Today’s post is by Megan McConnell, Customer Marketing Manager at InsideView.

And you thought B2B marketing was getting easier?

Based on a recent survey of 375 marketing, sales, and business professionals by researchers at Ascend2, marketers sure have their lead generation work cut out for them in 2015.

Obviously, leads are what makes the sales and marketing world go ‘round. Leads are the building blocks of the sales pipeline, and it’s the job of marketers to discover, target, and capture those leads.

But a shift is happening. Prospects are becoming much more sophisticated in how they engage with vendors and how they share—or don’t share—the information marketers request.

Ascend2 and their research partners recently released their “Lead Generation Strategy” research summary report, and they’ve found some interesting insights that point to both the shift in lead-marketing engagement and the old marketing tactics that are fast becoming unattractive.

Lead quality is the #1 focus

BlogAscend3Nearly 60% of those surveyed listed their “most important objective” as improving the quality of leads generated. That’s huge, and shows that most marketers see that quality trumps quantity (as evidenced by increasing number of leads being less important than increasing quality).

I’d say that most marketers are also under increasing pressure from sales teams to increase lead quality. Which shows that lead quality, however, isn’t just marketing’s responsibility alone. There’s increasing value to having a tightly synchronized marketing and sales relationship. (At InsideView, we use the term “smarketing” to convey the smart marketing that results by tightly aligning sales and marketing teams.)

Marketers can no longer get away with tooting their horns about campaigns that drive thousands of leads, only to see sales struggling to close more deals and falling lead-to-close ratios.

List quality is the #1 barrier

BlogAscend2Ascend2’s survey also found that the biggest obstacle to achieving demand gen success is lack of quality data/list resources, even exceeding strategy, budget, and staffing issues.

Shameless plug, but that’s part of what we do here at InsideView, and it’s what we hear from our customers over and over again.

Data quality is imperative to marketing being an efficient and productive generator of quality leads. If you don’t have the right data, you can’t target the right people and identify the best leads to engage with.

It’s an obvious cycle: to increase lead quality, you need higher quality lead data.

Content and social media are still a struggle

Ascend2’s survey found, unsurprisingly, that content and social media marketing are the most difficult channels to successfully drive lead generation. It also found that those tactics require the most time and skilled resources in order to be effective.

BlogAscend1That struggle is likely due to the fact that those channels are broad, but require an intimate, focused understanding of the various audience segments, their interests and their needs, and a targeted approach to deliver relevant content at the right time.

You could even argue that those two tactics are still fairly new to marketers, who are still grasping at ways to harness their power even as those tactics are still nebulous, especially social media marketing. It’s almost weekly that you read about a company’s social media campaign going horribly wrong, which probably causes marketers to take tentative steps rather than to fully engage.

That newness may also be behind this next point…

Email marketing is easy and effective? Huh?

Ascend2’s survey found that email marketing is the easiest and most effective lead generation channel.

Wait, what?

BlogAscend4I actually have a bit of concern over this research finding. Not that it’s surprising, but we think that marketers need to be wary, and here’s why:  Email marketing seems like an easy channel. Everyone does it, you can blast out tens of thousands of emails with a single click, and even as click-thru-rates continue to fall, 0.3% opens on 100,000 emails is still a few hundred “hot leads.”

However as mentioned earlier, leads are becoming more strategic about how they engage with companies. Leads hold all the power in their hands, and companies must be equally strategic about how they ask for a lead’s time and capture their attention.

Here’s the fact: Email marketing has been getting increasingly more difficult, both in the number of leads generated and the quality of leads.

If you’re skeptical, just look at yourself: When was the last time you clicked on a vendor email?

Lead gen quality is what we do

At InsideView, we strive to inform the entire enterprise and help them be more productive, efficient, and produce high-quality results. If you’re struggling with your email, content, and social media marketing, visit our product pages to learn how we can help.


Note: InsideView is not affiliated with, nor are we a research partner of, Ascend2.