According to a comprehensive survey of B2B marketers across the U.S. by Crain's BtoB in conjunction with Bizo, there are significant opportunities for B2B marketers to expand their marketing mix and more effectively leverage data and emerging channels in the changing digital media environment in 2012.
John DiStefano, Research Director of Crain's BtoB Magazine, notes that "... this is a period of creative re-invention for marketers... we have moved from a push environment, to pull style messaging, to finally the permission economy... this contextualizing of the sales funnel presents challenges for some marketers... others are leveraging... new tools to reach their audiences online and drive more targeted, effective campaigns.
When asked to rank different marketing activities based on time and resources spent on each, respondents put:
The majority of B2B marketers do not feel their current online marketing mix is meeting sales demand, says the report. More than 60% of marketers report that their greatest marketing challenge for 2012 is generating more leads, and 63% of respondents report that their marketing mix either doesn't meet sales demand or they're unsure of whether their mix is effective.
77% say they plan to expand or diversify their marketing mix in 2012, and 56% of respondents identify brand promotion as a key area of focus. Interestingly, 88% of respondents report that they are using email to promote their brand online.
These findings also suggest marketers may be over-reliant on some of their more mature, well-understood programs and lag in their ability effectively add new channels to their mix, concludes the report.
Nearly 40% of respondents cite accurate measurement and attribution of online conversions as a top online marketing challenge. Less than 20% of marketers say they nearly always attribute their leads to multiple marketing programs, while 36% say that they "sometimes" attribute leads to more than one program. 26% of respondents say they do not track leads to any marketing program at all or they only attribute leads to one program.
Data-driven targeting has evolved significantly over the past few years, but most marketers have yet to take full advantage of targeting techniques that can be deployed across all of their marketing channels. B2B marketers appear to be most comfortable using segment targeting in their email campaigns, where there is an 84% adoption rate, but only about one-third are using segment targeting in their display, paid search or social media programs. Those that do are also mostly using segments such as
Marketers say their biggest roadblock to effective use of segment targeting is lack of data on users (37%), with a close second being uncertainty about how to best use targeting and segmentation in campaigns (33%).
Across the board, marketers report that their online marketing programs need improvement. 46% of respondents who use email marketing say their program could benefit from increased focus and optimization, and about one-quarter of those using display ads, paid search and social media report the same.
30% of respondents report that email is now a mature and well-optimized part of their mix, and another 46% view email as a core part of their mix. There may be more upside for incremental gains from paid search and display ads, concludes the report, as only 19% and 12% respectively see these as mature marketing programs, and only 5% of marketers see social media as a mature and well-optimized part of their mix.