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Top B2B Firms Gaining 230% More Leads via Social Media Than Peers


Best-in-Class B2B companies generate on average 17% of their leads from social media channels, roughly 230% more marketing-generated leads than other companies (5%), according to a new report by Aberdeen Group, which examines the social marketing strategies of top-performing B2B companies.

In the new report, titled "B2B Social Meeting Marketing: Are We There Yet," Aberdeen uses four key performance criteria to distinguish the Best-in-Class (top 20% of aggregate performers) from the Industry Average (middle 50%) and Laggard (bottom 30%) organizations.

The top 20% of companies (i.e., Best-in-Class) have achieved the following performance metrics:

  1. Average annual company revenue growth of 20%, compared with 8% for Industry Average and -3% for Laggard firms.
  2. 10% average year-over-year improvement of marketing leads resulting in closed business, compared with 3% for the Industry Average and -1% for Laggard firms.
  3. 44% of sales-forecasted pipeline generated by marketing, compared with 10% for Industry Average and 5% for Laggard firms.
  4. 73% annual customer retention rate, compared with 27% for Industry Average and 7% for Laggard firms.

Overall, 84% of all surveyed B2B companies are using social marketing in some form.

However, Best-in-Class companies are more likely to use social media primarily for lead-generation purposes, and more likely to integrate social marketing with other core channels and processes, the study found.

Below, additional findings from Aberdeen Group.

The Diminishing Influence of the Traditional Sales Cycle

Digital and social media have created an asymmetrical relationship between buyers and sellers, according to Aberdeen.

In this new environment, buyers have more information at their disposal than ever before as they discover and evaluate products. Aberdeen refers to this notion as the "hidden sales cycle."

Best-in-Class companies are combating the effects of the hidden sales cycle by listening to and engaging with would-be buyers across social media channels—and generating leads via social engagement. 

  • 47% of Best-in-Class companies cite expanding lead generation as their primary strategy with social media marketing efforts, and 13% cite generating leads as their secondary strategy.
  • 23% of Best-in-Class companies cite developing clear business processes for social marketing as their top strategy, and 8% cite process development as a secondary strategy. 

Best-in-Class companies are also more actively engaged in social marketing: 80% say they are somewhat or actively involved in social media marketing, compared with 73% of Industry-Average firms and 60% of Laggards.

Integration With Other Marketing Channels

Best-in-Class companies are far more likely to integrate social media with other multi-channel marketing efforts.

  • Best-in-Class companies are 27% times more likely than Industry-Average firms to integrate email with social media (65% vs. 51%), and they are 33% more likely than Laggards to do so (65% vs. 49%). 
  • Best-in-Class companies are 24% times more likely than Industry-Average firms to integrate SEO with social media (61% vs. 49%), and they are 69% more likely than Laggards to do so (61% vs.36%). 

Best-in-Class companies also stand out in their adoption of various social technologies:

  • 51% of Best-in-Class companies use website social sharing tools, compared with 36% of Industry-Average firms.
  • 49% of Best-in-Class companies use keyword-based social media monitoring, compared with 39% of Industry-Average firms.
  • 21% of Best-in-Class companies use social sign-in, compared with 8% of Industry-Average firms.

Adopting Best Practices Now Matters More Than Experience

"Best-in-Class" performance in social media marketing is based on the execution of best practices now, rather than years of experience, Aberdeen found.

On average, Best-in-Class companies have been using social marketing for 2 years, only slightly longer than Industry-Average firms (1.7 years).

About the data: Findings from "B2B Social Media Marketing: Are We There Yet? " are based on a survey of 500 B2B companies, conducted by Aberdeen Group in sponsorship with Silverpop and Eloqua, October to December 2011.

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  • by Thorsten Strauss Fri Mar 30, 2012 via web

    Great article ! Insightful and useful.

  • by Jeff Rozic Tue Apr 3, 2012 via web

    Excellent study by the Aberdeen Group- huge thanks to them and Eloqua and Silverpop for sharing some great data.

    We do indeed notice the trend, and it's unmistakable. "Best in class" B2B companies- as written above- are very much integrating social strategies into their multi-channel marketing efforts. Obviously we are advocates that they should. That is, look at social as a whole as a critical channel in a multi-channel strategy. And within social, adopt a cross-network approach as well- driven especially by customer/client behavior. Facebook has definitely bridged B2B- many B2B companies have really effective Facebook pages and the new Timeline layout resets the playing field. But YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and other channels each serve their purpose, too- especially for targeted B2B campaigns.

    Email and social are so naturally complimentary; we're really excited to continue to see how B2B companies extend their email strategies into the social realm.

    Thanks again for a great read.

    Jeff Rozic

  • by Freddy J. Nager Wed Apr 4, 2012 via web

    One should never calculate the percentage difference between two percentages. That's what Darrell Huff in his classic book "How to Lie With Statistics" would call "statisticulation." Calculate differences in absolute values to gain true insights.

    If you want to look at percentages, note that even the "Best In Class" companies are still getting 83% of their leads without the help of social media.

    What I want to know is whether the social media has increased their overall number of leads, can they prove it, and what did it cost them in terms of time, money and opportunity costs. If they had invested that same amount into traditional means, what would their results be?

    Social media can help B2B companies. It has certainly helped mine. But let's not statisticulate to make it sound more fantastical than it really is.

  • by Christopher Simpson Mon Apr 9, 2012 via web

    @Freddy: Seriously? You're actually going to insist that good, solid mathematical principles be applied to anything having to do with social media marketing? Good luck. You're a brave man and certainly don't deserve the pain of being torn apart by hordes of angry marketing gurus.

  • by Yasmin Wed Jun 6, 2012 via web

    This is great insight! These metrics are astounding.

    I have 2 points to make:

    (1) I think the best-in-class companies have really invested in a social media strategy and obviously a resource infrastructure - inhouse or outsourced - to make this happen. Otherwise I don't believe you can achieve this kind of metric. That means big budget, which seems to paying off.

    (2) I wonder who the B2B companies are both best-in-breed and other, if they are big brands? its easy for big brands to garner such metrics from social, much more difficult for companies that have smaller brand equity and don't have the brand buzz/name out there already.

    B2B is not the same across the board - the business model is so different for each comany. I wonder if any are in technology space.

    Guess I will have to buy the report to find out ;-)

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