Updated Jan 2020
The old days where you throw money into newspaper, radio or television and hope for the best are gone. As a marketer in 2020, being armed with data and optimizing your efforts correctly are critical for success. At the forefront of your data is a stat called cost per lead, or for short, CPL. Looking at this stat as a whole can be misleading though, and to truly get the most bang for your buck, you’re going to want to break it down by your different marketing channels. Provided your channels are scalable, this will then tell you exactly where your marketing dollars are best spent. Below, we’ve put together an updated list of the average cost per lead for popular B2B marketing channels across multiple industries.
What is cost per lead (CPL)?
Cost per lead, or CPL for short, is the average amount you spend on marketing (cost) to acquire one new prospect (lead).
How do you calculate cost per lead (CPL)?
To calculate your cost per lead, add up all of your marketing spend for a given period and the number of leads you acquired in that given period. Then, divide your marketing spend by your total number of leads. Your final number is your cost per lead. A formula follows:
Total marketing spend
Total number of leads
Cost per lead
Cost per lead (CPL) vs. cost per acquisition (CPA)
These terms are sometimes used interchangeably but most commonly have two separate meanings.
Cost per lead is the average cost to acquire a prospect.
Cost per acquisition is the average cost to acquire a customer. This acquisition is much further down the funnel and is calculated when a prospect becomes a paying customer. 99.99% of the time, cost per acquisition is higher than cost per lead.
Cost per lead for email marketing
One of the most common B2B lead generation channels is email marketing. In another article, we covered 19 different ways you can grow your B2B email marketing list. On average, a lead from email marketing costs $53. On the high end, a lead can cost around $72, and on the low end, around $33.
- Average: $53
- High: $72
- Low: $33
Cost per lead for paid LinkedIn advertising
If you’re a B2B business that targets medium to enterprise-level clients, LinkedIn advertising can be incredibly effective (we recommend you try lead gen forms). On average, a lead from paid LinkedIn advertisements costs $75. On the high end, a lead can cost around $99, and on the low end, around $51.
- Average: $75
- High: $99
- Low: $51
Cost per lead for content creation
Whether it be video, written, audio etc. a content creation strategy has the ability to spread like wildfire. On average, a lead from content creation costs $92. On the high end, a lead can cost around $140, and on the low end, around $43.
- Average: $92
- High: $140
- Low: $43
Cost per lead for list vendors
While these are generally cold and lower quality leads, buying a lead list and getting BDRs to hammer through them can be a highly effective strategy. When looking at the average cost of a lead from a list vendor, you’re looking at $1.02. On the high end, a lead can cost around $1.45, and on the low end, around $0.60.
- Average: $1.02
- High: $1.45
- Low: $0.60
Cost per lead for Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
An underutilized channel for many B2B businesses is search engine marketing (SEM) on Google, Bing, and other popular search engines. On average, a lead from search engine marketing costs $110. On the high end, a lead can cost around $181, and on the low end, around $38.
- Average: $110
- High: $181
- Low: $38
Cost per lead for Visitor Queue
Our own service, Visitor Queue, allows you to identify the companies that are visiting your website so that you can follow up with the ones that don’t convert. Although these leads aren’t as strong as someone that puts in an inquiry, these are warm leads as they’ve already interacted with your brand, and likely have a need for your offerings. Depending on your plan, the average cost per lead for a Visitor Queue lead is $0.21. On the high end, a lead can cost around $0.25, and on the low end, around $0.17.
- Average: $0.21
- High: $0.25
- Low: $0.17
Cost per lead for tradeshows/events
One of the more old fashion channels on our list is hosting or attending, tradeshows or events. This channel is still incredibly effective if your average client is worth >5 figures. The average cost per lead for tradeshows or events is $811. On the high end, a lead can cost around $1,442, and on the low end, around $180.
- Average: $811
- High: $1,442
- Low: $180
Cost per lead for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
We won’t say this is underutilized but it is commonly overlooked by B2B organizations – a big mistake when you look at the average cost per lead of $31. On the high end, a lead can cost around $47, and on the low end, around $14.
- Average: $31
- High: $47
- Low: $14
Cost per lead for affiliate/referral marketing
Another tactic that has the opportunity to spread like wildfire is affiliate or referral marketing. We recommend you read the Dropbox case – enough said. On average, a lead from referral or affiliate marketing costs $73. On the high end, the cost per lead is around $92, and on the low end, around $54.
- Average: $73
- High: $92
- Low: $54
Cost per lead for webinars
This was the breakout lead gen channel of 2015/2016 and still becoming increasingly popular. The average lead generated from a webinar costs $72. On the high end, you’re looking at $98, and on the low end, around $45.
- Average: $72
- High: $98
- Low: $45
Ensure that you factor in your industry, offering(s) and current company situation when making decisions about the channels you’ll utilize in 2020. Also, test out these and additional channels for yourself as you never know what will work until you try. We hope these cost per lead averages assist you in making better marketing decisions in 2020.