What’s Your Biggest B2B Marketing Challenge in 2019?

Adam Smartschan

Partner & Chief Strategy Officer

Growing a business-to-business company isn’t easy. From lead generation to bandwidth struggles, everyone faces their own set of B2B marketing challenges.

Recently, we asked leading B2B marketers about the most common challenges they face every day.

The results were enlightening – and far-reaching. Here are their examples and thoughts.

B2B Marketing ChallengesConnecting with Website Users

The greatest B2B marketing challenge that faces our business is identifying who makes up the traffic to our website, what their problems are, and how we can offer solutions.

If we were able to learn the background and intent of visitors to our website on their first visit, it would be that much easier to market a solution. For example, a small business owner with a 10-year-old business has much different needs than a business owner with a weeks-old business.

Likewise, knowing what the business owner needs, and whether they need funding to expand their business or a line of credit to tide them over between payments, would allow us to better serve them solutions. Because our marketplace serves such a broad range of customers, with a range of experience and needs, it can be challenging to market to them all simultaneously.

– Georgia McIntyre, SEO Manager, Fundera

Identifying Your Audience & Attributing Revenue

As a B2B marketer, not everyone is your target market. It isn’t like B2C where anyone who is willing to pay you money for your widget is your customer. In B2B, even if that company wants to buy our widget, it might not be beneficial them on as a client. That is because there are upfront and future resources that you need to spend to onboard that client.

Attribution is critical, too, because B2B customers generally tend to get multiple touches before even considering a purchase. You have phone calls, direct emails, brochures, trade shows, etc.

Here’s an example. Bob is the CEO of Grape, Inc. He is interested in your software for his company. He Googles “Software for XYZ,” goes to your website, downloads a brochure, calls customer support a few times and visits your booth at a trade show. After the show, he becomes a $1 million client.

Which channel should take the credit for the sale? The trade show? The booth staff might have done a spectacular job in selling our software to him during the show. If that’s the case, you might attribute $1 million to the events team. “Let’s keep investing in trade shows!” you figure.

Not so fast. He also Googled us and downloaded our brochure. Without our SEOs doing such good work in ranking for our key terms, Bob wouldn’t have known about us in the first place. So should we attribute $1 million to SEO?

– Stan Tan, Digital Marketing Manager, Selby’s

Follow-Up Accountability

You’ve locked down a Tier 1 speaker and spent thousands of dollars of your marketing budget getting 500 RSVPs and 100 attendees to come to your webinar. But what happens after that? Are sales going to follow up on those leads? Are you asking them if they’ve followed up, or are you monitoring?

As a marketer, it’s difficult to hold sales accountable for follow up, but it’s extremely important if you’re going to have to prove ROI.

– Tim White, Director of Marketing, People.ai

Message Personalization

The biggest marketing challenge when it comes to B2B is personalizing mass messages.

When you do B2C marketing, you address a mass audience and don’t need to personalize your message that much.

When you want to address B2B you have to personalize the heck out of your message to make that certain representative or business owner feel like the message resonates with him or her.

Marketing through social media channels doesn’t grant a lot of options for personalization and it’s hard to put out one message which will resonate with many B2B clients.

– Jakub Kliszczak, Marketing Specialist, CrazyCall

Measuring Returns from Tactics

Our biggest B2B marketing challenge is measuring the return. Often, the referral comes in because of a business relationship with the attorney. They don’t necessarily call the number on the ad, or receive a business card at a conference. Therefore, it feels nearly impossible to track where our referrals come from. It becomes difficult to determine which avenues are successful and which are not.

As a result we’ve taken a more community-based approach. We sponsor events and run ads for staple local events. It puts us in front of many community members – and maybe we get some B2B business from it. But at the very least we become a valued community partner. It kills two birds with one stone (or so we hope).

– Allison Gagliardi, Marketing Director, Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather & Littky-Rubin

Campaign Attribution

As a B2B organization, our biggest marketing challenge is definitely campaign attribution. There still seem to be major gaps between different channels, third-party analytics providers, and our CRM.

For example, we might run a paid campaign on Google Ads, but when it comes to segmenting our leads in the CRM there’s not an easy way to view a breakdown of leads acquired per channel per campaign. That makes tracking down actual ROI next to impossible. We do our best to connect the dots manually, but it’s far from a perfect solution – which, at the end of the day, can make allocating budgets and determining true “wins” difficult.

– Meisha Bochicchio, Content Marketing Manager, PlanSource

Measuring Success

One of the biggest challenges companies face when marketing their B2B businesses is often determining how to measure success across all the disparate channels in the media mix. With an abundance of marketing data available, sometimes it is easy to get distracted by vanity metrics that don’t meaningfully impact revenue or business objectives. And in an increasingly fragmented world where one person uses multiple devices and transacts across a multiple of channels, that risk continues to amplify as media and marketing ecosystems evolve since identity is not tied to a single device, IP address, or even mobile device ID.

– Andrew Becks, Chief Consultant, SocialChimp

Multiple Points of Contact

B2B deals rarely have a single decision maker, which creates longer sales cycles, more points of view, and mixed buying signals. Additionally, it is hard to attribute marketing/sales efforts to a single source because multiple buyers react with your brand in multiple ways.

Because of the longer sales cycle, it can take 6-24 months to reap the benefits of what you do today. That means companies can go down the wrong path for a long time before being able to course-correct. With B2C campaigns, you can make near real-time adjustments and iterations as you collect data.

– Perryn Olson, vCIO & Marketing Director, My IT

Scaling the (Right) Audience

Marketing can work full-throttle only when it reaches a large enough audience that is interested in your products or services. But it’s no ordinary scale that can promise healthy conversion rates. Since people on their buying journey start from the top of the funnel and eventually make their way to the bottom. B2B marketing efforts must target a large and relevant audience and should be able to satiate the interests at every stage of the sales funnel.

In the pursuit of reaching a large audience at scale, B2B professionals also end up attracting plenty of B2C prospects that dilute the effectiveness of their marketing efforts. This impacts ROI and deems the entire campaign ineffective. These B2C prospects are junk leads that seldom convert. Therefore, reaching out a highly specific, relevant and scalable audience is one of the biggest challenge for B2B marketers, so as to generate the optimum ROI from allocated marketing budgets.

Data analytics, in such cases, come to the rescue that helps marketers reach the right audience through nano- and micro-influencers. They can help you course-correct your marketing efforts by giving your content the right exposure.

– Ketan Kapoor, Co-Founder & CEO, Mercer-Mettl


Adam Smartschan

Adam Smartschan heads Altitude's strategic marketing and branding efforts. An award-winning writer and editor by trade in a former life, he now specializes in data analytics, search engine optimization, digital advertising strategy, conversion rate optimization and technical integrations. He holds numerous industry certifications and is a frequent speaker on topics around B2B marketing strategy and SEO.
Adam graduated from Northeastern University in Boston in 2007. He grew up in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, just miles down the road from Altitude's headquarters in Emmaus, Pennsylvania.