B2B Marketing Mix: Will Online, Social Tactics Lead?

Laura Ramos [Posted by Laura Ramos]

I am very appreciative to Roy Young and Ann Handley at MarketingProfs for partnering with Forrester and me on the B2B marketing budget trends and effectiveness survey. This is our second joint endeavor on this topic. The sister report, also published April 24, looks at which tactics B2B marketers use a        nd how well it all works for building brand and generating leads.

I've been following marketing mix effectiveness for over three years the results are strikingly consistent, if not surprising:

Email, Search, and Direct Mail Deliver Results Over Time

1) B2B marketers use a lot of tactics that they admit don't work as well as they should. Leaning on the same old things year after year — PR and TV for awareness, and executive events and inside sales for leads — locks marketing execs in an endless loop of fighting off budget cuts and justifying marketing spending plans.

2) PR and TV are popular for building brand but trade shows and email raise awareness best. Email and e-newsletters use now equals tradeshows in popular use. While the economy has put the brakes on corporate travel, trade shows still managed to gain ground, as sales like to press the flesh in these venues and buyers circle exhibit halls gauging product buzz.

3) Telesales and executive events create demand but email and search produce better results over time. Look at how the trend line for email and search marketing tactics moves up and to the right over time while telesales bounces around and executive events take a tumble. What's making a comeback? Direct mail as lead management automation now makes it easier to use email, direct mail, Webinars, and telesmarketing to displace first sales calls and continue nurturing a dialogue with prospects.

4) Social tactics emerge, but marketers have yet to see it make a big impact on prospective audiences. Social media produce mediocre results when marketers jump into the technology without understanding their audience or selecting business outcomes first programs.

This is the first year we asked about the role of the corporate Web site. Not surprising that Web sites dominate marketing mix popularity, but most lack basic building blocks needed to build customer relationships. 94% of respondents consider corporate Web sites a key element in the marketing toolbox and 84% of buyers say Web sites matter in purchase decision making.  So I'm recommending that -- in 2009 -- marketers focus more on using Web sites to cut sales interaction costs.

Compared with online interactions, person-to-person sales calls and meetings cost much more to execute. It’s time to make those Web sites generate and capture demand since 73% of marketers believe that corporate sites play a bigger role in 2009 marketing plans. With telesales and executive events producing less traction with buyers, Web sites become the main source of online information in the product selection, purchase, and implementation process. To capitalize on this trend, B2B marketers must shift online Web experiences from an inside-out perspective that talks incessantly about features and functions to an outside-in one that focuses on helping prospects and customers accomplish buying and adoption goals.

Want to hear more? Join me May 18th for my teleconference at 8 am Pacific, 11 am Eastern.

[Cross-posted at B2B Marketing POSTs by Laura Ramos.]