Email, LinkedIn and white papers remain key strategies in lead gen for B2B marketers, study suggests

email marketing

Delivering quality leads is a more important objective for B2B marketers in the US than driving more leads – but it’s also a bigger challenge. That’s according to DemandWave’s 6th annual State of B2B Digital Marketing Report, which examines the channels, content types and social platforms that B2B marketers are using to generate leads.

Channels - Email tops the list

Not too surprisingly given its popularity, email tops the list of lead-generating channels for the B2B marketers surveyed, with almost three-quarters (73%) indicating that email drives leads for them. Close behind, seven in 10 report that organic search is a lead driver, with fewer (54%) saying the same about paid search.

Leads and resources

To some extent, these responses matched channel popularity, as more than 9 in 10 respondents reported including email (93%) and organic search (91%) in their marketing mix.

A notable gap, however, can be seen with social media. While it’s the most commonly used channel (by 95% of respondents), far fewer – 55% – reported it as a lead-driver.

When it comes to revenue generation, B2B marketers were as likely to point to organic search as they were to say email drives revenue, with almost two-thirds (63%) reporting each of these channels as a revenue-generating channel.

By comparison, only a minority said that paid search (44%) and social media (37%) drives revenue for them.

Matching these results against channel usage, suggests that fewer than 40% of those who use social media say that it drives revenue for them, while two-thirds of those using email feel that it generates revenue.

B2B content marketers prefer blogs and videos

Blogs and videos top the list of content types produced by US B2B marketers, each being used by 82% of respondents. That’s generally in line with previous research, which has also found blogs and videos to be the top content types (though videos in that case were less popular than blogs).

Content marketing types

Beyond those top content types, a majority of B2B marketers surveyed also reported producing white papers (73%), case studies (68%), infographics (68%) and webinars (60%).

As for lead generation, though, white papers (53%) and webinars (50%) emerged as the top content types, with blogs (39%) and videos (35%) not quite as high.

Revenue-generating content types followed a similar pattern, with white papers (40%) and webinars (37%) driving revenues for the largest share of respondents, followed by case studies (34%), videos (30%) and blogs (28%).

Social media platforms - B2B marketers still go to LinkedIn first

B2B marketers appear to be relying on a few key social media channels, with LinkedIn (89%), Twitter (86%) and Facebook (82%) closely bunched at the top. Even so, two-thirds reported using YouTube, which speaks to the popularity of video content. Research has also suggested that B2B marketers are using YouTube for video search optimization purposes.

As expected given its preeminence in the B2B world, LinkedIn is easily seen as the top social platform for lead-generation. The 62% noting that LinkedIn drives leads for them was almost double the proportions for both Facebook (37%) and Twitter (34%).

Likewise, a leading 43% of respondents indicated that LinkedIn has generated revenue for them, while one-quarter said the same about Facebook. Notably, almost one-quarter (23%) of respondents indicated that none of the social platforms listed had generated revenue for them.

Marketing automation is in place for most

Other highlights from the report suggest that LinkedIn (68%) is topping Facebook (56%) and Twitter (50%) in paid social use. Additionally, just 1 in 5 respondents report that mobile drives more than 40% of their traffic. Further, with more than two-thirds having a marketing automation system in place, 1 in 8 indicate that at least 7 software platforms are part of their marketing tech stack.

With more than two-thirds having a marketing automation system in place, some 85% have an email nurture program for leads, with similar proportions of lead scoring (47%), predictive lead scoring (54%) and website personalization technology (49%) users feeling that these are effective. A slight majority (57%) believing that sales and marketing departments are well-aligned, with just 35% agreeing that sales finds their current lead scoring effective; and only 37% having tried or currently using account-based marketing.

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Laurie Fullerton

Laurie Fullerton is a writer based in Boston, MA with a background in business, sports, community, medical and travel writing. She has been a newspaper editor in the Boston-area, a sports writer covering yacht racing and a community reporter. She has been reporting for The Drum since October 2015.

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