What is the cost per lead in B2B? Belkins data

Precious Oboidhe
Precious Oboidhe
Michael Maximoff
Reviewed by
Michael Maximoff
Reading time:14 m

We recently set out to establish B2B cost per lead (CPL) benchmarks. This analysis involved both our lead generation campaigns and campaigns we’ve run for clients.

We explored cold emails, Google Ads, SEO, and other marketing channels. We also considered third-party sources to find correlations and disparities.

Today, I’m going to share our findings with you (including tips for reducing your CPL).

How we calculated the cost per lead

For Belkins’ data, we factored in the additional costs involved in running a lead generation campaign, including labor and tools. For third-party data, we stated how they calculated the costs.

Cost per lead = Total marketing spend / Number of leads

B2B cost per lead insights for 2024

Want to get the scoop quickly? Check out this infographic that breaks down B2B CPL by industry, target audience, outbound lead channels, and inbound lead channels.

The Average B2B Cost Per Lead Across Channels

Note that you can share this infographic on your blog or website by copying the HTML code below and embedding it into your page or post. If you prefer to reference a specific statistic, please link to this post as the source.

Cost per lead by marketing channel

Many factors affect the B2B cost per lead. Think of factors like your industry, target audience, value proposition uniqueness, digital footprint, budget, and timing. For example, we reallocated half of our SEO budget to PPC in the summer of 2023.


Like most brands, the 2023 recession hit us harder than we had planned, so we had to focus on the channels that bring leads and deals faster. Since SEO is a long game, we reduced our spending on this channel temporarily. We gave resources to our PPC team because they optimized (cut) CPL from Google Ads, which made it an efficient, cost-effective channel during those tough times.

Outbound lead generation cost 

Below, we cover the B2B lead generation costs of 5 outbound marketing channels:

  • Cold email
  • Cold call
  • Google Ads
  • LinkedIn Ads
  • Facebook Ads

Cold email cost per lead

The average cold email cost per lead for Belkins is $250 to $300. This cost is low because we’ve been doing cold email for 7+ years. We’ve refined our lead generation and list-building processes and built a strong sending reputation. Investing in marketing has also given us a powerful brand and digital presence, which helps lower our CPL.

For client campaigns, the average CPL is $770 across 17 industries. We found this by grouping our clients by industry and target customers (startups, SMBs, and enterprise-size companies).

Our analysis shows the environmental services industry has the lowest B2B cost per lead — $300 on the low end, $750 on the high end, and $483 on average. Cybersecurity companies have the highest lead generation costs, typically ranging from $750 to $1,500 with an average of $1,083.

Below is a breakdown of cold-email cost per qualified lead by industry and target audience.

Cold Email Cost Per Lead

Belkins’ advice for reducing cold email CPL

Here’s what you can do to reduce your cold email cost per lead: 

  • Create your ICP and buyer persona. An ideal customer profile (ICP) and buyer persona are crucial for any successful marketing effort, not just cold email outreach. They help you focus on the audience most likely to convert so that you avoid wasting resources on low-quality leads.
  • Segment leads. Segment your target ICP into distinct groups based on shared characteristics such as industry, company size, and tech stack. This is a vital step for email personalization. 
  • Personalize your emails. Writing hyper-personalized outreach emails at scale is tough. However, lead segmentation makes it easier. The trick is to create unique emails for each lead segment.

📚 Related content: Best Cold Email Sequences for 10 Industries

Cold call cost per lead

We estimate that the cold call cost per lead is $12 on the low end and $61 on the high end. This estimate includes the costs of tools you’ll use to find and validate phone numbers. But it excludes other associated costs, such as personnel and phone.

We arrived at our estimate by considering the experience of JC Pollard. In 2022, JC closed $1.4 million deals as an account executive at Gong. About 85% of those deals came from self-sourced leads JC acquired via cold-calling.

JC reportedly made over 2,572 cold calls, most of which were dead ends. But as JC said, “It only takes a few wins to change your year.” Below, we break down what it costs to generate 2,572 phone numbers.

Needed tool Function Cost
B2B lead generation software
Example: Apollo
Build your lead list. The annual plan of Apollo’s Professional tier costs $79/month ($948/year) and gives you access to 1,200 mobile credits/year.
To generate 2,572 leads, JC would need an extra 1,400 mobile credits, which cost $280.
So the total cost for Apollo is $1,228/year.
Phone number scraper
Example: LeadRocks
Extract phone numbers in bulk from your lead list. LeadRocks’ Growth plan costs $145/month ($1,740/year) and gives you access to 5,000 free monthly credits.
Phone validator
Example: ClearoutPhone
Verify the phone numbers and confirm they are cell phone numbers, not landlines. This is important because calling landlines has low ROI, according to sales aficionado Dylan Rich. The lowest tier of ClearoutPhone’s annual plan gives you 5,000 monthly credits at $16/month ($192/year).
Total tool cost (annually) $3,160
JC’s cold call cost per lead, assuming a 2% call success rate.* $3,160 / 52 = $61 per appointment
JC’s cold call cost per lead, assuming a 10.1% call success rate.* $3,160 / 257 = $12 per appointment

*The average cold-calling success rate is 2%, according to Zippia. It can also be as high as 10.1% if you have an effective process, according to Gong.

Belkins’ advice for cutting cold call CPL

To reduce your cold call cost per lead, here’s what you can do:

  • Nail your opener. Consider opening with “Hello, I’m {{full name}} with {{company name}}. How have you been?” Stating your full name makes you sound formal and commands respect. Also, using the phrase “How have you been?” instead of “How are you?” can boost your success rate 6.6 times, according to Gong’s analysis of 90,380 calls. Why? It’s a pattern interrupt that jolts the prospect and makes them more likely to continue the call.
  • Use warm calling techniques. Before calling, do some research to understand what your prospect wants to accomplish. That way, you can tie their needs and goals to your value proposition to deliver a compelling pitch.
  • Focus on selling the meeting. A cold call is not a discovery call. So don’t ask probing questions aimed at understanding the prospect’s needs. Once the prospect is sold on your pitch, ask them for their email and book a meeting.

Google Ads cost per lead

In 2023, WordStream published a report detailing its analysis of 17,253 U.S.-based search advertising campaigns for the year prior. It analyzed Google Ads (80%) and Microsoft Advertising (20%). And while the benchmarks were mostly for B2C, some applied to B2B.

The career and employment industry had the highest CPL ($132.95). Industries with lower CPLs were legal ($111.05), insurance ($90.02), industrial and commercial ($59.74), and dental ($65.37).

At Belkins, Google Ads cost us an average of $370 per opportunity in 2023. This makes Google Ads our second best-performing channel (after cold email).

In 2023, we spent $350,000 on ads, which created 920 new opportunities and 85 new clients. Specifically, 90% of our budget went into the paid budget for Google, while 10% went to salaries.

Google Ads Cost Per Lead

If you need help with Google Ads, consider working with ClickRoads — a high-performance paid ads agency for B2B companies.

We launched ClickRoads to keep our partners from experimenting with (and likely wasting) their money on Google Ads as we did. In 2022, we invested a lot in ads but earned little ROI. However, in 2023, we brought in experienced ad specialists, optimized our campaigns, and developed best practices that helped us excel. Working with ClickRoads, you have our best practices and team of specialists at your disposal.

Belkins’ advice for reducing Google Ads CPL

Here are 2 ways to reduce your Google Ads cost per lead:

  • Keep ads running in the summer. We noticed that cost per click (CPC) drops by half after the 25th of every month, especially during summer. This drop occurs because most companies max out their Google Ads budget. To make the most of the opportunity, we continue running Google Ad campaigns from the 25th onward. This helps us win new deals at a lower price.
  • For brand campaigns, switch from an automated bid strategy to ECPC (enhanced cost per click). This strategy helped Harrison Carroll reduce Google Ads cost by 77% and increase search impression share by 8%. Here’s how Harrison says it works:
    • Set your bid at $0.01.
    • Google will tell you the first-page bid estimate, i.e., the approximate CPC bid for your ad to appear on the first page of the SERPs.
    • Increase your bid to match the first-page bid estimate.

“This works for brand campaigns because the quality score for your brand is as high as it can be, causing you to pay less than your competitors to maintain your position,” says Harrison. “If you use automated bidding for branded campaigns, you’re letting Google decide what your max CPC bid should be, and you will pay more (potentially way more) than is necessary.”

LinkedIn advertising cost per lead

We have had little success with LinkedIn Ads. The CPL for our most recent LinkedIn campaign was $1,000, which we deemed too high. Our experience is not universal because 57% of businesses are happy with their LinkedIn Ads ROI.

Data from TheB2BHouse, a specialized LinkedIn Ads agency, shows the average LinkedIn advertising cost per lead is $98. In 2023, they spent $1 million on LinkedIn Ads over 6 months. It’s unclear whether TheB2BHouse included their personnel costs in their analysis.

Here’s a breakdown of their LinkedIn Ads CPL by industry.

Industry Cost per lead
Software & IT $125
Finance $100
Education $64
Hardware & networking $150
Healthcare $125
Manufacturing $100
Media & communications $65
Retail $80
Public administration $85
Consumer goods $89
Transportation & logistics $130
Corporate services $60

Belkins’ advice for reducing LinkedIn advertising CPL

Below are a few expert tips to reduce your LinkedIn Ads cost:

  • Use native lead generation forms. According to Speedwork, a LinkedIn Ads agency, keeping people on the platform costs less than directing traffic to an external landing page.
  • Use “member skills” to target best-fit prospects. LinkedIn lets you target prospects using their skills and certifications. This helps you reach “high-intent prospects who are more likely to convert,” says marketing expert Alpana Kulkarni-Bhoge.
  • Create distinct campaigns for different job titles. Alpana also recommends segmenting your target audience based on job titles and organizational hierarchy. Develop separate campaigns to address the unique needs and interests of each segment. For instance, a campaign targeting C-suite executives should differ from one intended for mid-level management.
  • A/B test your ads. Both Alpana and Speedwork say A/B testing is effective for lowering your CPL. Test different messages, creatives, landing pages, and more. Identify the variations that resonate best with your audience, then use your learnings to optimize your ads.

Facebook advertising cost per lead

We haven’t tried Facebook Ads at Belkins. But according to the Metadata 2023 B2B Paid Social Benchmark Report, the average Facebook advertising CPL is $102. This report is based on the analysis of over $16 million in ad spend by customers of Metadata, a campaign-automation software company. The report did not include CPL by industry for 2023. It’s also not clear if Metadata included personnel costs in their CPL calculation. 

That said, we can gain some interesting CPL insights by industry from Metadata’s 2022 report. In 2022, the average Facebook Ad CPL was $225, more than twice the 2023 figure.

Here’s a breakdown of their Facebook Ads CPL by industry.

Industry Cost per lead
Business services $299
Consumer services
Education $278
Finance $271
Hospitals & physician clinics
Insurance $435
Law firms & legal services $160
Manufacturing $279
Media & internet $479
Organizations $261
Retail $186
Software $213
Telecommunications $379
Transportation $214

Belkins’ advice for reducing Facebook advertising CPL

The following tips will help you reduce your Facebook Ads cost:

  • Remove underperforming demographics. After running your ads for a while, note which demographics aren’t responding to your offer. That feedback is proof that they’re uninterested, so refine your targeting to exclude this audience.
  • Run retargeting ads. Retargeting ads involves showing your ads to people who have already engaged with your ads or visited your website. This strategy strengthens brand recognition and increases conversions.
  • Use Facebook’s “lookalike audience” feature to reach new prospects. Instead of marketing to an old lead database, use the lookalike feature to create a new audience and reach new prospects.

Inbound lead generation cost 

Below, we cover B2B lead generation costs using these 3 inbound marketing channels:

  • SEO + content
  • Clutch referrals
  • Webinars

SEO (includes content)

At Belkins, we think of SEO holistically. To do SEO, we need an excellent blend of content, technical SEO, on-page SEO, and link building. Our CPL reflects this approach.

On average, our SEO cost per lead in 2023 was $173 and $300 per opportunity. Our least expensive month was August, which cost us $83 per lead. Our most expensive month was March, which cost us $564 per lead. Note that these costs include tools, but not personnel.

Below is a breakdown of our SEO price per lead for each month in 2023.

Month Leads Price per lead
November 178 $95.51
October 130 $130.77
September 62 $104.84
August 90 $83.33
July 80 $100.00
June 59 $201.69
May 51 $300.00
April 41 $429.27
March 28 $564.29
February 28 $328.57
January 32 $278.13
Average 779 $172.91

Clutch cost per lead

Many B2B brands don’t recognize review platforms’ potential for lead generation, Clutch’s in particular. Clutch has helped us generate about 100 high-quality leads and 65 opportunities. And the cost is reasonable — $140 per lead and $450 per opportunity on average. 

Belkins’ advice for reducing your Clutch CPL

We’ve written before about how we use Clutch for lead generation. Below are the 3 primary tips to note:

  • Secure a top listing position. You can boost your ranking on Clutch’s directory page by participating in auction-based sponsorships. The highest bids secure the top positions, so outbidding the current highest bid gets you the top spot.
  • Request reviews from your happiest clients. Clients are more likely to share a negative experience than a positive one. Even your most satisfied clients may not leave you a review unless you ask. Identify clients whose KPIs you nailed and ask them if they wouldn’t mind leaving you a review on Clutch. Clutch says that “the number, quality, and recency of client reviews” are major ranking factors. So having lots of reviews helps you rank organically on its directories page.
  • Aim to rank on the Clutch Leaders Matrix. The Leaders Matrix is an organic ranking that shows how service providers compare. You can’t buy your spot, so ranking there builds trust with prospects and can drive lots of leads. Fortunately, Clutch offers insights into how it determines its leadership matrix rankings


In our experience, webinars are ineffective for attracting new leads. But they’re a good channel for nurturing and converting existing prospects. 

Each webinar costs us about $10,000, generates 200–300 registrations, and draws over 100 attendees. This brings our cost per registration to $33 on the low end and $55 on the high end. Also, our average cost per webinar attendee is $100.

Belkins’ advice for reducing your webinar CPL

Below are a few tips for making webinars work for you:

  • Choose a hot topic. Your webinar topic has the greatest impact on registration and attendance, according to a 2021 report by BrightTALK. The best webinar topic is one that addresses a major pain point your target audience has.
  • Make time for a Q&A. The BrightTALK report also revealed that 67% of people want a live Q&A with speakers. Doing a Q&A strengthens your connection with attendees and increases the odds of conversions.
  • Promote webinar recording. Don’t let your webinar recording collect dust. Share it with relevant email subscribers. Publish it on your YouTube channel. Distribute it on your other social media platforms. That way, you wring more value from your webinar spend.

Average cost per lead by industry

The table below lists the average CPL across 30 industries, based on data from First Page Sage.

Industry Average CPL 
Addiction treatment $297
Aerospace & aviation $373
Automotive $283
B2B SaaS $237
Biotech $255
Business insurance $424
Construction $227
Cybersecurity $406
E-commerce $91
Engineering $287
Entertainment $114
Environmental services $278
Financial services $653
Fintech $452
Healthcare $361
Higher education $982
Hotels & resorts $266
HVAC $92
Industrial IoT $497
IT & managed services $503
Legal services $649
Manufacturing $553
Oil & gas $637
PCB design & manufacturing $376
Pharmaceutical $131
Real estate $448
Software development $591
Solar $206
Staffing & recruiting $497
Transportation & logistics $588

What impacts your cost per lead?

Your ad campaign cost is only one of several factors that impact your cost per lead in B2B. Below are 4 factors that determine your CPL.

Tool costs

You need a set of sales tools for efficient lead generation. At minimum, you’ll need a CRM. Other tools you might need include a list-building tool, email deliverability tool, email validation tool, cold calling software, and meeting-scheduling tool. 

Labor costs

This includes the costs of hiring your sales development representatives, account managers, ad experts, SEO experts, and content writers.

Staying in-house vs. outsourcing

Hiring a high-quality B2B lead generation agency comes at a steep price, but the ROI justifies the spend. Building an in-house team is a huge commitment of time and finances, but it’s often cheaper in the long run. 

Buying lead lists

We don’t sell B2B lead lists at Belkins. However, Aman Ghataura, the head of growth at Nuoptima, compared the cost per meeting booked from his purchased and manually compiled lead lists. Aman found that his cost per meeting from purchased leads was 50% more than the cost per meeting from self-built lists. 


How much should you spend on lead generation?

How much you spend on lead generation is your prerogative. In 2023, Belkins spent $350,000 on Google Ads and about $135,000 on SEO. Not to mention cold email outreaches, webinars, and LinkedIn advertising.

Do I need to spend $20,000 on B2B lead generation software?

This depends on your business goals and the lead generation software you use. Our sales toolkit costs us more than $20,000 yearly.

What is a good cost per lead for B2B?

Cost per lead varies widely depending on your industry, target audience, the uniqueness of your value proposition, marketing channel, and so on. 

When thinking about a good CPL, recognize that industry standards are guardrails you can improve on. The best B2B CPL benchmark is your historic data! Always record your CPL data and use this information to guide future strategies and improve CPL over time.

How can I keep my B2B cost per lead low?

The following tips apply regardless of your lead generation channel:

  • Use different messaging for different audiences. This raises the effectiveness of your ads.
  • Monitor ad fatigue and adjust your ad frequency and messaging if needed. 
  • Optimize your landing pages and cut budgeting for poor-performing lead generation channels.
  • Narrow your target audience. Focus on people who desperately need and are most likely to buy what you sell.

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Precious Oboidhe
Precious Oboidhe
B2B Content Strategist & Writer
Precious develops content marketing strategies and frequently blogs for the well-known B2B players. HubSpot, CoSchedule, EngageBay, and Foundation Inc. — this is only a small part of the MarTech brands Precious collaborated with.
Michael Maximoff
Michael Maximoff
Co-founder and Managing Partner at Belkins
Michael is the Co-founder of Belkins, serial entrepreneur, and investor. With a decade of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing, he has a passion for building world-class teams and implementing efficient processes to drive the success of his ventures and clients.