62 million visits. 350,000 leads. More than 600 B2B sites.

That’s a lot of data. Pull together a report based on what it says about marketing best practices – what channels are working, which lead sources work best, which social channels are most important, etc. – and we’re talking some seriously valuable insights for B2B companies and marketers of all shapes and sizes.

Having access to that data, of course, is the hard part. Unless you happen to operate the Web and marketing systems for those 600+ B2B companies.

That’s where Optify comes in. I highly recommend downloading a copy of their 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report. Lots of great best practices, some which you’d expect but plenty more that were surprising and counter-intuitive to me.

I asked Doug Wheeler, CMO for Optify, to help me dig into more detail on some of the report’s findings.

What are some best practices that led to some B2B companies seeing even higher conversion rates via email than the industry average in the report, which was itself far higher than other channels?
These companies focused on executing digital marketing programs (e.g. search engine optimization, content marketing and social media) with highly targeted messaging and landing pages to generate ‘opt-in’ prospect responses. Then, used email to nurture their list with direct relevant offers until they received a conversion response.

Social media is still a surprisingly small contributor of leads & traffic to B2B sites. What % of traffic do you think that could reach at “maturity”, and which channels do you believe will be most relevant to B2B marketers?
It’s true that in our study traffic from social media was 5% or less. Our surprise was that of that 5% the leads generated were heavily slanted towards Twitter over Facebook and LinkedIn. In fact, Twitter converted 9-to-1 over the other two social media powerhouses.

As these digital channels mature for B2B purposes, it will greatly depend on the marketing mix of the company and it’s target audience. Despite the buzz and pressure to dive into social media marketing, marketers should fully develop their buyer persona(s) to discover the online behavior of their target audience. I would expect to see the LinkedIn platform deliver lower volume than Facebook, but considerably more focused and valuable leads.

Remember, the conversion % is important, but in the end the actual sales price (ASP) of your product and your customer acquisition cost (CAC) determine which of these social media channels delivers the best return.

Not surprising to see paid search conversions below 2%, but it was somewhat surprising to see social media conversions less than 1.25%. How do B2B marketers improve this? Better content, better targeting, other?
Yes, the somewhat dismal performance of social media was a surprise. Clearly, focused high-value content combined with one-to-one communications helps make sure you are getting the most from your programs.

You’ve addressed the opportunity for marketers with “not provided” search traffic, can you quickly summarize that and give a couple tips for how marketers can increase traffic & conversions from this?
In summary, Google has decided that any customer logged into a Google product has the right to customer privacy. Therefore, any customer logged-in to gmail, browser or any other Google product will have their keyword search information blocked and Google returns ‘not provided’. This is now over 40% of the traffic to B2B customer sites. Take your cues from any paid search programs you may have – this does make the assumption that it’s equivalent traffic for paid vs. non-paid. In addition, treat all branded traffic as ‘precious’. These are people that entered your company/product name – there’s a reason!

Bing traffic clearly still pales in comparison to Google, but conversion rates and time on site were materially higher for Bing. Why do you think that is?
Although there is clearly less traffic from Bing, the higher conversion rate may be due to the recent social features they are integrating into their search results. The Facebook data that’s integrated into Bing search shows more relevant results to the searcher due to social indicators from the searcher’s own social network. This provides more confidence since the results are from a referral rather than just the search algorithm. With more confidence in the results, once a searcher clicks through to a webpage there is a higher likelihood that the searcher will stay longer and convert more often.

Get a full copy of the report for free by clicking here.