customer experience, B2B Marketing Stats: Banner Ads, Direct Mail Not Dead Yet

Eight out of ten CEOs don’t trust the work done by their marketers. 

That quieted the room pretty quickly when Jason Stewart, content strategist for ANNUITAS, tossed out that number to the audience at Wednesday’s Digital Pulse Boston 2013.

And yes, that’s not a figure you’re taking back to your C-Suite any time soon -- but the 2013 B2B landscape has bright spots too. Let's wander through some stats.

All in the Numbers

We found a number of intriguing  numbers to share from Econsultancy’s most recent B2B Internet Statistics Compendium.

The annual report is really a meta-report collating a broad set of B2B industry data -- much of it in agreement, but some sources do conflict. So a thorough reading is in order for those deeply involved in this space.

The London-based research and analysis firm published this compendium in September, but sourced information from a range of reports that have been release over the last 12 months or so.

Brand Awareness vs. Lead Generation

Brand is a buzzword and important to many marketers, right?

True still, but more so for B2C vs B2b. Only 40% say brand awareness is their top B2B marketing goal, while 82% said driving leads and sales was top of mind, distantly followed by thought leadership.  Brand awareness seems, we think, more reserved for the PR world

customer experience, B2B Marketing Stats: Banner Ads, Direct Mail Not Dead Yet

Banner Ads Not Dead

Think that banner and display advertising are dead? We’ve argued against the tactic already. However, more than a third of B2B marketers still use this approach.

Banners do trail online marketing strategies such as SEO/organic search (63%), social media marketing (60%), inbound marketing/content creation/blogs (53%) and search engine marketing/pay-per-click (41%).

customer experience, B2B Marketing Stats: Banner Ads, Direct Mail Not Dead Yet

Trade Shows Alive and Kicking

Guess what No. 1 is for average allocation of B2B marketing budgets? Good ole hand-shaking and card-giving at trade shows. That came in at 21% ahead of things like Website design (16%). So it’s true -- B2B marketers still have a spot in the exhibition hall at industry conferences.

Blogs Trails Social Networks

And while they’re in social, B2B marketers feel like a presence in actual social networks -- vs. blogs -- is the best route. You may think with a sea of trusteed bloggers out there like SharePoint Joel that the blog space is the place to be, but only 48% B2B marketers believe blogs is the most important B2B sea to swim vs. the 79% who said social networks.

Direct What?

Yes, direct mail, while under fire from the FCC, is still an effective tool for B2B marketers, according report numbers. The proportion of respondents planning to incorporate direct mail into their lead generation plans for the coming year grew from 52% in 2011 to 60% in 2012. And heck, Gartner’s talking about it still. 

Marketing Target No. 1? Companies By Industry/Vertical

Targeting companies by industry/vertical is the most important thing to most B2B marketers and their organizations. More than half of B2B marketers say this target is No. 1 on their plates, with the next closest target being prospect title (46%).

Econsultancy B2B Marketing Priorities

Social Only for the B2C Crowd?

B2B social marketing effectiveness may never be fully proven, but the fact is most marketers are trying. Nearly 90% of North American B2B marketers use social media to distribute content. Still, knowing your B2B buying target’s habits on social media is still king here.

SEO vs. Social for Lead Gen? No Contest

Some may argue that social is becoming just as important as SEO to B2B marketers, but the Econsultancy report puts SEO well ahead of social media marketing in terms of the impact on lead-generation plans for B2B marketers.

A referenced report from Web Marketing123 found that in the context of lead generation effectiveness, SEO was found to be more than twice as effective as social or pay per click (PPC).

Tactic Impact on Lead Generation

Learning Opportunities

Additionally, a 2013 report from Optify found that social drives only a small fraction of traffic and leads for B2B organizations, contributing on average less than 5% of all traffic and leads.

Nevertheless, the belief in social is strong and 41% of B2B marketers say they will increase their social budget this year.

In the Land of B2B Social, Twitter is King

The B2B Marketing Benchmark report from Optify dug further into the B2B social story with some remarkable findings.

Most notably, while Facebook was far and away driving the most visits and visitors from LinkedIn were most engaged, Twitter was found to be the strongest social media channel for generating B2B leads, outperforming Facebook and LinkedIn 9-to-1 with 82% of social media leads coming from the channel.

B2B Impact from Social

Optify's analysis of B2B social went further though. What they found was that while very little business is being generated via social channels today, there exists great potential.

They saw big discrepancies in the results obtained by the most effective and the most ineffective social marketers, and further noted that most companies landed in the "most ineffective" camp, signaling a general immaturity of social campaigns and potentially of tools and products.

Why This Report?

Econsultancy says its B2B compendium can be a useful tool to help marketers when it comes time to report results/concerns/file requests for resources.

“Sometimes it is hard to get buy-in for investments that a company hasn't tried before, especially when some may think their 'tried and tested' formula will continue to work,” Andrew Warren-Payne, senior research analyst for Econsultancy, told CMSWire. “Data from the Internet Statistics Compendium will help to convince the board by showing data from a wide variety of resources.”

What’s a major takeaway from Warren-Payne? Recognition of when the buyer’s journey is over.

“I think something that is changing already is that when prospects contact companies, the majority of their buyer journey is already complete,” Andrew Warren-Payne, senior research analyst for Econsultancy, told CMSWire. “Businesses need to recognize this and provide information online to reach their prospects earlier. Those that do will have more inbound leads and spend more of their time closing.”

Stats and charts can certainly be gleaned from this report. But remember one telling number we found next time you’re in front of the board or your C-Suite: 82%, the number of B2B marketers who say driving leads and sales is the most important objective.

So if you’re looking for top-level investment, you may want to skip the nice and tidy “brand awareness” and “these are our roadblocks” graphics and focus more on how your marketing program is connected to sales and leads.

Maybe then, you’ll gain a little trust back from your CEO.

Image in opening paragraph courtesy of Michael D Brown (Shutterstock).