B2B Ain’t What It Used to Be

A new eMarketer report looks at the ways marketers are changing strategies and using integrated models to make their on and offline marketing programs more effective.

Most marketers today probably don’t know that in 1926 Gertrude Eberle was the first woman to swim across the English Channel. Almost 80 years later, cross-channel means coordinating television, print, direct and online marketing – and there is not a B2B marketer out there who isn’t getting into the swim of that.

The new eMarketer report, B2B Marketing: Making the Internet Integral in a Cross-Channel World, analyzes the rapid changes occurring in what was once a quiet backwater of B2B: online marketing.

“In the B2B realm, online marketing has traditionally consisted of pulling in new prospects and pushing the brand. As a rule, today’s online efforts don’t supplant established marketing channels, but merely supplement them,” says David Hallerman, eMarketer Senior Analyst and author of the report. “Among the more savvy B2B companies, however, that means using the Internet as the central channel for most marketing objectives.”

The pivotal objectives for business marketers are also their core challenges � generating leads, building the brand and measuring effectiveness.

“Whether the target audiences are consumers or businesspeople, marketing is marketing,” says Mr. Hallerman. “The key differences between consumer marketing and B2B marketing are that business targets are harder to segment, they typically need far more details about a company’s products or services prior to purchase and they usually take a longer time to reach a purchasing decision. Another key difference is that far more B2B purchases are finalized offline. “

The Internet is an effective tool for establishing and maintaining contacts but it is less critical for actual selling. In a survey sponsored by the CMO Council, BtoB Magazine, and USA Today, the vast majority of B2B marketers said digital marketing was most valuable as a lead-generating tool.

Other issues that are important to B2B marketers are Web site traffic generation, customer education, content distribution and partner/channel education. All are becoming critical components of a solid and well-integrated B2B marketing program.

“One fact is becoming inescapable,” says Mr. Hallerman, “The wider the net today’s B2B marketers throw across the Internet, the more likely they are to get effective results.”

While the Internet can help meet many B2B marketing challenges � it also amplifies others.

In the pre-Internet days, similarities among companies were either not as evident or easier to disguise. A Patrick Marketing Group (PMG) study confirms what is quite apparent � that the Internet has made it easier to compare multiple sources for products or services.

The growth of commoditization, or product parity, is pushing B2B marketers toward more image-building brand marketing. That’s particularly true for companies whose products or services are similar to the competition’s.

“When channels cross, strong currents are created, some pushing in the right direction, some in the wrong direction,” says Mr. Hallerman. “Today’s B2B marketers have to be prepared for both.”

Find out how to take advantage of new cross-channel trends and tools, read the eMarketer B2B Marketing report today

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By gathering the latest research and news from over 1,000 sources, eMarketer has established itself as the world’s leading provider of internet and e-business statistics. eMarketer’s Web site is at www.emarketer.com.