Having a healthy number of leads is a crucial part of driving revenue. But often B2B marketers are challenged by determining what constitutes a qualified lead. This is often because they’re unclear about where a given prospect is in the buying cycle. The result? Sales wastes their time contacting people that are not yet ready to buy.
To gain greater insight into the lead generation and management process, Salesfusion and Demand Metric conducted a study. The goal was to understand how today’s marketers are handling lead generation – including their techniques, data capturing methods, metrics and budgeting in this area. Below we’ll explore some highlighted results from the study in detail.
Lead Generation Approaches
The study found that almost all of companies polled (89%) had lead generation processes in place, which demonstrates the vital nature of this function. But only half consider their processes to be moderately or highly effective. What’s more, 58% of participants say their process doesn’t produce enough leads, revealing that companies still have some work to do in this area.
Research also showed that the three most popular approaches companies are using for lead generation include content marketing, email marketing and tradeshow/event marketing. This was true regardless of variables like company size. The study concluded that if generally companies are using the same approaches, then challenges surrounding lead effectiveness may more be linked to how the approach is executed. For example, a marketing campaign could be executed via any number of ways such as though print (a direct mailer or ad), web (a banner ad or email) or social (twitter or blog posts). For most companies, a combination of these channels is typically most effective.
In terms of content marketing, a few pieces of quality content get more customer engagement than an overabundance of shoddily produced pieces. Always remember that your content should educate your audience. Many companies forget this, and produce promotional material that is undirected, not focused on the buyer needs, and not particularly helpful to the prospect. This type of content is not effective for B2B lead generation.
Data Capture & Storage
Having a proper method in place for capturing leads’ contact and profile information makes it easier for marketing to nurture them along the sales pipeline. According to the study, the most common mechanism companies use to capture leads is an automated web form (73%), while the second most common is manual data entry. But marketers aren’t relying on one method alone for capturing lead data. In fact, 1/3 of respondents reported using three different methods.
Findings also showed nearly half of companies (45%) are using some form of CRM system to house lead data. Storing this information in an automated system, as opposed to excel spreadsheets or other manual means, can help companies make lead nurturing programs more effective. Leveraging CRM can also facilitate the process of deciding which leads are sales-ready and passing them along to the sales team for cultivating (provided the system is properly set up for this).
When evaluating the efficacy of a lead management program, companies should not look at the sheer number of leads alone. Perhaps more importantly, they should consider if the leads they have are of good quality. But how can this be determined? The study found that defining specific standards for lead quality may help marketers better understand which leads are ripe for the picking.
For those study participants that reported their lead generation processes produce high or very high quality leads, 74% had moderately or very effective lead quality definitions in place. Having a clear-cut standard for lead quality can ensure that both marketing and sales are on the same page when it comes to knowing which leads are sales-ready, and which might need more nurturing.
Results also demonstrated that there is not one single metric that can determine the performance of the lead generation process. According to the study, 59% of study participants use three or more metrics to track the effectiveness of their efforts. The most common one was number of leads generated.
We believe that quantity of leads is not the best metric to track, especially for financial services companies, because the metric can be deceiving. Marketing could generate a lot of leads that never progress into the pipeline. It’s far better to track the number of qualified leads that get picked up by sales (sales accepted leads) and the leads that turn into qualified sales opportunities. Here is more information on how to develop a strategy to track lead conversion rates.
To gauge how companies prioritize lead generation efforts, the study looked at how much money they are allocating to this area. On average, companies reported spending 35% of their marketing budgets on lead generation. Interestingly enough, the report also found that organizations with a greater number of quality leads were not paying more to get them. This leads us to believe the companies that are more successful in building up a database of strong leads are accomplishing this through a better marketing strategy.
In terms of budgeting for the current year, most companies (70%) pointed to content marketing as the primary area where they plan to increase spend, while the largest area where they will decrease budgeting (40%) is for tradeshows or event marketing.
Successful B2B Lead Generation
As this study proves, effective lead generation is a combination of art and science. There is not any one magical switch that a marketer can flip to be successful. Instead, they need to assess their own unique circumstances and put into place the proper marketing strategies and technology that can make their B2B lead generation goals a reality.
For more information on how to properly qualify leads, check out our related blog post: Lead Qualification, the Buying Process and Content Marketing