Welcome to the Dove Direct Print and Marketing Blog. Today's post, "B2B Marketing Should Extend Beyond Digital," emphasizes how B2B sales and marketing are continuing to evolve for a second year under the auspices of COVID-19. In 2020, during the pandemic's peak rise, B2B sales and marketing teams faced closed doors and were limited to no face-to-face customer or prospect interaction. While traditional B2B marketing techniques were blown up, condensed, and reshaped in record time, the pandemic tsunami ushered in a near wholly digital marketing mindset. As a result, B2B marketing strategies that had been in play for decades and previously viewed as successful lead generation and sales tactics gave way to digital. The majority of 2020 sales and consumer spending have been classified as digital. Today, while some B2B organizations are deciding to reinstate in-person meetings, in part due to vaccinations and mandates, most of those organizations continue to rely on digital marketing and communications instead of brick-and-mortar meetups. As a result, a digital-first mentality is now ubiquitous. Let's not kid ourselves; virtual sales models work. That is non-debatable. However, the question remains, can digital marketing alone continue to move the B2B sales and leads needle? Question number two, should these organizations invest in a full-blown digital omnichannel model versus a more nuanced approach? And, lastly, can B2B marketing maintain a digital-only marketing strategy? Let's briefly answer these questions.
#1 It is debatable whether or not digital marketing can answer and fulfill all customer needs.
#2 Depends on the overall quality of the omnichannel and knowledge of your customer base. If not, a nuanced approach may be the answer.
#3 Lastly, a digital-only marketing strategy has its pros and cons. If you can master the pros, your organization may be able to overcome the odds. However, if you miss opportunities due to a digital-only strategy, you may lose your customers to your competitors and never get them back. If those options contain too much risk, there is another tactic to consider.
Quote of the Day: "Having an excellent sales piece is a critical part of the success of any direct mail campaign. With the right sales piece, you could see your phone ring off the hook, your mailbox overflow with orders or your web page receive hundreds or even thousands of hits."– Craig Simpson
Several notable brands presently integrate direct mail as part of their strategy. In some cases, pre-pandemic, but certainly since 2021, Bed Bath & Beyond, Apple, Target, Amazon, Sprig, and others include direct mail marketing into their marketing mix.
It is noteworthy that Google, arguably one of the world's iconic digital organizations, uses a direct mail strategy to complement its marketing mix. Google deftly uses direct mail in conjunction with its digital marketing strategies to target more users for its bottom line. Google, like Apple, is a rare but purely digital organization built from the ground up. Yet, before the pandemic, even when face-to-face meetups were taking place, Google already understood the value of direct mail marketing!
The Continuance of B2B Resilience
B2B organizations continue to exhibit notable persistence by remaining viable in the wake of the pandemic. Insofar as describing the working relationships between sales and marketing teams, the McKinsey report states that they are generally good:
59% state that their sales and marketing organizations are performing well
8% of the total describing the situation as "excellent"
51% stating it was "good"
Fewer than one in 10 (8%) said it was "poor" or "very poor"
Virtual selling can help to explain these numbers, as a RAIN Group report states that 7 in 10 or 71% of salespeople now perform approximately 50% of sales activity virtually. Virtual engagements utilize technology to leverage and facilitate the sales process. Undoubtedly, the digital shift to the forefront infers that organizations can improve the sales-marketing alignment or risk losing brand mindshare and marketshare to competitors who demonstrate a heightened performance in the digital landscape.
In-Person Events Lacking Results
The high-end B2B enterprise sales focus relied heavily on face-to-face interactions at office towers, physical events, and trade shows. This practice held true for most B2B enterprise-level organizations until the pandemic. 73% of respondents surveyed noted that canceled in-person events posed significant challenges above all others. Cancellations resulted in 46% of the respondents stating that fewer sales opportunities were in play due to in-person challenges.
B2B organizations are shifting to virtual events as an alternative to bridge the gap. Many note that virtual events can offer a much wider audience reach, including global access. Virtual events can also provide long-term access via on-demand viewing capability. Further, since virtual events are digital, there is an opportunity to simulcast across regions, time zones, and languages.
Virtual meetings are great, given their indisputable reach. However, it is imperative to maintain individual detailed data records for marketing, processing legitimate interest, transpromotional activities, and actions that require consent. As a follow-up, direct mail marketing enables organizations to provide a personalized touch.
Digital Channels Provide Scalability
Moving to digital channels affords several benefits. One notable benefit is the ability to target a larger audience while removing the need for business travel. That said, 47% of those surveyed by the McKinsey report noted that the shift in budgets to spend more on digital worked reasonably well in conjunction with shifting buyer behavior.
It should come as no surprise that buyers are consuming much more content. Several data companies have reported this change. NetLine states that the total demand for B2B content rose by 49.8% year-over-year in May 2020. The report did not distinguish between an uptick at the research stage versus a rise in total purchases.
ON24's COVID Benchmarks Report further demonstrates that in April 2020, webinar consumption rose by 293% year over year. A considerable number requires brands to review and weigh content touchpoints during customer qualifications while simultaneously adjusting messaging to match the changing sales funnel environment. B2B marketers are taking this change seriously. The report also states the following numbers:
67% of marketers say changing communication style and messaging has worked well
47% have changed roles and responsibilities
13% also say they have benefited from adjusting KPIs and targets
How Direct Mail Helps Digital
In 2020, direct mail marketing was responsible for some of the highest response rates. In some cases, data reports confirmed that ROI rose above 500%. Multiple marketing digital experts, including best-selling author Neil Patel, states that direct mail marketing campaigns can produce a higher ROI. Further, higher ROI results outpace both paid search and online display advertising at a much higher rate.
Given the ongoing pandemic, the bottom line for B2B sales and leads acquisitions is reaching customers and prospects wherever they may be. The following data support the practical value of direct mail marketing in 2021:
The response rates for direct mail can be up to nine times greater than email marketing results. (Data & Marketing Association)
When asked, "Which is more effective at getting you to take action?" 30% of millennials stated direct mail, while just 24% said email. (DMN)
Close to 90% of direct mail gets opened compared to just 20-30% of emails. (DMN)
B2B brands and marketers should not rely solely on a digital-only marketing strategy. Digital costs continue to rise. Social media and digital events compete to capture eyeballs. Adding to this conundrum is the proverbial scroll dilemma and deluge of emails. Plus, marketers must design creative that delivers prospects and customers to their respective digital destinations while achieving marketing efficiencies.
Conversely, direct mail marketing offers a distinct advantage over digital in that recipients can read direct mail in a comfortable environment. There is also the benefit of the sensory experience that print provides. Just as important, direct mail marketing presents the most efficient method to direct prospects and clients to a specific, preferred digital brand destination, with various calls to action, thereby increasing engagement and response rates for digital marketing initiatives.
While B2B has embraced shifting its marketing strategy to a digital construct, some believe that the deluge of email marketing, multiple digital platforms, and the quest for practical omnichannel strategy support including direct mail in the marketing mix. Many have already concluded that there is a need to extend beyond the digital universe. For some, that will mean adding direct mail as part of the marketing strategy. Thanks for reading "B2B Marketing Should Extend Beyond Digital!"
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Welcome to the Dove Direct Print and Marketing Blog. Today's post, "New Marketing Strategies for 2020," examines what marketers, digital innovators, and brands are now contemplating if they want to re...