Marketers coming up short on Web 2.0

Web-based services and communities offer a very powerful arsenal of marketing tools but technology vendors need to learn how to wield them properly to generate sales, according to a recent survey.

There appears to be a growing but underserved market for webinars, podcasts, corporate Web pages and online whitepapers, according to a poll carried out by KnowledgeStorm Inc. an Alpharetta, Ga.-based Web marketing information provider and MarketingSherpa Inc, a marketing research firm in Warren, R.I.

“Vendors need to adopt an ‘always on’ approach. You need to be where your buyers will find you,” advised Matt Lohman, director of research for KnowledgeStorm during a live Webcast of the survey results.

Titled: Business Technology Marketing Executive Outlook: Key Tactics to Improve Your Marketing Results, the survey queried 1,038 U.S.-based business-to-business marketers on what lead generating tactics worked for them.

The results revealed that webinars – a type of Web conference which is primarily a one-way informational presentation – is enjoying increasing traction among corporate decision makers. However, survey numbers also indicate that there appears to be a “disconnect” between supply and demand.

For instance, 20 per cent or one in five of decision makers watch webinars every week. However, only 11 per cent of the respondents contribute webinar content on a weekly basis.

While only seven per cent of decision makers watch webinars once a year, about 32 per cent of respondents contribute content on a yearly basis.

“Perhaps vendors need to put webinars up front in their sales cycle, and put more effort in increasing the frequency of their webinar offerings,” according to Anne Holland, content director for MarketingSherpa.

Other survey highlights suggest that business-to-business marketers should pay more attention to how they use Web 2.0 tools. The term relates to the perceived second generation of Web-based services such as social networking sites, wikis and collaboration tools.

These services and applications are proving to be vital lead generating and nurturing tools, said Stefan Tornquist, research director for MarketingSherpa.

Consider the following numbers: about 64 per cent of decision makers view their e-mail from a mobile device; 71 per cent say they view RSS feeds (real simple syndication – a format for publishing frequent updates of contents such as blog entries, news headlines or podcasts); and 78 per cent listen to business and technology podcasts (audio files distributed over the Internet for playback on portable media players or computers).

“Clearly, vendors have to consider how their e-mail documents appear on BlackBerries and iPhones and continue to improve their RSS services and podcast products,” Tornquist said.

About 42 per cent also prefer whitepapers as a medium of information and 40 per cent view these documents as a source of “less biased” information. However, 71 per cent indicated they were turned off when vendors required them to register before receiving the document.

“Maybe we need to get rid of the registration button,” suggested Holland of MarketingSherpa.

Lohman also advised marketers to do a follow-up call to potential clients who request for whitepapers. The survey showed that 80 per cent would “be glad” for a follow-up.

Telemarketing remains a viable marketing tool. Nearly 53 per cent of decision makers added a vendor to their sellers’ list following a telemarketing call; about 45 per cent of callers were asked for more info on their product; and 41 per cent were invited to the office to give a pitch.

Google remains the No. 1 search venue for businesses.

The survey showed nearly 83 per cent of decision makers always log onto Google for their searching for information about a product; This was followed by IT vendor Web pages (26 per cent); online IT publication (20 per cent); online directories (20 per cent); and IT communities (19 per cent).

Only 14 per cent of respondents said they always checked out and about five per cent listed MSN as their favourite search engine.

The study also did a separate investigation on business website and found that more than 60 per cent of large corporations found their sites on the first page of Web search results compared to 53 per cent for small and medium-scale businesses. The second page results showed 29 per cent for large businesses and 16 per cent for SMBs.

Tornquist said people doing commercial or comparison searches usually go for the first page while those seeking particular information might read beyond the second page of the search results.

“It’s still critical to get the top clicks in the organic search results,” he said.

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