I know, I know. You're probably reading this and thinking, "Great, another end-of-the-year list!"
I'm with you, friend. But, it's easy to get contemplative when the last quarter draws to a close. And there are real lessons to learn.
I picked up several when we at Eloqua released 40 Must-See Charts for Modern Marketers.
Here are eight lessons from 2012 for B2B marketers.
1. Manual is just too... manual
Marketing has grown far too complicated to be run in an entirely manual way. Among the chief roles B2B marketers can play is nurturing and qualifying leads for Sales. Manual processes just aren't enough for doing that effectively.
The proof is in the chart. We looked at automated campaigns versus campaigns that weren't automated. Those that were automated resulted in huge increases in conversion rates—to the tune of 200%.
2. Yes, influencers matter
Klout, Kred... Influencer relations is having its moment. But is reaching out to folks with followings and fans in your market actually working?
According to research, yes. We looked at what happened when folks with high Klout scores shared a brand's content with their network. The result was a six-fold increase in traffic and twice as many conversions.
3. Events have unexpected benefits
Like many B2B marketers, we spend a lot of time putting together and flying out to events, manning booths and giving demos, and presenting slides. The goal is to generate leads, but there are also unexpected benefits.
Using Salesforce.com's Dreamforce as a proxy, we found that event sponsors had, on average, a 25% increase in traffic to their Web properties during the conference. We also looked at attendees to our biggest event, Eloqua Experience, and discovered that attendees were our best customers, generating more leads per marketer.
When you're justifying the expense of hosting or sponsoring an event, consider such ancillary benefits.
4. Conversions and measurement are big issues
The best way to find out what is freaking out B2B marketers most is to just come out and ask them. That's what we did. What we found out is that measuring Marketing's effectiveness and managing contacts were among the top concerns.
Specifically, among the main issues were standardizing data, producing conversions throughout the sales cycle, accelerating those conversions, and getting better spend analysis.
5. Don't let the pursuit of perfection hinder you
Obviously, marketers want to excel. But the pursuit of perfection can hinder as much as help. Consider your lead-qualification process. We looked at marketers' lead-scoring models and found that only 40% had any "perfect" leads—those with a score of A1 (signaling buyer fit and high engagement).
We never advocate settling for unqualified leads, but that finding might actually signal that marketers are being too strict in their definitions of a perfect lead. If your results are similar, you should probably re-examine your scoring.
6. More isn't always better
Marketing has always walked a fine line between engaging buyers and overwhelming them. When marketing via email—a mainstay in B2B marketing—tripping over that line is easy.
We examined 6 billion emails and, as might be expected, found that though an increase in emails might lead to more opens, it doesn't mean a higher click-through rate. Every organization should monitor the noise-to-value ratio of their messaging, being mindful that sometimes less is best.
7. Sales enablement isn't just about Sales
Any B2B marketer probably faces a mandate to help Sales. Your job is to work the leads, qualify them, pass them onto Sales, and give Sales tools to help close the deal. But doing so doesn't help just Sales.
We looked at organizations that equipped their sales reps with tools to share marketing content. Giving sales that ability resulted in big increases in marketing's reach. The lesson: Your sales team can really help extend your marketing.
8. The packaging matters
If you're throwing a mess of figures onto a spreadsheet, don't be surprised if eyes glaze over. When your executive team asks for numbers, they really want to know what the numbers mean. So pay attention to how you lay out your results, include the numbers that matter, and provide insight. Tell the story behind your marketing dashboards.