Last week we talked about how there may be a “social media boom and bust” coming our way. Companies, we hypothesized, are probably starting to look for more actionable advice, stronger leads, and better ways to convert leads into sales. A recent study by Business.com seems to validate these hypotheses. We learned about the study via this article from B2bOnline.com. Business.com interviewed 500 of their pay-per-lead advertisers in May, 2013 and uncovered some interesting information about how B2B companies are thinking about lead generation today. Here are some of the more interesting bits of data that we pulled from the report.
B2B Purchase Timeline Keeps Getting Longer
According to the report, respondents indicated that the purchase timeline for their customers had increased to about 5.4 months in 2012. We have some clients who have to work with buying cycles that are far longer, sometimes up to two years. Because of this increasingly long buying cycle, companies need to do much more hand-holding and lead nurturing.
Seeking More Solid Information
Likely because of the longer buying cycle and the need to stay in touch with customers, the report indicates that companies are most interested in leads that are tied to a business email address (at the least) and a physical address if possible. In fact, 50% indicated that they now are most looking for leads with a legitimate business email address. This means that companies are not looking for general, broadly defined “lead reports.” They want individuals with names and contact information.
Lead Generation Tools
Although the report mentioned several different lead generation tools, the two options companies seemed to value most were white papers and webinars. Of the companies surveyed, 25.3% said that they consider leads from white papers to be “extremely valuable.” Additionally, 40% of companies polled said that they are interested in investing in webinars as a possible lead generation opportunity.
There are a few important additional points that the report touches on that could be expanded into greater detail. First, lead generation is just the first step. The report also emphasizes the importance of lead nurturing. This means that if your company is planning to invest in something like a white paper or a webinar, you need to have, as part of your plan, a way to nurture those leads over what could be a long period of time.
Another issue the report does not touch on, but one we have discussed before in the context of the “content marketing” buzz, is that generating white papers and webinars can be extremely expensive, not necessarily through various media channels that may help distribute them but through the time it will take your staff to actually create the content.
We have been noticing an increased interest in lead generation opportunities with our own clients over the last year or so, and leading publications in all of the industries we work with have begun expanding their offerings in this area. We will keep you updated as we continue to learn more.
To download the business.com report you can visit this link.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/peak-internet-marketing/7040238429 via Creative Commons