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Written by Lisa Shepherd
on June 11, 2019

We are so pleased to share the results from our 2019 B2B marketing benchmarking study.  We are so grateful to the companies that share their information with us and enable us to complete this study.  This year, we were surprised at some of the results and some results were in line with our experiences.  Read on for the top insights on what you should be thinking about as you plan your future marketing efforts.

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The Top 3 Surprising Results

  1. While lead generation remains a top priority with marketing, companies are prioritizing the overall effectiveness of marketing. They want to measure their efforts and realize that marketing is complex and requires several integrated tactics working together to achieve success.   We have been educating our clients about this and we are happy (and a little bit surprised!) to see the impact of that education.
  1. The study also reveals a new focus on increasing brand awareness. Brand awareness is closely related to lead generation success because you need one to have the other.  However, we were still surprised to see it move up from 35% in 2015 to 47%.  We believe brand awareness was formerly lower in priority because brand awareness tactics like social media and advertising can be expensive, are difficult to measure and rarely achieve the same results as you would get from lead generating tactics like content and cold calling campaigns. 
  1. This year, companies cited marketing, not sales, as the function that will have the most impact on their business. Many companies have maximized their operational improvements and are now looking to marketing as the business function that can impact their growth the most.

The Top 3 Not-Surprising Results

  1. Content marketing is increasing in importance. Many more companies indicated they are investing in content marketing activities and achieving stronger performance; a reflection of the increased focus by B2B companies on the importance of marketing in their organizations.  We also saw a decrease in networking events like conferences.  Expensive and time consuming, declining event participation is clearly where the budget for more content marketing is coming from. 
  1. CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software improvements received a minimal gain, almost remaining static from 2015. Many of our clients have deep frustrations around their CRM that have plagued them for years.  Traditionally, the frustration was solved by switching software, at which point a whole new set of frustrations appeared.  Using a consultant to help your CRM to work effectively is highly recommended.  Companies in the study said that they also wanted to improve lead conversion which is much easier with CRM software that performs optimally. 
  1. Lead nurturing has declined from 1.87 in 2015 to 1.68. We believe this decline has come from a lack of investment in marketing automation software which automates and personalizes regular communication in the way that can’t be done manually. If you are not communicating regularly you will not maintain your brand awareness, which many companies cited as their second highest priority – a seeming conflict.  The study with its singular focus on mid-size companies, shows that marketing automation software has low penetration in this segment.  

How This Affects Your Business

  1. Ensure you are tracking the results from your marketing efforts. This is easily completed through the use of marketing automation software but manual tracking on a monthly basis is also possible.  Successful measurement requires a realistic approach that understands the sales cycle.  For example, if the typical sales cycle is 6 months, it is not realistic to expect to close business from a marketing tactic until 6 months has passed.  It is helpful to know how many opportunities are in the pipeline, but ROI is best understood in the 3-4 months following the end of the average sales cycle.
  1. Ensure that you are using content marketing effectively. Effective content marketing efforts are rewarded with a steady stream of marketing qualified leads.  However, the cadence and quality of content has to be closely monitored and the promotion of the content is just as important as the creation of the content. 
  1. Optimize your CRM. Regardless of which software you purchase, locate a consultant who can help you, before you make the decision to switch software.  A good consultant will perform an audit which will ensure that they understand your business and what steps have to be undertaken to optimize the software for you.  The audit provides you with a roadmap to effectiveness which you can then use to evaluate and potentially hire the consultant to complete. 

More About The Study

While marketing surveys often focus on larger organizations, this study is limited to mid-market companies. Over 200 small and mid-sized Canadian B2B companies have participated in the study since its inception.  The study was first completed in 2012 and then updated in 2015.  The study benchmarks B2B companies on marketing objectives, performance, budget and effectiveness. The data is self-assessed.  To obtain a copy of the 2019 B2B Marketing Benchmarking Study, download it here.

B2B Marketing Benchmark Study 2019

 

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