B-to-B : Digital Remix
The down economy pushes B-to-B marketers to embrace digital tacticsJuly 2009 By Laura Ramos
To understand if the current recession will wake up marketers who are asleep at the wheel as they chug along traditional tracks, Forrester Research recently conducted its Q1 2009 B2B Marketing Budgets and Tactics Online Survey with MarketingProfs of 317 B-to-B marketing professionals. We found that marketers are finally embracing digital channels to drive demand and boost brand.
At the top of the marketing tactic popularity list sits the corporate site. That 94 percent of respondents said they consider it a key element in the marketing toolbox is good news because most business buyers—84 percent of those surveyed earlier in 2008—say Web sites help them make purchase decisions.
Our survey showed that e-mail and search marketing have hit the mainstream. With 84 percent of survey respondents using them, e-mail and e-newsletters now equal trade shows in popularity. Search marketing gained 6 percentage points since our previous survey, with 68 percent of marketers using it. This is important because search marketing connects sellers to buyers who actively seek solutions.
Although digital channels are more targetable and measurable than offline media, our survey found that trade shows, public relations, direct mail and print still command center stage in B-to-B marketing programs. These traditional tactics represent familiar territory and—like eating comfort food in stressful times, even though it may not be best for the diet—marketers continue to turn to them, despite effectiveness measures wobbling and, in some cases, plummeting. With executives asking B-to-B marketers to generate the same results with dramatically reduced resources, marketers need to take a fresh, profound look at the marketing mix.
Marketing Mix Choices Consistently Jump the Track
B-to-B marketers juggle an astonishing array of tactics across conventional and online channels to engage increasingly sophisticated, Web-savvy and demanding buyers. When we compared tactic popularity against what respondents told us about how well each tactic fared in building brand awareness or generating leads, we unearthed some interesting insights and trends.
When describing how effectively different tactics build brand or generate demand, most marketers admit that much of the marketing mix fails to deliver the returns they expect. Leaning on the same old things year after year—public relations and television 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. Over a multiyear period, we found that marketers believe PR and trade shows outperform other channels when building brand. However, PR’s effectiveness index—as measured by factoring popularity and perceived results—declined during this period.