B2B Benchmark Report Sheds Light On Lead Generation Through Use Of Search & Online Media Mix

test then investThe online B2B landscape is a challenging environment for lead generation. The champs are those who can prove themselves to be the right solution at all the stages when a customer is in the market. Oh, and these days, champions must do it all with minimal resources.

To be ‘The Greatest’ B2B lead generator, you have to ‘float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’, and think like Muhammad Ali when aiming to increase and improve leads.

Like Ali’s triple threat of a lightning left jab, a crushing right cross, and super human foot speed, successful performance driven B2B marketers must prioritize, identify and test to be “The Greatest” when slugging it out for lead generation.

Great Marketing Plan! Now Do It With Half Of What You Need

It’s no secret that all of us are being asked to do more with less. The impacts of the recession have made the marketplace even more competitive, and a strategic approach is more important than ever.

In the recent Marketing Sherpa 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report, marketers were asked what are the greatest barriers to success.

Overwhelmingly, the response was a lack of resources. To be successful in lead generation, creating a performance plan is critical to achieving the results we need.

Marketing Sherpa B2B Benchmark 2012 resources

Barriers to B2B Marketing Success

Shifting Focus To Channel Effectiveness

Linking B2B lead generation marketing investments with their effectiveness is key for B2B marketers to gain a competitive edge in the B2B space.

Lead generation quality and volume remain the top priorities for B2B marketers {figure 1}, but achieving this goal grows more difficult as buyers become more sophisticated and diffuse in the approach to selecting partners.

Marketing Sherpa B2B Benchmark 2012 pertinence

Figure 1. Lead Generation Volume and Quality Remain Central to Success

Three Core Tenets To Effective Lead Generation

To maximize budgets within this competitive ecosystem, B2B marketers must prioritize allocations to be successful. To identify the best channels, B2B campaigns should spotlight opportunity areas that are proven to be effective, as well as test highly effective tactics to create a prioritized lead generation performance plan.

At the core of the approach is the question, “Is the plan generating high quality leads cost effectively?”

While there are always many factors that go into the plan, keeping this driving principle helps focus attention on the goal and avoids distraction by the next big digital obsession.

To anchor the approach, use all available data to measure and prove where the focus should be. To win at this type of lead generation, the three core tenets are:

1.  Be Data Focused

Learn to use data as a resource to drive results. Are we using smart analytics to measure and report success?

Avisnash Kaushik talks about this in some detail and offers great insight into this when he says:

“The root cause of failure in most digital marketing campaigns is…quite simply the lack of structured thinking about what the real purpose of the campaign is and a lack of an objective set of measures with which to identify success or failure.”

The good news for  B2B marketers – there is a clear sense of what must be done. In lead generation programs, start by looking to the data to see where leads are currently generated. Then identify the data to be understood in order to develop the optimal data model. At its core, it’s all about the customer’s journey, and understanding the touch points so we can best serve their needs.

In a previous post, 5 Steps To Improve Your Customer Driven B2B Lead Generation, I covered this in some detail. No matter the model, there must be a plan of action to establish the goals of the program, identify the key performance indicators, and, ultimately, the measure of success. 

2.  Be ROI Driven 

The ROI is the core of success because it assures that lead generation campaigns are truly producing leads.

The Marketing Sherpa Report goes into detail asking how effective different marketing tactics are for B2B campaigns {figure 2}. While this is a high level view, one area to note is that a company website was deemed to be the most effective. This makes some sense, but prospects do not search in a vacuum, so B2B marketers should take into account the journey customers took to arrive at the website.

The three most effective channels behind the website — namely, SEO, email and content marketing — are all concerned with “find-ability” of information and targeting.

The customer has ever shifting needs, and the smart B2B marketer knows that being found and having relevant insights when prospects are in need and ready to buy is an effective way to generate leads.

With SEO in particular, you optimize content to be found on a search. It does not matter when in the process a customer finds you, so long as they do and it’s answering their question. This kind of effort is scalable and because of this, the effort/benefit is extremely attractive as an ROI driven tactic.

Marketing Sherpa B2B Benchmark 2012 effectiveness

Figure 2. The most effective B2B Tactics

3.  Be Adaptable

The greatest B2B marketers must also be nimble and open to change. Test often to identify new opportunities that might be right in front of you to keep ahead of the competition.

If we take a look at the report data, we can see that the overall mix of B2B marketing spending is not in symmetry with the channels that are shown to be effective {figure 3}. To be sure, there are different costs associated with different channels; however, one of the first places to examine is your media mix allocation.

Are you doing SEO and content strategy jointly? If so, to what degree and to what level of sophistication? Is your content actually speaking to your audience, or have conditions changed and the content is stale and no longer resonant?

Keep asking yourself questions like this, and don’t be afraid to alter course to a new approach to stay ahead of the changing B2B ecosystem.

Marketing Sherpa B2B 2012 Allocation

Figure 3. Average B2B Budget Allocation

In today’s B2B environment, we have an advantage over years past. We have access to countless data points to facilitate making decisions. When coupled with a mindset that is open to change, a B2B marketer becomes a resource that is able to employ data, flexing and changing in real time.

Like Ali, dancing beyond his competitor’s reach, then striking, almost unseen, to the heart of the matter. These are the marketers who will most effectively capture new customers even when constrained by the modern B2B budget.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: B2B Search Marketing Column | Channel: Search Marketing


About The Author: is a successful digital media and marketing professional with cross channel digital expertise. Brad has successfully consulted clients across a number of verticals and industries including B2B, B2C, Pharmaceutical, Retail, Travel, and Media & Publishing clients.

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  • dcrankshaw

    Good article. Thanks for summarizing Sherpa’s report for us.

    Interesting that website-related activities (website design and optimization, SEO, content marketing, and email marketing) are all perceived to be more effective than Tradeshows, yet tradeshows require the largest piece of the budget pie at 21%. And yet the biggest perceived barrier is lack of resources!

    Wonder what the ROI is on tradeshows versus the website activities?


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