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Act-OnGleanster-B2B-Mid-Sized-Marketers-Accountability-Feb2015B2B marketers from mid-size companies (50-1000 employees) are focusing their attention and budgets more on customer acquisition than retention, and relatively few report having management objectives tied to customer retention, customer satisfaction, and up-sell revenue metrics. That’s according to a new report [download page] from Act-On Software conducted by Gleanster Research, which examined customer relationship management at mid-size firms.

The survey was fielded among 750 companies, splitting respondents into two groups: average and top performers. Top performers were those who self-reported beating 2013 revenue objectives, being “very effective” at managing the end-to-end marketing lifecycle, and who estimated that more than 90% of their customers are happy. This group comprised just 2% of the sample, or 15 companies.

The survey results show that among the rest – the “average” – more than 8 in 10 have management objectives tied to lead generation (82%) and acquisition revenue (82%) metrics. But only around half or fewer have objectives tied to customer retention (48%), customer satisfaction (43%) and up-sell revenue (51%). Top-performers, meanwhile, were far more likely to be held accountable for those metrics.

Not surprisingly, then, the average mid-size firm also reportedly devotes more time and budget to acquisition than retention. Specifically, an estimated two-thirds of respondents’ time is directed to awareness (33% share) and acquisition (34%) rather than retention (18%) and expansion (15%). Budget allocations are a little more evenly distributed, but still lean more towards awareness (28%) and acquisition (26%) than retention (24%) and expansion (20%).

(Top performers, meanwhile, spend relatively more of their time on retention and expansion and more of their budgets on expansion.)

As a result, the average mid-size B2B respondent estimates generating 30% of revenue from existing customers.

The study’s results bring to mind a report released last year by Econsultancy, based on a survey of 956 companies, in-house marketers and supply-side respondents from both B2C and B2B companies. In that study, respondents (primarily UK-based) were far more likely to be focusing on acquisition than retention, despite about 8 in 10 company marketers agreeing that it is cheaper to retain than acquire a customer.

Meanwhile, in a recent Salesforce survey of more than 5,000 global marketers, respondents were as likely to tab customer retention a top success metric as they were to point to customer acquisition.

The Act-On and Gleanster report argues that “marketing is the only function that can measure qualitative and quantitative efforts across the entire customer lifecycle, making it the ideal steward of the customer experience.”

In other results from the survey:

  • Respondents overall tended to define CRM more as a strategy to interact with customers (57%) than as a process for monitoring and analyzing data (45%) or a technology automating the sales force (42%).
  • Of the options listed, respondents were most likely to say that their top challenges causing them to struggle with current marketing objectives are: access to existing customer data (95%), marketing alignment with sales (90%) and fragmented marketing systems (83%).

About the Data: The Act-On and Gleanster survey was fielded in Q4 2014 and Q1 2015 among 750 respondents from mid-size B2B companies, all of whom are based in the US. Business services (22%) and manufacturing (18%) were the most heavily represented industries. One-quarter of respondents come from companies with 50-100 employees, and 42% from companies with 101-500 employees.

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