What You Need to Know about the Current State of B2B Marketing

February 22, 2017

Future of Marketing

The quest for success in B2B marketing can sometimes seem like a journey without a map. Or a trail. Or a defined destination. Not only are guideposts few and far between, no two paths are alike. Different target audiences and industries will require sometimes radically different approaches.

Despite our differences, though, it’s still valuable for marketers to compare notes. Surveys of B2B marketers across verticals can be a kind of compass to navigate by. Even though our routes may diverge, we still need a true north.

Digital marketing agency DemandWave just released their 2017 State of B2B Digital Marketing. The report collects responses from 200 B2B marketers on spending, strategy, goals, and challenges. Here are a few top takeaways that really got us thinking.

Digital Marketing Budgets Are on the Rise

We have been saying it for a while now: When it comes to amplification, organic is good but paid is better. It looks like the industry is starting to catch on. Over half of those surveyed reported they would increase spending on paid search in the next year.  In addition, 50% said they would increase social media spending in the next year.

Forty-eight percent said they expect to spend more on digital marketing in the coming year, while 43% said they expect spending to stay the same. Only 6% said they plan to spend less money online in the months to come.

While B2B marketers may have been late to the digital marketing game, it looks like we have seen the value in online advertising and are ready to commit more budget to getting results. We’re maturing past the idea that social media and search rankings should be organic-only, and we’re willing to spend some money to boost visibility.

Bringing in the Right Audience Is Top Priority

Another mark of digital marketing maturity is pursuing smarter goals. In the early days of social media, most of us were only concerned with popularity metrics. It was all about the most followers, the most views, and the most likes.

While these early-stage metrics are worth tracking, marketers are shifting focus to more late-stage metrics. Respondents overwhelmingly said delivering quality leads was more important than just delivering more leads, by a ratio of 2:1. Less than 10% of respondents cited goals like improving brand awareness or increasing web traffic.

The LinkedIn Marketing Solutions team definitely agrees: Quality beats quantity when it comes to delivering leads. We have seen that the LinkedIn platform is uniquely well-positioned to provide precision targeting for B2B marketers. With smarter targeting, you can get more from your ad budget and bring in more relevant leads.

Attribution Remains a Challenge

B2B marketers have made some progress in the ability to measure ROI, but as a profession we still have some maturing to do. Last year, DemandWave reported that 35% of respondents had no attribution model at all. This year, that number is down to 28%. That movement is a promising trend, but still over 1/4th of all respondents aren’t even attempting proper attribution.

Only 25% reported they use a fully mature multi-touch model. First-touch, last-touch, and first-and-last-touch models round out the remaining 50%. These models are better than nothing, but lack the sophistication of a multi-touch model.

We are dedicated to helping marketers solve the attribution problem. LinkedIn Conversion Tracking launched last year, making it much simpler for marketers to understand the full impact of their LinkedIn advertising efforts. We plan to continue refining the service and helping to educate marketers in the coming year.

LinkedIn Leads for Social Media

Our in-house research shows that LinkedIn is a major driver of leads and revenue for B2B marketers. DemandWave’s survey provides appreciated third-party verification of the platform’s value.

Eighty-nine percent of respondents said they use LinkedIn for B2B marketing, more than any other social media channel. Their efforts are paying off, too: Fully 62% said LinkedIn generates leads, nearly double the response of second most effective option.

Most importantly, LinkedIn is at the head of the pack for generating revenue. Forty-three percent of respondents said LinkedIn had contributed to revenue. Only 25% said any other social media platform had contributed to the bottom line.

DemandWave’s report confirms what we at LinkedIn suspected: B2B marketers are starting to hit their stride with digital marketing. Marketers are getting more sophisticated in setting goals, defining audiences, and attributing revenue. We’re proud to be a part of modernizing, refining, and optimizing B2B marketing. Whatever path your team takes to success, we plan to be here to help light the way.

To learn more about how our team gets the most out of marketing on LinkedIn, download The Secret Sauce: How LinkedIn Uses LinkedIn for Marketing.

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