It is often taken as fact that business-to-business marketing is the less glamorous, less sophisticated sister in the marketing family. But why has this assumption prevailed when many a b2b agency are in fact embracing the latest innovations in marketing practices?
Contrary to popular belief, digital is central to b2b marketing. So much so that in gyro‘s B2B Marketing Insight Report, 44% of respondents felt that digital communications were the most effective method in B2B marketing, eclipsing that of more traditional tools, such as direct marketing.
It isn’t hard to see why digital is favoured over other channels. Direct response direct mail has produced a 0% response rate for almost half of the respondents in the research, compared with 27% for email marketing campaigns. Furthermore, the best response rates achieved were higher for email than any other communication channel.
But while the technologies being used in digital are at a similar level of development across business and consumer marketing, it is why they are used and what is deemed as sufficient return on investment which differs massively. For B2B marketers, digital is treated as a tactical tool to help build a brand rather than a strategic platform for brand engagement and lead generation which consumer marketers have embraced.
So why does this disconnect between the application of digital exist? It can be because different digital tools available to marketers behave in different ways for the two disciplines. Take Twitter, for example, which has a very different application in the B2B world than it does for consumer marketing. In B2B circles it is a highly targeted communication channel which allows individuals to network and share knowledge directly with each other. For consumer brands, Twitter is a broadcast medium which is effective in communicating to a mass market.
However, the main reason for the disparity between B2B and B2C is because B2B marketers are only measuring a fraction of what digital offers. Too many B2B marketers are still trying to convince themselves that digital works and as a result are failing to see the full potential of digital, which consumer marketers wised up to five years ago. This preoccupation with measurement of activity in place of measurement of return has led them to focus on short-term results, looking at the open and click through rates of email marketing as a barometer for brand engagement, rather than a consideration of the influence exerted after opening.
We know that B2B marketers are using digital channels to help with brand building, and that they are aware of the latest technologies available, with 78% stating in the report that they feel fairly or very well informed on digital developments. But, crucially, they are failing to measure the impact of these efforts, with only 13% of respondents actively seeking to measure brand building as part of their overall marketing review, but instead focussing on website visits (82%) and e-mail open rates (66%) as benchmarks for success.
To combat this, marketers operating in the digital sphere need to adopt more sophisticated digital metrics for success and evolve from proving how it works to actually using it for lead and income generation. B2C marketers have already shown this can work and B2B counterparts need to recognise this or risk falling behind the curve by not fully embracing the potential of digital.
By Danny Turnbull, General Manager at Manchester marketing agency, gyro