By Harry Henry
VP & Practice Leader
Harwich Port, Massachusetts
Today’s marketing environment is fueled by new automation solutions, data analytics and digital tracking. Not all solutions work well for all marketers across the board. We intuitively know that selling and marketing to consumers is quite different to targeting the world of B2B firms where buying cycles and purchase decisions can be quite complex. Different strategies and tools work better for different audiences. At the end of the day, everyone wants to generate activity, traffic and leads, but approaches to that challenge vary widely.
In most things related to marketing, advertising and market research, consumer solutions come first. There is more money involved on the consumer side so companies tend to develop solutions for the B2C market first; they find their way to B2B later. Outsell’s research and market estimates show that B2C advertisers and marketers spend twice as much as their B2B counterparts in a market worth $400 billion in the US and nearly $1 trillion globally. Companies that primarily market to a B2B client base outnumber those that are mainly B2C oriented. A market where fewer companies spend more money and the larger market spends less makes for an interesting dynamic when the marketing services and marketing automation vendors start to look at where they can sell and where they will get their next set of clients. Another important factor is the size of the firm, since small, medium and large firms place value on various lead generation resources differently. Results from Outsell’s latest annual Advertising and Marketing survey (see report 1 March 2013, Annual Advertising and Marketing Study 2013: B2B Advertising Headlines) show that the B2C companies of all sizes rate their own company web sites as the most effective for building leads. On the B2B side, the smaller firms (under 100 employees) rated their company web site as the most effective, but the medium and larger firms place more value on in-person events, exhibitions and conferences where direct contact occurs.
With this survey data we can now see the fruits of the marketers’ labors over the past few years. For the past two or three years, we have seen an increase in spending on company web sites and infrastructure. More was spent there than on other digital initiatives. These were primarily internal expenditures and money that was (in essence) taken out of the market. Now, by-and-large, those web sites are upgraded, in good shape and waiting for the visitors. The spending on web sites is down this year while spending on social media and other aspects of content marketing is increasing. This where we see a number of product announcements and new funding for companies in social media monitoring and tracking. Marketers are ramping up activity on social media and content marketing, all with the idea of getting consumers to the site. This is where the concept of the brand as a publisher comes into play. The marketer has to develop the content and publish it to social media and other outlets in order to drive the traffic.
Once the consumer gets to the site, all the technology behind identifying the persona, serving up the proper content from the likes of data platforms like Neustar, Epsilon, Acxiom and others comes into play. This part of marketing automation, including data feeds, cookies and machine IDs, has been part of the infrastructure build over the past few years.
B2B is about the personal contact. Smaller firms do not usually have the personal sales resources and will depend more on web traffic whereas medium and larger firms place more value on leads generated as a result of in-person activities.Lattice Engines is a data management platform company that provides profiling and scoring on the B2B side similar to what others provide for consumer profiles on the B2C side. Marketing services, such as events, are key for this market and a great opportunity for the B2B companies as Outsell identified in an earlier report (Market Analysis: The Marketing Services Opportunity, 2 August 2012).
As we see the marketing automation and solutions providers driving into the market and connecting with CMOs, understanding these differences, nuances and segments is key to getting in the door. There are differences between B2B and B2C players, they have their own preferences, and have built their infrastructures. Now, they’re ready to go.