When Demandbase, an account-based marketing firm, surveyed 500 B2B managerial-level marketers at companies with 250 or more employees, it found that 71% believed their organisation's digital advertising frequently failed to meet expectations.
And nearly all – 96% – admitted that their digital advertising inevitably reached a significant number of people outside of their intended target, leading to ad waste.
Almost as many (89%) agreed that their digital marketing mix was not optimised and that a different mix would yield better results.
"This ad waste dilemma isn't new – most companies know that they are wasting a significant part of their digital ad dollars, but the problem is they don't know which part," said Peter Isaacson, chief marketing officer at Demandbase.
Part of the problem is the difficulty in measuring ROI – the number one challenge faced by B2B marketers.
The survey revealed that they remain focused on metrics better suited to B2C campaigns: more than half those surveyed were measuring success by conversion rates and cost per impression.
"B2B marketers are realising that while their digital advertising strategy may be reaching a large audience, it's not necessarily delivering the right results," Isaacson noted.
"B2B marketers need to adjust their strategy away from B2C best practices and look at B2B-focused solutions that can deliver more effective advertising, personalisation and sales programs to the specific accounts that will really deliver business results."
A recent survey by B2B agency Omobono – part of its What Works Where in B2B Digital Marketing series – highlighted the impact of non-marketing departments on digital communications, as sales and customer services, for example, may be in more frequent contact with customers than marketers.
Writing in Market Leader, Fran Brosan, Obomo chairman, pointed out that day-to-day experience of the brand can be out of the hands of the marketing department, meaning that "marketing has new responsibilities", including internal alignment, educating the organisation on the value of digital and ensuring other departments are aware of what they are doing externally.
So far, however, only 28% of those companies Obomo polled had a formal digital strategy in place to ensure cross-departmental alignment.
Data sourced from Demandbase, Market Leader; additional content by Warc staff