The [Pipeline Forecasting] Struggle is Real
The 2023 State of Pipeline Generation survey, which was conducted in partnership with Ascend2, aimed to investigate the present practices and difficulties encountered by marketing teams in the crucial task of pipeline generation. With insights gathered from more than 400 marketing professionals, the survey delved into various topics such as pipeline forecasting, challenges faced in pipeline prediction, and the varying confidence levels between practitioners and executives.
And as it turns out, the struggle is real.
There are five main challenges that marketers shared with us that prevent them from successfully generating pipeline. What’s more - each challenge feeds into another, creating a maze of barriers to success that marketers are continuously struggling to overcome.
Challenge #1 - Inadequate Data
In today's competitive business environment, marketing teams are under constant pressure to deliver results that meet or exceed expectations. To achieve this, they must be able to make data-driven decisions that are informed by reliable information. However, 38% of marketers feel that there is a lack of adequate data to make effective decisions.
This shortage of data can be due to a variety of factors, such as limited access to customer data, insufficient tracking tools, or a lack of integration between different marketing channels. Regardless of the reason, the consequences can be severe.
In addition, without sufficient data, marketing teams may struggle to identify the most effective channels for reaching their target audience. They may waste resources on channels that are ineffective, while missing out on opportunities to connect with potential customers through other, more productive channels.
Finally, the lack of data can create frustration and conflict within the marketing team and with other departments, such as sales. Without clear metrics for measuring the impact of marketing efforts, it can be difficult to determine whether campaigns are generating the desired results. This can lead to missed targets for the quarter or year, which can be costly for the business.
Challenge #2 - Inability to Scale
When marketing teams lack sufficient data to make informed decisions, they may struggle to identify which programs, keywords, and lead sources are driving the most effective results. Without this knowledge, it can be challenging to scale successful campaigns efficiently to meet growth targets.
According to our State of Pipeline Generation survey, 33% of marketers are challenged by the inability to scale demand programs efficiently to meet growth targets. This means that they are unable to replicate successful campaigns or strategies and may miss out on opportunities to grow their customer base and increase revenue.
Without a clear understanding of what works most effectively, marketing teams may resort to a trial-and-error approach, which can be time-consuming and costly. They may also struggle to allocate resources effectively, leading to inefficiencies and missed opportunities.
Challenge #3 - Budget
The finding that "33% of marketers site budget allocation challenges as a reason they aren’t able to successfully generate pipeline" highlights a significant challenge that many marketing teams face. Essentially, despite investing significant resources into generating leads and driving revenue, many marketers struggle to identify which programs, lead sources, and challenges are most effective at driving results. This can lead to a situation where marketing budgets are misallocated, with resources being directed towards channels that are not producing the most efficient results.
One contributing factor to this is the fact that not all MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads) are created equally. Different lead sources may perform differently in terms of the quality and conversion rates of the leads they create. For example, paid search campaigns (typically lower cost) may generate a significant volume of leads, but these leads may be less likely to convert into paying customers, which still leaves a very poor ROI. On the other hand, leads generated from events (typically more expensive) may have a lower volume, but may convert at a higher rate due to the fact that these leads have had a more personalized interaction with the brand, leaving a higher ROI.
Challenge #4 - Misalignment of Targeting
The statement "29% of marketers shared that they are challenged by a misunderstanding around ideal customer profiles and buyer personas" highlights a common challenge that many companies face when it comes to developing effective marketing strategies. Specifically, many companies struggle to understand who their ideal customers are, what motivates them, and how to effectively communicate with them.
One of the core challenges that many companies face when it comes to developing effective ICPs and buyer personas is a lack of understanding of who is really purchasing from them. Companies may have an aspirational ICP and buyer persona in mind, but this may not align with the actual demographics and behaviors of their current customer base. This can lead to marketing efforts that are misaligned with the needs and preferences of the target audience. This can result in ineffective campaigns that fail to drive engagement or conversions.
To overcome this challenge, you guessed it–more data! It is critical for companies to conduct thorough research to understand who their ideal customers really are. This can include analyzing data on past purchases, conducting surveys and interviews with customers, and studying competitors and industry trends. By gathering and analyzing this data, companies can develop a more accurate understanding of their target audience. In addition, they can develop more effective ICPs and buyer personas that align with the actual needs and preferences of their customers.
Ultimately, the key to developing effective marketing strategies is to understand who your target audience is, what motivates them, and how to effectively communicate with them. By developing accurate and detailed ICPs and buyer personas, companies can tailor their marketing efforts to the needs and preferences of their target audience. This results in better engagement and conversion rates.
Challenge #5 - Conversion Funnels
The fifth challenge our research showed was that "28% of marketers are challenged to produce pipeline due to the inability to convert buyers across channels and campaigns."
One of the main reasons for this challenge is the changing nature of the buyer journey. As more decision-makers become involved in the buying process, the journey has become longer and more complex, with multiple buyers moving through stages of awareness, consideration, and decision-making. This means that companies need to be able to effectively communicate with potential buyers at each stage of the journey. This means tailoring marketing messages and content to effectively move them towards conversion.
Additionally, marketers have experienced a loss of insight into different stages of the journey. For example, cookie consent and privacy concerns have created more difficulty for marketers to track user behavior across different channels and campaigns. This has made it more challenging to understand which tactics and strategies are working effectively. This includes the rise of the "dark funnel," such as Slack communities, which has made it more difficult to track user behavior and understand the stages of the buyer journey.
Regardless of the challenges marketers face when trying to generate pipeline, it all builds off of the lack of adequate data to make their decisions. Let’s start to dig into that data and how marketers are building their reports in the upcoming Pipeline Generation Trends webinar.
Want to join us for a webinar discussing The State of Pipeline Generation with Ascend2? Register here.