"Impact vs. Effort" words in big font

What Are Your Best and Worse Lead Generation (And Marketing) Tactics?

Most businesses don’t have the resources to waste money, time, tools, and personnel on ineffective lead generation and marketing campaigns. But this is precisely what many companies do because they don’t analyze how much effort each campaign takes, and more importantly, what impact it has on the business. 

Being able to analyze and prioritize your efforts is of the utmost importance. More specifically, knowing which tactics are helping grow your business and which are just consuming your precious resources (time, money, tools, etc.)

Your website is important, your SEO is important, your email marketing is important, being on social media is important, content marketing is important, and paid advertising is important. These are all important, but what kind of impact do they have on your business, and what kind of effort is required?

For example, should you allocate equal resources to your website and social media? By the end of this post, you should be able to answer these types of questions and correctly prioritize your lead generation and marketing efforts. 

Step 1: List Your Lead Generation and Marketing Efforts

This step is simple, list all your lead generation and marketing efforts. In other words, any tactic your company uses to attract customers. For many, this is your:

  • Website
  • Content Marketing (e.g., Blog Posts)
  • Social Media
  • Advertising
  • Newsletter
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Sponsorships or Partnerships 
  • etc

Step 2: Create An “Impact / Effort” Matrix

As the name suggests, the goal of this matrix is to analyze the impact (and effort required) of your lead generation and marketing campaigns. Start by drawing two lines – horizontal line for “impact” and a vertical line for “effort.” Finally, separate the white space into four areas.

Note: For most businesses, impact = revenue, sales, leads, etc. And effort = time and money. 

Effort vs. Impact Matrix Example 1

Now that we have the basic framework of the impact/effort matrix let’s look at each area (square) and how it relates to the overall matrix.   

Effort vs. Impact Matrix Example 2

For many businesses, email marketing (e.g., newsletter) is a good example of “Low Effort & Low Impact.” With automated tools like Mailchimp, it’s easy to create a new campaign, so the effort is often low. However, the impact is also low because not taking the time to create compelling (targeted) email campaigns will often produce poor results.   

Yet, email marketing can be on the opposite spectrum, “High Effort & High Impact,” if you take the time to segment and personalize every email campaign you send.

The point being, how effective or time-consuming each digital channel is will vary from business to business.

Ask yourself, “How much effort does take, and what type of impact does it have?”

For example, “How much time do you spend on your website and how many leads do you get in return?” If you don’t update your website frequently (e.g., add new content), then your effort is low, but your impact (e.g., leads) is probably low as well. 

Ideally, most of your lead generation and marketing initiatives should fall under “High Impact” but that’s typically not the case with most businesses that approach us for help.

Great marketing often requires experimentation, so not every campaign or initiative will be a home run; hence, some campaigns and digital channels may fall under “Low Impact” areas. However, you should never continue to fund these “Low Impact” channels and campaigns over an extended period of time. 


In this section, we will share an “Impact / Effort” Matrix from one of our client meetings. 

Effort vs. Impact Matrix Example 3

In this example, effort and impact can be summarized in the following way:

  • Instagram – The client posted every day and often posted high-quality product pictures. However, after 16 months, not even one customer could be attributed to Instagram. This is an excellent example of “High Effort & Low Impact” marketing.  
  • Website – updated infrequently 
  • Newsletter – sent product information to existing customers a few times a year
  • Yelp – maintained Yelp account, responded to reviews, uploaded product photos, etc.
  • Ads – experimented with limited success, but stopped because of the cost

Effort vs. Impact Matrix Example 4

As you can see, none of their online lead generation efforts had a meaningful impact on their sales and revenue. In summary, they neglected all digital channels and put all their eggs in one basket (Instagram). Without going into the details, Instagram is a great platform, but it was a poor choice for their customer demographic. 

Consequently, we reshaped our client’s online lead generation strategy, and today they generate the majority of their leads via Google Ads, Content Marketing, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Why Working Through This Type Of Exercise (Matrix) Is Important

While the outcome of the “Impact / Effort” matrix may be disheartening, it will open your eyes to just how ineffective your lead generation and marketing efforts are. 

This is one of the most significant benefits of working through this exercise because it helps you visualize your marketing efforts and the impact it has on your business. 

What Should An Ideal “Impact / Effort” Matrix Look Like?

As we previously mentioned, all successful lead generation and marketing strategies require some experimentation; therefore, it is unrealistic for all campaigns to fall under “High Impact.”

A more realistic goal should be that most (80%) of your campaigns fall under “High Impact.” Also, some marketing strategies take a while to materialize, so aiming for all campaigns to be “High Impact & Low Effort” is unrealistic as well. For example, your content marketing and SEO efforts may take months to materialize – before you see any financial impact on your business.

Most organic strategies (content marketing, SEO, social media, etc.) will take some time to materialize. Paid advertising, while typically more expensive, will have a more immediate impact (e.g., boost sales). 


Having a deep understanding of your lead generation efforts is an essential component of business growth. Most business executives, owners, and managers don’t intend to fund marketing initiatives that are ineffective, but they often do, because they don’t have the right information in front of them.

Running your lead generation and marketing efforts through an “Impact / Effort” Matrix is one of the fastest ways to uncover effective and ineffective campaigns. 

At a minimum, “Impact / Effort” Matrix will start an internal conversation of how you are using your precious resources (money, time, tools, and people) to attract customers to your business. 

Related: How to make big marketing bets

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