A study finds SMBs think download forms are the best for generating leads, though this might not show the whole picture of prospect journeys.

Marketers looking for the best strategy to generate more web leads should explore how downloadable web content fits into their campaigns. BIA/Kelsey’s Local Commerce Monitor report determined that small businesses earn the most and best leads from online forms. Nearly 40 percent said forms are a good source and around 20 percent said they’re excellent.

Form fills outperformed email, search engine marketing and social media outlets. Just under 30 percent said email was a good place to connect with leads, while another 15 percent gave this channel an “excellent” rating. Around one in five think search engine marketing tactics in general are good for lead generation, and 13 percent think it’s excellent.

Small businesses are slightly less confident in social platforms, with around 15 percent of those surveyed giving these channels a positive rating and 10 percent, on average, rating networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as excellent.

Form fills and gated brand content are great tools at marketers’ disposal because they help them collect information about their readers who are most interested. These are often the visitors who have already been exposed to a brand through articles in search results or Twitter updates. And when they finally become interested enough, they will click links that direct them back to company landing pages to access downloadable reports, infographics and data.

40 percent of SMBs said online forms are a good source and around 20 percent said they’re excellent.

However, marketers are short-sighted if they think online forms generate leads on their own. It’s part of a broader picture in which content distributed across channels to internet users at various stages in the sales pipeline drives interested prospects toward the answers they want. More companies are catching onto this idea, as evidenced by Eloqua Community data Brafton recently covered. The study found 49 percent of marketers plan to widen their content creation to target the entire buyer journey in the next six months.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.