B2B marketing once involved meeting face-to-face with top decision-makers in client organizations and selling products and services to them. There were clear distinctions between business and consumer marketing. Going by the latest B2B marketing statistics, however, the field seems to have undergone a drastic change. Buyers now conduct much of the research on their own before contacting a seller, digital marketing has become the most important component of B2B marketing, and many of the tactics that work in B2C commerce are being deployed in B2B. Many of these changes are driven by the increasing role of millennials in buying decisions.
We cover these and many other critical bits of information in the following statistics, which point to the most important trends B2B marketers can use for their strategy in 2021.
The conversion of leads into customers and increasing sales leads have both been at the top two positions since 2019. Considering that these objectives are shared between sales and marketing teams within an organization, it could indicate a growing collaboration between the two sectors. The third, fourth, and fifth top objectives in B2B marketing are increasing brand awareness, producing thought leadership, and increasing website traffic.
How much do B2B companies spend on marketing? While it’s impossible to answer that with a single number, the fact is that marketing spending has increased over the last two years. In 2018, nearly 40% of B2B companies were investing at least a tenth of their budget in marketing. This has climbed to 47% now, with another 25% dedicating between 5% and 10% of their budget to marketing.
41% of B2B marketers meanwhile expect an increase. The proportion of B2B marketers who forecast bigger marketing budgets has fallen from 2018-end. The most likely reason for this is a lack of confidence in the returns on investment. The absence of wider B2B marketing budget increases could also be a sign of lower expectations from the economy.
If you thought only B2C marketers have to deal with personalization, you aren’t listening to your B2B customers. There are enough indications that B2B buyers will switch quickly to another seller if they believe their requirements are catered to better there. How do you create personalization at scale? Have no fear, there are enough marketing automation programs out there today to help you get this done.
Marketers have recognized the fact that consumers have grown to expect personalized communication. The list of top B2B marketing strategies for 2020 also points to a bigger investment in technology that could deliver an edge in reaching out to potential and existing customers. The other top strategies include account-based marketing (42%), video marketing (41%), inbound marketing (39%), AI and automation (36%), and conversational marketing (chatbots) (33%).
With website development coming in second (52%), it’s obvious that strengthening their online presence is a top priority for B2B marketers in the coming months. The other top entries in the B2B marketing spend list are tradeshows and events (36%), content marketing (27%), email marketing (27%), marketing automation and CRM software (25%), and social media (19%).
With 44% of B2B marketers also crediting tradeshows and events, the data confirms that B2B is still fueled by networking and interpersonal connection, much more so than B2C. The other top sources are email marketing (39%), SEO (36%), inbound marketing (33%), and social media (28%).
The same B2B marketing research suggests that about one-third of millennials are also the sole decision-maker for their department. The increasing influence of young consumers in B2B purchase decisions is bound to have an impact on how sellers pitch to them, as well as how buyers collect information about available products and services.
A conventional B2B marketing strategy would target only those at the top. Statistics, however, show that you might be missing out on other decision-makers that also need to notice you and your product or service. While C-suite still has the final sign-off in the majority of companies, it’s the non-C-suiters — very often, millennials — who are increasingly influencing the purchase decisions.
The most popular automation software, by far, is HubSpot, used by 41% of B2B companies. The other popular names include Pardot by Salesforce (10%), Marketo (7%), Oracle Sales Cloud, Infusion Soft, and Act On. B2B marketing stats show that marketing automation is becoming increasingly common, as it makes it easier to handle multiple tasks like lead management, email marketing, and content management, allowing team members to focus on higher-end activities.
Nearly a quarter of the American population listens to podcasts, with the number of listeners growing steadily year on year. Most podcast listeners tend to be educated and affluent and, thus, possible decision-makers in the organizations they work for. B2B stats on advertising logically show that podcast advertising has become a major medium for B2B advertisers. In fact, B2B marketers are not only buying ads on existing podcasts to reach an already engaged audience; they are also creating their own branded podcasts.
B2B marketing statistics indicate that In 2019, account-based marketing moved beyond the initial hype cycle and became well-entrenched as a part of the overall go-to-market strategy for the top B2B companies. The ABM Benchmark Survey shows that 25% of B2B organizations have been practicing ABM between six and twelve months, while only 6% aren’t doing ABM yet.
This means that B2B ecommerce will account for 17% of all B2B sales in the US in 2023. This share stood at 12% in 2018. Marketers should also note that the majority of B2B purchases are already influenced by internet search, with an increasing percentage of this search conducted on mobile.
These B2B marketing channels include search engines, vendor websites, and social media. Relying on peer groups and colleagues or salespeople for information has fallen for millennial B2B buyers. This also necessitates a shift in how B2B sellers present information. The most obvious change is that digital channels have to be tapped more efficiently to target the new class of B2B buyers.
Searching is also undergoing a fundamental change. While digital marketing professionals have historically focused on branded search, the latest B2B marketing trends indicate that more than 70% of B2B buyers now start off with a generic search, looking for a product and not a specific brand. On average, B2B buyers are already 57% down the decision path before they perform an action on the vendor site. This means that if branded searches have been the focus of your search strategy, an update might be in order.
The implication is that all your marketing strategies across multiple channels could prove useless if you have not ensured that your B2B digital marketing strategies are in place. When research shows that even in industrial and manufacturing industries, nearly two-thirds of purchases are influenced by digital marketing tactics, no B2B marketer can afford to ignore digital marketing. Then, there are different channels like email, social media, and websites, all of which require individual attention.
Websites are an easy and straightforward way to share information about your product or service with influencers in the buyer team, making it important to have a defined B2B website marketing strategy. A well-designed, informative website can also be used by influencers to share information with other buyer team members, potentially speeding up the decision-making process. For obvious reasons, having an engaging website is a must in the world of digital marketing.
Digital marketing statistics reveal that more than 70% of buyers look at reviews during the consideration stage. Peer reviews are more important than ever in B2B marketing, making customer reviews in the form of comments, interviews, or video testimonials an important part of your B2B digital marketing strategy. That said, using reviews does not mean whitewashing any negative feedback. Nearly 70% of B2B buyers expect to see a mix of positive and negative reviews, with many saying that negative reviews give depth and insight into a product and help build credibility.
This compares favorably to the average response times of social media (10 hours) and email (17 hours). Despite the general agreement on the utility of live chat in B2C marketing, its importance in B2B digital marketing has been less talked about. Considering that B2B buyers increasingly expect the same experiences they have in the B2C environment, the use of live chat in B2B marketing is also bound to increase.
While email marketing continues to enjoy the greatest popularity, B2B marketing stats suggest that social media and social media advertising have seen growth in use (73% of marketers). Blogging and content marketing was the third most popular tactic, used by 63%. Email marketing statistics show that the other tactics in the order of their popularity are SEO (61%), tradeshows and events (50%), online display and PPC (48%), PR and editorial pitching (39%), video marketing (33%), seminars and webinars (31%), telemarketing (20%), and print advertisements (19%).
This low rate underscores the importance of investment in email marketing agencies and tools that make it easy to personalize communication and deliver it at the right time. There are dynamic email providers available now that can even find out if a recipient is traveling when they open an email. The companies that perform at the top in email marketing utilize dynamic content and AI to their maximum potential.
While we will cover mobile-related B2B marketing facts and figures in detail in the next section, here’s something to consider in relation to your email marketing. Along with everything else you need to do to increase the success rate of your email marketing campaign, you also have to make sure that your emails are mobile-friendly. Non-responsive designs lead to emails being deleted in three seconds, on average.
B2B statistics suggest that CTRs for emails are nearly 50% higher in B2B than in B2C marketing. B2B marketers also agree that email is one of the most effective channels to drive website visits and, consequently, generate revenues. Despite these positive statistics, many marketers haven’t adopted email automation, which helps optimize the gains from email marketing. Automation tools make it much easier to send time or action-triggered emails to leads with relevant information, helping improve customer loyalty, retention, and conversion.
The increasing use of phones in the workplace is busting several myths. These include believing that mobile is mostly for younger employees and that B2B purchases are generally made offline. Mobile marketing statistics show that more than 80% of B2B buyers use mobile at work, while more than 60% see mobile as playing a significant role in purchases. By 2020, mobile B2B use will have climbed to three hours a day, marking a 50% increase from 2017.
Marketing stats show that leaders in B2B mobile marketing generate higher levels of mobile engagement, as measured by search queries, site traffic, lead generation, and transactions. As a result, while mobile laggards only see a 15% contribution from mobile, the figure for the leaders is much higher.
Dispelling another myth that mobile has no role to play in complex purchases, research shows that mobile increases decision making efficiency and enhances team collaboration, improving the speed of complex transactions. B2B buyer journey statistics show that buyers using mobile extensively in traditional channels spend an average of 49 days from lead generation to purchase; the figure stands at 84 days for those who don’t use mobile at all.
Focusing on mobile B2B marketing can help build customer loyalty, a much-needed boost to business in an increasingly competitive ecosystem. The likelihood of customers returning for another purchase drops to 50% — a virtual coin toss — if their mobile experience is not good. B2B marketing statistics further show that doing well in mobile marketing requires more than just monetary investment; leaders in this area invest time and energy to understand their customers’ needs and purchase behaviors.
The importance of mobile in B2B commerce isn’t limited to information gathering. Having done their research, many buyers also tend to make their purchases online. This makes it even more important for B2B companies to invest in a robust mobile system. Another study meanwhile points to the growing popularity of mobile wallets as a reliable and quick payment option for B2B buyers.
Another 32% have no full-time position for content marketing experts at all. Marketing teams with 2-5 members are more common in medium (100-999 employees) and large (1000+ employees) companies, while having no dedicated team member is more common among small companies. More than five members in a team is rare even for large companies. Half of the B2B marketers, especially in large companies, also outsource at least one content marketing activity. That, according to B2B content marketing statistics, is content creation.
The content created by B2B marketers is overwhelmingly used for top-of-the-funnel goals like boosting awareness and intent. At the same time, the latest data shows points to a noticeable increase in content marketing used for the lower-funnel goals of nurturing leads, driving sales, and building loyalty. It’s also worth examining the kind of content marketing B2B marketers rely the most on and if these have the characteristics to achieve the required outcomes.
This includes tweets, stories, and other updates on the companies’ or brands’ social media accounts. According to the content marketing statistics for 2020, other popular types of content include blog posts and short articles (89%), email newsletters (81%), in-person events (73%), videos (71%), case studies (69%), and infographics and charts (67%). Among these, the types that work best for building awareness are blog posts, while in-person events provide the best B2B marketing strategies for securing and converting leads. Email newsletters are by far the most useful for nurturing leads.
While some parts of social media, as well as company blogs and email, act as organic content distribution channels, paid content distribution is also popular. Among the latter, advertising or promoted social media posts are used by 72% of B2B marketers. This is followed by event sponsorships (66%), B2B search marketing (61%), banner ads (46%), and partner emails (32%).
Marketing stats further indicate that while 90% of B2B marketers track email engagement, 88% measure content performance by tracking website traffic. The other metrics commonly used include website engagement (86%), social media analytics (83%), conversions (78%), email subscriber numbers (64%), search rankings (51%), and marketing qualified lead metrics (49%). However, only 43% of marketers engaged in content marketing measure its ROI, and only 59% of those marketers rate their ability to demonstrate ROI as excellent or very good.
B2B marketing planning, particularly in terms of content, should be grounded in what the audience wants. Actual conversations with the audience, however, come in surprisingly low on the list of techniques used by B2B content marketers. The more commonly used ways to research the audience include sales team feedback (74%), website analytics (73%), keyword research (65%), secondary research (53%), primary research (50%), and database analysis (45%).
When the B2B marketing plan does take the audience’s needs into account, apart from being found, consumed, discussed, and shared more often, the content also helps build a bond with the audience. 96% of the most successful content marketers say that their audience views their organization as a credible and trusted resource. The deeper this trust grows, the more likely it is that your audience will be receptive to your marketing communication. Experts meanwhile note that to build trust, the content has to be risk-appropriate, consistent, personal (this is where the audience feedback comes in), and cumulative.
Given the variety of marketing content consumed by B2B decision-makers, if you, as a seller, want to stand out from the crowd, you need to make your content appealing. One way to do it is to use relevant video content, which helps convey information in a more engaging manner. Videos create a more immersive experience, teaching your leads much more about your product or service than your webpage can in the same amount of time.
Given that the best B2B marketing campaigns take buyer feedback into account, B2B marketers should take note of this stat. In an environment where a large number of buyers complain about how boring B2B content has become, video and interactive features can help improve engagement rates. In the same survey, 48% of buyers say that interactive content was the most valuable type of content. In response to this trend, 32% of B2B companies are already incorporating video messaging into their nurture programs.
LinkedIn has established itself as the top social medium for B2B marketing, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere soon. Social media marketing experts should keep in mind the other top social media platforms for B2B: Facebook (73%), Twitter (63%), YouTube (36%), and Instagram (31%).
Consumers of all types, including B2B buyers, are using social media to conduct research on products and services. This makes it important to strengthen your social media marketing. It’s also important to know which social media suits your needs. LinkedIn is a platform that B2B marketers cannot afford to ignore. 94% of marketers use LinkedIn to publish content, making it the primary information-gathering resource for B2B buyers.
B2B trends in social media also indicate that Facebook is used often even at work. Additionally, social media marketing statistics show that regardless of the industry, business decision-makers spend about 60% of their Facebook time on mobile. Many also use Messenger to communicate with their co-workers. The implication is obvious — if you want to reach your buyers when they are in the position to make key decisions, do not miss targeting them on Facebook.
While B2C marketers have long praised Instagram for its unique capabilities, Instagram B2B statistics seem to indicate that the platform is becoming a useful tool for the B2B market as well. Because of its image-centric nature, Instagram is used by people to explore their interests. Many design, architecture, and engineering companies use the platform to showcase their visual work. To make full use of Instagram’s potential, B2B marketers need to develop effective content strategies based on thought leadership, news curation, and employee advocacy.
Anyone active on Twitter knows how fast news travels on the platform. B2B social media stats seem to confirm the utility of Twitter for the fast dispersal of information. 77% of B2B marketers also use Twitter to distribute content, while many rate it consistently among the top three most effective social media platforms.
Marketing is increasingly becoming focused on the buyer’s needs, regardless of whether the buyer is a consumer or a business. Strategies for success cannot be created in a vacuum; they require understanding your audience’s expectations and planning accordingly. The common theme of these B2B marketing statistics is that the top performers are those marketers who manage to adapt fast to the changing fundamentals of B2B commerce and make use of technology across multiple channels to drive customer engagement, conversion, and retention.