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Survey Shows B2B Sales Cycle Lengthening, Increasing Challenges For Online Marketers

The survey also revealed that for many companies, the sales cycle has actually gotten longer over the past three years: 43 percent of respondents report a slowing of the sales cycle, putting more pressure on the online marketing mix to nurture leads through a prolonged purchase process.

2. Brand differentiation is becoming increasingly important, but marketers struggle to achieve it.

As a result of the perceived weakness of the marketing mix and longer sales cycles, branding has come to take a paramount position for B2B marketers: 79 percent say that differentiating on brand is a priority for their organization.

However, most marketers (60 percent) report that they are not fully satisfied with their current efforts to differentiate on brand.   There is also confusion about which marketing channels drive brand awareness.  For example, 27 percent believe that the corporate website – a lower-funnel channel – works best at driving brand awareness.

3. B2B marketers are not able to effectively target and engage decision makers.

Another challenge for today's marketers is targeting and engaging decision makers in the buying process. The vast majority (81 percent) of B2B marketers must contend with multiple decision-makers during the sales process, but only about one-third (36 percent) feel their current marketing programs effectively address all these stakeholders.

One reason for this may be that only about one-third of marketers are incorporating targeting and segmentation in their digital advertising, search and social programs.  When they do use targeting and segmentation, only 40 percent of respondents say that these tools very effectively help them reach the people involved in the typical buying decision.

4. Marketers need better visibility into the value of their marketing programs.

Measurement continues to be an issue for B2B marketers.  More than one-third (36 percent) of respondents report their biggest online marketing challenge is accurately measuring and attributing online conversions to the correct marketing channels.  Less than half (42 percent) of marketers say they attribute success across the entire marketing funnel. 

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