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May 05, 2004

IT Marketing Survey Results: 2004 Response Rate & Budgeting Data Includes Some Surprises

SUMMARY: At last - here is the results summary from our March 2004 IT Marketing Survey that you've been asking for. 879 marketers provided excellent data. Some results:

- Search is *not* the most effective lead generation tactic
- Offline tactics including mail, trade shows, and road shows are voted very important
- Email is still alive and well
- Most marketers say their websites aren't great

Here are more specifics, and useful links to free charts:
Given how hard the recession hit the high-tech industry, the most surprising data from our recent survey was that only 18.1% of surveyed software, hardware, and related services marketers make less than $50,000 per year. And 33.3% of you have six-figure incomes.

Here's some more results data:

Web sites are top-rated for budgeting and results -- but hardly anyone thinks their site is excellent

Website improvements were the top item that IT marketers said they have allocated budget to. This may be because although 82.8% of respondents voted websites as their most effective lead generation method, only 5.3% rated their site's ability to convert visitors into leads as "excellent."

How can you tweak your site to get more sales leads, or direct sales? Respondents say these tools work best:
35.8% Free trial demos
29.7% Webinar offer
24.2% White paper offer
23.5% Road show/in-person seminar offer
19.4% Discount offer

Perhaps the most shocking result was how many marketers said they weren't using common conversion tactics. 8% said there wasn't a contact phone number on their site. 6% said there was no contact email. 40% didn't offer a white paper, and 57% didn't offer a webinar.

Email's not dead yet

Email marketing to a house list was the second most budgeted-for tactic. Rented lists were far lower ranked. Response data explains why:

House list promo blast open rate 51.6%
House list promo blast click rate 14.2%
House newsletter open rate 39.7%
House newsletter list click rate 17.9%
3rd party list promo blast open rate 26.6%
3rd party list promo blast click rate 9.2%

55% of marketers did not use ads in third party email newsletters at all. We hadn't expected this number to be so high because newsletter ads are a great way to work around CAN-SPAM and get clicks at a lower CPM than promo blast costs. The majority of marketers who did test 3rd party newsletter ads reported their ads were somewhat effective.

Offline marketing still matters

Next came direct postal mail in third place and trade shows in fourth place for budgeting. And, surprisingly, marketers were likely to be budgeting slightly more funds for print advertising than they were for search marketing.

As we suspected, dimensional mailings to a house list won the battle of response rates hands down with an average 12.2% rate. However, sending a dimensional to a third party list netted 7.6% response -- which happens to be the same exact response as sending a self-mailer (such as a postcard) to a house list.

On the trade show front, the niche vertical and regional shows are definitely proving to give the bigger bang for the buck. Marketers report you'll get 48.1 qualified sales leads per thousand attendees to a big national show, but 61.7 leads from a vertical show.

Plus, the chances you can land a speaking gig for one of your execs at a smaller show may be higher. So, it's easier to make an impact at vertical/regionals all around.

We saw data elsewhere that IT marketers are not planning to expand the number of shows they'll exhibit at this year (although they'll spend a tad more on booths.) We urge you to reconsider -- try taking your show budget and slicing it to more verticals and spending less per show.

Telemarketing was also voted as being very effective by 72% of respondents who use it.

Webinars versus seminar/road shows

At 80.7%, in-person seminars and road shows were rated as the third most highly effective lead generation tactic immediately after website and email. Webinars were next on the list, ranking fourth in effectiveness at 73.6%.

Given the dramatic difference in cost between these two, we expect webinars to continue taking off as a marketing tool. 55% of respondents indicated they don't currently use webinars (as opposed to 44% for road shows). We'll keep reporting on trends with future surveys.

Online ads are getting higher-than-average clicks

Either the marketers we surveyed are stunningly brilliant, or the IT marketplace is more likely to click than consumers are. Respondents noted they were getting an average 3.6% click rate from paid search and 1.2% click rate from other online ads.

The majority of IT marketers are investing in search marketing (47% are not doing paid search yet, and 32% are not optimizing their sites for organic listings.) However, despite all the search hoopla in the media, as a lead generation tool, search was only rated effective by 64.5% of the marketers using it.

In comparison trade shows were rated effective by 64.6% of marketers and direct mail was even higher at 65.9%.

So, search doesn't rule the IT world after all. It's definitely a necessary part of your mix, but. if you're taking away funds from DM or trade shows to finance it, perhaps you should reconsider.

How this research was gathered

In mid-March 2004, we asked all MarketingSherpa readers, plus the members of the SoftwareCEO site, who were actively involved in marketing software, hardware, and related services to business and government to take a highly detailed survey.

915 of you responded (thanks!) We culled out a few respondents whose answers indicated they didn't belong in the survey pool, and wound up with 879 "good" completed surveys.

Then our Metrics Editor Andrew Latzman and Managing Editor Anne Holland carefully analyzed results.

Two useful links related to this article:

#1. The IT Marketing Metrics Guide's Executive Summary - detailing 5 key research learnings (includes a handy chart)

(Open access)

#2. Marketing to the IT Influencer: A Quantitative Look
(8 useful charts from a presentation by MarketingSherpa's Metrics Editor Andrew Latzman. Please contact us if you'd like him to give this speech to your association or group as a free service.)

See Also:

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