Improving lead generation is the top marketing priority this year for tech marketers, according to IDC's “2012 Tech Marketing Barometer Study,” released in March.
The study was based on an online survey of 61 senior marketers at high-tech companies conducted in January and February.
The companies surveyed have combined revenues of more than $550.0 billion and include industry leaders such as Cisco Systems, Dell, HP and Intel.
Respondents were asked to allocate 100 “importance points” to various marketing priorities for the year. Improving lead generation received the highest score (20.7), followed by building more brand awareness (16.2) and improving marketing processes (13.9).
“There will be times when companies swing more toward awareness and other times, to demand,” said Kathleen Schaub, VP-research, CMO Advisory Service at IDC. “The first thing is the economy. Marketers still may not feel confident, and they are not seeing their budgets getting a whole lot of boost. There is still very much of a focus on making sure the pipeline gets filled to drive revenue.”
The survey also asked marketers to rank their performance on lead scoring, which it defined as the qualification of lead readiness using quantitative criteria.
Only 10% of tech marketers said they don't score leads. One-third said they have started to score leads but do not do so consistently. One-third said they score leads frequently based on such prospect interactions as opening email or viewing webcasts. Sixteen percent said they have been scoring leads consistently for more than 18 months and can now link interactions to buyer intent, while 8% said they have been scoring leads for several years based on ideal customer knowledge and buyer readiness.
“The marketing automation companies have done an outstanding job pushing lead scoring as a practice,” Schaub said. “There are quite a few people who are doing at least a reasonable job at scoring. This is an area that is a strong success, and we'll see some very interesting things coming up, now that marketers are scoring leads and requiring sales to come to the table and agree on some things.”
In addition, the survey asked marketers to rank their effectiveness at nurturing leads.
Ten percent of respondents said they don't nurture leads at all, while 22% said they have started to “remarket” to leads, although they send the same offers to everyone. Thirteen percent said they nurture leads regularly using multistep campaigns but send the same offers to everyone. One-third said they regularly nurture leads using email and Web-based, multistep campaigns, and sometimes alter content based on the prospect. And 22% said they are regularly nurturing leads using more than email and Web-based multistep campaigns, and that the tactics are linked to stages of a buyer's journey.
“I don't believe this, or people don't understand what nurturing means,” Schaub said. “I talk to a lot of our clients and people in the industry, and I know for sure that people are not nurturing well.”
Pointing to the majority of respondents who said they are regularly nurturing leads, she said, “A lot of people look at nurturing as, "Now we can program our campaign system to deliver six emails in a row.' They are looking at it more from a machine point of view. Effective nurturing should be a systemic engagement with prospects, working through the different stages of the buyer's journey.”
“Step one is developing good habits—such as segmenting buyers, having clean data and developing lead-scoring practices. The second step is making it systematic, making sure you collect enough data and put it into context; then you can use campaigns as levers. Step three is getting into analytics. You need a lot of data and a sound understanding of the buyer's journey so you can see how the information assets you have can help move the buyers along their journey.”