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DriftHeinz How B2B Buyers Communicate w Businesses Oct2020Some 7 in 10 users of B2B conversational marketing tools would use them for communicating with businesses, getting questions answered, and resolving issues, according to Drift and Heinz Marketing’s latest report [download page] on the state of conversational marketing.

Based on a survey of more than 500 B2B marketing professionals fielded in July 2020, the report identifies a notable year-over-year growth in buyers’ use of conversational marketing, in the form of online live chat (from 33.4% to 45.2%) and chatbots (from 13% to 24.9%).

For their part, B2B marketers have reported a series of benefits gained in their use of conversational marketing, including the ability to learn more about their buyers and customers (57%), a greater volume of high-quality leads (55%) and greater, more predictable engagement from leads and accounts (40%).

This comes at a time when frustrations are growing with online experiences among users of B2B products and services. The majority (53.2%) of these respondents reported receiving too many irrelevant ads and emails, alongside 36.4% who can’t get answers to simple questions or business information quickly/easily. Not only that, but the share that feels frustrated with brands being unresponsive on social or email is 5.7 times higher than what it was this time last year.

How to Get Conversational Marketing Right

As in 2019, the top reasons B2B buyers would use conversational marketing this year is to communicate with businesses, get questions answers and resolve issues (70.8%). Scheduling a meeting via the tool has become significantly more common y-o-y (19% to 40.4%), as has purchasing an item (17.1% to 41.3%) and adding themselves to a mailing list or news service (17.7% to 40.5%).

And, fortunately, the vast majority (72%) of respondents have had at least an okay experience with conversational marketing tools, with the largest share (43.7%) having had a positive experience. According to respondents, the markers of a positive experience with these tools include quick, detailed and expert answers to questions (48.5%), complaints and issues being resolved quickly (35.1%), friendliness, approachability and/or easy communication (29.4%) and 24-hour service (27.7%).

However, for the 28% of respondents that typically have a neutral experience or worse with conversational marketing – albeit including just 2.2% who have had a negative experience – there are several factors that can contribute to a less-than-ideal experience. The majority (58.7%) would stop using a tool of this kind if it provided inaccurate information or didn’t answer their question, while around half (50.9%) would stop if the tool didn’t respond or was slow to respond. Around one-third (34.9%) simply prefer interacting with people.

Conversational Marketing Breeds Success but Can Present Challenges

While respondents claimed to have seen success from conversational marketing tools in a number of areas, most respondents said that their website (55%) is the area that has benefited the most from conversational marketing tools. This was followed by content marketing (44.3%), sales enablement (37%), digital ads, PPC or retargeting (31.5%), and emails (31.2%). Less commonly cited as successful were channel/partner programs (13.8%), ABM (16.2%) and event initiatives (22%).

Despite all this, there are factors that have kept some marketers from integrating conversational marketing into their strategy. For the largest proportion (45.3%), a lack of marketing resources to maintain messaging and keep fresh is standing in their way, while some believe that lack of engagement from sales to staff conversations (40%), lack of engagement from sales to follow up with leads (39.2%), and difficulty to set up and implement (35.1%) the tools have made their program a challenge.

You can read more about the state of conversational marketing in the full report here.

About the Data: 2020 data is based on a July 2020 survey of 538 B2B professionals across company sizes and industries.

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