Millennial buyers to make 75% of B2B purchasing decisions this year

B2B marketers are increasing their social media activity and budget spend as a growing number of 18-34 year olds enter the B2B workspace.

The results of Green Hat’s ‘B2B Marketing Outlook 2017’ are in, and reveal the opinions, intentions and budget plans of B2B marketers for the next 12 months.

Key findings surround the ongoing disconnect between marketing and sales teams, the rising rate of automation adoption among B2B marketers, Facebook catching up to LinkedIn as the social media platform of choice, and the growing amount of Millennials entering the B2B workforce.

Related: We spoke to Green Hat MD Andrew Haussegger about the difficulty B2B marketers have in measuring ROI, and the low conversion rates on leads passed from marketing to sales »

Lead generation (76%) and nurturing (75%) and optimising customer experience (68%) are the top three most significant objectives for B2B marketers in 2017.

The results reveal many B2B marketing teams do not have documented strategies for many areas of operation, with brand strategy (53%) and content marketing strategy (50%) being the only two for which B2B marketers have strategies of 50% or more, followed by as well as:

  • Lead generation and nurturing: 49%,
  • social media strategy: 45%,
  • CX strategy: 28%,
  • sales enablement strategy: 24% and,
  • none: 15%.

Related: Teach, tailor and take control – the three Ts of B2B content marketing »

 

Lead generation and lead nurturing

76% of B2B’s rate generating leads in the next 12 months as significant, and 75% rate nurturing leads as the same.

There remains a disconnect between sales and marketing departments, with 23% of marketers saying they aren’t informed of lead acceptance and follow up by sales departments, and 15% saying less than one third are followed up.

 

Customer experience

49% of organisations found CX challenging over the last year, 68% rate it as a significant factor to optimise this year, but only 50% of those who will prioritise it in the next year have developed buyer personas.

B2B CX is known to be more complicated than B2C CX, taking longer periods of time, with greater stakeholder involvement and in many cases, more capital and risk at stake.

It’s critical for B2Bs to get CX right, as future sales are more likely to come from existing customers (either directly or by referral) and also since cost of acquisition outstrips cost of retention.

 

Marketing automation

90% of B2B marketers want to better measure marketing ROI, yet most have yet to optimise their use of automation as a vehicle for this enablement.

  • The rate of adoption of automation in the Australian market is on the rise. In 2014, usage sat at 47%, in 2015 it was 51% and 2016’s respondents report 63% adoption.
  • 36% of B2B marketers will spend more than 20% of their 2017 budget on automation.
  • 52% of marketers’ automation platforms are not integrated with their CRMs, 42% are, and 6% are ‘not sure.’

 

Social media

72% of B2B marketers say they are actively driving and owning social media presences for their organisations, while 13% are participating but not publishing from branded accounts.

LinkedIn remains the dominant channel for B2B marketers, with 83% of organisations actively using it. Facebook (66%) is closing the gap as an owned channel to drive commercial outcomes, increasing 10% in the last 12 months and is set to climb further with the introduction of Facebook Workplace.

B2B outlook social

 

Another factor influencing the uptick in social media B2B marketing is the growing amount of Millennials entering the workspace. In 2014, 18-34 year olds accounted for almost half of all B2B decision makers using the web to perform product research, a 70% increase from 2012.

In 2017, Millennial buyers could account for 75% of this decision making.

 

Budgets and ROI

41% of marketers say their planned marketing budget for 2017 will increase, 47% say it will stay the same, and 12% say it will decrease.

In terms of ROI, only 20% say clear return on marketing investment is measured and communicated, 51% say ‘limited’ marketing ROI is reported, and 29% say it is ‘not really’ measured and communicated.

When asked to name the areas where you expect to spend at least 20% of marketing budget in the next 12 months, 71% said email, website and SEO marketing, followed by:

  • Content development: 51%,
  • events: 39%,
  • social media: 37%,
  • automation: 36%,
  • print and online advertising: 34%,
  • PR: 11%, and
  • telemarketing: 8%.

B2B outlook budgets

 

Related: compare this year’s results with last year’s Green Hat ‘B2B Marketing Outlook 2016’ »


Image copyright: peshkova / 123RF Stock Photo

Ben Ice
BY Ben Ice ON 24 January 2017