Because interactive marketing is inherently more addressable and measurable, B2B shouldn't wait for further proof that online channels pay off. Marketers who fail to adopt these tactics will fall behind with the online buyer acquisition as competitors move ahead with more engaged prospects.
In an online sales environment that is both increasingly competitive and cluttered, business-to-business (B2B) marketers must be able to perform two critically important tasks:
- They must communicate a unique brand identity.
- They must be agile enough to quickly customize lead generation and communication programs to meet their measurable objectives.
These tasks can be especially challenging for small-to-medium-sized B2B firms, as well as for divisions of very large firms. Their sales and marketing organizations often have limited budgets, and their IT departments often are not attuned to marketing.
To meet these challenges, a growing number of firms are turning to sophisticated but low-cost and high-performance interactive technologies. The new solutions allow them to create effective yet affordable landing pages and microsites that can be customized, and they avoid the need to involve IT professionals who may be too busy with other corporate requirements.
Introduction: A Challenging Online Sales Environment
B2B marketers in the United States spent $972.4 billion on on-line outreach in 2006, a 4.1% increase from the year before.1 As a result, the online sales environment is not only intensely competitive but extremely cluttered. For example, with the email marketing industry spending $950 million on email campaigns in 2006, a 7.5% increase from the previous year, inboxes are more crowded than ever before.2 Recent research by Akamai Technologies found 75% of customers surveyed would not return to Web sites that took longer than four seconds to load.3
To succeed, therefore, B2B marketers must set themselves apart from competitors in two related ways: They must establish a unique brand identity, and they must also be able to use interactive technology effectively. That is, they must be able to use the technology to attract prospects, convert prospects into qualified leads, and assist in making the sale.
In addition, one of the elements that sets B2B apart from business-to-consumer (B2C) or other marketing is time. It often requires more time for a B2B marketer to move a prospect along the sales funnel from searching for a vendor to agreeing on a contract. To succeed, B2B marketers have to be able to devote extended periods to nurturing a relationship with a prospective customer. Moreover, they must be able to provide tailored information and services to the customer throughout the lengthy lead management process.
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