Gartner Urges Manufacturers to Become Better Marketers
Most B2B manufacturers are struggling to build the digital marketing strategies and purchase guidance needed to help buyers make the most informed decisions, according to Gartner, which recently compiled a ranking of digital performance among B2B manufacturers and found that 62 percent of them fell below average.
The "Gartner L2 Digital IQ Index: B2B Manufacturing U.S. 2019" quantifies the digital competence of 87 B2B manufacturers headquartered in the United States across the energy, healthcare, industrials, and materials sectors. Of those, only two reached "Genius" status, while the majority fell into the "Challenged" or "Feeble" categories.
"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," said Kyle Rees, a director, B2B sector lead, and team manager at Gartner, in a statement. "If B2B marketers can't get digital marketing right, they could seriously jeopardize the success of their companies' future digital business strategies, or worse, fail to protect themselves against looming competitive threats."
B2B manufacturing brands were measured across hundreds of data points against four critical dimensions of B2B digital marketing, including search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM), site functionality, guided selling and content marketing, and social media.
Among some of the other findings outlined in the report are the following:
- Shifting customer buying behavior and looming threats to existing distribution and business models point to digital’s increasingly central role in B2B marketing operations. Unfortunately, more than half of B2B marketers (51 percent) rank their current digital experience as average at best.
- Forty-one percent of B2B buyers describe an effective buying experience as one that progresses quickly to completion, but manufacturers struggle to meet this expectation. In fact, more than one third of them do not feature guided selling tools or content on their websites. On the other hand, the best B2B companies deploy digital marketing strategies based on a deep understanding of their customers’ digital journey to drive engagement and conversion.
- There is a wide gap between company sites with tools that work as intended and those with tools that fall short of expectations. For example, only 34 percent of B2B manufacturers with site search tools allow site users to filter search queries. Only 26 percent of site search tools leverage auto-fill technology, while even less (24 percent) provide corrections to search queries.
- Best-in-class B2B manufacturers develop synergies by embracing the unique value proposition offered by different marketing platforms. Leaders reject homogeneity across their marketing strategies to create nuanced and well-rounded brand experiences.
"Instead of just using digital marketing as a means to create demand and fill the top of the funnel, B2B manufacturers should leverage digital to advance and support new and existing business opportunities — an undertaking that has thus far proven difficult," Rees suggested.