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Social media ‘still unproven’ for B2B marketers, some returning to direct mail to avoid ‘digital clutter’

Ketchum,

From left: David Ketchum, Kate Scott, Argha Sen, Stephanie Silvester at Web Wednesday last night

The effectiveness of using social media to reach a business audience has yet to be proved, a senior B2B marketer suggested an event in Hong Kong last night.

Talking to an audience of digital marketers at a revamped Web Wednesday event, Stephanie Silvester, APAC group marketing manager for telco giant Verizon said that B2B marketing has been slow to adapt to social media, because its value is “not obvious”.

“From a consumer marketing perspective, the value of social media is fairly obvious,” she said. “But from a B2B perspective, it has not been proven yet in terms of how to drive leads and revenue.”

“The C suite is an incredibly complex target group, and it’s been difficult to work out how to use social media to reach them,” she said.

“But we need social media to drive discussions around what we want to learn from them.”

Using content marketing to reach a business audience is equally difficult, the Verizon marketer said.

“The biggest challenge is how to make content interesting, because the reality is the B2B space is nowhere near as exciting as B2C,” she said.

“The C-suite does not have time to read stuff anymore. Marketers have maybe a minute-and-a-half window of opportunity in a day to reach them.”

To do so, B2B content marketers need to become “more like journalists” and ask their audience what their problems are and how to solve them, she said.

The fundamental element of B2B marketing – “the essence of what we do” – is still email, Silvester said in response to a question about how her company spends its marketing budget.

However, she suggested that some B2B marketers are going back to direct mail because of the increasing clutter in digital media.

“Because people receive less direct mail through their letter boxes than they used to, they tend to actually read it,” she said.

“Analogue still have its place in B2B marketing.”

The panel of speakers at Web Wednesday, which was held to mark the merger of two industry bodies to form the Digital + Direct Marketing Association, also included Argha Sen, director, omnichannel for Fung Retailing Group and Kate Scott, head of digital marketing at CSL.

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