SEO a Central Online Marketing Strategy for B2B Companies

December 18, 2012

Demandbase-ZiffDavid-B2B-Online-Marketing-Strategies-Dec2012Among B2B companies, search engine optimization (SEO) is the most popular of 7 identified online marketing strategies, though social media is close behind, find Demandbase and Ziff Davis in a new study. A leading 63% of respondents said that SEO is part of their online marketing mix, while 60% said the same about social media. The growth of content marketing makes inbound marketing the third-most used online marketing strategy, by 53% of the respondents.

Interestingly, SEO proves far more popular than pay-per-click (PPC), which is used by 41%. That result aligns with earlier survey findings from WebMarketing123, in which 59% of B2B marketers said SEO has the biggest impact on their lead generation goals, with PPC (20%) trailing distantly.

Still, the results differ from survey findings from Sagefrog Marketing Group. In that report, social media (68%) was more popular than SEO (58%) among B2B respondents, though email (76%) was most widespread. It’s unclear why email was not included as part of the online marketing mix in the Demandbase survey.

New Content Not Targeted at Buyer Personas

With content marketing becoming more widespread, the Demandbase study, “Account-Based Marketing in 2013,” drills into the factors that B2B marketers consider when creating new content. Interestingly, the top factors don’t align with marketers’ stated primary focuses for online marketing. Specifically, while a leading 29% of respondents said they were planning to increase their marketing attention on buyer personas, just 36% said their new content creation prioritized individual user profiles or buyer personas.

Instead, a much greater three-quarters consider specific business needs and solutions when creating content, and close to two-thirds factor in the industries or company types they are targeting. Thought leadership is less of a factor, playing into the equation for slightly less than half of the respondents.

Companies Have Difficulty Understanding the Target Market

Some of those content creation priorities may be related to a limited understanding of target markets. Just 31% of the respondents said they have a complete understanding of their target markets, including account types by industry or company size. Presumably, those respondents will be the ones most able to craft their content towards specific buyer personas.

Half of the marketers surveyed said that rather than have a complete understanding of their target market, they have a basic understanding, and are still evaluating their markets. That may be why general content factors (based on industries and company types) are more highly-prioritized.

Other Findings:

  • 1 in 10 respondents said they do not yet understand their target market. 8% believe they can sell to anybody.
  • Lack of budgets, marketing personnel and resources count as marketers’ most important online marketing challenges. Interestingly, of the 6 challenges identified, poor sales and marketing alignment around common targets and goals was the least important. Also notably, measuring ROI was the second-smallest challenge.

About the Data: The Demandbase survey was conducted from August 7 to August 27, 2012 among the Ziff Davis network, receiving hundreds of responses from companies spanning a wide range of sizes and industries.


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