Demand Generation: Expectation vs. Reality

When you read a list of best practices, you often get an idealized view of the practices that marketers follow.

Often, those who wrote the list know they should follow the best practice that they just wrote, but it isn’t something that their company does.  Or, what used to be a best practice is slowly starting to shift.

In today’s post, we look at seven demand generation expectations/assumptions, then look at statistics that reveal the reality of today’s demand generation efforts.

Expectation: Lead-based quotas are a good way to measure the success of a demand generation strategy.

Reality:  More than half (53%) have some form of revenue-based quotas, while 20% still have lead-based quotas.

More and more companies have switched to revenue-based, attributed goals and quotas. While creating a rough goal number of leads can be part of a successful demand generation strategy, it is only part of the equation.

But for lead-based quotas to have any value, you must use them to deduce how many will convert and eventually buy. The HIPBlog team wrote a great post on this.

That means you’ll need current data on how many leads you turn into sales ops, and how many of those are converted into customers. You’ll also need a goal for revenue growth.  Figure out how many (average-sized) deals you’ll need to hit that goal. From there, you can back into the number of opportunities and leads to aim for.

From there, you can determine the blend of outbound leads (including forms of content syndication) and inbound leads you need to aim for monthly to reach those revenue goals.

Expectation: Most marketing databases are complete and up to date.

Reality: As much as 50% of the average marketing database is useless, in large part because of duplicate records. In the Ceros survey, just 11% of those surveyed said their database is current and provides complete coverage of key segments.

You’d expect that more marketers would have clean, hygienic data, but right around half of all marketing databases are practically useless, mostly because of duplicate records and poorly cleaned data.

This can include inbound data missing fields and containing incorrect information.

Inbound data is organic, but it also contains a lot of flaws. An advantage of buying verified contact data from a trustworthy vendor is that all the data you buy is verified and up to date.

Expectation: B2B marketers can check in with their audience on a yearly basis and keep in touch with what their audience needs.

Reality:  Successful marketers are 242% more likely to report conducting audience research quarterly, whereas 56% of elite marketers conduct research once or more per month.

It seems that the most successful marketers are the ones that keep up the conversation with their customers on a regular basis. They ask audiences to take surveys, review marketing data on a monthly (or at least a quarterly basis) to keep their marketing messaging and tactics relevant and up to date.

Ask your audience how you are doing. Use the insights they provide to update your buyer personas at the very minimum of four times a year.

Expectation: Social media is the way to increase the number of leads and marketing-attributed revenue.

Reality:  93% of online experiences now begin with a search engine. And Google drives 96% of mobile search traffic.

According to the 2018 Demand Gen Benchmark Survey, email is still a go-to channel for 67% of marketers, but search grew almost 10% between 2017 and 2018.

That number has grown significantly in the past few years. It means that brands must focus on good SEO as one of their main sources of inbound demand generation in the coming years.  When it comes to getting organic, high-converting leads, its all about ensuring your brand ranks high in the keywords that matter for you and your offering.

Today’s search landscape is rapidly evolving, with the number of voice-controlled searches that are now taking place. Voice search accounts for 25% of searches conducted on Windows 10 taskbar. While it’s unclear if the shift to voice has permeated into B2B, it’s safe to say it will eventually.

That will become more common as more business is done at home or in private spaces. Right now, the large, open offices are not conducive to using voice search in the office.  But perhaps in the future, work usage of voice search may become more popular.

As for social media, much of what brands can do on the platforms now is paid. Brands will reach bigger audiences through search engines, email, and other classic mediums than they will organically on social media.

Expectation: Marketers are easily able to link revenue with the marketing activities that generated it.

Reality: Close to half of those Ceros surveyed (42%) planned to measure campaign attribution and influence in 2019.

That means that marketers have struggled to make the links (perhaps due to lack of technology) between the top of the funnel and the deals it produces at the bottom.

And even then, less than half plan to measure it. But, the number is up 36% from last year.

According to the same survey, 47% of marketers are actively measuring campaign attribution and influence. That’s down 6% from the 53% who said they were last year.  It will be interesting to see how many marketers follow through on these plans when Ceros releases its 2020 report at the end of this year.

This might indicate that marketers are still learning how to make this vital connection between the bottom line and top-of-funnel demand generation.

Expectation: Marketers are tracking the earliest signs of engagement as part of their demand generation efforts.

Reality:  42% of marketers surveyed by Ceros, said that leveraging intent/signal data to identify new opportunities was demand generation priority.

Signal and intent data is marketing’s up-and-coming new topic. Because digital gives every company the ability to compete online in every market, elite marketers are trying to track down the earliest signs of interest and engage them as leads from there.

Tracking early signs of engagement/interest, before a lead fills out a form, became a necessary part of the demand generation process due to this potential saturation in the market. You need to know that your potential buyers are interested and start nurturing them before your competition does.

Everyone has a voice in the digital space; reading potential buyers first is a key way for businesses to get a leg up and meet their revenue goals.

Expectation: ABM is a standard tool as part of a demand generation strategy.

Reality46% of those surveyed by Ceros said they were planning to test and/or deploy an ABM tool in 2019.

ABM or account-based marketing is another up-and-coming component of a modern B2B demand generation. It helps you target entire companies and all stakeholders within the companies you target.

But this statistic reveals that ABM is starting to catch on, but even still, more marketers don’t use an ABM tool compared to those that do.

Of those that planned to test and deploy an ABM, we ‘ll see how many did, and how that impacted their demand generation efforts.

In this post, we see that marketers plan to or expect that practices like these to become common:

  • Revenue-based quotes
  • Use of marketing tools like ABM
  • The collection and use of intent data

But what is revealed is that most marketers aren’t quite able to execute these ideas just yet.

It’s likely a combination of a skill gap in many marketers, along with a lack of budget for demand generation technologies, that make it easy for marketers to attribute early signs of engagement with revenue outcomes.

Marketers should take data science courses to stay relevant and use that to justify dollars spent on current demand generation services, data, and tools to remain competitive and turn those plans into a reality for 2020.


Let us know what you think: 

  • Where do demand gen expectations and realities differ?
  • Are the expectations goals for marketers to work towards?
  • Did any of the stats listed here surprise you? Why?



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