Not long ago, forecasters were predicting a contraction in the live trade show industry. After all, the recession was tightening B2B travel budgets and technology was making it easier to hold interactive online events. There’s definitely a place for online meetings and webinars but the results of Sagefrog’s most recent survey show that personal contact stills matter, especially for B2B marketing. The survey also points to an improving ad picture in the B2B sector for 2014.
Sagefrog has been producing its survey for 8 years and this year, B2B operators told researchers that, in addition to trade shows, online marketing provides an ROI that’s superior to email marketing or traditional advertising.
In 2013, more B2B businesses are using digital formats, specifically, SEO (56%) and social media (67%). Drilling down into the social media category, research shows that social networks (84%), blogs (39%), and video-sharing (37%) are most popular. Video-sharing jumped significantly since last year. While B2B concerns say they are using social media, about 35% are spending less than one hour a week on the effort. As the format grows more important, the time spent on social networks and video-sharing is likely to increase.
Email marketing (72%) and websites (85%) are the most popular digital formats used by B2B operators. Despite its perceived effectiveness, only 49% of B2B operators market themselves at trade shows. This may be because of the expense associated with these events. As business conditions improve, it seems likely that more of these businesses will explore trade shows.
About 49% of B2B businesses in this survey pool spend less than 5% of revenues on marketing while another 9% spend more than 15%. At least 45% of these firms will increase their marketing budgets in 2014 while 52% indicate they’ll spend the same amount. Only 3% believe they’ll be cutting back on this expense.
Have you been working with B2B operators this year? Do you think that spending more time on social media could improve lead generation or customer loyalty for this sector?