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DGR-B2B-Lead-Nurture-Program-Challenges-Aug2015Lead nurture programs are generally most effective at generating more warm, sales-ready leads and at segmenting prospects based on interests and behaviors, finds a recently-released study [download page] from Demand Gen Report (DGR). But despite their ability to segment prospects, targeting content by buyer stage and interest is proving to be a key challenge for these programs, according to the survey’s results.

The study asked 235 B2B marketers to rate a variety of lead nurture program challenges on a 5-point scale, with 5 representing the most challenging. Some 71% of respondents said that developing targeted content by buyer stage or interest was a 4 or 5 on that scale, far ahead of any other identified problem. This same issue was reported recently in a CMO Council study, in which respondents said that content not developed for target audiences was a top factor derailing lead flow success. Additionally, data contained in MarketingCharts’ new report on B2B digital marketing demonstrates that targeting is the most important attribute of effective content marketing.

Returning to the DGR study, white papers (69%), thought leadership articles (61%) and webinars (61%) emerged as the tactics most often used as offers within lead nurturing programs. These were also the tactics that most respondents said had worked best within their nurture, closely followed by research-based content. (Previous DGR research cited in the MarketingCharts study notes that virtually all buyers want to see vendors use more data and research to support their content.)

Email is easily most popular channel for lead nurturing programs, used by 94% of respondents, more than double the share using retargeting (43%) and telemarketing (43%). Not surprisingly, then, email click-through rates (68%) are the most commonly used measure of lead nurturing success, ahead of revenue (67%) and lead volume in the sales pipeline (61%).

Looking ahead, though, and lead volume is a key priority. A leading 87% respondents said that increasing the number of opportunities entering the pipeline is a future goal or priority of their lead nurturing program. Other key priorities include increased conversion rates (80%), generating more warm, sales-ready leads (72%) and improving segmentation of prospects based on interests and behaviors (58%).

By comparison, fewer (38%) are looking to gain a higher acceptance of leads from sales; separately, among the 51% who have a defined criteria for returning a lead to marketing for more nurturing, one-quarter said that at least 25% of their leads are indeed returned for additional nurturing.

The full DGR report can be downloaded here.

About the Data: Demand Gen Report’s “2015 Lead Nurturing Benchmark Study” is based on
a survey of 235 B2B marketers fielded in July 2015. Some 47% of respondents came from technology and enterprise IT, and almost half come from companies with more than $25 million in revenues.

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