The State of B2B Lead Generation in 2018

Lead generation strategies, methods, channels, and tools continue to be a major focus for B2B marketers in 2018 and for good reason – it impacts the bottom line.

Recently, we conducted a survey for B2B marketers on the state of lead generation to get insight into what’s working for lead generation and what challenges are marketers facing.

Here are the results of the survey.

Top Lead Gen Source: Word of Mouth / Referrals

When asked where B2B marketers are generating leads, the two main sources were Word of Mouth / Referrals and Company Website. More than 80% of survey respondents said that Word of Mouth / Referrals were the primary source of leads, while 70% of respondents listed their company’s B2B website as a lead generation source.

Biggest Challenge: Not Enough Time

When asked about the biggest challenges with lead generation, the results were more varied. Out of the respondents, 48% stated that their biggest challenge was not having enough time or being spread too thin, 33% pointed to a poor/undefined sales process, another 33% indicated a lack of quality leads, and 23% indicated a lack of budget was their biggest challenge.

Lead Nurturing: Personalization Wins

In terms of lead nurturing, almost 80% of survey respondents stated that they used personalized calls or email campaigns as lead nurturing, 64% listed email campaigns, and 49% pointed to content marketing offers (i.e. white papers, guides, tip sheets, etc). It was interesting to see that manual personalization was the main lead nurturing activity for B2B marketers responding to this survey, particularly with the industry rhetoric about trying to automate personalization.

Cross-Selling & Up-Selling: Personalized Approach

Next, we polled respondents on what activities and methods they use for cross-selling or up-selling clients. Personalized calls and/or emails was the leader with 55% of respondents using this method, followed by email campaigns (41%) and blog posts (31%).

Lead Attribution: Yes or No?

To increase lead generation, it’s important to know which channels are driving the best quality leads. As such, we asked B2B marketers whether they perform lead attribution to determine the source of the leads. Only 44% of respondents are currently performing lead attribution regularly, while another 28% are determining lead attribution sometimes.

Referral Leads Top the List

Lastly, we surveyed our respondents on where the majority of their clients come from. According to the responses, almost half of clients are referrals from partners or existing customers, followed by outbound marketing and sales, with a smaller percentage coming from inbound marketing.

What B2B Marketers Say About Lead Generation

We asked B2B marketers, “What is your biggest lead generation challenge in 2018?” The answers varied quite a bit and covered everything from not being able to find the right marketing staff and not having enough time to invest in certain lead gen activities. Below is a sampling of the responses:

“Overcoming a push strategy where leads are found through email lists, and other data collection services; creating a pull strategy where leads opt-in is my biggest challenge for 2018.  Finding somewhere to look to incorporate a new crop of leads is hard enough as many times you don’t know where to look, but to gain registered users who find you and want to be involved with you is even harder.  Because I’m not selling anything, it’s important to attract my clientele and not push them away or get banned by them from emails and WhatsApp notifications as I won’t be able to distribute otherwise.  Audience management is the key to building roads that sustain an infrastructure of progress.” – AC Grindl, General Manager, Milla de Oro Magazine.

“Our biggest lead generation challenge for 2018 is getting more response from our online presence.  We have backed off in-person networking during the past 18 months because it is so time intensive hoping to replace it with online networking.” – Chris Elliott, Owner, LPE, Inc.

“We have struggled to find competent, qualified staffing & get budget approval for that headcount. It took us about 16 months & 3 different people in the role to fill a content marketing position with someone skilled enough to handle it.” – Kristen Ortwerth, Director of Marketing, symplr.

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