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B2B Checks Out Marketing 2.0

It's experiment time for B2B online.

January 24, 2008

Business-to-business (B2B) marketers are still focusing their digital efforts on company Websites and search engine marketing. But some are finding success using newer channels—particularly online social media—according to several reports released in the latter half of 2007.

B2B marketers indicated more success with media such as podcasts and RSS feeds than did B2C marketers, according to the "Harnessing the Power of New Media Platforms" report, sponsored by the Association of National Advertisers and BtoB magazine, and conducted by Guideline.

Guideline asked B2B and B2C marketers to rate the effectiveness of various online marketing tactics. Almost all marketers surveyed used some form of social media. However, business marketers reported more success with podcasts (21% of B2B vs. 13% of B2C listed podcasts as "effective"), blogs (17% vs. 6%) and RSS feeds (14% vs. 11%).

Interestingly, 8% of business marketers rated Second Life as an effective new media platform, while consumer marketers either had not tried it or the sample size was too small to include.

Effective New Media Platforms Used by Marketers at US B2B and B2C Companies, June 2007 (% of respondents in each group)

When asked specifically about use of “emerging digital-marketing tactics” in the previous year, 18% of the 816 respondents in the Forrester Research-American Business Media study had advertised in virtual worlds, and 24% sponsored a blog or wiki for their customers.

About one-quarter of B2B marketers surveyed had tried a viral or participatory ad campaign, while 29% sponsored an online community or discussion site.

Digital B2B Media Tactics that US B2B Marketers Used in the Past Year, 2007 (% of respondents)

The operative word for using social media is “experiment.” A worldwide McKinsey poll of B2B and B2C marketers found they were unsure how emerging vehicles such as blogs, games, social networks, virtual worlds, widgets and wikis would actually influence potential customers.

Marketing Goals that Companies Worldwide Are Trying to Achieve Using Select Online Marketing Tactics, July 2007 (% of respondents*)

"In 2008, B2B marketers will increase spending on the most effective tactics first—developing their company site, e-mail, webinars and search engine marketing," said Lisa Phillips, senior analyst at eMarketer. "However, these marketers are ready to experiment more broadly with social media."

Learn what tactics make the most sense for marketing to businesses online. Read eMarketer's B2B Marketing Online: Business Meets Social Media report.

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