Increase in revenue (69%) and increase in leads generated (68%) topped the list of marketing objectives accomplished in 2015, as chosen by marketers in our study. They continue to be top priorities for them even in 2016, reported Regalix in its latest finding, The State Of B2B Marketing 2016. “Trends that we saw in 2014 in the B2B marketing space continued to play out in 2015, and will probably do so in 2016 as well.”
The report further added: “Sales revenue remains top-of-mind for marketers, while customer engagement metrics lag. As a result, pre-sale activities dominate. Given the growing importance of digital in marketing, we hope to see more companies leverage the potential of the medium to promote loyalty and advocacy among their customers.”
Increase in revenue and lead generation had been the marketing objectives for business in 2015. In 2016, marketing objectives have got a slight reshuffle, revenues still are the top priority but leads generation gets swapped with increase in sales.
To achieve the above listed objectives, marketers have realized that digital is the way forward. “77% of respondents identified digital marketing as high priority for them in 2016 as opposed to 23% who chose offline marketing. 37% of respondents picked digital marketing over offline marketing (11%) when asked which program proved to be more effective in meeting their marketing goals in 2015.”
However, only 40% of organization had over the average ability in defining a focused digital strategy. More than 30% are in the process of developing and 22% have average ability in defining a digital strategy.
Another shortcoming seen in B2C is forming a seamless connection between online and offline. Only 17% B2B marketers were confident enough to state that digital and traditional marketing activities are fully integrated. Another 65% states to partly integrate but wishes to have a better integration in the near future. “62% of respondents rated their organization’s current digital capabilities in defining a digital strategy as average to above average; another 30% said they were in the process of building this capability.”
When it comes to investing on digital distribution channels, marketers stick to Websites, Email, and SEO. Social media channels are still taking time to earn confidence of B2B marketers. “Website (86%) and email (72%) led the pack of online channels that marketers found effective in meeting their goals in 2015. They were followed by SEO (54%) and social (52%).”
Surprisingly, mobile continued to disappoint in terms of absolute numbers, although mobile web in 2015 (14%) scored better than it did the previous year (10%). Video advertising showed signs of resurgence, moving from a mere 5% (2014) to 14% (2015).
Additionally, paid advertising seems to not have delivered. Paid search in 2015 (30%) fell short of what it was in 2014 (35%); while display ad was lower in 2015 (21%) than it was in 2014 (26%).
Marketers also expected content marketing and marketing automation to have the most impact on business in 2016, while also placing their bets on newer technologies. “As in the previous year, content marketing (64%) and marketing automation (50%) were chosen by our respondents as the technologies that will have the most impact on business in 2016.”
Content marketing will drive B2B in 2016. “Creating more engaging content remains a top priority for marketers (72 percent) with 41 percent seeking better story tellers,” said the recent report from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs. (Read: Content Marketing Will Drive B2B Digital Marketing In 2016)
Along with digital, B2B marketers are keen to invest in offline distribution channels such as Events, Direct Mail and Print Media, among others. “74% of respondents said they would increase spend on events in the coming year. Direct mail (32%) and print media (25%) were the distant second and third choices.”
The biggest takeaway for a marketer from this report should be brainstorming about mobile strategies. Finding out what is going wrong at a time when mobile is the primary device right from content consumption to entertainment. “Mobile needs more evangelists. Marketers felt mobile will have a greater impact on their business in 2016 than it did in 2015. This could well be the first signs of its emergence from the shadows of the Web, especially as the medium for fostering customer engagement.”
B2B is going to be more human and shed extra business weight in 2016, after all humans are conversing with humans, even if they are sellers or business partners.