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B2B marketers experiencing customer relationship issues

More than half of B2B marketing budgets are devoted to building and maintaining relationships with new customers, but only a quarter of B2B marketers say their relationships are akin to a happy marriage.

That’s according to new research from Skout carried out by Sapio Research, which reveals that of the 200 sales and marketing pros interviewed, 8% reckoned they were going through a bitter divorce or separation; 7% were on the rocks; 8% were having ‘difficulties’ with their customer relationships. This is a surprise considering nearly all marketers are heavily invested in building and creating relationships at key stages of the customer lifecycle. 14% added that they were casually dating or still at the first date stage of the relationship, whilst 14% said would ‘swipe right’ if using a dating app.

The impact of a relationship that’s on the rocks is clear. 41% felt the biggest risk was dissatisfied customers, a third said it resulted in poor prospect to customer conversion, another third stated it was likely to result in falling profitability and missing revenue targets. Despite these impacts, 97% of marketers agreed that good business relationships are crucial in B2B marketing.

The early stages of the customer journey prove critical when allocating budgets. 94% of respondents say that their business is effective at forging and nurturing relationships during the ‘interaction’ and the ‘awareness’ stage. But effectiveness drops as the customer journey matures – 77% effective at the ‘advocacy’ stage – indicating that it’s harder to keep customers on side the longer they’re with you.

As part of the research, Skout identified the risks to customer relationships at each stage of journey, with the results clearly showing where B2B marketers are falling short.

When it comes to retention, marketers do not appear to understand the value of building advocate programmes. Despite a lower cost of sale and the strength of case studies in convincing new customers to buy, 33% of companies have no dedicated customer loyalty or advocate programme in place. And 28% fail to monitor engagement or feedback to spot potential advocates.

Rob Skinner, MD of Skout, says “B2B relationship marketing is making a comeback. Potentially part of a backlash against too much automation, buyers are looking for that human touch and connection. And while not every customer might be worth a fling, marketers need to profile their audiences carefully to ensure that they’re investing in long term, exclusive, mutually beneficial marriages of convenience and are not two timed.”

Budget constraints are blamed for getting in the way forging stronger relationships with customers according to half of respondents, but a further 38% blame lack of data/insights, people resource (37%) and lack of a clear strategy (37%).

So where are marketers focusing those limited budgets? In the past year, over half have used customer surveys, 39% identified where their customers are on the journey, 36% put budget to audience research and 27% into persona and audience mapping.

B2B marketers failing to drive multi-channel campaigns

B2B marketers struggle to create and deliver multi-channel campaigns that successfully align with their marketing strategy.

This is despite an understanding that the ‘Integration Imperative’ is critical to achieving marketing goals, maximising exposure with target audiences and boosting return on investment.

That’s according to a survey by B2B agency Skout, which polled 100 senior UK marketing professionals and found that 63% feel they are not taking advantage of the different marketing channels available to them.

46% struggle to integrate channels, claiming that this is the biggest obstacle to successfully delivering their marketing activities.

Failure to create content that can actually be used across multiple channels was also identified as a challenge to successful integrated marketing.

40% of marketers don’t reuse content because they feel that it’s unsuitable for other formats, while 35% are concerned that content has lost its value after its initial use and don’t believe it can be used again.

32% blame ineffective campaign planning for not reusing content, suggesting that many marketers don’t fully consider their goals and objectives before developing content programmes.

Interestingly, 42% of marketers agree that using multiple marketing channels is the most important aspect of campaign integration. In comparison, 40% believe it’s the need for marketingand sales alignment and for 36% the imperative is good teamwork. Despite this, respondents admitted to not using content effectively.

For example, 85% of marketers think that case studies should be created for use across many channels for maximum impact. This could include video, podcast, website testimonials, long form PDFs and press stories all from one source. However, many felt these crucial content assets are significantly underutilised.

Reassuringly, 80% of marketing professionals agree that PR is a vital element of improving SEO and link building alongside building targeted brand awareness. 87% also agree that developing a PR programme can also improve social media performance.

However, 57% still struggle to integrate PR, social media, SEO and link building when planning and strategising. Over half of respondents understand the value of integrating channels – both online and offline – but many don’t know how to do it effectively, or feel that they can convey a consistent message across all outlets to achieve campaign goals.

97% of marketeers surveyed identified training, skills and budgets as the things holding them back from improved integrated marketing. Only 16% feel that they are equipped with sufficient training and skills, while just one in five believe that they have the adequate budget in place to support integrated marketing.

Claire Lamb, Director of Skout, said: “Clearly marketers realise the benefits of using multiple channels within their marketing programmes but many are struggling to integrate them effectively. If a business fails to communicate through all the correct channels to reach their audience they’re limiting the exposure of their content and brand. It’s also crucial to integrate Paid, Earned, Owned and Social media, so that they maximise their target audiences in more ways than one. If businesses don’t embrace and work across all channels together, their content won’t gain maximum reach, and they could miss out on new prospects.”

Image by rawpixel from Pixabay