· 12 min read

How Much Does Lead Generation Cost?

The biggest question in marketers' minds is how much lead generation costs.

Since the average spending on digital advertisements increases yearly, you will want to know whether your money is well spent or wasted.

We will pinpoint the essentials of lead generation costs so that you can make informed decisions. Let's begin!

Types of Lead Generation Costs

The vital thing to know is that there are two types of leads because the terms marketing and sales carry different characteristics within themselves:

  • The first type of lead is Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), which are the potential prospects you were able to persuade.
  • The second lead type is Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs), which are customers engaged with your business. There are ways, like downloading an ebook, purchasing a product, or making a reservation.

There are several types of costs associated with lead generation, including the following:

➢ Advertising costs: These are the costs associated with placing ads in various media outlets, such as print, online, television, or radio, to attract leads.

➢ Marketing costs: Costs associated with promoting products or services to potential customers, including email marketing, social media marketing, and content marketing.

➢ Sales costs: These are associated with the sales process, including salaries and commissions for salespeople and the cost of materials such as brochures and product samples.

➢ Lead generation software costs: These are the costs associated with using specialized software to generate leads, such as marketing automation software or customer relationship management (CRM) software.

➢ Lead generation service costs: Outsourcing lead generation to a third-party service provider, such as a telemarketing firm or a lead generation agency.

➢ Personnel costs: Hiring and training employees, such as salespeople or marketing professionals, to handle lead generation activities.

Cost per Lead (CPL)

Cost per Lead, or CPL, is one of the most used metrics to evaluate the efficiency of a digital marketing campaign and how much lead generation costs. 

And the formula of CPL is very straightforward:

CPL= Total cost spent on a digital marketing program/ Number of leads coming from the program

Let's say you have spent $1,000 on a pay-per-click (PPC) advertisement, and 50 people were converted into leads.

  • Cost per Lead = $1,000 / 50 = $20.

Remember that generating leads is about a high return on investment in your customer acquisition.

The higher the ROI, the more costly a lead is, and the lower the ROI, the less likely you are to pay for obtaining leads.

The average cost per lead varies based on your industry, lead generation channel, company size, and company revenue.

CPL differs widely depending on

  • the industry,
  • the profundity of your target audience,
  • the competition in your sector.

When it comes to the amounts and the cost-influencing factors, it is better to explore them!

Average Cost per Lead by Industry

If the industry alters, the average cost per lead focuses on revenue and the changing elements based on the industry you belong to.

Below, you can see the table we prepared for you.

Industry Cost per Lead on Average
Average Cost per Lead by Industry
 E-commerce  $91
 Real Estate  $448
 Engineering  $287
 Higher Education  $982
 B2B SaaS  $237
 Entertainment  $114
 Hotels & Resorts  $266
 Staffing & Recruiting  $497
 Environmental Services  $278
 Manufacturing  $553
 Financial Services  $653
 Healthcare  $361
 Fintech  $452

Source: First Page Sage's Average Cost Per Lead Report in 2024

Average Cost per Lead by Lead Generation Channel

Lead generation channels are the means of reaching more, and the more channels, the better.

Below, you can see the table we prepared.

Average Cost per Lead by Lead Generation Channel
Lead Generation Channel Cost per Lead on Average
 Online Retargeting  $31
 Search Engine Optimization (SEO)  $31
 Email Marketing  $53
 Social Media Advertising  $58
 Display Advertising  $63
 Webinars  $72
 Referrals  $73
 LinkedIn Advertising  $75
 Content Marketing  $92
 Search Engine Advertising  $110
 Video Marketing  $174
 Public Relations  $294
 Traditional Marketing (TV, Radio, Print)  $619
 Event & Tradeshows  $811

Average Cost per Lead by Company Size

The average cost per lead can vary significantly depending on various factors, including the company's size.

In general, small businesses tend to have higher costs per lead than larger businesses because they may not have the same economies of scale or access to the same resources.

a laptop and a hand are visible on a desk with a cup of drink and a notebook with a phone on it; the hand is pressing the laptop's button

However, it is difficult to provide a specific average cost per lead by company size, as many other factors can impact this metric, such as the industry, target market, marketing strategies, and sales processes.

Average Cost per Lead by Company Revenue

It is difficult to give an average cost per lead by company revenue, as the cost per lead can vary widely depending on various factors.

That being said, in general, companies with higher revenues often tend to have a lower cost per lead than companies with lower revenues.

This is because companies with higher revenues often have larger marketing budgets and can afford to invest more in lead-generation efforts.

They may also have more resources to optimize their marketing campaigns and target their efforts more effectively, resulting in a higher return on investment.

For example, a high-revenue company in the software industry with a large marketing budget may have a lower cost per lead than a low-revenue company in the same industry with a smaller marketing budget.

4 females; 2 sitting at a couch on the right, one standing next to a white boards and one sitting on a chair; all listening to the man standing in an spacious office-like room

On the other hand, a low-revenue company in a niche market with a targeted marketing strategy may have a lower cost per lead than a high-revenue company in the same market with a less focused approach.

It's worth noting that the cost per lead can also vary depending on the specific goals of a company's marketing campaign.

For example, a company that is targeting a very specific audience and willing to pay a higher cost per lead to reach that audience may end up with a lower overall cost per lead if its marketing efforts are successful and it can generate a high number of qualified leads.

Costs of Lead Generation Service Providers

Another option to increase leads is to pay a third party to generate leads for your business.

In some cases, getting help from companies in the lead generation sector would be more effective than spending your money and time on obtaining leads by yourself.

Especially if you are a small business with a small database of prospects, you may let someone else develop an extensive database for you while you focus on customer retention strategies within the company.

The problem with those companies is that they offer you a temporary solution.

When you stop paying to obtain leads, they will simultaneously stop generating leads for you.

Therefore, you need to constitute an efficient plan to keep those leads and turn them into loyal customers.

No matter which path you choose, you should;

  • set clear objectives,
  • start an accurate program for the job,
  • track your results to find the best strategy.

Here are some of the companies that may help you generate more leads, their services, and their prices are given;

Lead Generation Service Providers
Company Services Pricing 
 Popupsmart  High converting popup builder digital marketing tools  Free/$32.5/mo
 Email Search Engine  LinkedIn email finder & prospecting tool  $29/mo
 LinkedIn Sales Navigator  Searching for leads and features  $99/mo
 Mailshake  Outbound email generation  $29/user/mo
 Vyper  Creating contents, promotions and social media buzz generation  $149/mo
 ClickFunnels  Building sales funnels and webpages  $147/mo
 Callpage  Engaging the user to a phone call  $31/mo
 Datanyze  Searching for leads based on specific conditions  $21/mo

How to Evaluate How many Leads do you Need

As the main aim of a marketer is to maximize efficiency in campaigns, you must understand how many leads you need to hit the revenue goal of your business.

This analysis requires information about your company data elements like;

➢ Targeted Revenue: The amount of revenue you aim to reach at the end of a period

➢ Marketing-Driven Revenue: The portion of total income acquired thanks to marketing efforts.

➢ Average Sales Price (ASP): Net Sales/Number of Units Sold

➢ Marketing-Driven Deals: Marketing-Driven Revenue/Average Sales Price

➢ Opportunity-to-Sale Ratio: How close you are to turning one lead into a customer out of the total number of leads

➢ Qualified Lead-to-Opportunity Ratio: How many leads it takes to turn one lead into a customer

➢ Lead-to-Qualified-Lead Ratio: How much analysis is necessary to turn one lead into a converting customer

Now, let's evaluate one example together:

  • Suppose you aim to reach $100,000 in revenue by the end of the month.
  • Your marketing-driven revenue is $45,000 at the end of the month.
  • The ASP is calculated at $5,000.
  • Marketing Driven Deals: $45,000 / $5,000 = $9
  • The opportunity-to-sales ratio is predicted as 3, which means you can turn one lead into a customer out of 3 leads.
  • Number of Opportunities Needed: 3 x 9 = 27
  • The qualified lead-to-opportunity ratio is foreseen as 6, which means you can turn one lead into a converting customer if you have at least 6 leads.
  • Number of Leads Needed: 6 x 27 = 162

What you can deduce from this example is that you need to have at least 162 leads to obtain zero profit.

Rather than making calculations to know the lead break-even point for your digital campaign, some tools will automatically provide you with the same information.

How to Optimize the Lead Generation Costs

an illustration of a woman at an office analyzing-data on a large computer

Mastering lead generation costs is crucial for businesses seeking sustainable growth and maximum return on investment (ROI). 

Here's a quick guide to help you navigate the intricacies of lead generation cost optimization:

Conduct a Thorough Budget Breakdown

  • Channel Analysis: Evaluate the performance and cost-effectiveness of each marketing channel you use for lead generation, including paid advertising (Google Ads, social media ads), content marketing, email marketing, and SEO.
  • Campaign Assessment: Break down the budget allocated to individual campaigns within each channel. Identify high-performing campaigns generating quality leads at a reasonable cost per acquisition (CPA) and underperforming campaigns draining resources without delivering desired results.
  • Cost-Per-Lead (CPL) Evaluation: Calculate the CPL for each campaign by dividing the total campaign expenditure by the number of leads generated. This analysis provides insights into the cost-efficiency of different lead generation initiatives.

Implement Targeted Segmentation Strategies

  • Audience Segmentation: Divide your target audience into distinct segments based on demographic information, psychographic characteristics, behavior patterns, and purchase intent. Tailor your lead generation campaigns to address each segment's specific needs and preferences.
  • Personalized Messaging: Craft customized messaging and offers that resonate with different audience segments' unique interests and pain points. Personalization enhances engagement and increases the likelihood of conversion, leading to higher ROI on your marketing investments.
  • Lookalike Audience Expansion: Identify your most valuable customer segments and leverage lookalike audience targeting to reach new prospects with similar characteristics and behaviors. 

Focus on Metrics and Analytics

  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Define and track relevant KPIs such as conversion rate, cost per lead, customer acquisition cost (CAC), return on ad spend (ROAS), and lifetime value (LTV) of customers. These metrics provide actionable insights into the effectiveness and profitability of your lead generation efforts.
  • Attribution Analysis: Understand the contribution of each marketing touchpoint throughout the customer journey in generating leads and driving conversions. 
  • A/B Testing: Continuously experiment with different ad creatives, messaging variations, landing page designs, and conversion paths to identify the most effective combinations that yield the highest conversion rates at the lowest cost. 

Use Marketing Automation & Optimization Tools

  • Marketing Automation Platforms: Invest in robust marketing automation software streamlining lead nurturing, email marketing, lead scoring and customer segmentation processes. Automation tools help reduce manual effort, increase operational efficiency, and deliver personalized experiences at scale.
  • CRM Integration: Integrate your marketing automation platform with a customer relationship management (CRM) system to centralize lead data, track interactions across touchpoints, and facilitate seamless communication between marketing and sales teams. 
  • Ad Optimization Tools: Explore advanced ad optimization tools and algorithms that leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to optimize bidding strategies, ad placements, targeting parameters, and ad creative elements in real time.

Continuously Refine Conversion Tactics

  • Landing Page Optimization: Optimize landing pages for conversion by enhancing page load speed, improving user experience (UX) design, crafting compelling headlines and copy, adding persuasive visuals, and simplifying the conversion process with clear CTAs and minimal form fields. 
  • Lead Magnet Enhancement: Create irresistible lead magnets such as ebooks, webinars, or exclusive offers to incentivize prospects to provide their contact information. Continuously iterate on the content and format of lead magnet ideas based on audience feedback and performance data to maximize their lead generation potential.
  • Follow-Up and Nurturing: Implement a strategic follow-up and lead nurturing process to engage with leads at every stage of the buying journey. 

To Cut a Long Story Short…

To sum up, if your overall lead value is more than your total lead cost, your lead generation program is a winning one!

Now that you know the details of the cost of lead generation, you are ready to become a digital marketing hero in your workplace.

Don't forget to apply these in your lead generation marketing strategy in your business!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are there any Free or Low-Cost Lead Generation Tactics that I can Use?

There are several free or low-cost lead generation tactics that you can use, such as:

  • Social media marketing
  • Blogging and content marketing
  • Email marketing
  • SEO
  • Networking and referrals

2. Is it more Cost-Effective to Generate Leads In-House or to Outsource the Process?

The answer to this question depends on various factors, including the size of your company, the complexity of your lead generation efforts, and the resources you have available.

In some cases, generating leads in-house may be more cost-effective, particularly if you have the expertise and resources to do so effectively.

However, in other cases, outsourcing lead generation to a professional agency or consultant may be a more cost-effective option, allowing you to tap into specialized expertise and save on in-house labor costs.

3. How can I Lower the Cost of Lead Generation?

There are several strategies you can use to lower the cost of lead generation, including:

  • Focusing on tactics that are relatively low-cost, such as content marketing and social media advertising.
  • Optimizing your website and online presence to increase the conversion rate of your leads.
  • Implementing automated lead nurturing processes to save on manual labor costs.
  • Partnering with other companies to co-market and share lead generation costs.

4. What Affects Lead Pricing? 

High-quality leads from engaged audiences typically cost more. Leads sourced from premium channels like industry-specific websites or social media platforms may come at a premium.

Increased competition in your industry can drive up lead prices as advertisers bid for the same audience.It can vary based on the geographic location and the local market demand.

Different lead generation methods can have varying costs associated with them. Bulk purchases or subscription-based lead packages often offer discounts compared to individual lead purchases.

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