B2B Marketers Say Email Delivers the Highest ROI Leads

February 20, 2017

Score another one for email. On the heels of recent research showing that email is the top lead- and revenue-producing vehicle for B2B marketers, a newly-released study [download page] from Chief Marketer reveals that email is also the channel producing the highest ROI leads in the B2B space.

Conducted in mid-2016 among more than 200 B2B marketers across industries and company sizes, the survey indicates that email tops live events and SEO as the channel delivering leads with the best ROI. (SEO had joined email as the leading revenue-producing channel in the DemandWave study mentioned above.)

These channels are also the ones generally considered by respondents to be the top sources of leads, with email edging live events. (Numerous pieces of research have indicated that tradeshows and events are important and valuable for B2B marketers.) Notably, while more marketers see content marketing than SEO as a top source of leads in this survey, SEO gained an edge on content marketing in terms of highest ROI leads. Both SEO and content marketing aren’t easy to measure for ROI, though, according to research released last year.

Lead Generation Challenges

B2B marketers seem to be struggling with two main challenges when generating new leads: finding ones that convert; and getting prospects to engage.

Quality content can conceivably help in both regards, and respondents identified white papers and articles/blog posts as the types most effective for moving prospects through the funnel.

As for lead nurturing, email marketing and content marketing are considered to be the most valuable techniques, followed by sales calls. Webinars and social media, by comparison, are low on the list of effective lead nurturing techniques.

Lead generation challenges also can hurt the marketing-sales relationship: the biggest integration challenges relate to lack of sales follow-up on marketing leads and marketing not generating qualified leads.

Data Challenges

As one might expect, quality and standardization emerges as respondents’ biggest challenge with data. Recent data suggests that it’s important to validate contact data as it’s collected and to assign data quality responsibility, with these considered the most effective ways to improve data quality.

Marketers responding to the Chief Marketer survey indicate that they perform data hygiene and standardization efforts periodically, but not too often. The most common frequency of performing data hygiene is quarterly (25% of respondents), though 21% do so annually and 13% admit to never doing so.

Likewise, the most common frequency of data standardization is quarterly (29% of respondents), with another 24% doing so annually and 22% never standardizing data.

Other Findings

In other highlights from the report:

  • – Some 43% of respondents reported that they engage in account-based marketing (ABM);
  • – Creating the right content to target key accounts is the biggest challenge in ABM, a finding supported by other research on ABM;
  • – Just half feel that sales and marketing teams communicate effectively;
  • – The biggest hurdle to getting C-suite approval for marketing expenditures is budgets being focused elsewhere, though some also pointed to sales being considered more vital than marketing and marketing not being able to prove ROI to the C-suite; and
  • – A slight majority (54%) say that social media is a major part of the B2B lead generation and nurturing strategy, although social media is not considered a top source of leads.

The full report can be downloaded here.

About the Data: Chief Marketer describes its methodology as follows:

“The annual Chief Marketer B2B Lead Generation Survey was conducted in June 2016 via email; 270 responses were received, 244 of which market primarily to businesses.

Agency or marketing services firms comprised 22% of respondents; 19% identified themselves as manufacturers, while another 19% said they were business/professional service organizations. Six percent were marketing technology companies, 7% were insurance/financial services and 5% wholesalers/distributors. The remaining respondents’ business types included media, utilities, nonprofits and education.

Twenty-five percent of respondents had fewer than 20 employees, 27% had 20-99 employees, 12% had 100-249 employees, 10% had 250-499, five percent had 500-999, 6% had 1,000-1,499 and 15% had over 2,000 employees.

Thirty-two percent had director level titles, 23% were managers, 21% president/c-suite and 18% SVP/VP. Twenty-one percent reported annual marketing budgets of $1 million+, and 21% had $250,000-$999,999. Nineteen-percent reported $100,000-$249,999, 23% had budgets less than $100,000 and 16% less than $25,000.”


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