It’s 2017, so why are B2B marketers still struggling with lead generation? For many marketers, lead generation is still in its nascent stages. According to a Demand Gen Report study, 42% of B2B marketers have been developing lead nurturing campaigns for more than two years while a surprising 33% have done so for less than a year.
Challenges to Lead Gen
We start to see the same problems cropping up because of how new lead generation efforts are for some marketers. More than half (56%) of the B2B marketers surveyed ranked “developing targeted content by buyer stage/interest” as their greatest challenge, a fact directly tied to the 39% of respondents who indicated that “changing/unpredictable buyer behavior” was an impediment to successful lead gen.
Also on the list of challenges, marketers flagged the sales and marketing divide as a notable problem. Forty-one percent of them lamented that sales is failing to follow up on nurtured leads.
Facing the Challenges: Content Development
Content development is clearly a challenge for B2B marketers, but DGR’s findings avoid the inherent nuance in the topic. Marketing teams can face many impediments to content development; lack of resources, staffing, and insight into prospect behavior can all trip up content marketing initiatives.
Of these, the lack of insight poses the greatest challenge. We wrote about this in a previous blog post, How to Listen to Your B2B Prospects. Often the challenge isn’t creating content synched to the buyer’s journey, it’s simply creating content that emphasizes your buyers’ needs. Forrester data tells us that 77% of B2B marketers are still creating product-centric content. This must stop.
In our previous blog post, we outlined how marketers should listen to their prospects. Whether it’s through conversations with your sales teams or through online data sources (SEO, Social, Site Analytics, and Third Party Intent Data), you must listen to your prospect’s needs and create messaging based on what you hear.
Facing the Challenges: Buyer Behavior
Buyer behavior is more unpredictable than ever. What was once a funnel is now a funnel cake, each buyer tracing their own path, picking up content at random nodes, interacting (or not interacting) with your messaging, all the while frustrating your anticipated nurture track.
Herein is a challenge of ubiquity. You want to be in as many places and on as many devices as your prospects. For this, you’ll need to twine your lead gen efforts with targeted display. Display is not a lead gen tactic; it’s a branding tactic, keeping your company brand at the top of prospects’ mind as they do their research.
Madison Logic has seen a direct correlation between exposure to display ads and site visits. When measured by account impact, you can gather that an account showing an increase in site visits is further along the pipeline than one that is not. What’s more, an account increasingly downloading or engaging with your content is likely moving closer to a decision.
But know this; prospects find their own way. The DGR study found that 44% of marketers reported that whitepapers were the best asset for lead generation, but that’s only a few percentage points above e-mail newsletters, webinars, and thought leadership articles, which follow closely behind.
Facing the Challenges: Sales and Marketing Divide
For too long, sales and marketing, have been frenemies. Technically, we’re on the same team, but even though we’re looking at the same scoreboard, we still define what we’re seeing differently.
Sales departments bemoan the quality of leads they are receiving, citing poor quality that as the reason they’re reluctant to follow up. Marketing, having crafted the nurture track by providing leads with rich content, have passed the leads on as MQLs, ready and –sometimes–waiting for a sales call, only to be frustrated when sales drop the ball.
Madison Logic has seen the opposite with its clients, but the issue points to the same problem. Often sales teams will jump on leads who have downloaded content too early, aggressively pursuing leads that aren’t yet ready for a call. This, in fact, may be the source of the problem. When sales call green, unresponsive and uninterested leads, it may lead to the perception that marketing isn’t properly doing its job.
This is simply a communication issue. Marketing and sales must work together from the beginning, sharing target account lists, collaborating on prioritizing the most important accounts, even sharing insight into the content assets and nurture tracks themselves. No lead should pass to sales unnurtured. One interaction with your content does not make a lead sales-ready.
Lead generation is essential to a B2B marketer’s practice. According to the DGR report, 51% of buyers are now relying on content to research their buying decisions. To compete, it’s essential that they overcome the hurdles that obscure success.
Photo courtesy Julie V.
For more on how to execute lead gen campaigns combined with targeted display ads, download our whitepaper, How to Capture Your ABM Audience.