It’s no surprise that business-to-business marketers and agencies are looking for leads online. A February 2012 survey of B2B marketing and agency professionals by BtoB Magazine found that 59% view lead generation as their greatest online marketing challenge. To meet that goal, marketers are exploring new channels in 2012, particularly social media—and for many, the approach is working.
Currently, most respondents rely primarily on email—57% said it was the online channel that contributed the most qualified leads to their businesses. But a significant number said that some other online channel was their biggest driver of leads, though this group was split among several channels, including paid search (20%) and social media (13%). Respondents from agencies were more likely than marketers to report that social or search was their most successful marketing channel, possibly because agencies are often more able to specialize in such tactics.
Both B2B marketers and agencies felt that social media in particular has room to grow for their organizations. After email, social media was found to be the most widely adopted marketing channel, but only 5% of respondents described their social media efforts as “well-optimized,” compared with 30% who felt that way about their email programs. A majority, 55%, said that their social efforts were early-stage but showed promise.
Data suggests that, in the social space, B2B enterprises should look first to LinkedIn and blogs. An October 2011 study of B2B marketers worldwide conducted by marketing automation software provider Pardot found that LinkedIn was the social media tool most successful at lead generation, followed closely by blogging.
Paid search presents another opportunity for B2B marketers to grow their lead generation efforts. Although 18% of marketers reported that it was their single greatest lead creator, only 11% said they had a mature and well-optimized search program in place. Forty-three percent said they didn’t use search marketing at all.