It’s all about the leads. That’s the word from a new survey of 500 technology industry marketing professionals, conducted for Unisfair, a Menlo Park, Calif.–based virtual events platform. More than two thirds of respondents (68 percent) said leads are their top marketing priority, far exceeding those who pointed to brand awareness or customer retention as their main concern (16 percent each).

The survey asked technology marketers about their lead-generation tools, and whether they had plans to increase, decrease, or maintain the same level of spending in each of eight areas:

Web site: 69 percent increasing, 1 percent decreasing,
E-mail campaigns: 63 percent increasing, 5 percent decreasing
Physical conferences and trade shows: 40 percent increasing, 44 percent decreasing
Online advertising: 38 percent increasing, 19 percent decreasing
Paid Web search: 33 percent increasing, 17 percent decreasing
Virtual business events: 25 percent increasing, 11 decreasing
Direct mail: 17 percent increasing, 32 percent decreasing
Radio and TV advertising: 3 percent increasing, 28 percent decreasing

Drilling down on online events, respondents were asked if they had used Web meetings (such as WebEx), virtual business event platforms (such as Unisfair), or 3D virtual worlds (such as Second Life), and whether those kinds of events held marketing promise moving forward.

Four out of five respondents had used Web meetings for lead generation (81 percent), but only about half saw future promise (53 percent). About a quarter of the respondents had used virtual business events (24 percent) and a slightly bigger group (27 percent) saw promise in the tool for future lead generation. Just 5 percent had used 3D worlds, and 5 percent saw promise in that technology.

When asked about promising lead-generation technologies for 2010 and beyond, respondents cited social media (74 percent), virtual events (40 percent) and mobile (34 percent) as the top three emerging channels.