Survey Shows Many Marketers Are Behind in Use of Data, Targeting and Measurement

New research from Crain's BtoB Magazine underscores significant opportunities for B2B marketers to expand their marketing mix and more effectively leverage data and emerging channels in changing digital media environment

Mar 19, 2012, 09:00 ET from Bizo

SAN FRANCISCO, March 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Crain's BtoB Magazine today shared results of a comprehensive survey of business-to-business (B2B) marketers across the U.S. developed in conjunction with business audience marketing company Bizo. The data paints a vivid picture of where B2B marketing tactics are on the maturity curve and underscores a number of specific opportunities for marketers to increase the sophistication of their programs in 2012.

Crain's BtoB Magazine and Bizo will host a free webinar on March 22nd at 2pm ET to discuss in-depth findings from the survey. To register for the webinar, please visit

"This is a period of creative re-invention for marketers, in the end marketing will emerge as a stronger more potent discipline," said John DiStefano, Research Director of Crain's BtoB Magazine. "We have moved from a push environment, to pull style messaging, to finally the permission economy. While this contextualizing of the sales funnel presents challenges for some marketers, others are leveraging the new tools to reach their audiences online and drive more targeted, effective campaigns. This data shows that there is still a tremendous opportunity to further leverage new technologies and emerging channels to boost marketing results."

Key conclusions from the survey include:

(1) Email marketing remains a top tactic, but one that's plateauing in its ability to meet sales pipeline demands.

When asked to rank different marketing activities based on time and resources spent on each, respondents put email marketing at the top, with 49 percent saying they spend more time and resources on email than on other channels. Paid search was ranked second, with 36 percent, and display ads were ranked third, with 35 percent. Social media, which enjoys a high adoption rate among B2B marketers, also gets the least amount of their time and resources, with just 29 percent saying this tactic receives the largest share of their time and resources.

According to the survey, 59 percent of marketers also perceive email to be the most effective channel in generating revenue; however, the data also shows that the majority of B2B marketers do not feel their current online marketing mix is meeting sales demand. More than 60 percent of marketers report that their greatest marketing challenge for 2012 is generating more leads, and nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of respondents report that their marketing mix either doesn't meet sales demand or they're unsure of whether their mix is effective.

When asked where they would spend additional time and resources to improve online marketing effectiveness, more than three-quarters (77 percent) say they plan to expand or diversify their marketing mix in 2012, and 56 percent of respondents identify brand promotion as a key area of focus. Interestingly, 88 percent of respondents report that they are using email to promote their brand online.  

These findings also suggest marketers may be over-reliant on some of their more mature, well-understood programs and lag in their ability effectively add new channels to their mix. 

(2) Marketers are struggling to measure the impact of their marketing programs.

Measurement continues to be tough for marketers, with nearly 40 percent of respondents citing accurate measurement and attribution of online conversions as a top online marketing challenge.

The data also shows that while email is seen as the most effective channel for lead generation, many marketers are not taking into consideration the impact of other channels on the success of email programs, particularly when it comes to full-funnel marketing channels such as display advertising. Less than 20 percent of marketers say they nearly always attribute their leads to multiple marketing programs, while the greatest of percentage of respondents (36 percent) say that they "sometimes" attribute leads to more than one program. More than one-quarter (26 percent) of respondents say they do not track leads to any marketing program at all or they only attribute leads to one program.

(3) There is still a large opportunity for marketers to use data-driven segmentation and targeting.

Data-driven targeting has evolved significantly over the past few years, but most marketers have yet to take full advantage of targeting techniques that can be deployed across all of their marketing channels. With the vast amount and range of audience data available to drive more targeted, effective campaigns, marketers have a substantial opportunity to raise the bar in 2012.

B2B marketers appear to be most comfortable using segment targeting in their email campaigns, where there is an 84 percent adoption rate, but only about one-third are using segment targeting in their display, paid search or social media programs. Those that do are also mostly using segments such as industry (65 percent), geography (56 percent), job function (55 percent) and title (49 percent).

Marketers say their biggest roadblock to effective use of segment targeting is lack of data on users (37 percent), with a close second being uncertainty about how to best use targeting and segmentation in campaigns (33 percent).   

(4) Marketers report that all channels could benefit from increased optimization.

Across the board, marketers report that their online marketing programs need improvement. Nearly half (46 percent) of respondents who use email marketing say their program could benefit from increased focus and optimization (e.g., A/B testing), while about one-quarter of those using display ads, paid search and social media report the same. 

There may be less room for incremental gains when it comes to email marketing, however: with marketers' heavy reliance and investment in this channel, 30 percent of respondents report that email is now a mature and well-optimized part of their mix, and other 46 percent view email as a core part of their mix. There may be more upside for incremental gains from paid search and display ads, as only 19 percent and 12 percent respectively see these as mature marketing programs, and only 5 percent of marketers see social media as a mature and well-optimized part of their mix.

Survey Methodology

This survey was fielded online from the period of January 18 to February 3, 2012. The true population of B2B marketing professionals in the US was researched via a 28 question online survey. A representative sample of the BtoB marketers audience was invited to participate in the survey via email. A sample of 326 completes was achieved. Confidence Interval: 94% - Margin of Error: +/- 5%

Methods and procedures adhere to the standards and ethics established by the Market Research Association ( Individual participant or participant company names are not disclosed. Results are reported in aggregate only. No incentive was offered to complete the survey.

About Crain's BtoB

BtoB is dedicated to integrated business-to-business marketing. The magazine is read by 100,000 b-to-b marketers in print and online. Every issue is filled with game-changing strategies and tactics needed for success, including news, analysis, benchmarks and best practices. BtoB also publishes a wide variety of e-newsletters addressing specific areas of b-to-b marketing, and hosts webinars, virtual trade shows and live events. BtoB is published by Crain Communications Inc., which publishes more than 20 business, trade and consumer publications and related websites in North America, Europe and Asia.

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