Last year, Salesforce released its 2015 State of B2B Marketing report detailing key findings from the surveys of over 2,100 B2B marketers. Questioned about budgets, priorities, channels, strategies and metrics, marketers provided insights about digital marketing strategies, tools and tactics. We thought this was a thorough report and continues to make for a fascinating read about how marketers see the future.
This year’s report is expected within the next few weeks and as we strive to keep pace with the competition and attempt to predict the future, we wanted to review the 2015 report to see if the trends unfolded as predicted. We can’t wait to take a look at the 2016 report to compare what marketers said then and now. Meanwhile, these are 10 predictions from 2015 that we believe ring true today.
- The customer is at the core of the marketing strategy and B2B marketers will use technology to craft the customer journey. Micro-targeting and personalization will play a large role in improving the customer journey.
- CRM tools, marketing analytics and mobile applications are the technologies most critical to creating a cohesive customer journey.
- New business development, quality of leads and demand/lead generation are the most pressing business challenges.
- Revenue growth is the top digital marketing metric. Customer satisfaction and retention rates, ROI and lead generation are also important.
- The most popular and effective digital marketing strategies are: corporate website, email marketing, SEO/SEM, landing pages, social media management, social media marketing and banner/display ads.
- Marketing automation is one of the top five areas for increased spending and it’s the focus for B2B marketing budgets.
- Eighty-four percent of B2B marketers in the survey plan to increase or maintain their digital marketing spend.
- B2B marketers are split on the enabler of products and services. Fifty-five percent see social media as the enabler. Fifty-six percent of B2B marketers agree that social media marketing is core to their business and 64 percent are increasing their social media advertising and social media marketing budgets.
- Sixty percent of B2B marketers see mobile marketing as the enabler of products and services. 2015 was forecasted to be the year of mobile – again. B2B marketers have dedicated teams to mobile.
- Email remains a critical touchpoint along the customer journey and it produces ROI.
Making it Personal
Personalization is key for marketers and it’s effective. Per the report, “micro-targeting and personalization will play a large role in improving the customer journey.” Sixty-nine percent saw marketing automation as being ‘very effective’, with an additional 22 percent seeing it as being ‘somewhat effective’. However, it had only a 26 percent adoption rate at the time the surveys were taken. There were, though, 31 percent of all respondents who planned to pilot it in the next twelve months. This means they should have piloted ad retargeting by now so the 2016 report should be interesting if it reflects the adoption of marketing automation.
The report goes on to say, “marketing automation is helping B2B marketers traverse the massive amount of real-time data available, using it to create more efficient and effective 1:1 customer journeys.”
We, of course, champion personalization. We firmly believe personalizing your message is the best way to reach your prospects. It ties well into the most pressing business challenges B2B marketers expressed – new business development, quality of leads and demand/lead generation. Personalizing messages to leads with ad retargeting, for example, can serve to nurture leads. The quality of leads can be greatly improved, a huge bonus for lead generation.
Back to the Future
We can’t wait for the 2016 report. It will be interesting to see how effective B2B marketers see ad retargeting, as so many reported they were intrigued by it. Plus we will be able to see, whether they are interested in increasing their ad spend or pulling back.
We’ll also find out if 2015 was indeed the year of mobile and how it has helped or hindered B2B marketing efforts. In the meantime, consider whether or not any of these predictions came true for you and your marketing efforts.