Email remains the tactic most critical to B2B marketing programs, but may soon cede that position to lead nurturing and content marketing, according to a new study [download page] from Spear Marketing Group. The survey also finds greater enthusiasm for social networking ads than paid search in the next 12-18 months.
The leading result for email – 83% consider it a critical component of their current marketing program – is in keeping with data contained in MarketingCharts’ 2015 B2B Digital Marketing Insights Report, which details the top channels by ROI (and includes benchmarks, in some cases).
Interestingly, though, B2B marketers responding to the Spear Marketing Group study are more likely to see lead nurturing (65%) and content marketing (61%) as key components of their future marketing programs (in 12-18 months) than they are to say the same about email (56%). Paid search will continue to be less important than SEO, per respondents; in fact, more respondents believe social ads (39%) will be a key tactic in 12-18 months than do paid search (34%).
When it comes to various technologies considered essential to the success of marketing programs:
- Content marketing was cited by the largest share of respondents for current importance (85%) and for importance in the next 12-18 months (60%);
- CRM was cited by the second-largest share of respondents (68%) for current importance, but just 29% see it as being essential in 12-18 months’ time;
- Marketing automation, while the third-most important technology (68%) today, is the one that the largest share ofÂ respondents (58%) expect to deliver significant, measurable ROI.
In contrast to these leading technologies, far fewer see programmatic advertising and click-to-call as being important or able to deliver significant ROI, perhaps reflecting lower adoption of these channels.
Turning to content types, the study demonstrates a strong level of optimism surrounding video. Indeed, while blog posts (76%) outpace white papers (69%), webinars (61%) and videos (57%) as B2B marketers’ most important current content types, videos (70%) get the nod over case studies (60%) and blog posts (50%) in terms of projected important for future marketing initiatives. This enthusiasm is supported by data covered in MarketingCharts’ report and in recent survey results from Ascend2. Meanwhile, infographics are also set to grow in importance, reflecting the general trend towards visual content assets.
One thing not projected to change? The ranking of current and future challenges, ordered from greatest to least as follows:
- Lack of budget;
- Lack of marketing resources or know-how;
- Lack of meaningful content; and
- Lack of technical resources or know-how.
Though budgets have also elsewhere been cited as the top digital marketing challenge faced by B2B marketers, budget growth trends suggest this challenge may ease over time.
About the Data: The Spear Marketing Group survey was sponsored by TechValidate and was completed by more than 200 marketing VPs, directors and managers across the US. Surveyed organizations ranged from large enterprises (>5,000 employees) to small businesses (50-100 employees), across industries including computer software, media & entertainment, telecom, financial services, and more.