Behavioral Marketing Still An "Untapped Asset"

According to a Silverpop study by Forrester Consulting, marketers who have adopted behavioral marketing practices have realized business benefits ranging from higher return on marketing investment (ROMI) to higher contributions to sales pipelines and revenue.

In addition, says the report, though most marketers are using marketing automation to scale and standardize marketing processes, a small vanguard is using automation to transform marketing practices with a focus on customer behavior across multiple engagement channels. Key findings show that:

  • Marketing automation enables marketing success, as top performers seem to be leveraging their tech investments differently, executing a higher number of more focused campaigns and setting higher targets.
  • Both B2B and B2C marketers have accepted multichannel marketing as common practice. One-quarter of the survey respondents assessed themselves as mature practitioners of multichannel marketing. Another 39% were in transition.
  • Only 17% of survey respondents assessed themselves as mature practitioners of behavioral marketing. But early adopters perceive significant benefits to becoming more buyer-centric. Significantly, a higher percentage of behavioral marketers grew revenue faster than plan (53% versus 41%) and contributed more than half of the sales pipeline (20% versus 11%).
  • Marketers, who self-assessed as “mature,” reported significant differences in their approach to marketing, as they have more fully implemented marketing automation, run more campaigns, and run a greater variety of campaigns.

The report says that “in the age of the customer,” three elements are essential to success: a customer-obsessed approach to defining the business and marketing strategy; an in-depth understanding of customers’ behaviors and needs; and a customer engagement strategy that is calibrated to those behaviors and needs. The onus is on marketing leaders to integrate intimate knowledge of customers into marketing activities that serve the needs of customers.

Today’s buyers, says the report, might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their journey before they reach out to the vendor. For many product categories, buyers now put off talking with salespeople until they are ready for price quotes or delivery terms. Buyers are finding the information they need in an ever-expanding array of content types, in a variety of online and offline channels, and they’re accessing the online channels from a diverse array of devices. This changing buyer dynamic changes the role of marketing in several fundamental ways, concludes the report:

  • Marketing owns a bigger chunk of the “selling process” to advance or close deals. Guiding the buyer through the early stages of the buying process (traditionally the role of sales) requires an outside-in approach, calibrated to the buyer’s wants and needs, shifts the focus from content that details features and benefits to engagement that informs, persuades, and convinces.
  • The study found that B2C marketers are much more prepared than B2B marketers to engage multitouchpoint customers with a multichannel approach. 69% of the B2C marketers reported that they were either mature multichannel practitioners or were transitioning to that state. Only 59% of B2B marketers indicated a similar level of maturity.
  • When survey respondents assessed their maturity with behavioral marketing, only 17% rated themselves as mature practitioners. Again, B2C marketers were slightly ahead of the game: 20% rated themselves as mature practitioners and another 41% as in transition, compared with 16% and 25%, respectively, for B2B marketers. 

Marketing Organization Stance (% of Respondents)


Behavioral Marketing

Multichannel Marketing







Transition by end of 2013



Interested, no immediate plans



Not interested, no plans



Source: Forrester/Silverpop, July 2013

40% of respondents reported that they were “somewhat aggressive or at the forefront” when it comes to technology adoption. Another 32% said that they adopt technology in sync with wider marketplace adoption. Only 18% said that they typically lag behind the mainstream in their adoption of technology.

Forrester defines marketing automation as: Tooling and processes that help generate new business opportunities, improve potential buyers’ propensity to purchase, manage customer loyalty, and increase alignment between marketing activity and revenue.

When respondents were asked about their use of specific marketing automation technologies, the study found consistently broad deployment across all company sizes and business models, noting additionally that small businesses are investing nearly on par with larger companies. A new model of the successful small business shows an adaption of marketing practices to changing buyer behaviors, where the journey for nearly every purchase begins with a web search.

Marketing Organization Status Re: Selected Software Technologies or Services (Implemented, or Expanding/Upgrading)


% of All respondents

Web analytics tools


Email service provider


Web content management


Social media engagement


Campaign management


Lead management


Source: Forrester/Silverpop, July 2013

The report shows that B2C marketers have adopted more fully than their B2B counterparts in all but the adoption of lead management systems:

  • B2C marketers reported a higher level of automation in all but one marketing automation category. More than half of the B2C marketers claimed to be “somewhat aggressive or at the forefront” of technology adoption.
  • B2C marketers are using social media management technology far more than their B2B counterparts (83% versus 57%). B2B marketers consistently underestimate just how “social” business buyers are. The study found that that 86% of business buyers engage in social activity for their work; 55% cite online communities and forums as influencers on their decisions.
  • The one category where B2B marketers are more heavily invested than B2C marketers is in the category of lead management systems. 44% of B2C marketers had no plans or intention to implement lead nurturing campaigns, while 71% of B2B marketers are either executing lead nurturing campaigns today or plan to start doing so within the next 12 months

Despite all of the improvements reported in automated campaign execution, most marketers are still not capitalizing on the value of behavioral insight, concludes the report. Looking into the survey responses of the emerging behavioral marketers to understand their motivations, habits, and performance results, the study found that:

Buyer behavioral data remains the greatest untapped marketing asset, opines the report.  On average, only 45% of marketers are capturing and consolidating customer behavioral data from multiple channels in a single database. Only 60% of respondents who called themselves “mature behavioral marketers” consolidate behavioral data.

Based upon customers’ behavior across different channels, return on marketing investment (ROMI) and customer satisfaction and loyalty topped the list of perceived benefits. Reducing sales cycles and customer acquisition costs were at the bottom of the list of perceived values.

The behavioral marketing vanguard is performing better than its peers, according to the report. When B2B marketers reported the contribution that marketing was making to the sales pipeline, behavioral marketers performed slightly better than their peers (34% to 26%). And, behavioral marketers performed slightly better than their peers (26% to 21%) as B2C marketers to reported the percentage of revenue that can be attributed to automated digital programs.

For more detailed information about the study, please visit Silverpop to access the Thought Leadership Paper by Forrester


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