Digital commands a bigger slice of the B2B pie!

It’s fair to say that Econsultancy are known for their love and immersion within the retail sectors. As B2B marketers themselves though it’s no surprise to see more and more content coming from their Clerkenwell tower dedicated to B2B.

There are enough new buzzwords in digital for traditional marketers to be getting to grips with and growing trends around marketing automation and social media, the appearance of multichannel marketing, ecommerce and mobile in B2B means we also now have an increasingly confusing mix, with plenty of grey areas, to plan, execute and manage.

Where do we invest and what will exact the result we’d expect, or demand?

Econsultancy is a typical first port of call for me when I need to hunt for market data and research especially when helping clients build cases for investment.

The B2B Internet Statistics Compendium, published this month, is full of encouraging stats for the future of digital and it doesn’t take more than a couple of pages to fuel enough water cooler conversations for a month! It’s packed with juicy nuggets of relevant information from credible sources around the web!

The facts
The ‘results’ are super-encouraging for digital and its role within B2B. Right away my eyes were drawn to “8 out of the top 10 most effective channels in B2B marketing are digital ones”.

Digital, with it’s direct and inbound nature of channels such as SEO, PPC and email it’s no wonder it’s dominating and marketing managers with their 69% focus on lead generation really have little alternative! I cannot help but think getting the mix of online and offline right has gotten a little lost here though.

A few facts pop out to suggest that the marketing industry is good for the economy too with many citing they’ll employ more staff over the next 12 months – perhaps because it took a battering over the last few years – or, is it growing as businesses value the function more so?

B2B marketing is still, and always will be, about relationships and people so it’s not a great surprise to see events and tradeshows still take the lion’s share of marketing budgets – they aren’t anonymous initiatives or faceless marketing but are a sure way to put salespeople in front of a prospect.

My question is though, do they still represent a good rate of return or are they just expensive? Are marketing departments planning tradeshows because of internal pressures and historical performance; the need to be doing something in difficult times is all too easy to give in to?

Email marketing comes out on top but does it work?
Email marketing consumes an average of 8% of marketing budgets; this is the most of any digital channel – with SEO and PPC both taking 5% it was a surprising outcome for me. In total digital now commands 34% of marketing budgets and its set to increase.

Everyday of the week I am asked if email marketing is effective, and as part of the mix I’d say it is. In isolation it’s not the silver-bullet that perhaps it once was.

This report doesn’t lie; email marketing is the most invested digital channel and the most effective according to its practitioners – this comes up later in the report.

Time and money!
For a large segment of marketing departments, 40%, a lack of resource and budget is the greatest barrier to delivering plans and achieving goals. Whilst this is no real shock can we continue to afford such shortcomings? Perhaps this is why marketing automation is becoming a real hit and social media is being delivered as a companywide initiative.

Marketing folk have exacting standards too with just 4% of respondents suggesting they are satisfied with marketing performance – is it related to time and money?

Where to invest?
Social media, surprise-surprise, tops the charts for receiving an increase in investment with 69% of marketing departments planning more activity, quite surprising though is that bringing tradeshows online through virtual events and webinars will see a 60% increase.

Along with traditional digital channels such as SEO and PPC also receiving an increase of 60% and 49% respectively; digital is set to command a bigger slice of the B2B pie!

What performs the best?
The marketing industry is a results business and is being measured more in line with colleagues in sales each campaign. The effectiveness of channels is something we all set out to learn – what actually works?

As mentioned earlier email marketing does work; according to 95% of marketing departments it’s worth the investment of precious time and resource. This further fuels the argument to refine your email program and integrate closer with your overall strategy, if you aren’t already! Discount it at your peril and do not get caught in the arguments of its ineffectiveness due to spam and volume. Be smart.

The top five initiatives look as follows;

1. Email marketing – 95% suggest its effective
2. Website design, management and optimisation – 93% (conversion rate optimisation)
3. Search engine optimisation – 93%
4. Virtual events / webinars – 91%
5. Public relations – 91% (the highest non-digital performer)

The report contains a wealth of data to interpret at your discretion – I have just reported on the first section. We are all asked to justify our actions each day and we are certainly held to account when we ask for more resource and/or budget. This B2B report is credible; it’s packaged up in the right brand and could be a useful ally should you be seeking increases in budget from the Board.

Download it here (login required). If you’re not a member then it may be time to consider joining!

If you’d like to get a view, or have one, then please feel free to drop me a comment and I’ll respond appropriately.