Double Treat — Adobe and Econsultancy: Second Annual Survey of B2B Digital Trends

by Jill Steinhour

posted on 11-14-2016

Sometimes — many times, actually — two is better than one. And, such is the case when it comes to insightful B2B research. Once again, Adobe and Econsultancy have collaborated to conduct the second annual survey of B2B marketing trends and share these valuable insights in the Adobe and Econsultancy B2B Digital Trends 2016–2017 report. We surveyed more than 2,000 marketers and e-commerce professionals, ensuring equal representation from both B2B and B2C organizations. This year’s survey results are as rich as those in past reports, providing both perspective regarding the differences between B2B and B2C digital marketing and guidance for B2B organizations that want to stay in the forefront of digital marketing.

Like last year, we set out to identify the challenges, opportunities, and future priorities in digital marketing for B2B organizations. From the very beginning, our mission has been to identify material trends so organizations can jump in front of the wave rather than lag behind it.

In last year’s report, we highlighted the rise of content marketing as the most exciting opportunity among B2B marketers, inspired by the growth of owned and earned media in relation to paid media. Among the many findings, that theme appeared again this year, as B2B marketers prioritized content optimization as a key focus area for 2016. We also took a closer look at the importance of mobile browsing and apps for B2B marketers and found some intriguing opportunities for B2B organizations.

Here is a sneak peek into some of the findings:

The Importance of Content
Our research revealed that content optimization — especially the ability to rapidly create and deliver large volumes of highly relevant content — continues to be a very important part of B2B marketers’ content marketing practices. Jordan Kretchmer, founder of LiveFyre (now part of Adobe), says organizations report that they create 10 times more content than they did just 2 years ago, and B2B organizations understand that extracting value from these efforts lies in optimizing the last mile — delivering that content to the right person at the right time and on the right channel.

It is interesting to note the difference in importance for B2B and B2C organizations regarding the top two categories: Content optimization and Targeting and personalization (Fig 1). B2B companies view the customer experience through the lens of content, whereas B2C companies have moved the focus to targeting and personalization.

Figure 1

We also analyzed the B2B results by sector and found that all the major B2B sectors that were included in this study prioritized content optimization (Fig 2).

Figure 2

Mobile: Browsing Versus Apps
Like last year, we compared B2B marketers’ rankings of digital marketing capabilities and found that B2B marketers still focus much less on mobile in 2016 than B2C marketers do (Fig 3).

Figure 3

We know from our benchmarking efforts that B2B organizations’ mobile browsing traffic lags significantly behind that of B2C companies. For example, within the high-tech sector, mobile browsing for B2B organizations is 12 percent, on average, where B2C companies double that. B2B mobile-traffic growth rates average about 2.5 percent each year, where B2C growth rates are closer to 11 percent per year. This could explain why B2B organizations focus less on initiatives related to mobile engagement that typically occurs through browsing versus apps, which led us to ask, “To what extent are B2B organizations investing in mobile?”

Mobile App Development
To better understand this trend, we analyzed a large study conducted by Adobe and Econsultancy in the spring of 2016. The study focused specifically on mobile and included questions about app development.

Both B2C and B2B marketers develop apps for messaging and content delivery (Fig 4), but B2B organizations realize that mobile apps’ potentials extend far beyond being used to engage customers. Their focuses are not just on improving customers’ experiences through mobile. Rather, the lenses of B2B organizations are wider; they are looking at ways to improve experiences and efficiencies for sales and support teams that are critical parts of the ecosystem.

Figure 4

These apps have a wide variety of capabilities like helping sellers communicate offerings, providing customer intel to sellers, or helping manage appointments. This is still an emerging space, but interest is on the rise, and we are seeing early signs of success.

I encourage you to download the full report today, which in its entirety, offers many more insights for B2B marketers than I could possibly summarize in one post.

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