4 key findings on the state of B2B marketing

Andrew Haussegger

Andrew co-founded Green Hat, a digital marketing agency devoted to B2B. Over the last five years, he has focused on customer lifecycle and digital marketing for the ‘considered’ buying process. He developed the 3C3P Lifecycle Marketing & Automation Program methodology – an approach for inbound and content marketing that has been adopted by blue-chip clients including IBM, EMC, Mercer and Konica Minolta. Andrew regularly speaks on the conference circuit and is co-author of the annual B2B Marketing Outlook Report. He is also a member of the ADMA B2B Expert Group.

The 2016 B2B Marketing Outlook Report was recently published by Green Hat in conjunction with ADMA for the sixth consecutive year. It highlights the most significant trends from 2015 and shows B2B marketers what’s in store for the year ahead.

With a total of 448 organisations completing the survey, this year’s report discusses how best-in-class marketers – who are metrics-driven and are more aligned with sales – behave in comparison to the rest of the field. This helps by setting a standard that B2B marketers can follow for their own marketing activities in 2016.

Here are four key findings from the results and what they say about the market.

1. B2B marketing budgets are on the rise

Forty per cent of the report’s respondents said their budgets are set to increase in 2016, as organisations plan on spending more than 30 per cent of their total marketing budgets on digital.

With only 19 per cent of budgets allocated towards traditional offline marketing, 2016 looks like being another big year for digital, especially when you consider the growth of content marketing (17 per cent of total spend) and marketing automation (9 per cent of total spend). Both are areas of expected and continuous advancement throughout 2017 and beyond.

2. Challenges with sales and marketing alignment continue

According the report, which considers ‘satisfactory’ as being more than two thirds of leads followed up, only 36 per cent of B2B marketers reported satisfactory follow-up of leads by their sales counterparts.

In the 2015 report, this number was 48 per cent, so we have seen a significant reduction compared to this year’s data.

Subsequently, best-in-class marketers are 53 per cent more likely to accurately measure lead acceptance and follow up by their sales teams, with 39 per cent better at measuring lead conversion to revenue.

3. ROI missing on marketing automation

ROI from automating marketing is still in the ‘undecided’ bucket. Over half of the BICMs (56 per cent) are very satisfied or satisfied with the return on their automation investment, whereas only 37 per cent of the rest of respondents felt the same way.

This is understandable given two observations; firstly, best-in-class marketers are generally measuring outcomes more effectively and secondly, a higher percentage of them have integrated their marketing automation platform with their CRM. This is a key enabler for ‘revenue marketing’.

Marketing can measure attribution and therefore optimise. Sales team are getting rich, relevant and timely information about their leads, as well as the ability to personally automate the nurturing of their customers and prospects.

4. Content marketing is flourishing

Best-in-class marketers invest in persona development, marketing technologies, alignment with sales departments and consider content marketing as a key B2B marketing pillar. In fact, 94% of best-in-class marketers rate content marketing as a significant or very significant part of their B2B strategies (compared to just 77 per cent for the rest of respondents).

With the substantial growth in content marketing, you might expect to see similar growth in other areas, such as persona development. However, the number of B2B marketers who are developing these personas (42 per cent) has remained about the same as last year (43 per cent).

In the coming years, I would expect to see the personalisation of content become a primary factor for understanding B2B audiences. Equally as important is relevance, as Google continues to shape their algorithms with users in mind. There has never been a more important time to fine-tune your B2B marketing strategies.

  • A webinar featuring ADMA CEO Jodie Sangster and other B2B expert panellists was also held discussing the highlights of the report; the on-demand video can be viewed here.

Tags: market research, digital marketing, marketing automation, B2B marketing, marketing strategy, marketing technology

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