Sunday, August 17, 2014

How to Close the Performance Gap in Lead Generation and Content Marketing

Over the past few years, both lead generation and content marketing have become primary focus areas for B2B marketers. Because of changes in how B2B buyers are learning about business issues and possible solutions, marketers have been required to assume greater responsibility for acquiring and nurturing sales leads. Meanwhile, most B2B marketers now recognize that content marketing is the most effective way to create and maintain meaningful engagement with potential buyers.

Despite all of the recent focus on lead generation and content marketing, research indicates that companies vary significantly in terms of how well they are performing these critical marketing functions. Some companies excel at lead generation and content marketing, while others aren't doing nearly as well.

Last fall, the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs published the results of their latest annual content marketing survey. In that survey, 93% of B2B respondents said they are using content marketing, but only 42% of respondents said their content marketing programs are effective.

Earlier this year, Demand Metric published the results of a lead generation benchmark survey. In that survey, 89% of respondents said their companies have a lead generation process, but only half of the respondents (49%) rated their lead generation efforts as moderately or highly effective.

The Demand Metric survey found that the three most widely used lead generation techniques were e-mail, tradeshow/event marketing, and content marketing. Demand Metric also found that the top three lead generation techniques were the same regardless of company size or whether a company was growing or experiencing declining revenues, and regardless of how respondents from the company rated the effectiveness of their lead generation process.

In other words, Demand Metric found that everyone is essentially using the same lead generation techniques, but some companies are achieving better results than others. The logical conclusion is that lead generation effectiveness is not a function of which techniques are used, but how those techniques are planned and executed.

So, what attributes and practices separate companies with high-performing lead generation and content marketing programs from those whose programs are less effective? The CMI/MarketingProfs research provides insights on this important issue.

CMI and MarketingProfs compared several attributes of highly-effective content marketers with less effective content marketers. Highly-effective content marketers were survey respondents who rated the effectiveness of their organization's use of content marketing as 4 or 5 (on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being "Very Effective"). Less effective marketers were those respondents who rated the effectiveness of their organization's use of content marketing as 1 or 2 (with 1 being "Not At All Effective"). The table below shows the results of this comparison.

As this table shows, companies with highly-effective content marketing programs are more likely to:
  • Have a documented content marketing strategy
  • Have someone with specific responsibility for overseeing and managing the content marketing program
  • Devote sufficient financial resources to their content marketing program
While the CMI/MarketingProfs survey dealt specifically with content marketing, these attributes are equally applicable to lead generation. To have a highly-effective lead generation program, you need a well-conceived and documented lead generation strategy, someone dedicated to managing your lead generation efforts, and sufficient financial resources to support an effective lead generation program.


  1. Great post. With people suffering from information overload today, it's critical to provide value that caters to your target market. It's definitely possible to do this yourself if you are just starting out but clear, simple systems are very important. It would be interesting to see the difference when the content marketing strategy includes both video and text content.

  2. Nice post. Content certainly is the "fuel" to your lead generation engine. Content plays a critical role in all 3 lead generation sources..Email needs relevant helpful content to nurture the lead down the sales funnel, Tradeshow content should help define what you'll be doing at the event as well as keeping the convo going post tradeshow and lastly content helps you get in front of people researching for your product or services online through social and search engines.