Over the last decade, digital technology has disrupted nearly every aspect of the media and marketing industries. This disruption is not over. We see several patterns emerging, however, that B2B marketers can harness to take advantage of the disruption of technology to drive smarter, more powerful marketing. Let’s start with the data.
In 2013, Business.com delivered over 1.3 billion impressions, 25 million clicks, and over 300,000 leads for our customers. We also completed over 100,000 phone conversations with Small-to-Medium Business leaders. This extraordinary breadth and depth of data serves as a unique, ongoing marketing research center that allows us to understand how business professionals are using digital media today and what type of digital marketing is driving engagement between buyers and sellers.
Here’s what we’ve learned. There are three foundational “From-To” shifts that are changing marketing today:
- Shift from Interest-Based Media to Intention-Based Media
- Shift from Brand Advertising to Branded Performance Marketing
- Shift from Ad Networks to Branded Destination + Curated Networks
1. From Interest-Based Media to Intention-Based Media
Business professionals can now discover and engage with information that maps to their specific needs and signal their intentions based on their digital body language, whether their intention is the acquisition of knowledge, social engagement, or the actual purchase of products and services. 70% of buyers rely more on this type of content than they did one year ago1. Marketers have noticed, and are starting to make a corresponding “From-To” shift, from targeting based on simple demographics to targeting based on intention. These marketing shifts are ushering in a new era of Intention-Based Media that will have a profound impact on the way buyers discover, learn about, compare and buy products and services, and how they engage with and buy from marketers. These trends are also creating a significant market transition in business media — one that will ultimately make the shift from print to digital look mild by comparison.
2. From Brand Advertising to Branded Performance Marketing
It is widely understood that technology is providing new abilities to track marketing effectiveness. Gone are the days where “50% of your advertising dollar is wasted…you just don’t know which 50%.” The number of marketers utilizing traditional direct marketing decreased 8% from 2012 to 2013, whereas 73% increased their focus on newer approaches such as content marketing2. This marketing shift is particularly acute in Business-to-Business where marketing is under increasing pressure to demonstrate effectiveness and drive sales and revenue. This doesn’t mean, however, that brand advertising is dead. Brand is more important today than ever. Marketers need to focus on how they tell their brand story in ways that help define and solve their customers’ problems and serve their needs. This is what ultimately drives marketing performance. Traditional advertising and trade show participation aren’t enough anymore. Content Marketing that reaches and engages the buyer, based on where they are in their purchasing process, is key today.
3. From Ad Networks to Branded Destination + Curated Networks
We’ve seen an extraordinary rise in the number of digital advertising networks over the past few years. The vast majority of these networks are simply brokering traffic through a series of affiliates, in essence panning for gold in commodity traffic and trying to outrun low quality by sheer volume. At the other end of the spectrum you have niche destination sites that have an organic audience based on quality content that serves a specific marketplace. These two ends of the spectrum have created a trade-off for marketers. Work with ad networks that can drive low-quality traffic and simple metrics…or work with niche quality content sites that can’t drive performance marketing? We are seeing a new model emerge in digital media that combines high-quality branded destinations and carefully curated networks of relatable sites to drive expanded marketing performance for advertisers. We are confident B2B media is headed in this direction, which is reflected in the way we’ve built our company.
Business.com is the leading destination for Small-to-Medium business leaders looking to acquire the knowledge, products, and services they need to run and grow their businesses. The audience we’ve built around the Business.com brand provides us with unique insights into the marketplace that we leverage in curating our proprietary affiliate network. This combination drives marketing performance unrivaled by other providers in business–to-business marketing.
(1. Demand Gen Report 2013 Content Preferences Survey, 2. Sage Frog)