B2B Reality: Content Is First In ROI, Email Second

Email may produce the best ROI in general -- but not in B2B, where it comes in second to content marketing, according to the 2018 B2B Marketing Survey, a study by Contentive in partnership with ClickZ. 

Of 214 B2B marketers surveyed, 47% say email produces a good ROI, compared to 51% for content marketing. But email beats social media (42%) and paid search (32%).

This conflicts with the survey that Email Insider reported on yesterday from Campaign Monitor, in which 68% say email produces the best return. 

Either way, Contentive says content, email and social are on the way up in producing ROI. Display, paid search and direct marketing are on the way down.

Not that the respondents seem to care much about ROI: Only 33% cite proving ROI as a top business priority over the next 12 months, compared to 58% who say they want to convert leads into customers and 45% who seek to improve website traffic.

And while content marketing may produce the best ROI, over half are only moderately satisfied with their efforts in this area. 



One thing is clear: Whatever the channel, content better be personalized. Some 58% say personalization will have the greatest impact on their marketing strategy over the next year. 

How do they produce content? Some 56% generate it in-house. And for this, 32% work on planning with five or more colleagues.

The top content formats? They are:

  • Social media posts — 65%
  • Case studies — 49%
  • Video — 38%
  • Ebooks/white papers — 36%

That’s strange — we don’t see email newsletters in there.

Half of the respondents prefer leads from all stages of the sales funnel — awareness, consideration, evaluation and purchase. It’s all part of a phenomenon now known as “smarketing,’ the new name for sales-marketing teams.

In general, 59% have increased their marketing budget this year, versus 27% that have decreased it. And 12% say it has remained the same. (The percentages for this question) add up to 100%.

Looking forward, 68% expect an increase next year and only 10% expect a decrease, while another 24% say it will remain flat. But some 48% budget on an ongoing basis.

What could sway their marketing plans? One or more of these emerging trends:

  • Personalization — 12%
  • Artificial intelligence — 45 
  • Influencer marketing — 45%
  • Data protection/privacy — 42%
  • Account based targeting — 38%
  • Chatbots — 35%

Here is the full list of their business priorities:

  • Converting leads into customers — 58% 
  • Growing traffic to website — 45% 
  • Increasing revenue from existing customers — 44% 
  • Strengthening position within competitive market — 35% 
  • Proving ROI — 33%



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