B2B Goes Home: Brands Shift From Digital To Human-To-Human Tactics

B2B marketers are suffering from digital fatigue. The top channel they plan to use in the next 12 months is direct mail, followed by direct phone calls. 

Third on the list — but first among digital media — is personalized email, according to Welcome to the Human-to-Human Era, a study by Sendoso. Email outranks experiences, eGifts, paid online ads, connectivity tools and content marketing/SEO, although this list isn’t quantified. 

However, this seeming shift from digital may be a reaction to overuse during the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual events grew by 1,000%, marketing emails by 62%, sales calls by 28% and ad spend by 22% during this period.

Among B2B revenue leaders, 81% think their target audiences suffer from digital exhaustion.  

And email, while it qualifies as H2H when done properly, gets its share of the blame for the digital glut. 

“There is so much noise out there,” says Alice Heiman of Alice Heiman, LLC, according to the study. “With 361 billion emails being sent daily, how will yours stand out? DELETE! That’s what most of us do with most of our email, or we just let it pile up and never look at it. 



“If you want a response, you better do your homework. Research and find out what matters to me. Be prepared to send me that message many times in many ways if you expect a response," Heiman says.

Given the shift to H2H engagement — 88% have moved toward it since March 2020 — revenue leaders may need to “reconsider their martech stack to include personalization tools,” the study adds.  

Last year, companies engaged buyers and customers, using these H2H tactics. And they received a positive response:

  • Engaged in more personal conversations with buyers/customers — 69%
  • Checked in on buyers/customers for non-business reasons — 57%
  • Personalized outreach based on buyer/customer interests — 51%
  • Share more info about our lives and experiences with buyers/customers — 48%
  • Publicly addressed certain social issues — 44%

Whatever the tactics, the future seems uncertain. The respondents cite these barriers to customer engagement in the next 12 months:

Connecting with audiences on a personal level in a digital environment — 68%

  • Engaging audiences living and working in dispersed areas — 68%
  • Uncertainty around returning to pre-pandemic conditions — 65% 
  • Scaling creativity and personalization tactics — 53%
  • Enabling your team to make better 1:1 connection — 45%

Moreover, B2B marketers face these hurdles to implementing an H2H strategy:

  • Lack of budget/resources — 39% 
  • Company never considered human approach — 29%
  • Fear of losing buyers/customers — 28%
  • Resistance from company leadership — 27% 
  • Resistance from fellow company colleagues — 11% 

To end on a positive note, revenue leaders expect to see these results from an H2H approach: 

  • Higher client retention — 64%
  • Deeper client relationships — 63%
  • Closing sales — 54% 
  • Motivating or energizing our team’s employees — 46% 
  • Higher conversion rates — 34%
  • Lower marketing costs — 16% 

Sendoso surveyed 750 full-time marketing, sales and success decision makers in the U.S. February 2021. 



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