There were plenty of reasons to cheer marketing executives in the recent Loopfuse2012 Marketing Outlook Survey“. For example, 72 percent of respondents claimed to have an agreed-upon definition of a “qualified lead” between sales and marketing, and 57 percent are already using a marketing automation system.

But three particular areas of the survey’s findings stood out to me as places most companies (and especially those who participated in this poll) should focus in the fourth quarter and heading into 2013.

Reporting Frequency (or lack thereof)
Only a third of marketing executives reported looking at marketing performance data weekly or better. That means that 67 percent of marketers look at their metrics monthly, or worse. Even if you’re managing a sales pipeline with long cycles, there are daily signs of strength and weakness among your campaigns, lead scoring, sales activity and more. If you aren’t looking at your marketing metrics at least weekly, it’s likely you’re leaving a lot of optimization potential on the table.

Lead Quality Perception
It was interesting to me that, although the majority of respondents said they have an agreed-upon definitely of a qualified lead between sales & marketing, more than 50 percent of sales teams complained that their leads were poor quality because they had “no defined timeline for purchase.” So if this is a frequent complaint, either 1) that agreed-upon definitely isn’t clear enough, 2) the organization doesn’t understand that MOST leads are qualified and not-yet-ready-to-buy (and therefore they don’t have a strategy for addressing & nurturing them), and/or 3) many of those leads probably shouldn’t be going to the sales floor in the first place. This comes down to definitions AND process, plus patience and realistic expectations.

Self-Serving Social Media Usage
The survey data reflects what we already know about how most companies manage their social media, even for sales-specific efforts. In the Loopfuse survey, for example, 66 percent of companies are using social media to share information about their own company. Only 45 percent of companies are using social media to track buying signal keywords, and only 28 percent are using social media to provide basic customer support. Unfortunately, this reinforces a “me first” behavior by most companies who want to talk about themselves, vs. talking to (or with) their customers and listening for what they need, and when (even before they’re officially leads in the pipeline).

Worth a quick scan of the full report (free registration required) here.