Report: B-to-b marketers not taking advantage of e-mail; service providers soon to offer more options

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B-to-b marketers aren’t taking full advantage of e-mail marketing, according to a recent report from marketing database and strategy company Alterian, based in Chicago.

The study, which surveyed marketing service providers (MSPs), found that while 90% of respondents said their clients use e-mail for customer retention and cross-selling, only 72% use it for customer acquisition. Only half of b-to-b marketers are using e-mail as part of a combined online/offline tactical mix, the study found, and only 48% use e-mail for transactional communications, which can be a huge opportunity for branding, up-selling and customer relationship growth.

Change is definitely needed to help b-to-b marketers succeed, said Laura Ramos, VP, Forrester Research, at Alterian’s Annual Think Tank Summit in Chicago. In a presentation, Ramos said marketers must shift their skills quickly, moving from thinking creatively to thinking analytically. They also must think less about campaign metrics and instead focus on business goals. This isn’t easy, however, because there are many decision-makers and a longer approval process in the b-to-b cycle, she said.

But technologies that will help marketers with this process are on the way, said Joe Stanhope, Alterian’s marketing director. This perfect storm of growth, opportunity and attention to b-to-b means marketers have more leverage and can expect to see additional services and offerings coming out of MSPs.

“You’re going to start seeing the service providers coming out and serving this underserved community by offering not just b-to-c technologies and services made over for b-to-b but things that are designed specifically for them,” he said. “It’s a perfect time for marketers to go in and tell MSPs what they need and what they are looking for.”

Alterian’s research backs this up. The study found that 88% of MSPs will be expanding their services to include b-to-b marketing, and 76% of them said they will actually increase their emphasis on the b-to-b market.

MSPs’ increased interest in the b-to-b market may be a response to b-to-b companies’ increased spending on marketing. A separate Forrester Research survey reported that 37% of b-to-b marketers plan on increasing their spending, while the Direct Marketing Association also separately said that b-to-b advertising spending has reached $77.40 billion—not too far from the $83.90 billion spent on b-to-c advertising. The b-to-b spending growth, according to the DMA is 6.1%, versus 5.8% for b-to-c.

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