B2B suppliers are doing a poor job of communicating with customers, judging by The 2020 State of Conversational Marketing, a study by Drift and Heinz Marketing.
Of B2B executives surveyed, 53.2% are frustrated by receiving too many irrelevant emails and ads from suppliers.
And when they do try to connect with the senders, 36.4% say they can’t get answers to simple questions, and 35.3% feel that services typically are impersonal.
Moreover, 30.5% claim brands are unresponsive via email and social. Frustration with unresponsive brands in those two channels grew 5.7 times.
Another 32.9% complain that certain websites are difficult to navigate and/or that search functions are not useful. And 29% gripe about poor quality or repetitive online forms.
In fact, many forms look like they were designed in 1999, argues Paul Entin, president of epr Marketing, according to the study.
Finally, 26.3% are upset with brands that provide no service outside of normal business hours.
Still, 66.7% of customers used email when communicating with B2B firms in the prior six months, up from 66.1% in the same period in 2019.
Phone and/or video calls were used by 50.6%, declining from 66.3% in the previous year. But live chat use grew from 33.4% to 45.2%.
Here’s the rub: 10% of respondents expect an immediate response when communicating by email. In addition, 33% demand the same in response to a phone or video call, as do 14% of web form users, although that seems impossible.
The study notes that “email wasn’t built to be a one-way marketing broadcast tool, it was built for two-way conversations.” Marketers should focus on getting leads and customers “not just to click, but to reply to your emails,” it adds.
Among B2B brands, 31.2% are successful with their emails/nurture programs. However, 55% are pleased with their website performance and 44.3% are pleased with their content marketing.
Another 37% are satisfied with their sales tools and 31.5% with their digital ads, PPC or retargeting.
Only 13.8% are very happy with their channel/partner programs.
And the firms pursuing conversational marketing programs are hobbled by these challenges:
Here’s one thing to keep in mind: “What separates laggards from leaders isn’t the number of emails they send,” the study states.
Drift and Heinz Marketing surveyed 538 B2B professionals in July.