BtoB Magazine: Email, Content and Social Key Priorities for B2B Marketers

B2B Online priorities 2011 business using social media According to a survey by BtoB Magazine, stead on is the way to go when considering online B2B marketing tactics. 78.5% of the respondents expect their online budgets to go up this year. Let’s take a look at where they expect the money to be going.

70% of respondents will spend more on their website marketing, followed closely by email 68% and 62% reporting they planned to increase spending on social media. Search engine marketing comes up right after social with 57% planning to increase budgets in that area.

B2B marketers used to have a tendency to stick with what works – preferring to remain in what they believe is the comfort zone of their target market. However, these numbers certainly seem to suggest that marketers for B2B are at least  looking at multiple channels to get their message across. Recent research from MarketingSherpa also showed that inbound marketing and social media are on the rise.

The fact that B2B marketers want to spend more on their websites, email and social media in this social and multi-channel era means many things but it certainly means that search engine marketing, database-driven marketing, customer intelligence and…content play an increasing role. Content marketing is really gaining attention across all marketing activities.

As BtoB Magazine writes: “As more and more marketing channels roll out, including social media networks, landing pages, blogs and thought leadership events, marketers must continuously create and maintain content used for marketing purposes”.

Social media underused for lead generation and customer feedback in B2B

So, what are they doing with social media? More than two-thirds of B2B marketers are already using social media (as of December 2010) and have been focused on brand building via this channel. Social media optimization is a clear priority as well. Oddly enough less than half reported they were using social for lead generation. This causes one to wonder why not? Many B2B marketing experts still think that social media doesn’t work in lead generation. I know that’s not true because in practice we see it does.

So, what’s the challenge? Are they lacking tools to do so? Is the integration of social and email lagging behind? Do marketing automation vendors lack the necessary social media integration features? Is it just not a priority? Is it perhaps a problem with not having their online marketing efforts integrated for lead generation? It’s very possible they just don’t know how to generate leads via social because their channels are not currently working in a coordinated way. In other words, where do I drive people to via Twitter? Do we have optimized landing pages delivering relevant content and strong CTAs based on visitor behavior?

There’s nothing wrong with brand building obviously, it’s very important, and 80% of the respondents are using social media to do that, but less than half that percentage are attempting lead generation. Even odder, only 42% use it for customer feedback! Does this mean less than half the brands out there in B2B are actually listening? This finding confirms earlier reports that many businesses really don’t know how to listen or simply don’t do it. Are over half of them simply talking at people and not initiating any kind of quality interaction? If that’s the case then you might as well go back to leaving messages on executive’s phones.

Building a brand means listening and interacting and incorporating those interactions into your plan. Social media is not your traditional one-way medium and if you are only using it to talk, you are getting less than half the value from it you should – your customers are getting even less than that.