Email Reigns As Most Popular B2B Customer Acquisition Channel, But W-O-M Has Biggest Revenue Impact

November 30, 2016

bizible-most-popular-effective-b2b-marketing-channels-nov2016Used by almost 9 in 10 respondents, email marketing is the most popular channel used by B2B marketers to acquire customers, according to The State of Pipeline Marketing Report 2016 [download page] from Bizible. The report – based on a survey of more than 360 marketers, 90% of whom are B2B-focused – also shows that social media and content marketing are currying favor with B2B marketers.

Indeed, more than 8 in 10 B2B respondents reported using social media (82%) and content marketing (81.2%) for customer acquisition, with SEO (79%), word-of-mouth/referrals (74.9%) and conferences/trade show booths (74.5%) also among the top tier of activities.

These aren’t terribly surprising responses: content marketing has become very popular in recent years, for example, as has social media – though perhaps to a lesser extent in B2B than B2C. Trade shows and conferences, meanwhile, continue to provide solid ROI, according to a number of B2B studies.

When it comes to revenue impact, though, there’s a clear leader: word-of-mouth (W-O-M). Asked to choose the activity or channel with the biggest positive impact on revenue, more than one-fifth (22%) of respondents pointed to referrals and W-O-M. That was more than double the share of each of the next-most influential channels: content marketing (9.1%), SEO (9.1%) and trade shows (9.1%).

It’s worth noting that while the B2C marketer sample size was small, comparing the B2B and B2C respondents demonstrated that the biggest difference in revenue impact was for social media. Indeed, 5 times more B2C than B2B marketers identified social as having the biggest influence on revenue. Still, word-of-mouth was the top channel for B2C marketers, which aligns with MarketingCharts research into consumers’ purchase influencers.

Turning to marketing priorities, the survey indicates that B2B respondents are most heavily focused on generating more leads and demand (45.7%), followed by converting leads into customers and revenue (34.3%). While B2B marketers only give themselves fairly middling grades in their ability to effectively measure marketing performance, understanding the ROI of their marketing activities is a much smaller priority than lead generation and conversion.

There seems to be plenty of room for improvement in attribution models, per the report. More than one-third of respondents overall (B2B and B2C combined) aren’t using any model, and among those using one, ease of implementation and setup was a bigger reason for using the model than its accuracy in giving revenue credit to marketing. As a result, respondents were almost twice as likely to say they’re using the wrong (42.7%) than right (22.4%) model, though many plan to change their model in the next 6 months.

The full report can be downloaded here.

About the Data: The State of Pipeline Marketing Report is based on data from a survey taken in October 2016. There were over 360 respondents from a wide range of industries and company sizes. Nine in 10 respondents classified their organization as B2B, and half described their industry as internet/software/technology. Slightly more than half of respondents come from organizations with at least 100 employees.

The respondents also represented a wide variety of job levels. About 30% of the respondents are owners, executives, or C-level; 40% are senior managers or directors; and 30% are intermediate or manager-level. There were also a few responses from entry level employees.

The report was produced by Jordan Con in partnership with Bizible, Heinz Marketing, Radius, Reachforce, and Uberflip.


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