In a slow US economy it's refreshing to know that online sales grew by 15% over last year. This huge increase is really because customers searched on line for the best deals and took them! The ability of customers to search and initiate contact is a fundamental shift in marketing that organizations have not fully grasped.
Media planning is based on what a target audience might see and is in turn based on the notion of firm initiated contact. The firm puts out an Ad and faces to quote John Wanamaker: "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half."
Well recent B2B research by Wiesel,Pauwels and Arts (2011) suggests customer initiated contacts are about 15 times more profitable than firm initiated contacts like flyers(leaflets),faxes or email. Their research was at Inofec in the Netherlands (English translation of Inofec website) who are B2B furniture suppliers and installers in the Netherlands. The research suggested that spending 1 Euro on Google AdWords provided a return of 55+ Euros compared to a return of 0.57 Euro on every Euro spent on Flyers. See Table 4 on Page 608 of the article. The research is also featured as a Practice Prize Video at the Marketing Science Institute. The authors suggest that the company spend less on flyers and more on AdWords.
In other words, the above research now provides evidence from an organization's point of view that tapping into search marketing can really help in B2B marketing apart from certainly helping in zooming holiday consumer or B2C sales.