July 24, 2006
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By Anne Holland, President
This June, MarketingSherpa's research team conducted our third annual study of business technology marketing — what works in the real world. 1,900 marketers participated either online or by phone. (Thanks everyone!)
The results, as always, were fascinating. You'll find a link below to the complete study, but I thought you'd like to see this particular chart immediately:
MarketingSherpa Chart: Highly Effective Lead Generation Offers — By Type of Technology Being Marketed
Here are my top three takeaways from this fresh data:
#1. Blogs (and soon podcasts) are primary lead gen vehicles
This year for the first time, blogs have joined top-rated tactics to entice prospects. I suspect this is as much due to the traffic generation from search engine friendliness of blogs to the thought leadership your management team can flaunt to build brand value.
However, our research from 2005 indicated very few techies read blogs actively. Blog-readers tend to be other blog writers, members of the press and general business executives (i.e. everyone except for the IT and engineering departments).
#2. Be wary of relying entirely on free trials
It must be emphasized that while free trials can work exceptionally well as lead generators, only prospects in the tail end of the sales cycle will generally respond to this offer. They are much closer to buying than other prospects so your sales force will be very happy.
On the other hand, if you focus on free trial accepters to the exclusion of other lead sources, you may slice the pipeline too thin and not generate sufficient volume. You'll also miss out on prospects that were scooped up earlier in the cycle by your competitors who've been nurturing the relationship ever since. Remember, the lowest-hanging fruit is not the only fruit on the tree.
#3. Low-ball offers generate low-quality leads
Why are sweepstakes rated so low on this scale? After all, sweeps and freebie offers such as T-shirts and iPods, tend to get very high response rates.
Well, we asked respondents to rate the value of the effort — meaning the quality of the leads — rather than merely the quantity of leads. Dumping a mountain of extremely low-quality leads into your sales team's inboxes will only earn you their wrath and distrust. And, adding $5 to $20 or more per lead for initial telephone qualification and scoring can bust your marketing budget.
#4. Your best offer is multiple offers
My biggest advice from the above findings: Don't ever rely on one single lead generation offer alone. Add a combination of offers on a *permanent* position on the persistent navigation throughout your Web site, employee email signatures, email newsletter templates and other marcom materials routinely viewed by prospects.
The best offers — as is indicated above — are high in perceived educational value. Content rules. In fact, if your marketing budget were to expand by say $60,000 this year, instead of investing in an ad campaign, a trade show booth, a DM mailing or more paid search clicks … hire another writer for your staff.
Get someone who can kick out content — must-read white papers, keyword-heavy blog entries, compelling PowerPoint presentations, email newsletter articles, etc. Content is your best marketing investment for 2006 and beyond.
Useful links related to this article
MarketingSherpa's Business Technology Benchmark Guide 2007: