Which marketing channel is the best performing?

Kit Smith

Posted on: February 3, 2022

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Category: The State of Prospecting

Which marketing channel is the best performing?

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Some questions are difficult to answer. Which is the best Beatles album? What happened before the big bang? Who is the most pointless Kardashian?

And some are a little easier, like which marketing channel is the best performing? As an email prospecting company, our answer to this particular brain teaser probably won’t shock you. 

But don’t imagine our vested interest makes this blog post a waste of your precious time. In the next four minutes, I’m going to prove to you, using cold hard science, that email marketing will drive more new business for your company than any other marketing channel. I’ve got graphs and everything.

Changing the channel…

Your company probably uses several marketing channels. Chances are, you’ve read some HubSpot guides or wisdom from LinkedIn ‘gurus’ and decided to primarily focus on inbound marketing. And it’s easy to see why: it provides great value when done well. 

But, it’s also increasingly crowded. And those crowds mean getting your message in front of decision-makers in your target audience is more and more difficult. This is where email prospecting comes in.

Prospecting is a B2B marketing channel that drives new, qualified leads for your sales team. It uses clever tech to deliver personalised outreach messages to a specific list of target contacts. When those prospects reply, looking to continue the conversation, they qualify themselves as a high-quality lead.

1. Buyers want you to email them

As part of our State of Prospecting 2022 report, we ran a survey of B2B marketers and buyers.

Over 70% of them said they prefer to be contacted by email. A blow for pigeon carriers, but not a big surprise for the rest of us. Email has the advantage of contacting your buyer directly, but without forcing your way into their day like a phone call would.

It gives a buyer the space to research and consider their options, but you don’t have to hope the right person comes across your email like you would with a blog post or an event stand.

An email will also find these buyers wherever they are working – something that has obviously become crucial since the pandemic inspired remote work revolution.

2. Prospecting drives more leads

The 2021 survey, released as part of the State of Prospecting report, showed that 85% of respondents get sales leads from prospecting emails – more than any other channel.

The two next highest channels were referrals and SEO. Referrals are, frankly, brilliant – you get higher quality leads and a low cost per acquisition – but beyond rolling out a reward programme, there’s little you can do to grow them.

SEO is another great channel. It’s low cost, has big growth potential, provides value for your audience, and you get to write amusingly whimsical intros to all your blog posts.

But neither directly contacts the most important people in your audience. Neither can scale in an instant. And it turns out, neither drives leads quite as consistently as email prospecting.

3. Prospecting drives a low CPA

Next up in our survey we asked: which channels drive the lowest cost per acquisition?

Referrals either cost nothing or the minimal expense of a reward programme. Even prospecting can’t match up to that. But it does come a close second, beating every other marketing channel.

4. Prospecting drives higher ROI

With email driving more leads and at a low cost per acquisition, the mathematicians among you will have worked out this next one: email prospecting gives you a great return on investment.

73% of our survey respondents rate email as their top digital channel for ROI. Hashtag winning.

And then we asked everyone who had used prospecting if it delivered positive ROI, and 93% of them agreed. Two-thirds of them said the return was good, very good or excellent.

5. Prospecting leaves a trail of data

Prospecting also provides more data than you can shake a stick at. We actually keep a stick in the office, and it remains unshaken to this very day. Too much data lying around.

This data allows you to benchmark, analyse and improve – we’ve been using the data to refine our prospecting service for years. Whether it’s the messaging in your emails, the times and days you send your emails, the subject lines that get emails opened, or who you are targeting, you can test all this and more.

You can dive into all of our data on our website: unedited, live, and interactive. Or, if you just want to find out the answers to the above tests, you can read all the best bits by downloading our whitepaper.


I started with the revelation that buyers want you to email them. So, it’s not surprising that prospecting emails drive leads more consistently than any other marketing channel. With a lower cost than almost any channel. And that, also unsurprisingly, leads to a higher ROI. 

All the data you can continually refine your campaigns, producing ever greater campaigns.

In summary, I have to agree with the survey respondents. Even with my most impartial hat on, email prospecting is the best performing marketing channel out there.

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