The results are in! At the beginning of October, we mentioned a B2B lead generation survey being conducted by Software Advice. The survey focuses on the marketing efforts of B2B business of varying sizes. After tabulating and calculating the data, Software Advice shared the results with us so we could pass them on to you, and we hope you can gain some insight for this information as you finalize your marketing plans for 2013.
About the respondents
First, let's take a look at what kind of companies and people responded to the survey so you can get a better idea of how your company fits into the data being presented.
A look at marketing channels
The next section of the survey took a look at various marketing channels covering everything from email marketing to SEO to telemarketing to offline advertising. Each channel is ranked by popularity, the quantity of leads it produces, the quality of leads it produces and the cost of the leads it produces. Let's run through the charts first and then discuss what we can gather from them.
That's some great data, but what can we learn from it? Wouldn't it be nice if we could compact all that info into a single chart? Why yes, Tim, that would be nice! Good, cause that's exactly what I did.
Here's the process I went through to make the following chart: The first step was the create a scoring system. For the quantity and quality categories, I granted two points for each High vote, one point for each Medium vote and zero points for each Low vote. For cost, I just flipped the scoring around so a Low Cost vote received two points and a High Cost vote received zero.
Throw all of this into a pretty little bubble chart and we can see lead quality on the x-axis, lead quantity on the y-axis, and cost represented by bubble size (bigger = more expensive). And just for fun, I grouped the channels by online and offline.
In my opinion, there seem to be two clear winners here: email marketing with your in-house list and SEO. Both bring in a large number of high quality leads and have low costs. Perhaps it's time for you to invest more heavily in those two channels.
Another thing that jumps out at me is that offline channels tend to cost significantly more, but that doesn't mean you should discount them as 3rd Party Lead Services, Events and Telemarketing are all up and to the right.
Now might be a good time to point out (if you haven't noticed already) that all the data is based on the opinions of the respondents, not on concrete cost or lead data.
A look at marketing content
As we all know, looking only at channels doesn't give us the whole story. Often the content you use to bring leads in can have a huge impact on the success of your demand generation efforts, so let's take a look at what the survey respondents thought of various content and offers.
Using the same scoring system as we did for channels, let's see how quality and quantity compare for content.
Cost plays a smaller role when it comes to content, so here we have just a standard scatter plot with a few of the outliers labeled. Live Demo with a Sales Rep wins the quality score by a mile which makes sense; someone who is willing to sit down for a demo is probably already interested in your product/services.
Planning for 2013
Even if your fiscal year doesn't end on December 31, the rapidly approaching end of the year might have you considering how to allocate your resources for 2013. Here's what the respondents have planned.
There are two things I find interesting about this budget planning information. First, the offline marketing channels seem to be on their way out. While many companies in the sample seem to be keeping their offline marketing budgets the same, few plan to increase spending. Offline marketing is far from dead, but if you haven't started to implement some of the more important online strategies, you'll soon be left behind.
Second, the Top 3 channels marked for more spending are also ones that the respondents claimed to have mediocre or even poor results. Retargeting and social media marketing are absolutely valid marketing tactics but just because they are buzzworthy doesn't mean they are budget-worthy. Don't go blindly throwing your money into something just because everyone else is.
BTW, social media advertising is essentially the same as online display advertising. The huge discrepancy in planned spending between the two channels shows to me that marketing professional are ignorant of what role social media ads should play in their overall strategy. Get informed before you go spending money!
Which brings me to my final point. There is a lot of useful data presented in this article, but in my opinion, good marketing comes down to two things: spreading the field and analyzing data.
I've mentioned the idea behind inbound marketing before. What it really means is that in the world of marketing today, there isn't going to be one source for all your leads. Instead, your incoming leads will arrive through a large variety of channels and you need to make sure that your company is well-represented on all of them.
As I mentioned above, it appears that many companies are just following the social media trend. Again, there's nothing wrong with social media, but your strategies should not be based on trends or gut feelings. They should be based on numbers. Make sure you have a system in place that allows you to gather data on leads and ROI. Find out which channels and content work best with your audience and push those harder.
Collect data! Test variables! Make adjustments! Rinse and repeat!
SEO & Social Media Manager