IDC: Lead management a top investment for tech marketers

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Lead management and campaign management systems will be the top technology investment areas this year for tech marketers, according to the “2013 Tech Marketing Barometer” report from International Data Corp, released in April. The report was based on an online survey of 64 senior marketers at large technology companies, conducted between Jan. 15 and Feb. 26. Combined annual revenue at the companies surveyed totaled more than $300 billion. IDC asked marketers to allocate 100 percentage points toward technology investment areas for this year. The top choice was lead/campaign management systems (22.0%), followed by customer databases (19.5%) and website systems (17.7%). Other investment areas this year include marketing analytics (11.8%); content/digital asset/sales enablement systems (9.0%); social marketing infrastructure (7.2%); personalization systems (6.1%); mobile content marketing (3.1%); and other technologies (3.6%). “For b-to-b companies, lead management is the major process for marketing,” said Kathleen Schaub, VP-CMO Advisory Service at IDC. “We are also seeing more emphasis on website development this year as people are doing upgrades and dealing with content issues.” Within lead management, the top programs marketers will focus on this year are campaign automation systems, including nurture paths and lead flows (22.3%); data capture, cleansing, maintenance and governance (17.3%); and lead scoring (15.0%). Other lead-management activities this year are improving marketing dashboards (10.5%); integrating digital processes with human actions, such as live chat (9.8%); service-level agreements with sales teams and channels (8.9%); cross-functional taxonomy and policies (8.9%); cross-functional governance teams (5.0%); and other activities (2.3%). “Marketers are very focused on getting the tactical acts in place, and a little bit less on the fundamentals of working with sales and getting optimization things in place,” Schaub said. “Many of our clients have been saying it has been a perennial challenge to align with sales. Now, they are focused on getting their own house in order, getting the data and then coming back to align with sales.” IDC also asked marketers which areas had been improved through the use of predictive analytics. The top area was lead management (cited by 45.0% of respondents), followed by lead prioritization (42.0%), opportunity prioritization for sales (41.0%) and lead scoring (39.0%). “Most people are trying to use predictive analytics to understand the next best offer—being able to look at the paths that are commonly taken by differing customer segments,” Schaub said. “If you have a number of different products and a number of different customer segments, as well as a large number of content pieces, then the number of options is just astronomical.” She said marketers can use analytics to predict the most likely offer or piece of information prospects will take action on based on the steps they have already taken in the buying process. In a separate study last year, “IDC 2012 Buyer Experience Study,” conducted online among 204 technology buyers, respondents were asked to rank the importance of different types of content or interactions in their IT decision-making process. The top information sources cited were interactions with the vendor's technical teams, such as engineers and CTOs (33.9%); vendor content, such as white papers and case studies (28.8%); and interactions with sales reps (23.8%). “The salesperson used to be the dominant player in the relationship, but now that buyers have more information than sellers do, the seller is inverted. Now buyers are more powerful than sellers are, and they do not want to talk to salespeople,” Schaub said. “What they want is either information that will help them to buy or they want convenience getting the information.” She added, “When you start getting deeper into the buying process, tech buyers are looking for really concrete tools—ROI calculators, competitive comparisons and very hands-on practical things they can use to bring back to their buying group to make decisions go faster internally.”
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