A recent study helps you address these issues. The study surveyed 200 B2B marketing professionals in the U.S. who were screened based on their experience with various lead generation channels, tactics and metrics. The study was conducted by lead generation technology reviewer Software Advice a Gartner company. Gartner (NYSE: IT) is the world's leading information technology research and advisory company.
The study summarized its analysis with these key findings:
- Marketers found trade shows, referral marketing and in-house email marketing to be the best channels for generating large numbers of high-quality leads.
- Videos were not only the most-used type of content (used by 92 percent); they were most commonly cited as producing a very high volume of leads.
- Most B2B marketers (79 percent) use at least 11 different marketing software applications, with 97 percent using email marketing software.
While we find these findings interesting, we think there is more to the survey that is critical for B2B small business to consider than just the top line results.
We did a deep dive on this report from top to bottom. Here is our take on the survey results most applicable to small and micro business.
Methodology and Impact of Respondents
There was great care taken to insure that the respondents in this study were knowledgeable marketing people, and we applaud this effort. However, small business, (less than 99 employees), only represented 29% of the total respondents. Over 70% of the respondents are not small businesses. We point this out to caution our small business readership that the results of this survey while a reflection of B2B marketers the point of view is weighted to medium and big business perspectives.
The effect of this bigger company response weighting in the study we believe manifested itself in findings like:
- The fact that trade shows were rated as generating the most quantity and quality of leads is somewhat surprising at first. However, senior-level marketing and bigger company respondents skew may be the cause of this result. Big companies spend significant money at trade shows, and there may be a justification perception driving this finding. Without a clear understanding of the definitions of lead quantity and quality this is interesting but not projectable for other businesses.
- Of the content types surveyed as being most important, video was the one most often leveraged for lead generation programs. Commonly used by larger companies and less so by firms with 99 employees and even less so by businesses under 15 employees is another example.
- The weight of large firms may be again impacting the results in the survey when respondents were asked to identify which software systems—from a list of 11 they used to facilitate lead generation efforts. The results were 79 percent used all 11 of the software solutions listed. Probably less true for the under 99 employee companies and not indicative of firms with under 15 employees.
There is a lot we found insightful in the study despite the skew toward medium and large companies.
- The differences between quantity and quality of sales leads that is always important to recognize. Those businesses interested in quantity of leads verses quality need to examine the survey results carefully. Those marketing tactics that generate quantity also tend to cost more and are usually at the opposite ends of the quantity/quality spectrum.
In this survey, this was true except for trade shows, referrals and in-house email marketing. The only surprise was trade shows, which we discussed could be an anomaly of the bigger company skew. One would expect to find referrals and in-house email activities to generate both quality and quantity and be the most cost effective marketing tactics. Of course, in-hose email marketing is a more realistic tactic for large companies than smaller ones. Small companies often lack a large in-house mailing list usually required for email marketing success.
- The numbers of lead generation tactics being used by these B2B firms is significant. We agree that multiple tactical marketing layers are required to generate sufficient quantity and quality of leads, and this survey underscores that many firms get this point. The number of 11 software solutions which represent different marketing tactics is going to be beyond the budget and resources for small businesses, but 3-5 tactical marketing layers is appropriate for even small businesses.
- More small businesses struggle to meet lead generation expectations. This report asked marketers to assess the overall performance of their lead generation programs, compared to expectations. The study found that small businesses (with fewer than 99 employees) were most likely to say their efforts performed below expectations (44 percent).Comparatively, only 27 percent of midsize companies (100-999 employees) and 29 percent of large companies (1,000 employees or more) said the same.
Our experience with small businesses that come to us without a marketing plan and may have purchased software that they thought was the answer to their lead gen issues usually are dissatisfied with their results. Understanding business needs first is paramount to avoid costly mistakes in time and money. Also, small business by its very nature too often expects or requires a marketing program to work instantly. This all leads to unreal expectations.
There is much food for thought here to digest and any small business planning for success needs to start developing their 2015 marketing plan now. If you would like some help, please contact us.