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Marketing Watchdog Journal
  November 2011, Issue 93

Demand-Generation Best Practices
What to Do About Those "Anonymous" Website Visitors, and Other Actionable Insights into Optimizing Your Website
Excerpt from Demandbase's "2011 National Website Demand-Generation Study."

This excerpt from Demandbase's recently published "2011 National Website Demand-Generation Study" reveals the ways in which corporate websites are not performing to their potential, especially in terms of tracking unidentified site visitors and generating new, high-quality sales leads from visitors reviewing their website.

Bottom line: By taking the web experience to the next level and providing information tailored to each prospect's key requirements, B2B marketers will be able to tell the right story to the right visitor every step of the way—but they also need to find the technologies and resources to interpret what they learn so that they can improve performance.
Get all the results from the survey.

This is an excerpt from the Demandbase's recently published "2011 National Website Demand-Generation Study." You may download the entire study here.

2011 National Website Demand-Generation Study

From May 18 to May 25, 2011, Demandbase ran a study in conjunction with 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. The following data is based on a sample of 100 B2B marketing and IT professionals, invited to participate via online promotion and e-mail with the survey administered online using a web survey tool.

Respondents represented B2B companies of all sizes and industries, and the most obvious conclusion drawn from the data was this:

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. 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 percent 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
While all 11 survey questions, answers and ensuing analysis in Demandbase's report are highly revelatory, we've chosen two to include in this article. For the remainder of the survey results, you may download the complete survey.

Question 4: How well does your business know/understand the prospects it is selling to?

Businesses report understanding their prospects well but, as the study has shown, identifying prospects in the first place remains a challenge.

There is a growing interest in creating "buyer personas" to help B2B marketers better tailor marketing strategies to the individuals that comprise the committees tasked with purchasing their products. But in B2B marketing, personas are useless if you don't know who the visitor is that is hitting your site right now. B2B marketers are not selling to individuals, they are selling to companies, and by targeting prospects by company, industry and size, rather than by individual buyer behavior, they have a better chance at converting more website visitors.

It is also important to remember that most web marketing tools are still borne from B2C marketing, which continues to be focused on demographics, rather than firmographics, and individual behavior rather than selling to a company or account. Fitting "round" B2C marketing strategies through the "square" hole of B2B will prove unsuccessful.

A mere 13% of the survey respondents indicated they were doing a good job tracking and reporting on unknown site visitors. Unlike B2C, where return visitors can often make up a majority of traffic, in B2B it is suggested that up to 80% of visitors can be "anonymous." Businesses need to implement strategies that better market to both known (registered visitors) and unknown visitors so they are able to better engage and convert website visitors.

Marketers must carefully create web content, and first determine where it belongs in the business buyer's purchase cycle. Every decision maker in the process should be considered, and campaigns and content must be relevant to each stakeholder's interest. They should also consider tailoring educational, early stage content to fit the firmographics (i.e., demographics of the company) of their prospects as these are the pieces that can most easily be personalized to the (formerly) anonymous visitor.

Question 5: How many fields do your website's registration forms contain and which fields do you collect?

Jon Miller, VP of marketing at marketing automation provider Marketo, recently published an interesting case study based on the results of the company's own lead-generation campaigns. In writing on the company's Modern B2B Marketing blog, Miller described how the company had created three different forms: "short form" with five fields, "medium form" with seven fields, and "long form" with nine fields, and used these on three different versions of a landing page. Marketo's experiment showed the following results:
  • Short Form: Conversion rate 13.4%, cost per conversion $31.24

  • Medium Form: Conversion rate 12.0%, cost per conversion $34.94

  • Long Form: Conversion rate 10.0%, cost per conversion $41.90
The impact of long forms on conversion rates has become well known among business marketers—and best practices call for web forms to have the absolute minimum number of input fields (usually 5 or 6)—but 68% of respondents still have five or more fields on website registration forms. Marketers understand that the best way to tailor sales strategies is to understand their customer, but this approach of information retrieval is affecting their bottom line(s). If shorter forms are best, marketers must collect only crucial data that cannot be gleaned by other website optimization tools (company name, location, industry and size can be easily obtained by third parties). In addition, B2B marketers should leverage data appending services to augment missing fields or re-populate inaccurate data rather than route every lead to sales, regardless of quality.

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Demandbase is a technology company that enables B2B marketers to improve marketing conversions and turn web traffic into sales. Demandbase's SaaS solutions leverage its proprietary Business Resolution Platform, combining real-time identification of the companies visiting a website with B2B account analytics, and an extensive master database to make marketing programs and prospect interactions more effective.

Demandbase works as a standalone service or integrated with other sales and marketing technologies to give them new account based intelligence, enabling companies to align marketing and sales strategies and improve overall return on effort.

Founded in 2006 and in use at more than 1,000 companies, Demandbase is headquartered in San Francisco, California.

Marketing Watchdog Journal is a monthly newsletter from Bulldog Solutions, an online marketing agency that changes the way BtoB companies define demand-generation strategy, engage prospects and convert leads to customers. We welcome your feedback on this newsletter's content and design, and encourage you to share your ideas for topics you would like us to cover in future issues. Please send your comments or questions about Bulldog Solutions to Cheyanne Atchley, director of marketing.

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