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B2B Marketer Online Prospecting Preferences


eMarketer reports that business-to-business (B2B) sales cycles are longer than a year ago, but sales pipelines are growing, according to the results of a market study by OneSource.

Traditional outbound prospecting still produces the most qualified leads for U.S. B2B sales representatives, but companies are relying more on their corporate Website to attract new customers. Social networking sites were rated toward the low end of the scale -- though they were as helpful in lead generation as direct mail.

According to Onesource, the most effective social network for prospecting was LinkedIn, by a wide margin. The business-oriented site was rated 3.1 out of 5, compared with ratings of 2 for blogs, 1.9 for Facebook and 1.8 for Twitter.

The effectiveness of LinkedIn translated into significant increases in usage. Nearly one-half of respondents said they were now using the site more for prospecting and research than a year before.

Around one-fifth of those polled were also increasing their prospecting efforts on blogs, Facebook and Twitter, but the majority of B2B sales professionals did not use those sites for research at all.

Mixed Results from Other Market Studies
January 2010 data from HubSpot showed that 45 percent of North American B2B companies using LinkedIn for marketing had acquired a customer through the site. Company blogs were effective for 43 percent of respondents, while 38 percent got a customer from Twitter and 33 percent from Facebook.

In contrast, research firm Outsell found that 51 percent of U.S. B2B marketers considered Facebook the most effective social media site, followed by LinkedIn (45 percent) and Twitter (35 percent). That poll focused on marketing and sales effectiveness in general, not specifically lead generation.

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