Fully 80% of B2B marketers rank lead generation as a top priority for the next 12 months, according to recent research from MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute.
But reaching lead generation goals is often more challenging than you would think. Less than one-third of B2B marketers said their demand generation process effectively meets their organizations' needs, a Demand Metric study found.
As technology becomes a driving force in marketing and sales, B2B companies need to better understand the art and science behind launching and executing a successful lead generation program.
Here are six steps B2B marketers can take to enhance their lead generation programs.
1. Be strategic in how you test your plan
Testing your strategy is an essential step toward ensuring the messaging, creative direction, and marketing spend are going to be effective in helping your organization reach its desired lead generation goals. That said, too many marketing professional tests everything but fail to understand which metrics are most indicative of whether a program will be a success.
2. Take it one step at a time
Many marketers try to take advantage of the abundance of automation tools. However, attempting to use multiple systems at once is the fastest way to run yourself into the ground.
Rather than rushing to implement multiple systems, begin with one or two smaller implementations. After you've reached your comfort level with your smaller implementations, you can move on to the next solution.
A phased approach prevents users from investing in expensive tools that will be used for only a fraction of their features because you lack the internal resources needed to maximize performance.
3. Understand that less is more
When marketers are presented with a large amount of data, achieving meaningful results can be difficult. I have found that the more diverse the data that marketers have at their disposal, the less they know about how to interpret or use it.
The best way to make informed decisions is to have an in-depth understanding of which metrics need to be prioritized above others. Which is why I suggest keeping a weekly dashboard with your organization's top performance indicators.
When you centralize your data and its visualization, it becomes easier to break down the information not only for yourself but also for the stakeholders you report to on a weekly or monthly basis.
4. Learn from your mistakes
Get comfortable with trying new strategies, and accept that not all tests will go as planned. Before trying a new strategy, ensure that you have clear metrics in place so that you have an objective, predetermined view of whether or not a program was successful. When you do fail, conduct a thorough post-mortem to learn how you can avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
5. It's not one-size-fits-all
With hundreds of marketing automation and lead management programs on the market, B2B marketers have more demand-generation software options than ever before. But, with so many solutions available, finding one that is a good fit for your business can be difficult.
When I joined OneLogin, for example, we used a lead scoring tool to help better target customer segments. After learning more about the tool, I found that we weren't even using the data it generated to guide our decision-making process. The data was not adding any value to our business. Fortunately, we learned early on that this tool was not a fit for our company, and we haven't made the same mistake twice.
6. Bench the benchmark bias
To shape their sales and marketing funnel, nearly all B2B marketers use a wide array of marketing-qualified leads, sales-qualified leads, and opportunities. Consequently, many marketers believe that once they've seen an outcome in one company, they've seen the benchmark for every other company. That, however, is far from the truth.
Every company I've worked for arranges its sales and marketing funnel differently. Do you include all customer segments, or do you start only at a certain company size? Do you include all opportunity values, or do you use the probability percentage to adjust your numbers?
When someone asks for your MQL-to-SQL conversion rate, you can't just say 12%; it's all relative to the specifics of your funnel. I've seen everything from 6% to 20% be considered "best in class." When communicating with executives and board members who have worked for (or advised) other companies, it's important to remember they may believe that the highest number they have heard is the benchmark.
As a marketing leader, you must educate your audience on precisely what your numbers are based on. Unless you provide context, the effectiveness of your efforts can become the victim of an apples-to-oranges comparison.