Marketing Myth: Digital Marketing Only Works for B2C Companies
Digital marketing—a big term that includes everything from digital advertising and emails to content marketing and virtual reality—continues to grow faster than traditional advertising methods. According to Insider Intelligence, digital ad spending is expected to make up 71.8% of total ad spend in the U.S. in 2022, up from 55.6% in 2019.
Your personal experience will confirm that lots of companies are using digital strategies to try to get you to buy their products and services. Some of these situations may sound familiar:
You log into your favorite social media site, and it feels like it’s more ads than updates from your friends, family or that guy you haven’t talked to since high school. Your feed is full of companies hoping you’ll be interested in everything from customized hair care products to kitchen gadgets.
You were researching cars online recently, and now ads for the new Honda CR-V hybrid are following you across the internet.
You’re looking online for a birthday gift for your brother. You put that novelty mug that says “World’s Okayest Brother” in your cart, but want to think about it before you make the purchase because your brother is really better than okay, most of the time anyway. The company starts sending you emails asking if you want to complete that purchase, and by the way, they’ll throw in a discount.
We’re all targets for digital marketing, every single day. But despite advances in technology, social media and communications, some of the companies we talk to are reluctant to invest in B2B digital marketing. They believe it’s the realm of car companies and shampoo—but that’s just a myth, and we’re here to combat it.
B2B Digital Marketing Myth #1: “My Budget Is Too Small!”
The reality: unlike traditional advertising, which tends to be pricey no matter what the medium, digital marketing allows companies to market effectively with more conservative budgets. Paid advertising, social media, email marketing and on-site SEO, among other channels, can all be lower-cost options.
The idea that you need a big budget to be successful with digital marketing may stem from our own experiences as targets of ads—if we’re seeing mostly ads for consumer products, it’s logical to conclude that consumer companies are the ones spending all the money in the space. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. While B2C company budgets tend to be larger than B2B budgets as a percentage of company revenue and overall company budget, the percentage of those budgets spent on digital marketing is a bit more equal. Take a look at these stats from the latest CMO Survey, conducted in September 2022:
|Marketing Budget as % of Revenue
|Marketing Budget as a % of Overall Budget
|% of Marketing Budget Allocated to Digital
|B2B Product Companies
|B2B Service Companies
|B2C Product Companies
|B2C Service Companies
As you can see, B2B organizations typically allocate less to marketing than B2C companies, but all companies are spending a significant amount of that budget on digital marketing. The difference could be in allocation—a B2B company may invest more heavily in its website, for example, while a B2C company may spend more on advertising—but it’s clear that all types of companies recognize the importance of the digital space. With smaller budgets the importance of maximizing every dollar spent increases—so B2B companies with more conservative marketing budgets also need to be more strategic about where and how much they spend.
And you really don’t have to spend a lot. B2B digital marketing channels can provide great return on a relatively small investment:
- The average CPC (cost per click) for a B2B ad on Facebook is just $2.52.
- 64% of B2B marketers say their email marketing strategy helped them meet business goals in 2021.
- Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional methods but generates three times as many leads (DemandMetric). That explains why companies represented in this CMO Survey allocated more than one-third of their digital marketing budgets to owned media, including content.
- Marketers rank SEO as one of the top four most effective marketing trends (according to HubSpot)—so directing customers to your website is worth at least a small percentage of your marketing budget.
The bottom line: while you don’t necessarily need a huge budget, you do need a strategic one, including an investment in creating tactics that are carefully designed to appeal to your target audiences.
B2B Digital Marketing Myth #2: “I Don’t Have Enough Time!”
The reality: unlike traditional advertising, digital marketing provides almost immediate results on your marketing spend.
Platforms like Google and LinkedIn provide free reporting and daily results for both your paid and organic efforts. As a result, you can more efficiently track and understand your customers and make faster adjustments. Digital marketing provides:
- Easy-to-understand reporting
- Suggested optimization
- The ability to pause efforts or change directions to achieve better results
Creating ads is now easier, too. Continually improving automated ad creation helps those with smaller teams and budgets design and develop ads quickly and efficiently. Free and low-cost tools are also available to manage email marketing. Up-and-coming businesses looking to experiment and find what works for them have more options and a lower barrier to entry than ever. However, while anyone can learn how to run ads, not everyone can create effective ones, monitor their performance and make insightful and regular adjustments. That’s why nearly one-third of B2B companies outsource their digital marketing efforts, and they expect that percentage to increase over the next two years.
The bottom line: digital marketing can generally spin up faster and show results more quickly than traditional marketing. But it’s true that you probably don’t have enough time to do it, because you need to spend your time working on your business—not becoming a digital marketing expert. Fortunately, Pepper Group is here to help.
B2B Digital Marketing Myth #3: “My Customers Don’t Click Ads!”
The reality: everyone is online and yes, they’re all clicking ads. But as we’ve mentioned, digital marketing is a vast landscape—it goes way beyond paid advertising, and successful businesses evaluate all of their options to invest strategically in a variety of digital tactics.
Part of deciding where and how much to spend is understanding your options, and there are several. LinkedIn, for example, has shown itself to be an effective tool for marketing to B2B audiences. In fact, 89% of B2B businesses use LinkedIn for lead generation—which only makes sense, given LinkedIn’s unique ability to allow precise targeting based on company, role and a variety of other relevant criteria. Sponsored content ads are very effective on LinkedIn, with a 0.44% average click-through rate (CTR) and conversion rates ranging from 1.5% to 15% depending on the offer (easy steps like downloading content usually generate higher CTRs, while offers that require more of a commitment from the prospect, like requesting a demo, generate lower ones). This tells us that B2B buyers do click on ads, but what they’re clicking on is different from B2C buyers. The B2B buyers are not looking to make an immediate purchase; they’re looking for information that’s often provided via other digital marketing channels (your website, your blog, a whitepaper, a buyer’s guide, etc.).
The bottom line: digital ads, done well, can work for almost any audience—but you have to consider the full digital marketing landscape and the opportunities it provides to create a truly integrated, highly effective program.
Using Digital Marketing the Smart Way
As we’ve noted, just because anyone can create and run their digital marketing doesn’t mean everyone should. Creating effective design and messaging is an art. Developing a marketing plan is a science. Having a B2B digital marketing agency that can do both is critical. Of course, that’s precisely what we do at Pepper Group. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and see your digital marketing myths replaced by smart and effective digital marketing reality.
This article is part of the Pepper Group Marketing Myth series, where we dig through data and share our extensive experience to separate fact from fiction, and to help you find real opportunities in B2B marketing.