“By 2015, we expect to see 71 percent of b-to-b organizations’ new inquiries coming via the corporate Web site.”
The point being made by the article’s author, Jill Stanek, was that Marketo’s acquisition enables that company to extend dynamic, personalized marketing conversations from their current domain (email campaigns) all the way to the Website.
Fair enough. What doesn’t sound right to me, however, is that 71% figure. In fact, I’ll make almost the exact opposite prediction:
“By 2015, the percentage of B2B leads that arrive via corporate Websites will shrink dramatically as marketers maintain multiple, distinct online channels that are optimized for demand generation.”
By way of context, I happen to work for a B2B marketing agency that helps clients generate, nurture, and convert sales leads. Want to guess how many of those leads arrive via our clients’ Websites?
Why? Because when we design demand gen campaigns, we drive prospects to custom landing pages and campaign microsites that 1) are hosted separate from the main Website, and 2) are optimized for demand generation (that is, designed specifically to maximize conversion rates and form submissions.)
We almost never direct people to a corporate Website, for the simple reason that most Websites aren’t designed to be demand generation vehicles. For example, the average corporate Web page contains dozens of navigational links and “options” for the reader. This makes sense for the casual, organic visitor in the context of user experience. It’s the exact opposite of what we want for a demand gen campaign, which is to present the reader with exactly one offer, one call to action, and one option: fill out the form.
Other trends that are decreasing the role of Websites in B2B demand generation:
• the growing prevalence of microsites, blogs, information portals, and communities that exist outside the corporate Website but are designed specifically to generate search rankings, Web traffic, subscribers, contributors, and sales leads.
• the increasing importance of mobile marketing, and the pressure to create dedicated mobile landing pages and Web properties that are optimized both for demand gen and the mobile experience. (No matter how mobile-friendly you make your Website, I would argue, it will never convert leads as well as a dedicated mobile landing page.)
• the emergence of companies like Captora, a “Marketing Lead Acceleration” platform that enables B2B marketers to create hundreds of standalone microsites or “campaigns” that optimize in real time to increase search rankings and generate conversions.
• the growth in pay-per-lead (PPL) media channels like content syndication or sponsored content, whereby B2B marketers pay for leads (usually filtered by geography, company size, even job title) who downloaded a specific content asset, typically from a publisher’s Website.
To be clear, I’m not saying that a B2B Website shouldn’t be optimized for demand generation. To the extent that technologies like Marketo/Insightera make the Web experience more personalized and tailored to the individual, Websites can only become more effective at generating leads and moving prospects along the sales cycle. But effective to the point that they generate 71% of all sales leads? I doubt it.
What do you think?