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B2B and B2C marketing are often seen as being entirely different entities, but research actually indicates that B2B marketers can learn a great deal from B2C marketers when it comes to staying ahead of the digital marketing curve.

B2B VERSUS B2C

B2B marketing is often considered to be the less glamorous of the two marketing cousins, but yet it is becoming increasingly important for people working in this field to embrace the latest innovations in marketing practices. A GyroHSR B2B Marketing Insight Report indicates that 44 percent of respondents were of the opinion that digital communications were the most effective method of B2B marketing that they were currently engaged in. This indicated that traditional tools such as direct mail were being replaced by these new innovative methods, and that B2B marketing could not be considered such a stuck-in-the-mud field as is perhaps often presumed.

Digital carries massive advantages over other channels. Figures from the same report indicated that direct mail produced an almost zero response rate for half of those suveyed. By contrast, email marketing campaigns were able to solicit a 27 percent response rate, indicating that they were significantly superior to the direct mail approach. This illustrates that B2B marketers who embrace new technologies and approaches to the industry will reap the rewards in profits.

Additionally, the top response rates achieved according to the surveyed companies were via e-mail, as opposed to any other communication channel. This indicates that digital communications are becoming critical in reaching consumers, and that indeed customers often prefer such methods of communication to traditional avenues.

UNDERSTANDING DIGITAL FEEDBACK

But although the technology currently being utilised in digital is at a similar level of development across both business and consumer marketing, understanding why they are used is probably more important. For B2B marketers, digital is treated as a tactical tool to help build a brand rather than a strategic platform for brand engagement and lead generation. This is leading the approach in B2C marketing too, as consumer marketers have increasingly embraced this mentality.

So why is there a disparity between the application of digital? There can be a wide variety of explanations for this gulf, but one of the most obvious reasons is that differing digital tools available to marketers can behave in vastly different ways depending on meeting marketing disciplines.

Micro-bloggers that utilise Twitter, for example, have a very different application in the B2B world than in B2C marketing. In business-related circles, this popular social media platform can be considered a highly targeted channel that enables individuals to network and share directly with one another. But the story with consumer brands is significantly different. These view Twitter as a broadcast medium that empowers companies to connect with a mass market in an extremely efficient and affordable fashion.

MEASURING DIGITAL IMPACT

However, the main reason for the disparity between the B2B and B2C use of digital channels is that B2B marketers are only measuring a fraction of what digital offers. A preoccupation with measurement of activity rather than measurement of return has led B2B marketers to focus on short-term results. There has been a particular focus on the open and click-through rates of e-mail marketing as an indicator of the success of a particular brand and its engagement, rather than considering the wider scope of influence that can be exhibited after opening.

Many B2C companies have utilised Facebook pages, and other social media feeds, in order to attract large numbers of followers, and then influenced an audience well beyond these ‘friends’. In the B2C arena for example, fashion brand Asos used a Facebook page to attract 30,000 ‘friends’, but influenced a potential audience of 4,500,000. This succinctly illustrates that the influence of a marketing campaign on social media can reach an audience that goes well beyond those that physically acknowledge its presence on the particular social media platform in question.

It seems that B2B marketers are doing an incredibly poor job of measuring the impact of their efforts according to the research from GyroHSR, as this study found that less than 50 percent of respondents were actively seeking to measure brand building as part of their overall marketing review. Far from being something that the majority of companies are neglecting, this should be considered a social facet of measuring the impact of social media and other marketing efforts.

The solution to this issue is for all marketers to implement more sophisticated digital metrics. This will enable the level of success, or otherwise, to be measured more readily and accurately. It is also advisable to involve digital marketing practice in order that it focuses on lead and income generation. This has already been demonstrated on a large-scale by B2C marketers, and now their counterparts in business-to-business marketing must catch on to this trend.

RECAP OF KEY POINTS

Digital B2B marketers need to focus on:

- income and lead generation,
- understanding that digital is a strategic platform that enables nrand engagement and lead generation;
- measuring return more accurately and making this a priority for the overall operation;
- considering the longer-term impact of what takes place after a particular communication is accessed.

Following these simple rules is the yellow brick road to B2B marketing success in the digital sphere.

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