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Some 68% of B2B marketers are testing out personalization of content or offers, according to a Chief Marketer survey [download page], perhaps in an effort to counter challenges with engagement. The primary form of personalization being tested by respondents is the type of content that targets are engaging with (66%), though many (53%) are also trying out personalization by job function and title.

While the survey doesn’t delve into the perceived effectiveness of personalization, content personalization is considered to be one of the most effective uses of B2B marketing data, according to a MarketingCharts report on marketing enablement produced in association with Seismic. That report found that marketers in general personalize just over one-quarter of their content.

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Personalized content may benefit B2B marketers in confronting their biggest challenge in generating new leads: engaging targeted prospects (59%). It should also help one of their larger account-based marketing challenges, which is creating the right content to target key account (cited by half of those who engage in account-based marketing).

Email’s Still Getting the Job Done

Chief Marketer’s study demonstrates that email is still the strongest channel in the B2B marketer’s toolkit. Not only are respondents most likely to say that it’s their largest source of leads, but also that it produces the highest ROI leads.

That follows from a similar survey fielded earlier this year by Chief Marketer, which found the same result for email.

Search (SEO and paid search), live events, and content marketing are also relatively high in the mix of channels that produce lead volume and quality. None is posing a serious threat to email’s dominance yet, however.

B2B marketers seem to be less reliant on – or confident in – social, retargeting, display and print.

B2B Marketers Focus on Measuring Conversions

When it comes to the most important lead attribution metrics, cost of conversion (52%) has pipped amount of time to convert (50%) for the lead in this latest iteration of the B2B Lead Gen report.

One common roadblock to conversions is a lack of follow-up by sales, per the report. That’s supported by separate results, which show that the biggest sales and marketing integration challenge is sales following up on lead generated by marketing. Lead management could be a problem here: one recent study estimated that 1 in every 4 leads is routed to the incorrect account owner.

Another conversion challenge, meanwhile, is maintaining momentum during a long sales cycle. How long is that sales cycle? For about half, it’s longer than 3 months, with more than one-quarter (27%) taking longer than 6 months to close a typical sale. The most common time frame, though, is 1-3 months, per one-third of respondents.

Other Findings:

More highlights from the report follow.

  • B2B marketers identify their biggest hurdle to getting C-suite approval for marketing expenditures to be budgets being focused elsewhere (51%). More than 4 in 10 also see budget difficulties arising from sales being considered more vital than marketing (41%). That brings to mind research from a few years ago, in which only 8% of B2B marketers reported working in an organization where marketing drives much or all of the revenue and leads growth and lead generation strategies. By contrast, 34% came from organizations which are sales-led, where they play a more supportive role to sales and have less of a say in growth strategy and product direction.
  • In-person meetings, email marketing, and content marketing are considered the most valuable techniques for lead nurturing, with webinars and social media lagging.
  • Articles and blog posts are perceived to be the most effective content types for moving prospects through the funnel, with whitepapers, video and research reports next on the list a little further behind.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 205 B2B marketers across the US from a variety of verticals, of which professional services (19%) was the most heavily represented. Roughly three-quarters of respondents came from companies with fewer than 500 employees.

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