A new survey of more than 250 U.S. marketing leaders by Beaverton, Oregon-based SaaS provider Act-On Software has discovered that despite the industry hype for demand generation, 37 per cent of marketers are still spending less than 10 per cent of their time on it — and that more surprisingly, those who spent less time on it were more likely to be among the top performers whose companies met or exceeded their revenue expectations.

The other key takeaways from Act-On’s survey, which the company released today, were that the most successful companies were more likely to invest equally across the top three marketing disciplines — brand, demand and customer — and that 69 per cent of respondents were neglecting at least one.

Act-On Report diagram 2

“Despite recent media hype, the role of the CMO is not to be (the) demand gen-centric leader, but instead to be the marketing ‘general manager’ and to facilitate success across all three functions of the marketing department,” the company wrote in its study report. “Successful B2B marketers understand… that an effective marketing strategy requires more than just driving demand for sales, it must also deliver a great customer experience from end-to-end.”

As for which disciplines were more likely to be ignored or emphasized over others, Act-On found that brand, demand generation, and customer expansion were roughly equally likely to be neglected by marketing teams, with around 30 per cent contributing 10 per cent or less of their staff time to brand marketing, nearly 37 per cent avoiding demand generation, and around 35 per cent investing poorly in customer expansion.

The cost for doing so was less evenly distributed, however: so-called “laggards” – marketers from companies which fell short of revenue expectations – were more likely to neglect brand or customer marketing, with 37 per cent of laggards dedicating 10 per cent or less of their time to the former and 42 per cent investing poorly in the latter.

Act-On Report diagram - time invested in brand marketing
Time invested in brand marketing
Act-On Report diagram - time invested in customer marketing
Time invested in customer marketing

And though 30 per cent of laggards invested less than 10 per cent of their time on demand generation, a higher percentage – around 38 per cent – of top performers did.

Act-On Report diagram - time invested in demand generation
Time invested in demand generation

Meanwhile, in addition to being more likely to dedicate a significant portion of their time to brand marketing, top performers were more likely to allocate a greater percentage of their budgets to the discipline as well.

Act-On’s survey also discovered that, as with time, laggards were less likely to dedicate their resources to customer and brand marketing, with 44 per cent of laggards dedicating 10 per cent or less of their resources to the former and 37 per cent dedicating an equally low amount to the latter – though once again the leaders were less likely to invest in demand generation.

Budget percentages invested in customer marketing
Budget percentages invested in customer marketing
Budget percentages invested in brand marketing
Budget percentages invested in brand marketing
Budget percentages invested in demand generation
Budget percentages invested in demand generation

However, the top performers were also 52 per cent more likely to allocate a significant portion of staff time, and 23 per cent more likely to allocate a greater portion of their budget, to all three marketing functions, Act-On found, making the survey’s overriding lesson clear.

“Over the course of a lead’s lifetime they might come into contact with your sales, marketing, and customer success departments,” the report’s authors wrote. “However, from their point of view, they are interacting with one company, not multiple departments.”

Consequently, they wrote, the marketing leaders who meet or exceed their revenue goals are going to be the ones who understand that all three disciplines need to function symbiotically, and allocate their department’s time and resources accordingly.

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