2016 is the year when many B2B brands will tackle the social space with full force. Across the board, B2B marketers continue to see their demand generation budgets grow year over year, in order to reach new markets, promote new products, amplify PR, and nurture customer relationships. In 2015, 74% of B2B marketers saw their demand generation budgets to grow up to 20% from 2014's numbers. This trend is expected to continue into 2016, and with it, B2B marketers are looking for ways to scale their B2B demand generation activities. Social media will play a key part in enabling this expansion.
Many B2B brands have traditionally focused on just a few demand generation channels because that is what has worked in the past. However, as budgets grow, these marketers are beginning to see the "end of the universe" for these channels, given the typically limited size of B2B audiences. Because of this, it is now more effective for B2B brands to focus on an omni-channel digital presence. Further driving the need for an Omni-channel approach is the fact that the B2B buyer journey has become much more complex, with variables such as content consumption and organizational infrastructure growing as barriers to conversion as the cost of disruption continues to decline. Add to this the fact that 98% of B2B buyers do at least some online research for purchasing decisions and you find yourself in a situation where, in order to put your marketing in the purchase path of your prospects, you are required to ensure the greatest breath of channel coverage possible.
The rise of this self-directed B2B buyer has measurable implications to B2B demand generation that require the inclusion of social media. Earlier this month, the Harvard Business Review published an article about how this self-sufficiency and accessibility to information is forcing B2B marketing and sales to adapt to these behavioral changes. Through the use of various IT and digital channels like social media, webinars, video conferencing, B2B brands can maximize productivity and improve efficiency for buyers. An effective omni-channel strategy delivers a unique experience, optimized around the buyers’ needs and preferences. Brands with extremely strong omni-channel customer engagement see a 9.5% year-over-year increase in annual revenue, compared to 3.4% for weak omni-channel brands. Similarly, strong omni-channel companies see a 7.5% year-over-year decrease in cost per contact, compared to a 0.2% year-over-year decrease for weak companies (Aberdeen Group).
So, just how important is social in the demand gen environment? Over 50% of B2B buyers turn to social media during their journey, with the following being the top reasons:
(from The 2015 B2B Buyer's Survery Report, sponsored by Demandbase)
On top of that, nearly half of all B2B buyers and researchers are millennials, bringing into focus their familiarity with all things digital influences the types of content and distribution channels they use. They are becoming crucial to their organizations' buying processes and behavior. This means they are consuming content and consulting social networks and blogs as part of their research process. In fact, 62% of them say that they are more likely to become a loyal influencer there is brand engagement on social networks. This shift in the B2B workplace (millennials are the largest generation in the workforce today) is leading social to become a more salient driver of the demand generation engine more than ever.
For all these reasons, B2B brands must consider where in their demand generation programs social media should be included. Contact Slack today to see how we can help your B2B brand leverage social as a part of your demand generation strategy.