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B2B Lead Generation Trends for 2014: What's Hot and What's Not [Infographic]

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It's that time of year again: planning your marketing spend and projecting sales for the upcoming quarters. The challenge, however, is that there's too much conflicting information out there.

Do you focus on a pure content marketing play, go heavy on social, spin up an outbound team, double down on your SEM and marketing automation, or just shotgun it, business as usual?

No wonder a CMO's job security is often in question. There's a lot of pressure to get everything right while constantly seeking the next silver bullet that will drive profits for stakeholders. And every marketing activity can't be directly correlated to driving leads.

But figuring out the most effective methods for generating B2B sales leads should be top of mind for companies looking to connect ROI to their marketing efforts. That will ensure that you're feeding the sales machine, and, as every marketer knows, that means more support for the equally crucial but longer-term marketing activities that are harder to attach to a quarterly goal.

Earlier this year, MarketingProfs ran a series of articles on B2B lead generation. The following infographic should help distill the trends that B2B marketers will be riding to find success in 2014.


The results may surprise you.

What's working in your business? We'd love to know.


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Seth Price is vice-president at Placester, a platform for marketing real estate online. He's a marketing strategist who helps companies tell great stories to accelerate growth. He's also a passionate content creator, marketing keynote speaker, host of the Craft of Marketing podcast, and an aspiring chef.

Twitter: @sethstuff

LinkedIn: Seth Price

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  • by Sceptic Tue Nov 26, 2013 via web

    TV advertising more effective for B2B lead gen than blogs....really?!

  • by Leanda Hickman Tue Nov 26, 2013 via web

    For the brands that I work with which are The Media Octopus, The Business Octopus and The Data Octopus we use a a variety of social media platforms from Facebook business pages to Twitter and we have now recently added Instagram account to The Media Octopus. For us the social side is big thing with testing the current offering of Twitter advertising and Linkedin advertising which has been quite successful.

    With 2014 it is going to bring challenges for all us Digital Marketeers, and im just wondering what other platforms are going to introduced for us to use. Communication with B2B and B2C has certainly changed alot over the last 10 years. Happy 2014 all :)

  • by Shawn Fergusson Tue Nov 26, 2013 via web

    I agree with this from an immediate tangible measurement perspective, but I fear that the question being measured may be the wrong one. The biggest example of this is the separation of social, online and webinars. For most B2B business, direct lead generation will not come social but social provides indirect benefits to SEO, credibility and website/webinar promotion.

  • by Sarah Bauer Tue Nov 26, 2013 via web

    Interesting statistics here. As far as social's role in B2B lead generation goes, I'd say it has an effective and influential position in lead nurturing, creating quality leads and extending the life span of customer relationships. Definitely not to be tossed from the B2B marketing landscape - social has it's place in the cycle.

    Cheers,
    Sarah Bauer
    Navigator Multimedia

  • by Bobby Olander Wed Nov 27, 2013 via web

    Social media was listed as the least effective way to pursue the C-Suite in B2B according to this, but I feel it needed a disclaimer. (or maybe for this group it doesn't) But putting it on this list is like saying forklifts are the least effective form of transportation. That Social Media would score the lowest marks for B2B demand gen should have been expected as social media is primarily:
    1. Where people go to find you, not the other way around.
    2. Great supplementary marketing tools (i.e. researching prospects on Linked In, a less formal way to show who you are i.e. Facebook, up to the minute announcements for an event i.e. twitter)
    3. Where folks go to find out more about your company/products after you have gotten their attention through other means.
    4. Incorrectly used by most companies for demand gen.

    Social Media is a necessary tool (and one of the best tools for other marketing goals) just expectedly not the all-encompassing tool of choice by many companies for B2B demand gen.

  • by Randy Milanovic Sat Nov 30, 2013 via iphone

    I don't believe this at all.

  • by Cash One Sun Dec 1, 2013 via web

    Hello, really a nice article, Thanks a lot to share this. Earlier we use to know cold calling is the best way to generate B2B leads. But this article leads to new innovative ideas to generate leads.

  • by Seth Price Mon Dec 2, 2013 via web

    Sceptic, I wish that I could have figured out a way to visualize the segmentation of B2B companies. Your question is a good one. Most small B2B companies don't have TV budgets, yet most large B2B companies have to utilize TV in conjunction with their earned, owned and paid strategy. Thanks for reading

  • by Seth Price Mon Dec 2, 2013 via web

    Leanda, thanks for reading and sharing. I have been delving into the coming platforms during my work with startups. Still reluctant to make a wild guess. Best, Seth

  • by Seth Price Mon Dec 2, 2013 via web

    Shawn, measuring the right stuff is always the challenge and sometimes getting companies to start measuring is the first order problem. I agree with you, all of the efforts feed on each other, this poses a huge challenge that results in oversimplification. I appreciate you reading and sharing.

  • by Tom W Mon Dec 2, 2013 via web

    Good insight, Seth. One of the things I took away from the recent Dreamforce conference was the need for more personalization of the message, no matter what the medium. I see content marketing as the wave of the future and your 71% figure confirms that, but the content has to be targeted. Vanilla content isn't as effective anymore (http://bit.ly/IB2LCX).
    Thanks for sharing.

  • by Seth Price Tue Dec 3, 2013 via web

    Tom, I couldn't agree with you more. This personalization of content will take many forms, from customized goods and services, to UI experiences that adapt to the user and content that is individualized to each unique person. No longer a one to many broadcast but a one to one conversation. Thanks for reading. Loved your post btw. Seth

  • by Tamar Thu Dec 5, 2013 via web

    Hi Seth,
    Great graphic. I think social is pushed too much as a lead generator when its benefits are beyond this.
    Tom, personalization is going to be even more important not only with B2C but B2B customers as well. I would add that there will be more and more developments in real-time personalization that will make it very hard for vendors who do not adapt to this technology to compete.

  • by Seth Price Thu Dec 5, 2013 via web

    Hey Tamar,
    Thanks so much for reading. I agree with you that social is so complex that the ramifications of not participating are yet to be discovered. It's almost like the impact of a handshake or sincere smile. Very hard to quantify but the human brain fires thousands of synapses in response to those actions. Social, when done correctly produces a similar reactions that can't be quantified in "lead" form. On the real time personalization front, those not planning for this at least in the form of relevant response during the customer's journey will be left in the dust like frogs in slowly heated water. (sorry for the graphic analogy) Hope you have a restful holiday.

  • by Randy Milanovic Thu Dec 5, 2013 via iphone

    My firm deploys content marketing and social engagement efforts. We left traditional marketing activities behind years ago. The result has been an increase in business by roughly 25x. Believe me, deploying quality content online, on a consistent schedule, and engaging in social is THE best way to grow your business today.

  • by Seth Price Thu Dec 5, 2013 via web

    Randy, I'm with you, though there is a certain scale of B2B company that needs to blend traditional marketing/sales activities with inbound. Even hubspot has a 400+ person pool of folks dialing for dollars with "warm" leads. Somewhat like the sweet science of boxing, more of an art to find the right combination that works for your business and consumer. Thanks so much for reading, excited to hear that content marketing is working so well for you.

  • by Aaron Ross Mon Dec 9, 2013 via web

    Seth, love it! Fits what I share in my book "Predictable Revenue," that inside sales / outbound prospecting is (for most b2b product companies that have a certain minimum order size) the best way to generate great leads, predictably.

    Going to share this with some people...

    Aaron Ross

  • by Kira Permunian Mon Dec 9, 2013 via web

    This is a very insightful year end article about lead generation. I keep an eye to the emerging trend most especially on the 37% marketers who are using marketing automation such as "My Voice Manager" and other software in generating leads.

    I looked up at social media as the modern trend and a game changer in the lead generation industry, but with this one, I think it helps but not that big that we need to focus more into.

  • by Seth Price Mon Dec 9, 2013 via web

    Aaron, Thanks for sharing, sorry I hadn't heard of your book, it looks really interesting, and just reading some of the reviews on amazon, I dropped a link here for anyone else interested. http://amzn.com/0984380213 I am going to download it on audible, do you recommend that or is it one of those books you have to read in print? Best, Seth

  • by Seth Price Mon Dec 9, 2013 via web

    Kira, thanks so much for your comment. I think what this shows is that there is no one silver bullet activity as all the hype might indicate. Completely agree that marketing automation is critical to scaling a personalized response to folks at each stage of the consumer journey. Though to me social remains extremely important and a crucial part of interacting with people where they are spending their time. Appreciate you reading and sharing.

  • by Mike laure Mon Dec 9, 2013 via web

    Great Info-graphic, great design detailed work thanks for making things so simple to understand in image than studying the whole article great collection of images and thanks again.

  • by Seth Price Tue Dec 10, 2013 via web

    Mike, awesome. Thanks for reading and sharing.

  • by John Eyres Thu Dec 12, 2013 via web

    I think the information gives a broad scope of problems with relying on just ONE tool to go after new B2B business. My outbound telemarketing firm....still going strong after I started it 7 years ago continues to meet the needs of many businesses. And we are just one of the tools to use in the marketing mix these days. You can't rely on one pathway to get new business! It is a mix of networking meetings, linkedin, advertising, telemarketing and other avenues that support what best works for your company.

    John Eyres
    President
    Business Connections Consulting
    St. Louis, MO

  • by Seth Price Thu Dec 12, 2013 via web

    John, I completely agree. There is no one silver bullet. Though understanding where you get your long term and immediate ROI can help you plan the allocation of resources more effectively. Clearly this infographic is like a snapshot in a crowd, and paints just one point of view. Thanks much for your comment and for sharing.

  • by Mike Williams Thu Feb 6, 2014 via web

    Seth, thank you for the article. For B2B marketing, you should definitely consider using your company website to generate leads from visitors. It's very easy and effective with all the analytics tools around.

  • by Seth Price Fri Feb 7, 2014 via web

    Mike, completely agree, having your own website as a hub for lead gen, trust building and nurturing throughout the sales cycle is a must. Thanks so much for reading and sharing

  • by Ismael Mon May 5, 2014 via web

    Hi Seth, Totally agree on your article. We've been creating different marketing strategies to capture leads and improve our ROI. B2B is not easy however if we do lots of experiments and consider all marketing medium, I think it will be a big help to grow your business.

  • by Tom Blue Mon May 26, 2014 via web

    Can someone explain to me the difference between Executive Events and Tradeshows? What is an "Executive Event"?

  • by Aina Sat Aug 30, 2014 via web

    Thanks for sharing this post, I would like to add one more thing for lead generation that call center services is also very useful for lead generation.

  • by Go4Customer Tue Dec 2, 2014 via web

    I like the way you present here about lead generation threw info graphic, I agree with you that social media and digital marketing is useful for lead generation but hiring a call center for lead generation is also very helpful because by using call center service you can direct communicate with the customers which build your company trust into your clients.

  • by Globexo Marketing Tue Jan 27, 2015 via web

    B2B marketing have taken a good digital shift. even smart people don’t really know where their leads are coming from all the time. A lot of getting “leads” has to do with a lifestyle of consistent marketing efforts, a constant cultivation of industry relationships, and the organic mashup of all kinds of interactions, activities, behaviors, and efforts.Constant B2B lead generation is possible only with multi channel marketing.

  • by SalesSamantha Mon Apr 6, 2015 via web

    Great way to get the message across - with infographics!

    Interesting how inside sales, email marketing and telesales remain top. There's specific lead generative tools that work to generate new leads. Tools such as found.ly is one that our sales team are using recently enabling them to find and build their own lead lists (Found.ly finds leads from search engines).

    My personal view is that building a predictable revenue through sales teams is one of the most reliable ways to grow our company. It does mean using tools such as the above and knowing how to scale-up a sales team.

    Some of these infographics have reinforced some of the best practices required within our company.

  • by Lisa Haydon Mon Jul 13, 2015 via web

    Wonderful Article !!!!
    I am agree with yours Post.

    Most Effective B2B Lead Generation Tactics are

    Publish regular Blogs (Content Marketing)
    Use Social Media Strategically (LinkedIn)
    Run e-Mail Campaigns
    Search Engine Marketing
    Conduct Seminars/ Webinars
    Organize Trade Shows
    Connecting with People (Business Networking)
    Develop a Customer Friendly Website
    An Effective Script
    Proper follow-up

    Found a very useful article about "How To Do B2B Lead Generation"
    http://theglobalassociates.com/how-to-do-b2b-lead-generation/

  • by Devon Hall Mon Sep 28, 2015 via web

    I found my way here from another blog on managing and understanding website traffic and the tools you can use to best understand and manage your traffic... We use B2B tracking tool from whoisvisiting.com and have managed to turn a few decent contracts from website browsers. An emerging trend is definitely one where you understand your inbound traffic and see which companies you have actually managed to attract.

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