New research from the B2B Demand Generation Benchmark Survey has revealed that social media and inbound marketing surveys are top of the agenda for B2B marketers.
Business-to-business marketers will focus on social media and inbound marketing strategies in 2013, according to our recent Software Advice report.
The B2B Demand Generation Benchmark Survey polled mostly c-level marketing executives about their spending priorities in the New Year. It also asked about demand generation performance by channel, content and offer.
Digital channels by far - particularly those related to search - were listed as the most popular and productive for producing high quantity and quality leads. While print, television, radio and display advertising earned the lowest marks from B2B marketers.
Social media received the highest percentage of votes for being a top spending priority in 2013, despite relatively modest grades for quality and quantity of leads. Trade shows was one diversion from the digital focus. The leads channel garnered decent marks for producing quality and quantity of leads, while being identified as having a higher price per lead.
One of the first things we discovered were the most popularly-used channels. Email marketing to a house list came in as the most-used channel, followed by search engine optimisation, social media (not ads) and trade shows.
These results reflect an increased focus on what's popularly called “inbound marketing,” or driving traffic to your site from customers already searching for your product. Many times these channels are also lower cost. You'll notice a correlation between the cost per lead of each channel and their popularity in the chart below. Trade shows was one exception to this trend.
One thing marketers need to be careful about, however, is the quality of leads from these channels. Even if the cost is low, it's important that your return on investment translates over into the kinds of leads your getting from each channel. Lead scoring is one good way to measure this quality. This usually includes gauging factors such as the decision-making power of the contact, their purchase timeline, budget, industry, or what kinds of content they've interacted with or downloaded.
Despite marketers admitting social media doesn't produce quality or quantities of leads on a consistent basis, the channel received among the highest percentage of votes for elevated spending in 2013. This more likely to do with the buzz than anything else.
We also asked marketers whether they use a marketing automation program for demand generation, and then filtered the results by those who answered yes or no to that question. The chart below compares marketing automation users and non-users for demand generation performance relative to their expectations for the program.
About 56% of marketing automation users rated their demand generation performance as in line, above or far above expectations. This compares with just 41% of non-marketing automation users.
One possible reason for this is scale is that marketing automation systems give you the ability to do a lot more with your resources. You aren't conducting as many processes manually, which allows you to do more with more your marketing spend.
There is also a lot more transparency with marketing automation. Instead of dumping every prospect onto sales, this technology automatically scores, routes, filters and cultivates leads.
All the while, management can see each of these activities and they have an objective process for gauging process performance. If they see a certain kind of lead isn't performing as well as expected, they could turn down the score for that type and effectively lower its priority. Or they might move that lead type down the funnel and into an automated drip marketing program.
Ashley Verrill is a market analyst that writes for the Software Advice website. She has spent the last six years reporting and writing business news and strategy features.