Website Is Key To B2B Sales Leads

by , Oct 12, 2011, 10:12 PM
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According to a 2011 National Marketing and Sales Study recently released by Demandbase and Focus, a company’s corporate website is the top source of new sales leads, second only to personal connections and referrals, and more than seven times more effective than social media.

However, study participants report that the website still vastly underperforms in terms of lead generation. And, while businesses feel that they understand their sales prospects (more than 60% report knowing or understanding their prospects well), they do not understand their prospects’ behavior on the very site that’s driving those sales leads. 

From May 18 to May 25, 2011 Demandbase ran a study in conjunction with Focus. com addressing B2B corporate websites as lead generation tools, specifically by assessing the common practices and challenges of measuring the demand generation performance of those websites.

B2B corporate websites are the leading demand generation engine for new sales leads, but B2B companies are struggling to optimize site performance and analyze insights around customer behavior once they arrive, says the report. And while companies have invested heavily in the corporate website, they are doing little to optimize the Web experience for those very audiences they have worked so hard to attract.

Summarized Findings Include:

  • Corporate website ranks as the #1 online source of new leads for businesses, second overall only to personal referrals
  • The corporate website is not performing to its maximum lead generation potential, as reported by 80% of overall respondents
  • Businesses see the most room for improvement in tracking unidentified site visitors and generating new sales leads from the companies reviewing their website
  • The single most important performance indicator for website effectiveness is the quality of the leads generated
  • The major challenge in website analytics is not the data itself, but the ability to act on the data

Despite the buzz around social media as a silver bullet to transform sales and marketing, data suggests it has yet to deliver the business impact of personal networks and referrals, which still provide many businesses with the most leads. For most businesses today, nearly all leads hit the corporate website at some point during the selling cycle, regardless of their origin.

The Website becomes the crucial sales tool during the buyer’s research and discovery process, and buyers are educating themselves without the guidance of a salesperson. B2B marketers clearly need to adapt to this trend, and work to engage buyers through more personalized Web experiences with custom messages and landing pages.

Top Lead Sources Among Surveyed B2B Professionals

Lead Source

% of Respondents

Personal connections and referrals

41%

Corporate websites

23%

Email

14%

Online advertising

7%

Social media

3%

Other

12%

Source: Demandbase, September 2011

The survey indicates that Web analytics capabilities need improvement. Only 19% of respondents report that no improvement is needed around tracking and reporting around registered website visitors. This can be traced to resource constraints; while the majority of B2B marketers have implemented analytics programs on their sites, they are not leveraging this data to improve website performance to better convert visitors.

With only 13% of respondents reporting that no improvement is needed in tracking and reporting around unregistered/anonymous visitors on their sites, the study finds that B2B players are beginning to realize how much traffic flows through the website without being identified, serviced or converted from anonymous visitors to legitimate prospects with revenue potential.

Top Areas of Improvement Needed (% of Respondents)

 

Degree of Improvement Needed

Area For Improvement

Strong

Some

Moderate

Slight

None

Provide relevant product information

5%

11%

41%

22%

11%

Tracking & reporting on current customers/users

11

34

23

13

19

Building sense of community among customers

14

32

27

19

8

Generating new sales leads

14

51

19

10

6

Tracking & reporting on unregistered/anonymous users

18

39

20

10

13

Source: Demandbase, September 2011

The single most important factor for measuring website effectiveness is the quality of leads generated, with 34% of all respondents indicating that quality is more important than quantity of sales leads (9%). Enterprise businesses, which are often more interested in overall branding than their small business counterparts, emphasize the importance of measuring volume (44% total), whereas small businesses emphasize quality of leads (40% total).

Quality versus quantity has long been a raging debate in lead generation circles. Today, more B2B marketers are placing importance on measuring quality, and tying content management with Web analytics and CRM systems to improve the quality of lead flow throughout the organization.

Quantity of visitors also remains a key performance metric, and respondents from larger companies place a greater emphasis on the importance of measuring the “net new” volume of visitors. Perhaps because enterprise companies tend to leverage website marketing for branding more than their smaller counterparts, who are more focused on lead generation, opines the report.

With page views important to only 8% of respondents, B2B marketers are still lagging behind their B2C brethren when it comes to measuring Web visitor engagement. Page views and time on site are key indicators that visitors are finding the content that is relevant to them.

Most Important Key Performance Indicators to Measure Website Effectiveness

Performance Measure

% of Respondents

Quality of leads

34%

Visitors

22

Sales

21

Quantity of leads

9

Page views

8

Other

6

Source: Demandbase, September 2011

While companies report being able to track the number of visits an individual has made to their websites, repeat visitors tend to be a smaller slice of overall traffic, not only because of the “tire-kicking” nature of B2B browsers, but also due to cookie deletion. This means that B2B marketers are spending their time tracking the behavior of a very small percentage of customers, rather than maximizing opportunities from a greater percentage of site traffic. 

This dilemma is further compounded when one considers that B2B marketers do not sell to individuals, they sell to accounts and, often, committees of multiple individuals. And, while strategies must be created around companies, only 20% of respondents track the company of individual website users.

Metrics Used To Track

Metric

% of Respondents Using

Number of visits to website

65%

Activity of individual registered users across website

49

Location of individual users

41

Inbound source of individual users

41

Company of individual users

20

None

5

Other

13

Source: Demandbase, September 2011

One-half of all respondents cite the ability to act on the data they gather as their biggest challenge around website analytics. Resource-constrained marketing departments often assume that automated analytics systems will do all the work for them, but the reality is that dedicated resources must be allocated to gain maximum benefit from these tools. 

Biggest Challenge In Website Analytics

Challenge

% of Respondents

Ability to act on the data

50%

Ease of implementation

26

System integration

24

Ease of real time reporting

21

Ease of understanding

19

Other

6

Source: Demandbase, September 2011

Nearly one-half of B2B professionals (45%) say they do not know where their users are most likely to abandon their website; 17% say visitors are most likely to leave while visiting resources pages (blogs, collateral, whitepapers) and 15% leave sites while visiting registration pages.

Where Customers Are Most Likely to Abandon Company Websites

Page Abandoned

% of Respondents

Don’t know

45%

Resources page (blog, collateral)

17

Sign-up/registration

15

Home page

13

Recruiting/hiring

4

Product

3

Other

3

Source: Demandbase, September 2011

The report concludes by noting that, while the website continues to be a top area for marketing investment made by B2B companies, both for dollar investment as well as resources across both marketing and IT, businesses aren’t paying close enough attention to what’s working and what’s not. By only focusing on where the visitor enters the site, rather than the pages they visit while they are there, or how long they spend on the site, marketers do not capture the data necessary to determine where the buyer is in the purchasing funnel.

To read more about the study, please visit here. For more detailed findings around a broad range of questions asked in the survey, please visit Demandbase here.

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