B2B Marketing: Translating spends to revenues on a click
Shyam Rao, AVP - Senior Practice Engagement Manager, Infosys BPMInfosys BPM
About 88% of B2B brands today have shifted the majority of their marketing spends onto digital media

B2B Marketing: Translating spends to revenues on a click

About 88% of B2B brands today have shifted the majority of their marketing spends onto digital media
  • The pandemic has led to squeezing of marketing budgets, and CMOs have to deliver more bang under their (limited) bucks.
  • However, B2B marketing seems to have fared much better vis-à-vis, B2C marketing, observes Shyam Rao, AVP - Senior Practice Engagement Manager, Infosys BPM. He explores the factors that have helped B2B marketing during the pandemic and writes about some significant B2B Marketing trends.
Marketing spends typically tend to focus on building brands and less on generating revenues. With the pandemic and the New Normal squeezing marketing budgets, spends have come under duress, with CMOs now having to deliver more bang for their (limited) bucks.

However, B2B marketing seems to have fared much better vis-à-vis its richer and famous cousin, B2C marketing. The reasons are quite clear – B2B marketing is more focused on 1:1 or 1: few spends that are aligned to generate revenues and conversions rather than relying primarily on impressions and reach. While there has been an overall slowing down in the growth rate of marketing spends to about 10% in 2020, as compared with the highs of 24% in 2018, digital spending in B2B marketing is still at a healthy $9.03 billion.

So where are B2B brands investing their marketing spends?

A study by B2B media house Aggregage reveals an interesting picture of spending trends in B2B marketing. It states that 88% of B2B brands today have shifted the majority of their marketing spends onto digital media. With almost 70% of live, in-person events being cancelled, conferences and summits have also adopted online channels, such as webinars and virtually simulated auditoriums.

Google validated the point in its own report, stating that over 45% of B2B brands invested in digital for the first time in 2020, the year of the pandemic. The statistics make it amply clear that the dollar spends are being ploughed into online marketing channels at a much faster pace now, than pre-pandemic.

This throws up an interesting question. Which digital marketing channels are drawing the majority of marketing dollars? A LinkedIn-Edelman study lists 4 main channels that B2B brands are investing in:

  • Content marketing and syndication (59%)
  • Thought leadership and domain-based research sponsorship on digital media (55%)
  • Virtual events (52%)
  • Executive communications and 1:1 connect (44%)
The reasons for this shift are quite self-evident. With the pandemic reducing marketing budgets and opportunities to interact in-person for a prolonged period, leaning back on digital capabilities was the logical way forward. Events are not just going online but are becoming increasingly innovative to make up for the lack of personal connect that an in-person event could facilitate seamlessly.

The 5 key imperatives for B2B brands to make the most of the New Normal:

Double down on digital spending– Allocate budgets across multiple channels, while considering the needs of New Normal. Prioritise digital channels that your customers are more likely to engage with,vis-à-visa blanket investment across all digital channels.

Focus on revenue generation or Return on Marketing Investment (RoMI) – Unlike B2C, B2B brands need to have clear targets for conversions and revenues generated directly from B2B marketing spends on particular accounts or channels of branding. EnsuringKPIs based on revenue/sales targets will drive optimum budget allocation,rather than basing the evaluation on impressions or reach in pay-per-click programs.

Online events with expanded features – Digital events are now increasingly sophisticated, with dedicated event management platforms providing a host of features to emulate a live, in-person event. These features can be leveraged to build customisedevents virtually, enabling better client engagement.

Social media–While social media has traditionally been the domain of B2C, specialized channels, such as LinkedIn, are now increasingly gaining prominence in account-based marketing (ABM). Investing in improving social media presence through content-based marketing and social listening can drive up positive social sentiment for a brand by notches.

Account-Based Marketing (ABM)– They say, the key to a good ABM campaign is to prioritize accounts. This point cannot be emphasised enough, but it is equally crucial to prioritize right. A good starting point would be to prioritize based on revenue potential, or conversions in an account. An ABM prioritization based on account yield will, in turn, help in meeting RoMI targets. Another important, but easily overlooked issue to address in ABM is data protection. Ensure that data sources are well protected and GDPR compliant. At a time when privacy has become increasingly paramount, delivering on data protection will be key to drive client confidence, and thus the success of campaigns.

B2B marketing is in the throes of a new frontier. How a brand adapts its marketing strategy to these tectonic shifts will determine its buoyancy. But undoubtedly, marketing has evolved during the COVID-19 crisis to support revenue generation of organizations across industries, from the worst hit by the pandemic, like manufacturing and infrastructure services, to the ones that stand to gain, such as software, services, and e-commerce. While there is an opportunity to increase revenues for these sectors with intelligent spending on B2B marketing, it will be wise to develop a focused strategy to optimize the Return on Marketing Investment.