For the past six years, DemandWave, a B2B digital marketing agency, has shared a comprehensive report on the state of B2B digital trends. They poll “a broad cross-section of B2B marketers to find the biggest priorities and pressure points critical to their success.” This year’s report turned up lots of interesting information on what’s happening in digital this year, including:
- Marketers are focusing on quality over quantity for leads.
- SEO is gaining on email, when it comes to channels for revenue growth.
- Dollars continue to stack up in digital marketing budgets. Almost 50% of marketers plan on allocating even more money there.
- Blogs and video tied for the most popular form of content marketing.
- White papers and ebooks now producing more revenue than webinars.
Let’s take a closer look at how the numbers shape up and what this could mean for your marketing strategy.
If you want to keep up with the competition, revisit display advertising this year. This channel saw nearly 35% YoY growth, indicating those marketers who are paying attention to it are seeing results. Paid search barely eeks past social media to grab the top spot for dollars. It’s the second year this channel has been first, and as Search Engine Journal points out, the reason for that may be improved platform capabilities, like Google’s AdWords redesign and new features, and access to ad formats on Bing, Facebook, and other networks. Search Engine Journal also forecasts PPC will evolve through artificial intelligence and voice search. For more predictions on how PPC will play out this year, and suggestions for what marketers should do to get ahead, check out our post on trends in 2017.
For the fourth year in a row, marketers report using conversion rate as the number one way to measure performance, though ROI continues to rise to the top as ways to measure it improve. DemandWave hypothesizes recent improvements in ROI measurement are due to “an increased adoption of attribution models, particularly multichannel,” which is examined more closely in the next graph.
Though many marketers haven’t implemented any attribution model, adoption is improving with a 20% increase from last year. And those marketers applying an attribution model are heading straight to the most advanced models – multi-channel. If you’re worried about your strategy, check out this #PPCShow episode highlighting ways to solve your attribution problem right now.
Marketers are reporting a healthy mix of channels when it comes to overall channel strategy, with social media, email, and organic search getting an almost equal amount of airtime. Next year we may see paid search and display advertising inching toward the 90% mark, too. Their use increased 11% and 17% YoY, respectively.
For the channels that are driving leads, email, organic search, social media, and paid search are at the top, all with over 50% of marketers reporting positive returns on those channels.
But, when talking about what’s driving revenue, the order of the channels changes. Email and organic search take the top spots for revenue-driving channels. DemandWave hypothesizes the rise of organic search is due in part to marketers better understanding how to leverage SEO and improvements in the ability to measure ROI there.
However, Search Engine Watch and Merkle predict organic search growth will plateau as those listings fight paid search ads for screen space, especially on mobile. Just another great reminder to ensure your marketing mix is as diversified as possible.
We know how marketers are reaching people, but what does the content look like, and more importantly, what’s working? White papers, or ebooks, barely beat out last year’s winner, webinars. If you have a white paper or ebook you need help marketing, check out our guide. And remember, there are lots of ways to revive old content to help boost quality leads with little lift. Blogs, videos, and infographics all grew by more than 20% YoY, indicating these numbers will be even higher next year.
Leads are one thing, but what about revenue? The order of content types remains the same when looking at what’s driving dollars.
Finally, let’s see what’s working in social specifically.
LinkedIn far surpasses all other social networks for lead generation. If you’re looking to boost your lead strategy on LinkedIn, check out our comprehensive guide with steps and tips on how to create and optimize ads. Though 12% of marketers don’t run sufficient reporting to measure lead generation on social, that’s a huge improvement from last year, when 33% of those surveyed reported they weren’t sure. Another indication that reporting, and adoption of reporting is getting better.
Revenue from social media sees LinkedIn and Facebook continuing to hold the top spots, indicating these channels not only bring in the most leads, but the leads are also qualified. Facebook’s lead generating power continues to grow, too. This channel saw a 150% increase YoY. With Facebook constantly improving its ad platform, we can expect that number to keep getting bigger.
Now that you know what your peers are planning for the year, take a look at your roadmap and determine if anything needs to be tweaked. A year from now, we’ll take another look at these numbers and see if our predictions were correct.
Breanna is a freelance senior copywriter with a decade of storytelling & marketing experience. When she’s not nerding out on words, she’s exploring the Rocky Mountains with her husband and pup.
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