December 18, 2013
Case Study

B2B Marketing 2013 Wrap-up: Multichannel, direct mail, social media and more

SUMMARY: Another year of B2B marketing and MarketingSherpa articles, videos and webinar replays has come to pass.

To conclude this year's newsletter offerings, we have three topics that have influenced B2B marketing in 2013 and also three additional areas that B2B marketers should either keep an eye on, or even actively include in their 2014 marketing strategy.

Read on to learn why direct mail is an effective B2B marketing channel, how social media drives content marketing, the importance of Marketing/IT alignment, and why B2I, business-to-individual, may be supplanting the B2B/B2C marketing divide.
by David Kirkpatrick, Senior Reporter

We've made it through another year of B2B marketing, and another year of the MarketingSherpa B2B Marketing Newsletter.

This year's newsletters featured our in-depth case studies on brand-side marketers and how-to instructions from industry experts, and we hope you've enjoyed the inclusion of full-length videos from MarketingSherpa Summit presentations as well as replays of MarketingSherpa webinars and MarketingExperiments Web clinics.

To wrap up B2B for 2013, we're highlighting three topics where marketers are executing innovative and interesting campaigns, along with a bonus fourth topic covering quick-hit marketing areas that have been trending over the course of this year.

Read on for our 2013 B2B marketing recap including links to case studies and articles on MarketingSherpa for further reading.

Topic #1. Effective campaigns combine multiple marketing channels

Multichannel marketing is not a new concept, and it's rare that any campaign includes a single channel, such as email or paid search. At the same time, it's not uncommon — particularly for larger enterprises — for channels such as email and social media to be somewhat siloed within marketing departments.

"Multichannel Marketing: IT company's zombie-themed campaign increases CTO 3% at president, owner level," a winner in the MarketingSherpa Email Awards 2014, presented by ExactTarget, combined email, direct mail and social media outreach, including a Facebook contest.

The marketing team at SunGard Availability Services was able to leverage the current popular culture zombie theme to execute a multichannel campaign that was able to reach a high-level target audience, and even successfully retargeted prospects that had gone cold.

Topic #2. Direct mail is an effective B2B marketing channel

Just looking back at Topic #1, it should be obvious that direct mail is a key component of some of those effective multichannel campaigns.

Because email has become the go-to medium for business communication, direct mail pieces can make an impact on B2B marketing.

Another winning campaign from the Email Awards, "Multichannel Marketing: Direct mail, phone and email combine to lift executive briefing calls 50%," featured Blue Pillar, a critical power technology company.

Bob Birge, Director of Marketing and Public Affairs, Blue Pillar, described findings from a recent study illustrating that the average businessperson receives more than 100 emails per day. The study also found that same businessperson receives a personal letter once every seven weeks.

This effort began with list building and then proceeded with a direct mail piece, a follow-up phone call and then an email to confirm executive briefings. Because the team was targeting high-level decision makers, the initial direct mail served to break through gatekeeping set up to stymie blast emails and cold phone calls.

This multichannel effort resulted in briefings with 15 of 22 targeted health systems.

Direct mail was chosen specifically to help the company stand out and grab the attention of its high-level target audience.

In the SunGard case study referenced in Topic #1, direct mail served as more of a fun conversation starter. The target audience received an email directing them to a landing page where they could register for a "zombie survival kit."

Recipients who completed the registration process first received a flash drive in the mail congratulating them for “surviving the zombie apocalypse” and let them know to expect a second package — the "zombie survival kit" consisting of a backpack with promotional materials, two tickets to see the summer 2013 movie, "World War Z," silly string which was labeled as "zombie repellant," a flashlight, and other apocalypse survival materials. The backpack also included SunGard's marketing material created for the campaign.

Topic #3. Social media is most definitely a B2B marketing channel

B2B marketers have most likely absorbed the message that content marketing is a key channel for developing thought leadership and brand awareness. Creating content is the first step, the second is publishing and promoting that content. How is that second step accomplished? Mostly through social media — corporate blogs, Twitter posts, Facebook pages, Pinterest pinboards, YouTube and Vimeo pages, LinkedIn groups and more.

A case study featuring Aternity, "B2B Content Marketing: Software company increases list 130% with content curation," covers an in-depth content marketing strategy that drove traffic to the company's website as well as increased its newsletter subscriber list.

A webinar replay of a MarketingSherpa case study highlights some outside-the-box thinking from the team at DocuSign using LinkedIn's InMail instead of the traditional email inbox for an outreach effort.

You can view the replay here: "B2B Social Media Marketing: DocuSign's targeted LinkedIn InMail strategy creates 3 large pipeline opportunities"

Read the case study here: "B2B Social Media Marketing: DocuSign's targeted LinkedIn InMail strategy creates 3 large pipeline opportunities"

Finally, here is a deep dive into SAP's social media strategy featuring both the head of social strategy and the vice president of demand generation:

"B2B Social Media: SAP Latin America boosts followers 900% [Part I]"

"B2B Social Media: SAP Latin America boosts followers 900% [Part II]

For even more insights, here is the webinar replay based on this case study:

"Social Media: How SAP operationalized social for replicated worldwide success"

Topic #4. A look at B2B marketing trends

To complete this recap of B2B marketing in 2013, here are three trending areas to watch. Each of these have become more prominent in B2B marketing discussions with industry experts and brand-side practitioners over the course of this year.

The business-to-individual concept

This idea is based on a shift from the traditional disconnect between B2B and consumer marketing. The B2I concept — also referred to as "people-to-people" marketing — recognizes that the strategies and tactics of all marketers are converging.

Customer engagement and outreach conducted by B2C marketers is increasingly similar to lead nurturing by B2B marketers when the email, social media and mobile marketing tactics are lined up side-by-side.

Here is a look into the B2I concept featuring some impressive marketing thought leaders:

"Five Ideas on the Business-to-Individual Concept for B2B Marketers"

Marketing/Information Technology alignment

The traditional "alignment" concern is between Marketing and Sales. That challenge isn't going away anytime soon.

At the same time, a new internal challenge is quickly rising. Marketing has benefited from great leaps in technology with analytics tools, email and social media software, and most impressively with marketing automation software.

Of course, all of this technology needs to integrate into the entire enterprise. This has led to the increasing importance of Marketing/IT alignment.

The how-to article, "CRM How-to: Tactics on Marketing/IT alignment, database strategy and integrating social media data," provides insights into the importance of having Marketing and IT on the same page.

Responsive design for the website and email

Your B2B prospects and customers are engaging with you on mobile devices. They are opening business emails (and at previously unexpected times, such as Saturday morning), watching instructional videos (maybe on the train ride home), and even visiting the website for a needed piece of information.

These facts impact your marketing in that you need to offer your website and email sends in a mobile-friendly layout. The best way to maximize your creative output is to use responsive design to ensure your webpages and emails are optimized for desktops/laptops, tablets and smartphones.

The MarketingSherpa Blog post, "Email Marketing: 58% of marketers see mobile smartphones and tablets most impacting email," highlights the importance of mobile and its impact on email marketing.

Related Resources

Four Ideas on Marketing to Digital Natives Versus Digital Immigrants

B2B Marketing: How Cisco transformed its marketing strategy to better serve customers [Video]

Online Marketing: 4 sources of customer insight on your website

Marketing Research Chart: What is the biggest B2B marketing challenge?

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