Communicators found their influence grew with executives, even as the functions they performed evolved in 2022; PR and marketing alike battled to win trust amid clutter, noise and skepticism
Every year I read and write about dozens of reports on B2B marketing and PR. At the end of the year, I go back through all these writeups to pull out some of the interesting statistics for a year-end roundup piece like this one.
The exercise is a useful reflection on what happened over the course of this past year. It might also provide a thought about what might happen next year.
1. Trusted sources of B2B information
Nearly three-quarters (73%) said they believe “most vendors fall short” of the honesty mark, according to a third-party survey commissioned by Rob Roy Consulting. Just 27% said most vendors are honest most of the time.
What sources of information do B2B buyers trust? According to the survey, the sources respondents say they find “valuable” or “extremely valuable” for “determining which vendors you will include in a request for proposal (RFP) or invite to compete for your business” included the following:
- 72% said conversations with peers;
- 72% said technology publications;
- 69% said industry analyst reports;
- 66% said live conversations with industry analysts; and
- 66% said conferences (including virtual).
Read more: “Skepticism” is the “New Normal;” Survey Finds B2B Tech Has Trust Issues
2. Communications Influence with the C-Suite Grew
According to Gartner, 83% of communications leaders surveyed say their influence among the c-suite has grown. And it’s grown to the extent it outweighs other business functions.
Three-quarters of respondents (75%) say “they have slightly or much more influence than their non-communications counterparts. Only 5% said they have less influence.
Read more: Communications Influence with C-Suite Grows [Gartner Survey]
3. B2B prospects want published pricing
Buyers of B2B software want published pricing. According to a study by McKinsey, 68% want prices published online without negotiation.
Yet, B2B software companies are resistant to publishing pricing online because they feel it removes leverage. The reality is buyers will just go elsewhere. You’re kidding yourself if you think a motivated buyer doesn’t know what they are going to pay for your software.
Even Jason Lemkin of SaaStr suggests being open and transparent with pricing is the right approach. He wrote, “So 9.5 times out of 10, at least start with transparent, published pricing. Start there at first. It takes one less piece of friction out of your sales process.”
Read more: 15 CX Action Items B2B Companies “Must Do” According to McKinsey Research
4. The top complaints B2B marketing and sales have about each other
A survey of 329 B2B sales and marketing professionals commissioned by SharpSpring and conducted by Ascend2 does well to identify the problem of sales and marketing alignment.
One question stood out. The survey asked 150 marketing professionals and 179 sales professionals about complaints they had about each other.
Top complaints from sales has about marketing:
- 43% say targeting the wrong leads;
- 32% say underperforming tools or systems create extra tasks;
- 29% say an inability to educate leads effectively;
- 25% say insufficient or inaccurate data;
- 25% say incorrect attribution or vanity metrics (tracking quantity of leads over quality);
- 20% say lack of willingness to collaborate; and
- 12% say competing go-to-market strategy or goals (KPIs).
Meanwhile, the top complaints marketing has about sales:
- 40% say insufficient or inaccurate data;
- 38% say not following up on leads;
- 33% say underperforming tools create complexity and workarounds;
- 30% say lack of willingness to collaborate;
- 22% say incorrect attribution (crediting what actually contributed to a sale);
- 17% say competing go-to-market strategy or goals (KPIs); and
- 13% say not following brand guidelines.
Read more: The Top Complaints B2B Sales and Marketing Have about Each Other
5. The cost of B2B marketing content
Prices have inflated the cost of content in B2B is no exception. A study by PathFactory found content costs soared 58% in 2021 compared to the year earlier. The average content asset costs $2,791 to produce and the report breaks out a few examples:
- Marketing videos cost an average of $8,448 and earned 2:22 minutes of viewing time;
- Blogs cost an average of $1,959 and earned 3:02 minutes of viewing time;
- Webinars cost an average of $4,231 and earned 2:20 minutes of viewing time;
- White papers cost an average of $8,279 and earned 6:18 minutes of viewing time; and
- Articles cost an average of $2,854 and earned 2:04 minutes of viewing time.
Read more: The Average Cost of a B2B Content Asset is $2,791 [Data Analysis]
6. Twitter is still a journalist’s favorite social media site
A survey of 2,500 journalists finds Twitter is still their favorite social media network. More than three-quarters (77%) of journalists surveyed say Twitter is the most valuable social network – the next most valuable network isn’t even close with 39%.
Other findings include:
- 39% plan to spend more time on Twitter this year – the highest of any other social network. Another 46% will spend the same about of time and just 12% will spend less time on Twitter;
- 60% of journalists consult a company’s social media in their reporting; and
- 18% of reporters say they get their news from Twitter – that’s about one in five.
It’ll be interesting to see if this remains true in 2023.
Read more: Twitter Offers Advantages in PR for B2B Brands Willing to Put in the Effort
7. Research and surveys are the most valuable content in B2B
Nearly three-quarters (72%) of B2B buyers say they consume three or more pieces of content before engaging a salesperson, according to a survey by Demand Gen Report. More respondents (42%) put that number at between 3 and 5 – than any other option.
The survey also asked respondents which content formats they found most valuable in researching B2B purchases. The survey listed 16 possible formats and here’s how the most valuable format stacked up:
- 43% said research or survey reports;
- 40% said case studies;
- 40% said webinars;
- 37% said B2B media and news;
- 34% said white papers; and
- 34% said ebooks.
Read more: The 6 Top B2B Content Formats Buyers Find Most Valuable
8. Annual spending on PR software grew 14.7% to approximately $5.5 billion in 2021
Consulting firm Burton-Taylor International published a report finding annual spending on PR “media intelligence solutions” grew 14.7% to approximately $5.5 billion in 2021. That’s up from the firm’s last report which put the market at $4.8 billion in 2020.
Read more: Spending on PR Software Growing Again, Study Finds [PR Tech Sum]
9. B2B sales deals require more interactions than ever
Deals in B2B are increasingly complicated and more likely to be scrutinized by top executives and the finance department, according to an analysis of several studies by Forrester.
Case in point? B2B buyers engaged in an average of 27 interactions with a vendor over the course of making a purchase decision in 2021. That’s up from 17 interactions in 2019.
Those interactions are composed of both human and digital touches. The Forrester survey data breaks it down into an average of 15 digital interactions and 12 human interactions. Moreover, buyers value both types of engagement.
Read more: B2B Sales Cycles Require 27 Interactions both Digital and Human [Study]
10. Video may be the most trusted content in B2B
A survey commissioned by Brightcove and conducted by Ascend2 found 93% of B2B buyers believe “video builds trust in a brand.” Some 70% reported video has a greater impact “over other content formats such as infographics, e-books and white papers” in raising awareness of a business problem.
Other findings included:
- 58% of respondents said video was “most helpful” when trying to learn about a new product or service; another 40% said learning how to solve a problem;
- Among the types of videos respondents said they’ve watched in the last three months are product reviews (39%), product demonstrations (39%), tutorials (33%), live video, like webinars (31%), and educational videos (30%); and
- 97% of respondents said video content and communication were useful after making a purchase.
Read more: Is Video Worth the Cost in B2B Marketing?
11. PR and comms pros say they are doing more content work
More than three-quarters of respondents (78%) say the volume of work has increased – and one in three say it’s increased significantly. The type of work has also changed with 90% reporting it’s changed at least some while 50% saying it’s changed significantly.
In what ways has the nature of work changed? Owned media is the top area of emphasis, according to the findings. Respondents said their organization is placing more or much more emphasis on owned media (60%), like blogs, newsletters and websites.
Read more: The Volume and Variety of Communications Work is Shifting, Finds 5th Annual Survey of Comms Pros
12. Clutter is the top challenge facing communicators
Ask 10 PR pros what their top communications challenges are and about three in 10 will say:
1) cutting through the noise (35%);
2) too many priorities (31%); and
3) lack of employee experience (25%).
Those findings stem from the recently released fifth annual JOTW Strategic Communications Survey for 2022.
Budget used to be among the top communications challenges, but it’s slid down the list every year for the past five; comms budgets don’t show up as a problem until #8 and garnered just 13% of the votes from respondents.
Read more: The Top 10 Communications Challenges in 2022: It’s not the Budget it’s the Clutter
13. Effective storytelling improves valuations
“Companies should be investing in the story behind their quarterly or annual results to resonate with the investment community and positively influence valuation.”
So says a 2022 survey conducted by PRWeek for ICR. They polled 123 respondents including people in PR, investor relations, marketing – and also security analysts and investors.
Many respondents believe part of a company’s valuation is driven, in part, by non-financial factors. More specifically:
- 74% “believe that at least 20% of a company’s valuation is impacted by non-financial factors”, and
- About half (49%) “say that at least 30% of a company’s valuation is impacted by non-financial factors.”
Read more: Quick Summaries to 5 Surveys of PR and Corporate Communications
14. Why clients hire agencies, consultants and freelancers: an extra pair of hands
If you ask communicators and PR professionals why clients hire outside help, the majority will find consensus around one answer: execution (53%), or in other words, an extra pair of hands.
That’s according to the 483 communicators that responded to the 5th Annual JOTW Strategic Communications Survey for 2022 (summary and highlights).
An extra pair of hands was followed by “outside objectivity and advice” (45%) and “expertise in a niche, vertical market or subject matter” (34%).
Read more: The Top 3 Reasons Clients Hire Outside Agencies, Consultants and Freelancers
15. B2B marketing would benefit by setting aside time and budget to amplify content
Three-quarters (75%) of marketers say they don’t spend enough time on B2B content amplification. Why? Because they don’t have time (77%) – they are too busy making more content they also won’t have time to amplify.
A surefire way to get more value out of the thousands of dollars we will spend creating content in 2023 is to put a percentage of the time and budget that goes into content creation into creatively promoting it.
Read more: B2B Content Amplification in 2023: A Sure Way to Get More out of Marketing’s Investment in Content
16. The metrics comms and PR pros are tracking
We asked the 483 communications pros that took The JOTW Strategic Communications Survey for 2022 the following question:
Which of the following are techniques your organization uses to measure the results of communications or PR efforts? (select all that apply)
Here’s how the top five answers stacked up:
- 56% said web traffic/web analytics;
- 51% said impressions / estimated site traffic (i.e. Similar Web);
- 50% said the number of placements/mentions;
- 41% said email open rates;
- 36% said clicks / CTRs;
Read more: PR measurement. PR measurement. PR measurement. The 10 Most Common Ways Comms Pros are Measuring PR
17. Email subscribers are essential for content marketing success
Just 44% of B2B marketers use content to build a subscribed audience. Even fewer, 22% use the number of email subscribers to evaluate content performance. Yet building a subscribed audience is the whole point! It’s the one thing you can achieve that no other variety of marketing can do on its own.
Read more: It’s the Subscribed Audience! B2B Marketers are Missing the Point of Content Marketing
18. The average blog post was 1,376 words in 2022
The average blog post was 1,376 words in length this year. It takes an average of 4 hours to write in 2022. The most successful bloggers go further – writing 2,000-3,000-word posts over the course of six or more hours. The majority of bloggers publish new posts weekly or monthly. The most successful bloggers publish blog posts 2-6 times per week.
Read more: Survey Says Successful Bloggers Do these 5 Things Differently
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I’m always on the lookout for reports and surveys about B2B marketing and PR to write about. I’m open to pitches on these, but please read this first.
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