High-Quality Data and Multi-Channel Marketing Is Moving Marketing’s Mindset from MQL to Revenue

New benchmark survey research from DemandGen Report shows that B2B marketers, while making progress in some areas, are woefully behind in key capabilities

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I know we’ve been talking for years about seismic, required moves in B2B marketing – the shift from brand marketing to revenue creation, the death of the marketing qualified leads (MQLs), digital transformation to data-driven programs, blah, blah, blah.

The reality is it appears we’re moving slower than required and may be stuck in an outdated demand marketing formula. You know the formula…

If you build a killer web site and landing pages supported by engaging content you will drive traffic and generate inbound leads. Then using marketing automation, you can send email(s) to “nurture” and score prospects, converting contacts to MQLs! Chuck over the wall to sales…

…only for the leads to be consistently rejected or ignored.

According to recently released benchmark research conducted across 160 B2B marketers and published by DemandGen Report, the shift from MQL generation to full-pipeline and revenue marketing is slowly creeping along. While one-third of marketers say MQLs and sales-accepted leads (SALs) are their main target, nearly as many now own a sales pipeline number. And, per the new research, nearly 25% of B2B marketing teams now have a specific revenue quota.

Progress, but not nearly enough as CMOs and executive teams expect more from B2B marketing departments.

DGR benchmark report primary metric

To meet the marketing-attributed revenue mandate, DemandGen Report found that 2018 demand budgets are increasing for acquisition, nurturing and pipeline-building for seven of ten B2B marketers (70%). With this increase in budgets, and expectations, now is the time for B2B marketing teams to step up their game and commit to greater revenue contribution.

The mandate is having an impact on how B2B marketers do their job. Here’s what survey respondents highlighted as key to continuing the march to revenue marketing, with some observations and commentary:

  • Lead quality over quantity is a common goal with nearly three-quarters of respondents re-prioritizing resources and budget to focus on quality. It’s a start. At the same time 73% of B2B marketers say they’ll put a greater focus on conversions, a good sign that marketers are moving down-funnel to pipeline, rather than just generating a large number of leads, hoping for a certain conversion percentage.
  • Nearly half of B2B marketers will be deploying account-based marketing (ABM), including investing in some form of tools to aid their efforts. Not a surprise, as focusing more on the best account opportunities AND the buying committees at those companies just makes sense.
  • There’s a desire to plan and execute cross-channel marketing programs that better map to the buyer’s journey. That said, the research of 160 marketers shows that email is still the No.1 most effective way to reach prospects, 30 points higher than the next choice, which was search. I get it – email is our best weapon. With data privacy regulations looming (such as GDPR), obtaining consent to process prospect data (e.g., via opt-ins) will force marketers to move beyond email as a primary engagement tool.
  • With marketing technology (martech) an enabler of modern marketing strategies, new tools are being added to the marketing toolbox, according to the 2018 report. Some of the high- and low-lights, include:
  • Multichannel lead nurturing (41%), retargeting (37%), marketing automation (33%) and predictive lead scoring (29%) were among the top martech tools marketers expect to test or deploy.

  • ROI measurement is on the agenda for a mere 30% of participants. While it’s not always easy, this is a serious problem, and marketing’s credibility and future are in jeopardy if we don’t improve here quickly. This should be pushing 100%.

  • While full-funnel attribution remains an elusive holy grail for B2B organizations, 30% of marketers are going for it. We’ve found that teams that don’t become obsessed with crediting every source/campaign/touch, but rather focus on mapping the buyer journey and measuring programs holistically, achieve greater results. In short, don’t get obsessed with first, last and every touch.
  • Only 38% of B2B marketers are actively reviewing their database for accuracy. Scary. Many industry experts cite the lack of ability to show direct ROI by investing in database health as the reason customer data and database health continues to get the short end of the stick. We must find a way to change this, as accurate data is critical to revenue marketing and customer experience.
  • Case studies, events, webinars and white papers are the top-performing engagement content and must-haves, according to the 160 B2B marketers surveyed for the research.

The 2018 DemandGen Benchmark Survey Report highlights some areas of progress by B2B marketers. Based on experience working with hundreds of CMOs and B2B marketing teams, we aren’t moving fast enough. Let’s strive and hope for bigger progress when we review the 2019 benchmark report. Well, unless, you and your organization are setting the revenue marketing pace and your competitors are the demand generation laggards.

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