Though the new financial year often leads to a rush of signing off outstanding documents, it also brings a world of opportunities as new budgets come into play. This can be very exciting for B2B marketers, but the pressure remains to ensure budget is spent wisely, on solutions that will enhance and benefit your department or channel.
If you’re keen to broaden your knowledge about areas to invest in, then we’d recommend our free guide “Effective multi-channel models for marketing and sales” which is full of actionable hints and tips you can put into practice straight away with that new budget. In this blog however, we’ll take a look at the current B2B buyer’s behaviors, and then delve into what investments would improve your B2B marketing to bring you the results you want.
The B2B buyer
There is no one buyer mold to fit every industry and organization, however there are some facts and figures we can all use to build buyer personas – so we’re maximizing on all marketing investments and strategies. Take these into account, and we can plan investments that will produce the results we want.
- Online search – B2B buyers are 57% through their buyer journey when they first approach you. That’s because on average, they conduct 12 different searches online before engaging with your website directly. 71% of B2B buyer searches are generic (not specified by brand), and as 94% of buyer journeys start online – the main takeaway here is that you must have a defined strategy for your online presence, and make the most of it!
- Rise of social media – 83% of B2B buyers actively engage with social media when looking for a business solution, and 84% of CEOs and VPs let it influence their purchasing decision. 34% of buyers say they spent more time in 2017 using social media for business then they did before – the time for a strong social media campaign has never been better (or more necessary)!
- The importance of content – 95% of B2B buyers said they chose to purchase a solution from a company who sent them relevant content throughout the buying journey, and almost half of B2B buyers view 3-5 pieces of content before enquiring with the company. Added to this, leads that have been nurtured with content end up spending an average of 47% more on your product! Content is a truly integral resource for the B2B buyer, so it must be a key focus of the B2B marketer.
- Mobile’s effect on the B2B buyer – 48% of B2B emails are opened on a smartphone and more google searches take place on a mobile device above a computer in 10 different countries (including the US and Japan). Combine this with the fact that 49% of B2B buyers use their mobile at work to conduct research, the need for a mobile friendly website alongside a mobile orientated marketing strategy is key.
- A new process – Today’s buying process for a B2B purchase takes 22% longer than it did 5 years ago and on average, 7 different decision makers will be involved in a B2B purchase. The needs and behaviors of buyers are changing- so prepare for the future!
Where should I invest?
Now we know more about the behaviors and wants of the B2B buyers, we can apply this knowledge alongside success metrics to determine the channels you’ll want to put that new budget towards in 2018.
Digital and artificial intelligence
The digital marketing channel covers a vast amount from SEO to PPC and more! When it comes to investment, the ROI is already strong for this channel with 14.6% of SEO leads becoming a closed sale and PPC gives $2 back for every $1 spent on it.
As google gets over 100 billion searches a month, it’s no surprise that a strong digital strategy is already paying off. Investing further would be wise for any business, as the reliance on internet only grows. Find out more about SEO and PPC strands and their futures here:
- Key mistakes to avoid in your B2B PPC campaigns
- How SEO is changing for B2B marketers: How to get found online
A wise investment for the digital channel would involve branching out into artificial intelligence – which is a constantly growing sector. In B2B marketing, the best place to maximise on this is through a live chat-bot function on your website.
A recent study proved the power of a live chat function in relation to response times. You are 4,000% more likely to qualify a lead if you respond to them in the first 5 minutes after they enquire about your services. Having a live chat function on your website allows response times as quick as one second – and the study found only 14% of the companies contacted had this function – leading to the sad fact that 55% of companies took more than 5 days to respond! When people find you organically it’s hard for you to know about it and measure the success of your SEO, PPC gives you direct results to track when it comes to progress. Tons of people might be searching your brand name – but how will you know?
Though 95% of B2B businesses have corporate social media accounts, and the average B2B business has 6 different social media networks in use, only 32% of these companies have a documented and maintained social media strategy. This is absurd when we look at the amount of B2B buyers using and relying on social media for helping their purchasing decision.
35% of B2B marketers are using paid social media adverts and it’s predicted that in the next 5 years, social media adverts will take up 24% of a company’s annual marketing budget. It’s easy to see why when 74% of people say they use Facebook for professional purposes, and social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing.
5% of companies are planning to spend 100% of their budget this year on social media alone, with every LinkedIn connection leading to 400 new contacts, and Facebook remaining the most popularly used mobile application. Social media is allowing B2B companies to be seen everywhere and 90% of B2B marketers say social media generates positive exposure for their business – it can only be a solid area to invest in for 2018.
Automation and account based marketing
For content and email, the world of automation has already begun to take effect, and if you’re not getting on board then you’re missing out. Account based marketing, blended with an automation strategy allows B2B marketers to plan and personalize content that’s automatically sent to a prospect based on their behavior (right down to open rates!).
The best part about marketing automation is how much an investment will save you; you can generate 50% more sales ready leads at a 33% lower cost, and could also see an 80% save in your direct mail budgets when employing event-triggered marketing.
When it comes down to ROI, companies that use marketing automation through account based marketing see relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue and a conversion rate increase of 10% for email marketing alone. The bottom line here – marketing automation is one of the best investments you can make; it not only drives your channels to produce more revenue, but also allows huge savings in time, head-count and budget.
Mobile and voice search
It’s no surprise the use of mobile is constantly growing. Google discovered that mobile drives or influences more than 40% of revenue for leading B2B organisations. If you have yet to invest in a mobile friendly website then now is the time to get it sorted! You’ll need to ensure your website is easy to navigate, has speedy loading times and works fluidly on mobile and tablets as well as it does on computer.
Looking to the future, the impact of mobile has attributed to the huge surge in searching the web using voice. This year, 20% of searches on mobile were voice activated, meaning marketing channels (specifically SEO) need to change. Searches activated by voice involve more words than usual, taking the form of a question or statement and smart phones often read taglines from top ranking sites back to the user. This is where to invest your money – by 2020, it’s predicted that 50% of all searches will be voice activated. Use this knowledge to adapt your entire marketing strategy for 2018, and get ahead of the game.
Lead generation for today
At the end of the day, one key element stands out as the goal for marketing investments – lead generation. 50% of B2B companies said generating high quality, sales-ready leads was their biggest challenge for 2018, and 72% of companies see it as their primary focus for the year ahead. An investment in a lead generation software is on the cards for 30% of B2B companies, and they’re making the right move.
Lead Forensics is the market leading lead generation solution, that not only brings you more leads than ever before, but also allows you to see the ROI gained from other investments. By telling you which businesses are on your website, how they found you and what they looked at, you can see the success of all your marketing channels in affecting your website traffic. Added to this, the software provides contact details for your business visitors, allowing you to contact them in seconds ensuring your investment efforts don’t go to waste.
Our free guide – Effective marketing tactics for doing business in the USA has plenty more information in about B2B marketing. If you found this interesting, you should definitely give it a read!
For further reading, head to our free resource hub and have a read of the eBook below: