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A Deeper Look Into B2B Demand Generation

We just completed our third annual B2B Enterprise Demand Generation Study, which evaluated the maturity of the demand generation function within enterprise organizations. While the results are showing incremental improvement overall, it is clear that organizations are still looking to master the art and science of demand generation. Here are some of the statistics that jumped out and what they mean for those in B2B marketing.

Only 1 in 5 Organizations Are Highly Effective In Achieving Their Demand Generation Goals

While the 20% of highly effective organizations is an increase of 17% when compared to the first study in 2014, this low percentage indicates that marketers are still ill-equipped to execute demand generation programs. According to the study, more than 40% of respondents stated that they receive no training or marketing enablement and only 26.5% stated that their team skill set is highly effective. 

With all the changes that have occurred in the B2B demand generation landscape, CMOs should be allocating budget to the training and skills development of their teams. Demand generation is a necessary component of a company’s revenue growth and to be effective, it does require a specific skill set in order to perform at peak efficiency.

Metrics and Goals Are Not Aligned

As in previous years, the number one goal for demand generation is generating qualified leads with 92% of respondents listing this as their top goal.  However, the study also shows that only 15% of organizations are measuring against this goal.

If these measurements are not in place, organizations are flying blind in terms of determining success. When goals are established, not only is it necessary to determine the definition of a qualified lead, it is vital that this goal be measured.

Organizations that want to increase their effectiveness in demand generation need to adopt a standard set of key performance indicators (KPIs) that align to their overall goals. To be successful, this measurement needs to be consistent across the organization and every demand generation program.

Buyer Personas Are Missing the Mark

When asked who is responsible for the development of buyer personas only 28% stated that the demand generation team fills this role. However, over 40% stated it is the responsibility of product marketing.  While buyer personas are certainly needed for product marketing, it is not feasible that a product marketing persona (usually a description of the end user of a product or service) is going to be the best fit for demand generation purposes.

When collecting buyer insights for demand generation it is essential that we understand a buyers content consumption patterns and channel preferences. We must know what role they play on the buying committee and in their buying journey.  These are criteria that are typically not found in persona developed by product teams, and to rely solely on those perspectives as a guide to our buyers only gives a partial view into those we are trying to reach. As a result, it can negatively impact our ability to drive demand generation effectively.

The Consensus Buying View is Lacking

Less than half of those surveyed stated that they take into account a buying committee when creating their buyer personas. Given that there are on average 6.8 buyers involved in the typical B2B buying process according to CEB, demand generation marketers must have insight into all of these individuals and their key roles. If this insight is lacking, it follows that the content that is developed to speak to the buyer will be as well.

We are in a consensus buying age and if the trend continues, committees will continue to increase in size. This means that marketers must identify all of these key players, their roles, their biases and motivations to purchase in order to connect effectively.

Increase In Content Production Needs to Stop

While organizations are spending time and money on creating more content, less than two-thirds of those surveyed stated they had a documented content strategy.

As noted above, the lack of buyer insight, which is the foundation for any effective demand generation content strategy, is surely contributing to this issue. You cannot create relevant content if you do not know to whom or to what you are writing.

Organizations need to first define their buyer-centric strategy to demand generation, which begins with understanding the buyers journey. Then and only then, will they be able to develop the content needed to engage their buyers. Marketer’s need to remember it is not about generating more content, it is about generating content that is relevant to the buyer.

The B2B buying landscape will continue to change and grow more complex and sophisticated in 2017. As a result, this will put more of a burden on demand generation professionals.  As shown in the study more needs to be done to keep pace with our buyers and it is the leadership of CMOs that will enable this to occur.

As marketers develop stronger demand generation practices, these can be supported by technologies like marketing automation. Download the report Busting Common Myths of Marketing Automation to dispel many misconceptions about this core technology for B2B marketing.

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