Which are the best and least effective conversion channels?

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Using data from hundreds of B2B organisations, this infographic from Implicit offers insight into just how effective common sales channels are; considering both their overall conversion success, and providing a closer look into specifics such as conversion rate from lead stage to deal (close), lead to opportunity, opportunity to deal stage, and listing the overall time it takes each channel to typically convert.

So which are the best and least effective conversion channels? Which should your sales strategy prioritise (and at which funnel stage) in 2015? 

Here’s a direct look at the stats:

Average Channel stats:

Lead to deal conversion rate: 0.8%

Lead to opportunity conversion rate: 11%

Opportunity to deal conversion rate: c. 6.0%

Time to close: c. 102 days

What does this mean?

As an average, it takes 84 days to convert 13% of leads to opportunities and 18 days to convert an opportunity into a deal - but only 6% of opportunities close. With a lead to deal conversion rate of 0.8%, this means that on average, 128 leads would be needed to close one deal.

(In order of most to least effective conversion rate)

1. Customer & Employee Referrals:

  • Lead to deal conversion rate: 3.63%
  • Lead to opportunity conversion rate: 24.7%
  • Opportunity to deal conversion rate: 14.7%
  • Time to close: c. 90-100 days

What does this mean?

This channel is highly successful, offering the most effective opportunity to deal rate of all channels at 14.7%, and the second most effective lead to opportunity rate at 24.7. While it’s not the swiftest channel in regard to time to close, it falls within the average and is a well trusted channel; offering success through most funnel stages.

2. Website:

  • Lead to deal conversion rate: 1.55%
  • Lead to opportunity conversion rate: 31%
  • Opportunity to deal conversion rate: 5%
  • Time to close: c. 70-80 days

What does this mean?

This is the most effective channel for converting leads to opportunities at 31%, but only 5% of those ever close - one of the lowest rates. This shows that the channel may be best used at the attract stage, or at the top of the funnel.

3. Facebook/ Twitter/ Other Social:

  • Lead to deal conversion rate: 1.47%
  • Lead to opportunity conversion rate: 17.2%
  • Opportunity to deal conversion rate: 8.5%
  • Time to close: c. 40 days

What does this mean?

Overall, social channels were the third most effective in converting leads to deals, and also had the fastest close time. Comparing lead-opportunity/ opportunity-deal conversion, 8.5% of a 17.2% opportunity rate closes; around half. In line with an inbound methodology, social media is most effectively used at the attract stage, at the top of the conversion funnel.

4. Other:

  • Lead to deal conversion rate: 1.07%
  • Lead to opportunity conversion rate: 13.9%
  • Opportunity to deal conversion rate: 7.7%
  • Time to close: c. 120 days

What does this mean?

This channel was the fourth most effective overall, and middling in success regarding time to close and other conversion success.

5. Paid Search:

  • Lead to deal conversion rate: 0.99%
  • Lead to opportunity conversion rate: 14.3%
  • Opportunity to deal conversion rate: 6.9%
  • Time to close: c. 100-110 days


What does this mean?

Paid search was the fifth most effective channel overall, and offered slightly above average lead-opportunity/opportunity-deal conversion. If you’re considering increasing paid search, find out more about how to develop a strong PPC relationship with your clients.

6. Sales Generated:

  • Lead to deal conversion rate: 0.94%
  • Lead to opportunity conversion rate: 13.9%
  • Opportunity to deal conversion rate: 6.8%
  • Time to close: c. 130 days

What does this mean?

This channel had the fifth most effective closed-won/closed-lost ratio at 57.5% success, and sat slightly above average with metrics across the board.

7. Marketing and Advertising:

  • Lead to deal conversion rate: 0.78%
  • Lead to opportunity conversion rate: 15.3%
  • Opportunity to deal conversion rate: 5.1%
  • Time to close: c. 80-90 days

What does this mean?

Offering one of the lowest close times, marketing and advertising does well when it comes to converting leads to opportunities, but as a ‘convert’ or middle of funnel channel, offers less when it comes to turning opportunities to deals.

8. Tradeshows:

  • Lead to deal conversion rate: 0.55%
  • Lead to opportunity conversion rate: 12.4%
  • Opportunity to deal conversion rate: 4.4%
  • Time to close: c. 130 days

What does this mean?

Tradeshows, unlike the least successful channel of marketing events, offer middling success out of all channels, though have one of the longest times to close.

9. Partner:

  • Lead to deal conversion rate: 0.48%
  • Lead to opportunity conversion rate: 10.0%
  • Opportunity to deal conversion rate: 4.9%
  • Time to close: c. 60 days

What does this mean?

Partners are very quick to close, but offer the third least effective closed-won/closed-lost ratio at 17.9% success.

10. Webinar:

  • Lead to Deal conversion rate: 0.44%
  • Lead to opportunity conversion rate: 17.8%
  • Opportunity to deal conversion rate: 2.5%
  • Time to close: c. 110-120 days

What does this mean?

Despite an impressive lead to opportunity rate, with a closing percentage of just 2.5%, webinars should be mainly considered as a middle of the funnel tactic.

11. LinkedIn:

  • Lead to deal conversion rate: 0.34%
  • Lead to opportunity conversion rate: 6.5%
  • Opportunity to deal conversion rate: 5.3%
  • Time to close: N/A

What does this mean?

For most B2Bs, having LinkedIn as so much more ineffective than other social channels is surprising. However, this does not mean it should be abandoned. on the contrary it should be used to attract - placed at top of the funnel. Social channels overall had the second most effective closed-won/closed-lost ratio at 68.6% success.

12. Email Campaign:

  • Lead to deal conversion rate: 0.07%
  • Lead to opportunity conversion rate: 0.9%
  • Opportunity to deal conversion rate: 7.8%
  • Time to close: c. 160 days

What does this mean?

In line with an inbound methodology, email campaigns are a close stage activity in the middle to bottom of the funnel. Email has one of the longest close times and the least successful lead to opportunity rate, but in comparison - a relatively high opportunity to deal success.

13. Marketing Events:

  • Lead to deal conversion rate: 0.04%
  • Lead to opportunity conversion rate: 0.9%
  • Opportunity to deal conversion rate: 7.9%
  • Time to close: c. 100 days

What does this mean?

Marketing events may feel productive, but the stats showed them to be largely ineffective with some of the lowest conversion rate across the board, and just a 7.6% closed-won (vs closed-lost) success ratio.

14. Lead List:

  • Lead to deal conversion rate: 0.02%
  • Lead to opportunity conversion rate: 2.5%
  • Opportunity to deal conversion rate: 0.9
  • Time to close: c. 160 days

What does this mean?

Offering consistently low conversion rates across the board, in addition to a high closure time makes lead lists one of the least effective channels for 2015. If your strategy anticipates reliance on lead lists, unless you have information to support otherwise, it may be wise to change approach.

So which conversion channel is best? How should I adapt my strategy?

Generally, the lead sources with the best deal rates close the fastest. To adapt your own sales strategy, the channels which have the greatest relevance to your own business and audience will need to be reviewed: for example, LinkedIn may be a more important B2B channel to you than listed here. If lead generation is the priority, this post from HubSpot for example states that LinkedIn is 227% more effective for lead generation than other social channels.

Key takeaways

What have we learnt? Well, if you’re planning to rely on lead lists or events as the main source of your customer conversion in 2015, you might want to reconsider!

5 Overall Most Effective Channels

    1. Customer & Employee Referrals
    1. Website
    1. Facebook/ Twitter/ Other Social
    1. Other
    1. Paid Search

5 Overall Least Effective Channels

    1. Lead List
    1. Events
    1. Email Campaign
    1. LinkedIn
    1. Webinar

Featured image/ Ryan Ritchie

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