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B2B marketers have greater demand gen budgets at their disposal this year, but are also expected to contribute to rising revenue expectations. With the focus shifting to lead quality and conversions, survey results from a Demand Gen Report study [pdf] indicate that some channels are working for early-stage engagement while others are better at driving conversions.

For a majority of B2B marketers surveyed, email (59%), search (56%) and websites (51%) are the channels that have been most effective in driving early-stage engagement. (They’re also the most-commonly used for lead generation.)

Interestingly, social (44%) wasn’t too far behind, ahead of other options such as online ads and retargeting.

These results are generally supported by research released last year, in which email, search and social media were tabbed the top lead-producing channels by B2B marketers.

Shift to later in the funnel – a greater priority this year – and the picture changes.

Email takes strong precedence in conversions, with an impressive 81% saying that it has been most effective in the latter stages of the funnel. The only other channels to see a meaningful response were websites (50%) and telemarketing (45%).

The latter of those – telemarketing – is one of only a few channels that seem to have a greater effectiveness later in the funnel. Those include email, retargeting, direct mail and predictive analytics. Telemarketing and direct mail were among those registering large increases in perceived effectiveness from last year, suggesting perhaps a return to more traditional outbound methods.

Events Help Generate Leads; Case Studies Move Them Through the Funnel

As with channels, various demand generation tactics are also considered to be useful at different stages of the funnel.

Of the tactics identified in the report, the largest share of respondents cited events (68%) as generating qualified leads for the top of the funnel. This is again backed up by separate research that has demonstrated a preference for live events as a lead-generating tactic.

Close behind, B2B marketers are also finding success in generating qualified leads through webinars (61%).

While B2B marketers are also turning to events and webinars to help convert and accelerate leads in the later stages of the funnel, their use appears to be somewhat more modest in those later stages. In fact, B2B buyers themselves say they engage with webinars less in the later than earlier stages of the buying process.

The one tactic that stands out as really moving the needle in accelerating leads through the funnel is the case study. Indeed, while half say case studies are effective in generating qualified leads at the top of the funnel, almost three-quarters report their effectiveness in converting and accelerating leads through the middle and late stages of the funnel.

Case studies’ role in moving buyers through the funnel has also been noticed by salespeople. In research released last year, B2B salespeople were asked what marketing can do to help them win more deals. One of the leading responses? More case studies and testimonials.

The full study is available here [pdf].

About the Data: The results are based on a survey conducted in December 2017 among 160 marketing executives, the vast majority of whom are from North America (87%). Roughly two-thirds come from companies with more than $10 million in revenues. The software/tech industry was the most heavily represented.

The report was sponsored by Content4Demand, Integrate, and Selling Simplified.

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