Two-thirds of B2B manufacturing brands are performing “below average” in their digital marketing efforts, according to a new study released last week by Gartner. The report found that B2B marketers are still struggling to “get digital…right” and risk losing customers and their competitive edge if they fail to rectify the situation.
Gartner’s L2 Digital IQ Index: B2B Manufacturing U.S. 2019 report looks at the digital competence of 87 brands in the sector across the US. Despite the growing importance of digital marketing for achieving key goals and objectives, only two were able to secure a “Genius” status, while the majority were lumped into either being “Feeble” or “Challenged.”
Gartner measured the content output of B2B manufacturing enterprises using four primary criteria, including content marketing and search engine optimisation (SEO). While many have started the process and implementing and managing diverse digital strategies, success has not been easy to come by due to a variety of challenges.
Shifting customer buying behaviour is one of them. The wholesale change in buyer habits during the last five years has disrupted business models, and digital has been used as the bridge between the old and new. However, 51% of those surveyed said they believe the digital experience they currently offer is average at best, which is supported by Gartner’s ranking index.
One reason for the poor performance is a lack of high-quality content. More than a third of B2B brands admit to having no content guides or information on their corporate sites, which is making it difficult for them to meet growing expectations among customers. Ideally, 42% say they would like the buying experience to be quick, but they are not backing it up with the right strategies or tools.
However, the best performers can do this, as they are using data to gain a better understanding of how their customers want to engage with them and, in turn, drive engagement and conversions. Gartner notes that brands must focus on a popular trend this year – being “customer, not company, focused.”
“Marketing leaders at B2B manufacturing companies must make a commitment to building effective digital marketing strategies. As more of their buyers allocate an increasingly large portion of their time learning how to buy online, brands must follow the money and follow suit,” Gartner director, Kyle Rees, said.
B2B brands must also do more to leverage the tools they have at their disposal. Just a quarter are using auto-fill tech in site search and providing corrections to queries. Rees added that best-in-class brands are doing everything they can to create nuanced and balanced brand experiences and that B2B manufacturers should aim to use digital to advance and support new businesses rather than just using it to “fill the top of the funnel” and create short-term demand.
He concluded: “If B2B marketers can’t get digital marketing right, they could seriously jeopardize the success of their company’s future digital business strategies, or worse, fail to protect themselves against looming competitive threats.”