Do you remember the fire drills at school? The alarm went off, students got excited, and teachers marched them to the exits. They were a test of the school’s evacuation plan — a calm, orderly process to follow should an emergency strike.
Most lead-generation marketers are not in crisis, but many could use an orderly process to help combat challenges. I chatted with Jen Doyle, Senior Research Manager at MECLABS, about her work as lead author of the MarketingSherpa 2012 Lead Generation Benchmark Report (coming out this spring). Doyle surveyed 1,900 organizations to determine how they are using top tactics to overcome an increasingly challenging marketplace where they are expected to:
- Deliver a higher quantity and quality of leads with fewer resources
- Try new channels, track existing processes, and answer to everyone from the sales team to executives
- Battle a harsh market flooded with skeptical buyers
The building isn’t on fire, but the pressure is on. It can be helpful to have a reliable plan for generating leads when challenges loom (just like it can be helpful to have an evacuation plan before the building is on fire). Unfortunately, an astounding 75% of lead-gen marketers do not have a formal lead-generation process, Doyle says. Furthermore, a considerable chunk of organizations (39%) indicated that they are not even able to track the original source of leads generated.
“If marketers aren’t able to show how revenue can be attributed to lead generation activities, how can they grow their budgets and attain the resources they crave for better lead generation?” asks Doyle. “Marketers need to know their own best practices. They need to know what gets their audience to convert and what really drives the highest ROI by generating the greatest volume of highly qualified leads — and then focus on further optimization of those channels.”
Build a strategy from the best tactics
No one can hand you an end-to-end lead-gen process, but it can be helpful to know which tactics are the most effective when you’re planning one.
This chart is from the MarketingSherpa B2B Benchmark Report (of which Doyle is also the lead author). It compares the percentage of B2B marketers who considered each lead-gen tactic to be “very effective” over the last two years. In 2011, only four tactics were considered “very effective” by 20% or more of the audience:
- Website design, management, and optimization
- Search engine optimization
- Email marketing
- Trade shows
When you’re building a formal lead-gen strategy, you should at least consider the tactics the rest of the industry considers “very effective.” They may carry you through times of plenty and times of crisis.