What’s Hot and What’s Not in B2B Marketing?

hot in marketing

As demand generation consultants, we are frequently asked what’s working in business-to-business demand generation. Our clients have had success leveraging everything from cold calls and trade shows to SEO and PPC. We’ve worked with a variety of attribution modelling tools over the years and Bizible remains one of our favorites for B2B marketing attribution. Its ability to connect your attribution data through to opportunities within your CRM is awesome. We also love data, and Bizible was kind enough to share their results from a study of high technology and SAAS companies in the following graph. While their sample size isn’t huge, their results do give you a good idea of channels that you should be actively testing to see if they are effective for your organization.

Bizible Marketing Attribution Graph

Bizible Study: Marketing Activity With the Greatest Impact on Revenue (Technology and SaaS).

As many of you have undoubtedly noticed, content marketing is all the rage in B2B marketing these days. What surprises me about these results is how resilient trade shows and events remain. I thought they were great in 2003 and apparently they are still great today.

Bizible does note that they received 370 responses to their survey but they didn’t provide the number of respondents for each industry segment. For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to assume 20% (or 74) of the respondents came from this segment. While we don’t know exactly how Bizible calculated their results, or what the degree of variance across a standard deviation is, we can safely assume that we are dealing with some relatively small numbers. I’m going to go ahead and toss out “Don’t Know” as that’s a bit difficult for most of us to replicate (although, surprisingly, this is a very common result for folks who aren’t using attribution modelling.) This leaves us with Content Marketing, Conference / Trade Shows, SEO, Paid Search and Email Marketing as the top performing channels. Luckily these are channels that most B2B organizations can test with some focus and effort over time.

I would postulate that Outbound Calling met with limited success because most teams aren’t aggressive enough in developing their outbound tactics. If you aren’t aggressively researching new leads daily (say 25 new names per outbound dialing representative) and pairing that with 100+ dials per day per rep, it’s hard to be successful at a numbers game. We find most teams don’t focus enough on quality research, so even if they are making enough dials, they are often just repeatedly calling the wrong people.

The ugly stepchild of this report is PR. Unfortunately, this does line up with what we’ve seen over the past 20 years of B2B marketing. PR is great for buzz and impressions, but it very, very rarely generates revenue opportunities.

To conclude, we recommend testing Content Marketing, Conference and Trade Shows, SEO, Paid Search / PPC and Email Marketing as key channels for your business to business demand generation. Consider leveraging Outbound Dialing if you can put together an aggressive, well researched and actively measured program. Don’t expect Public Relations to do too much for your bottom line as a start-up. It commonly takes years to build a brand and following that will make your PR worthwhile over the long term.