In B2B Marketing, Don’t Forget the Basics

Marketing professionals, particularly those who work with technology companies, strive to stay ahead of the curve. What’s the next new tactic, channel or trend we need to have on our radar?

Social media and content marketing are now mainstream. Even mobile marketing is losing its shiny newness. Which technologies do we need to watch next, to understand their impact on marketing strategies and tactics—”big data” analytics? Wearables? The Internet of Things? Micropersonalization?

It’s not just a matter of being distracted by shiny new things. It really is important to watch trends and understand the business impact of new technologies (case in point: Blockbuster).

But lead generation remains the top priority for B2B marketers, and when it comes down to what pays the bills, it’s imperative not to lose sight of the basics, of what works. And even in a hyper-connected app-driven world, old-school techniques like live events, direct mail, and email still rule.

Consider recent research from Chief Marketer (see below). Other than social media and content marketing (no surprise), the top three sources for B2B lead generation are email (87%), trade shows & conferences (62%), and direct mail (49%).

The Chief Marketer report also notes that, other than referrals, the tactics that produce the largest number of qualified leads are face-to-face sales interaction (such as at trade shows and conferences), email, and direct marketing.

And among other recent research findings reported here, “Despite all the hype about online, 67% of B2B content marketers consider event marketing to be their most effective strategy,” and “The vast majority of buyers prefer to contact vendors through email (81%) or phone (58%). Just 17% want to use live chat and 9% social media.”

Though best practices for using these channels continue to evolve, the tactics themselves are decidedly old-school.Industrial trade shows date to the late 18th century, and direct mail originated even earlier, with William Lucas’s seed cataloguein 1667.

Even email has reached middle age. As shown in the infographic below:

  • • The first electronic message was sent 44 years ago, in 1971.
  • • The term “email” was first used in 1982.
  • • The word “spam” (pertaining to email) was added to the Oxford Dictionary in 1998.
  • • And by 2012, 90 million Americans were accessing email on mobile devices—64% of them daily.

The challenge for B2B marketers is to continue to embrace and experiment with new technologies and tactics, while not neglecting proven techniques.