B2B marketing is different than B2C marketing, both in terms of online marketing and offline. Studies that segment out digital B2B marketing data are especially relevant when trying to benchmark online marketing efforts as a B2B business.
This is why the Optify 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report, released yesterday, is particularly interesting. In their study, Optify analyzed B2B marketing tactics based on data from over:
- 62 million visits,
- 215 million page views,
- 350,000 leads from over 600 SMB B2B websites in the US
to deliver insights on which B2B marketing tactics are working and which are not. With these kind of data inputs, the study meets the statistically significant smell test. The report and corresponding Search and Deploy infographic cover:
- B2B traffic drivers,
- lead generation source efficiency,
- social media performance by channel,
- SEO and paid search trends.
Key Findings of the B2B Marketing Trends in 2012 Report
Organic Search is the leading driver of traffic to B2B sites driving 41% of traffic. Google dominance of organic search makes it the single most important referring domain for B2B websites, driving more than 36% of visits. What’s interesting is that SEO was the category that most marketers reporting using no tools. This could represent an opportunity for B2B search marketers to use SEO tools and techniques to gain a competitive advantage.
Paid search showed a steady decline among B2B marketers in 2012 with more than 10% of businesses in the report having discontinued their paid search campaigns during 2012. For those businesses who did run paid search campaigns 2012, this channel realized above average conversion rates of 2.34%, with the 75th percentile clocking in at 3.58%.
Paid search provided a large percentage of the site visits and leads with 23.3% of all visits coming from paid search for those businesses running active campaigns.
Social Media Accounts for Less than 2% of Traffic and 5% of leads on B2B Sites
Social media remains a small percentage of referral traffic and lead generation for B2B websites, contributing an average of 2% of all traffic 5% of all leads. The B2B marketing study found that social media currently ranks last on driving referral traffic and lead generation of all online channels evaluated. Interestingly enough, despite its performance, social media is the leading channel where study participants reported using more than one tool. Perhaps this is due to the fragmented state of social media management tools or the broad selection of free niche tools currently available and broadly in use (e.g. Hootsuite, Buffer).
Email Marketing is the Top Ranked Online B2B Conversion Channel
As Marketers, a large part of our jobs is to generate leads and nurtured those to sales-ready leads. That’s where email marketing can be a B2B marketers best friend. The study found that email marketing delivers high engagement referral traffic with an average 3.75 page views/visit.
Perhaps as, if not more important, email referral traffic was found to have the highest click to conversion rate at 2.9% which eclipsed the 1.6% overall average of the combined online channels included in the study. B2B lead nurturing and lead generation are driving this trend in email marketing.
Facebook Reigns Supreme in Traffic Generation, Twitter in Lead Generation
Twitter proved to be the strongest social media channel for lead generation. In fact, Twitter outperformed Facebook and LinkedIn by a factor of 9 to 1 in lead generation, with 82% of leads from social media attributable to Twitter.
Key B2B Marketing Study Take Aways
Google is the single most important source of referral traffic for small to medium sized B2B businesses. SMBs who ignore Google do so at their own peril as Google drove over 35% of all traffic to sites included in the study.
Business should be careful to not put all their eggs in one basket though. Google is constantly updating its search ranking algorithm which can significantly impact a sites largest traffic referrer if a new algorithm penalizes that site. For this reason, diversification of referral traffic is very important for sustainability.
Email marketing is still the strongest source of highly engaged traffic and should be part of the overall B2B digital marketing mix. The study found email to be the strongest channel for driving engaged visitors as measured by pages/visit. Email marketing is especially effective for lead generation and lead nurturing.
B2B marketers, especially within SMBs, can use the data contained in this study to compare to their own performance data in terms of traffic drivers, lead generation efficiency, social media channel performance and PPC/SEO search trends. Results will vary across and within industries, but these benchmarks and trends provide a point of reference, especially for the many SMBs who may currently have none.