YouTube, PPC, and banner ads were the least effective. When dividing the respondents by growth rate, the data shows that high growth firms are far more focused on blogging and SEO than average growth firms, although they also show more focus on PPC and banner ads.
According to a November report from Webmarketing123, SEO has the biggest impact on lead generation goals, cited by 57.4% of B2B marketers and 41% of B2C marketers. By contrast, 24.8% of B2B respondents and 34.2% of B2C marketers said they derived the most impact on their lead generation goals from PPC activities.
- More than two-thirds of the respondents to the Hinge Marketing survey do not currently outsource any part of their online marketing efforts, although roughly 1 in 8 outsource more than 40%.
- About one-quarter of the firms attract 40% or more of their new hires online.
- Management Consulting firms enjoy the highest median 2-year growth rate (45%) and are the leaders in median current profitability as percentage of revenue (25%).
- Roughly two-thirds of the firms surveyed will increase their online marketing spend in the next 12 months.
- The most common frequency of website updates among the firms surveyed is monthly (34.3%), followed by weekly (31.1%), and once a year or less (24.6%).
- 43.9% of firms say direct emails are the primary way that web visitors contact them, followed by online contact forms (28.6%) and phone calls (24.1%).
About the Data: A total of 500 professional services firms completed the Hinge Marketing survey. They had an average staff size of 319 employees, and averaged $53.9 million in annual revenue.