B2B Marketers still see digital marketing as only 'somewhat' effective at hitting the target

By Laurie Fullerton | Freelance Writer

March 1, 2016 | 4 min read

A report released today by Demandbase suggests that B2B marketers are struggling to justify their digital marketing spend with the right return on investment (ROI) and results. In fact, difficulty in measuring ROI (46 per cent) and not getting enough quality leads (42 per cent) are considered the top challenges an organization faces with their current B2B marketing efforts. The online survey conducted by Wakefield Research looked at 500 B2B marketers at the manager level or higher.

When asked if they felt their organization failed to meet expectations, 45 per cent of those surveyed answered 'some of the time' while 25 per cent said ‘all of the time.’ Only 8 per cent of those questioned said that their B2B digital advertising efforts met expectations all of the time.

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The questionnaire then asked if those surveyed agreed or disagreed that it is inevitable that digital B2B advertising will reach a significant number of people outside of its intended target. When looking closely at their chosen answer, only 48 per cent strongly agree that this is the case, while 47 per cent only agree ‘somewhat’ that digital B2B will reach people outside of its intended target.

Additionally, when looking over what formats are used in an organizations digital B2B marketing campaigns, the numbers still reflect a fairly standard approach to marketing that has been consistent for at least five years. In other words, websites and search engine optimization gets top billing with 25 per cent going that route, 21 per cent next use direct response through SEM, Webinars, email, social media and content syndication, while 18 per cent use mobile, 17 per cent go with display and native ads and only 16 per cent favor video. Further, 89 per cent of those surveyed agreed that their organization's digital marketing mix is not optimized - meaning that a different mix would bring better results. Based on the question, 46 per cent of those felt that difficulty in measuring ROI was one reason results were not optimized, as well as 44 per cent agreeing that the sales cycle takes too long. An additional 42 per cent felt that there were not enough quality leads. While 39 per cent said that the sales team did not follow up on leads, 36 per cent said there was not enough volume of leads.

Further, of those surveyed, one of the most common problems shared by all those surveyed is it is believed that up to 98 per cent of marketing generated by digital B2B leads are never followed up on by the sales team. Broken down into a less dramatic number, 24 per cent of those surveyed said that at least half of the time leads are not pursued or considered while 50 per cent said that at least a quarter of the time leads are never followed up on by the sales team.

One of the key issues is that there is some difference of opinion on the best metrics for measuring the effectiveness of digital B2B advertising. While 33 per cent agree that the conversion rate is best, 19 per cent say cost per impression is best, while 17 per cent say total leads work best.

On another note, the survey asked which of the following digital B2B marketing channels would their organization invest most for 2016, and 63 per cent said they would choose website and search engine optimization as a top choice. An additional 57 per cent said mobile, 52 per cent chose direct response, 49 per cent said display and native ads and 47 per cent said search. Only 43 per cent said video would be a top investment priority.

Satisfaction with their organizations return on investment for B2B advertising on social media platforms was divided with only 41 per cent saying they were very satisfied while 51 per cent said they were somewhat satisfied. Additionally, only 7 per cent were somewhat unsatisfied.

The study concludes that among other issues, B2B marketers recognize a disconnect in their approach, but they can’t fix the problem if they don’t know what is and isn’t working. Instead of investing advertising dollars targeting non-buyers with irrelevant messages, the study suggests marketers need to leverage the right tools to identify the right people and measure the effectiveness of their ads to ultimately see a better ROI.

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