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B2Bs Struggle to Integrate Digital Communications

Collaboration, knowledge of digital's importance and leadership needed for digital communications strategy

July 9, 2015

While a consistent customer voice is imperative for a seamless customer experience, business-to-business (B2B) firms struggle to provide this across digital channels. According to April 2015 polling by Omobono, in partnership with The Marketing Society and Circle Research, just 28% of B2B professionals in the UK and US had a formal digital communications strategy. Fully 39% had an informal joined-up approach, while more than one-third had nothing.

Benefits of an Integrated Approach to Digital Communications According to B2B Professionals in the UK and US, April 2015 (% of respondents)

The benefits of an integrated approach to digital communications abound, with most related to the customer. Nearly two-thirds of B2B professionals said integration allowed for a better customer experience, and more than six in 10 said communications were more effective as a result. The majority also cited consistent messaging as a benefit.

An integrated approach to digital communications also had the potential to affect the bottom line, with other respondents pointing to operational efficiency, cost savings and maximized values, and easier return on investment measurement as perks.

Results indicated that alignment and collaboration across departments, awareness of digital’s importance, and strong leadership were necessary for integrating digital communications. When asked about the biggest challenges of having an integrated digital communications strategy, B2Bs were most likely to cite issues with different objectives and priorities across departments as well as a lack of understanding of the importance of digital. Lacking support from leaders as well as limited time to collaborate were each cited by about a third.

Challenges vs. Enablers of Having an Integrated Digital Communications Strategy According to B2B Professionals in the UK and US, April 2015 (% of respondents)

Tackling these challenges should allow B2Bs to streamline digital communications. When asked about enablers, nearly six in 10 said that an understanding across the company of digital’s importance helped with an integrated digital communications strategy, and support from a leadership team followed. Alignment and cooperation were also important, as was having someone who led the overall process.

Companies are hiring chief digital officers (CDOs) to oversee digital transformation at companies. According to data from The CDO Club, the number of CDOs worldwide hit 1,000 last year and was expected to double to 2,000 this year. And in April 2015 polling by Harvey Nash, nearly one-quarter of technology execs worldwide said their companies had or planned to hire a CDO. Those who did have CDOs were certainly leveraging them, as 47% said such professionals led digital business strategy, vs. 30% who said the same about CMOs.

Integrating digital communications can certainly help B2Bs maximize reach and customer experience, and those looking to accomplish this must form alignment across departments, ensure everyone is aware of digital’s importance and install leaders who can support the overall transformation.

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