In 2020, B2B marketers who had once relied on face-to-face events had to look elsewhere to build pipeline — and for 8 in 10 (78%), online events were a tactic they used to fill the gap, making it by far the most common approach, per the latest State of Demand Gen survey [download page] from Activate Marketing Services in partnership with MarketingCharts.
But, online events weren’t the only tactic B2B marketers used. Of the 7 in 10 respondents that had used face-to-face events before the pandemic, a range of other tactics also filled the gap – including email marketing (35%), content syndication (32%), social (30%) and paid search (27%).
Overall, this strategy paid dividends, with more than three-quarters (78%) saying they had been successful in replacing face-to-face events, including almost 1 in 4 (23%) claiming to have been very successful. This is likely a contributing factor behind the success that Demand Gen marketers experienced despite business challenges.
Online Event Success Might Not Last
Given that the most popular tactic to replace face-to-face events was to take those events online, understanding performance is of key importance. Fortunately, the majority of respondents that turned to online events rate their performance at doing so as good (50%) or excellent (11%).
However, there are signs that this success with online events might not continue at the same rate in the future. Some 9 in 10 agree that buyers are becoming fatigued with online events: half (50%) believe buyers are becoming significantly fatigued and 40% said they are becoming somewhat fatigued.
Adding to this, online events are no longer expected to be the channel with the most growth in the coming 12 months. Instead, high-quality lead programs have risen up the ranks when respondents were asked to choose their top 3 options.
That being said, research from last year indicates that even when live events return, many will likely have some virtual elements. This is significant considering the clear role for online events at the middle of the customer journey. More than half of respondents say virtual events (56%) and webcasts (53%) are most effective at the mid-funnel stage of the buyer journey, making them the top-rated tactics at this stage.
Importantly though, leads can only progress through the funnel after scoring and qualification — areas that have also seen significant change.
Technology Becomes the Most Common Way to Qualify Marketing Leads
For the first time in the history of this survey, B2B marketers are turning more to technology than a business development rep (BDR) to qualify leads generated by marketing. Only about one-third (34%) of the B2B marketers surveyed say they qualify leads primarily through a BDR, compared to the more than two-fifths (44%) who mainly rely on technology-driven processes such as marketing automation scoring in order to do so.
Only 1 in 5 respondents did not change their lead scoring processes in the past year. For the rest, some of the top changes to the way they evaluate lead quality include: changing scoring for low-and high-impact content and engagement (37% of respondents overall); enriching data types that feed into lead scoring (35%), modifying attribution methods (29%) and adding intent data (27%).
The full report can be accessed here.
About the Data: Findings are based on a May 2021 survey of 152 B2B tech marketing and demand gen decision-makers and influencers.