Desperately Seeking B2B Benchmarks

Here’s a question that crops up more and more frequently.  Forrester B2B marketing clients want to know “What are the average conversion rates for leads to opportunities and opportunities to sales in......?”  You can fill in the blank with:

Industry:   high tech, financial services, healthcare etc.
Tactic:   email marketing, paid search placement, direct mail postcards, etc.
Size:   small businesses, enterprises, firms over $250M in revenue, etc.
Product type:  durable, consumer, high technology, software, etc.
Channel:   direct sales, telesales, distributors, resellers, etc.

And create a tremendous array of opportunities to research.  Opportunities so vast it boggles my mind, and makes me wonder how Forrester might provide this kind of information on a reliable, relevant basis at minimum cost to ourselves and our clients.

In the spirit of exploring this dilemma further, I’d like to hear from our blog readers – B2B in particular – on these two questions:

1) What specific sources of information have you found for these types of benchmarks?  (Go ahead and mention competitors, you won’t hurt my feelings…) And how detailed, or reliable, do these sources need to be?

2) Those of you who have this need yourself, what is the burning issue behind the question? Why do you need this information? Or how would you put it to work?

If you’d rather chat privately about this, send me an email at lramos@forrester.com.

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Comments

re: Desperately Seeking B2B Benchmarks

In 'when to send a sales force in the field' (http://www.20four.net/b2b/archives/79), I'm addressing a similar question. Above 100,000$/transaction, it makes sense to set-up a direct-contact based sales funnel. Below 10,000$/transaction, we're in the realm of agents, distributors, wholesalers, ... In between, it depends.These are definitely not absolute figures - I'm just talking numbers of zeroes.Above the 100,000$ threshold, internet marketing should be design to support the sales funnel, i.e. branding, image building, buyer education, ... But below 100,000$, internet marketing offers tremendous opportunities for sales as well.

re: Desperately Seeking B2B Benchmarks

I recently launced a blog to approach topics on this subject, including B2B Benchmarks. I was currently searching for topics of interest into b2b marketing area and this post proves to be a goldmine for topics I can now explore on the plog.

re: Desperately Seeking B2B Benchmarks

re: Desperately Seeking B2B Benchmarks

Thanks to Loredana and Hans for pointing out the resources they use and offer.Privately, a number of B2B marketers responded to my post via email. The other sources of B2B marketing "benchmark" information cited include:1) Sirius Decisions2) IDC - publishes a report on marketing organizational structures and budgets.3) The Direct Marketing Association: B-to-B Direct Marketing Benchmarks report, the Response Rate report, and the Statistical Factbook.4) RainToday.comMost agree that benchmarks are helpful to understand and discuss why your business model might differ from peer firms, but you have to nail down marketing trend and budgetary measurement practice and process first.They went on to say that on the front-end of a lead-generation effort, this type of information helps to set realistic goals, inform campaign strategy, and budget allocation. Benchmark data is especially helpful if a program is working with comparatively new lists, creative, offers, etc., or if there simply isn't a lot of historical data to rely on for making projections.On the back-end, specific goals and benchmarks serve as a means of gauging overall performance, and perhaps identifying weak points in the program.I agree! Anyone else see it differently?

re: Desperately Seeking B2B Benchmarks

I half finished a post yesterday and you've beat me to the punch on a few items... Anyway, I'm also in the camp that says peer benchmarks are important, but only after you've nailed detailed trend and marketing "budgetary" reporting. On the trend front, do you have the data and reports needed to determine whether or not your business is healthy and growing? On the budgetary front, are the numbers at each stage of the funnel at their expected levels for each buyer segment? I suspect you'll be tackling many of these measurement issues in your upcoming B2B Measurment note.On the benchmark front, we at Unica find marketing spend benchmarks valuable for assessing staffing levels and program spend. Peer benchmarks for things like lead conversion rates help us get everyone aligned to why we might differ from other firms, but these types of numbers vary dramatically by industry and company so there's no goal match the benchmark.

re: Desperately Seeking B2B Benchmarks

Hi, Laura --As the director of marketing for an interactive marketing agency, it's critical for me to stay ahead of the curve with my online marketing. And since I'm so highly accountable for my results, it's equally critical for me to know what's working in the B2B space. I use the data to guage the performance of my own campaigns, to tweak existing campaigns, and to help me decide where to invest next.While I read Forrester reports religiously (seriously - it's like an addiction!), I also subscribe to MarketingSherpa and really love their B2B reports. They actually do have benchmarking reports (for purchase) and free case studies that provide helpful information including vendors used and metrics. I also look at data from ClickZ, comScore, Pew and other similar sources. I do trust the industry media more than the reports produced by vendors, by and large, but it's all helpful.

re: Desperately Seeking B2B Benchmarks

I'd be thrilled if you posted on what you learned on this topic...it's very interesting.HubSpot has some interesting data on this...it might be interesting to compare notes.