your business

Does your small business use online marketing tactics to generate B2B leads? With so many ways to attract leads online, sometimes it’s hard to know what to focus on. A recent study, 2017 State of B2B Digital Marketing, has some insights into what digital marketing tactics are worth your time and effort.

Social media, email and search are the most popular lead generation tactics…

Some digital lead generation tactics are almost universally employed. For example, 95 percent of B2B marketers surveyed use social media to generate leads, 93 percent use email marketing and 91 percent use organic search.

…but that doesn’t mean they’re the most effective

Despite ranking number one in popularity as a lead generation tool, social media falls far lower on the scale in terms of effectiveness. Fifty-five percent of B2B marketers say social media generates leads for their companies—far below the 73 percent who say email generate leads and the 70 percent who say organic search does. Paid search generates leads for 54 percent of survey respondents, while display advertising works for 37 percent. The latter two tactics are often harder for small businesses to execute, which may account for their relatively poor showing.

LinkedIn leads the pack in lead generation

Digging down further into social networks, the survey reports 89 percent of companies use LinkedIn and 86 percent use Twitter. However, LinkedIn is by far the top social network for generating leads, cited by 62 percent of respondents, compared to just 37 percent who say Facebook is effective. Meanwhile, Twitter’s effectiveness does not even come close to its popularity: Just 34 percent say Twitter drives leads and 17 percent say YouTube generates leads.

White papers work

What type of content works best for B2B marketers at generating leads? Although 82 percent of marketers in the survey publish blog posts, making this the single most common type of content used, blogs aren’t the most effective way to drive leads. Good old-fashioned white papers perform best in lead generation effectiveness, cited by 53 percent of respondents. Half of respondents say webinars generate leads, 44 percent say case studies generate leads, 35 percent say videos generate leads and 31 percent say infographics do.

Lessons for B2B marketers

What lessons can you take away from these survey results?

  1. As your mother used to say when you were a kid, just because everyone else is doing something doesn’t mean you should do it, too. Some of the most common digital marketing tactics mentioned in the survey get only fair-to-middling results. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them; it just means you should assess their effectiveness for your particular product or service and target market instead of blindly following the crowd.
  2. B2B buyers are looking for meaty content. How else to explain the success white papers, webinars and case studies in generating leads? White papers and webinars are typically gated content, too, so prospects have to give up their contact information to get the content. Case studies offer buyers a chance to see how your product or service helps companies like theirs. While white papers, webinars and case studies are all fairly complex pieces of content to generate, their effectiveness suggests it’s worth putting some extra time (and more of your marketing budget) into them.
  3. Social media drives awareness, but not necessarily leads. Interacting with customers and prospects on social media or sharing your expert opinion in a blog post can attract attention to your business, raising awareness of your brand. While these activities may not directly generate leads, they are still valuable because they keep your business in front of prospective customers for consideration when it’s time to buy.