Roughly two-thirds of B2B marketers expect to increase their demand generation budgets this year, according to Demand Gen Report’s latest annual Demand Generation Benchmark Report [download page]. Based on a survey of 131 marketers from a variety of industries (the majority of whom are from companies with at least $10 million in revenues), the study finds that the most important priority is a focus on lead quality over lead quantity.
That focus is backed by research released last year by Ascend2, in which respondents tabbed improved lead quality as the most important objective of an effective lead generation strategy.
Beyond lead quality, other demand generation priorities in this year’s benchmark report include improving campaign results (71% rating a top-2 box on a 5-point scale) and improving sales and marketing alignment (61%).
In looking at the various tools used for lead generation, Demand Gen Report (DGR) notes that events (70%) have supplanted webinars (65%) as the most commonly used tactic, with white papers (66%) also popular. The use of in-person events is understandable given a growing body of studies (such as this one and this one) indicating that they are effective in generating leads and have a solid ROI.
Meanwhile, email continues to be the leading channel used to drive leads, with more than three-quarters of respondents citing it among their top-3 channels. It’s also not surprising to see email’s prominence: data contained in MarketingCharts’ B2B Digital Marketing Insights Report shows that email tops social and mobile for ROI and is the primary revenue driver for B2B marketers. Beyond email, SEO (56%), social media (47%) and telemarketing (41%) are also popular channels, while DGR also notes that 15% will be using direct mail this year for lead generation purposes.
Among various technologies and tactics, the report also notes that marketing automation and multichannel lead nurturing remain popular, while account-based marketing (ABM) is rising in the ranks. MarketingCharts’ report also demonstrates that ABM is experiencing a resurgence in popularity, and is being hailed as extremely effective by those few marketers who are using it.
Finally, in looking at early-stage versus late-stage leads, the DGR study finds that email is the top channel on both counts. Email’s perceived influence across buying stages brings to mind a 2014 study from Gigaom in which US digital marketers deemed email the most effective channel for awareness, acquisition, conversion and customer retention.
Beyond email, SEO is understandably perceived to be more of an early-stage than later-stage channel for leads, as is social media. By contrast, more B2B marketers see telemarketing and retargeting as driving later-stage than early-stage leads.
The full study is available for download here.
About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 131 B2B marketers, 60% of whom come from companies with more than $10 million in annual revenue. The software/technology industry was the most heavily represented, followed by the business services and consulting sector.