Earlier this year, Econsultancy and Adobe surveyed more than 800 global B2B digital marketing professionals, in order to understand the key priorities, trends and challenges for B2B digital marketing. Those results have been gathered in “B2B Digital Trends 2015” giving marketers an unprecedented look at the unique characteristics of B2B vs. B2C and provides insights into variations among the largest subsectors within B2B.
Let’s start by looking at B2B vs. B2C: Our findings indicate that while B2B and B2C marketing tactics are converging, there are still key distinctions between the two. The variation between B2B and B2C becomes apparent in the response to the question: “Which one area is the single most exciting area of opportunity for your organization in 2015?” B2B respondents were much more focused than their B2C peers on content marketing. This is to be expected, as the orchestration of content plays a significant role in engaging prospects both during the long and complex buying journey, as well as in post-purchase support activities. At the same time, the laser focus on content marketing comes at the expense of more personalized and mobile experiences. A lesser focus on personalization and mobile relative to their B2C peers may set up a scenario whereby B2B marketers won’t be able to meet the expectations of their audiences for personalized and mobile experiences.
Looking to the future, B2B marketers indicate that in the next five years customer experience, personalization and big data will offer the biggest opportunities. This suggests that while content marketing will still be important, the practice not require the same level of focus, as it will have become a core-competency.
With the pace of change in digital marketing, fueled by the expectation of B2B prospects for consumer-like experiences, one might surmise that B2B marketers will be pressured to pivot their focus to customer experience and personalization in the very near-term. We also anticipate that mobile too, will need to come to forefront, as adoption of smart phones to search, research and purchase is not limited to consumers. Recent studies show that:
- 42 percent of B2B searches are done on mobile devices and the number of key searches B2B buyers make when researching a product or service doubled from six searches in 2012 to 12 searches in 2014.
- 34 percent of people involved in the B2B buying decisions in 2014 used their mobile devices across each stage of the purchase, up from 18 percent in 2012.
Creating an outstanding mobile site experience for B2B users is becoming table stakes for B2B marketers, and as such we anticipate an increased focus on creating mobile websites and mobile apps.
The report also revealed salient differences among some of the key B2B subsectors (manufacturing, healthcare and pharma, technology and professional services) that comprise B2B especially around the topic of big data. The manufacturing sector, for example, diverges from the other sectors on this topic. Only 27 percent of manufacturing respondents feel they have a good infrastructure in place to collect the data they need. Accordingly, other sectors are 3x more likely than manufacturing to select big data as the single most exciting opportunity in five years. This finding is somewhat counterintuitive to what one might expect, given all of the discussion on IoT and how manufacturing industries are poised to extend their first mover status in collecting and interpreting the data from “things.”