Technology is moving at a faster pace than ever before, which is making it an exciting moment for marketing. While it may be more competitive, there is also more opportunity than ever. Marketers should focus on building their company’s brand, driving demand and expanding customer relationships in order to succeed.
While in the past demand generation often drove B2B marketers, who were seeking out leads to convert; today that strategy doesn’t work. According to a report commissioned by Act-On, many marketing leaders are no longer focusing on demand generation entirely. In fact, 87 percent of these leaders report that at least half of staffers are dedicated to different focuses. The research also revealed that 92 percent of these executives said that brand, demand and customer marketing efforts were “somewhat aligned” under a cohesive strategy. Top performers were 52 percent more likely to dedicate resources to these strategies, realizing that they ensure a top customer experience.
Marketing automation is critical in this approach because it offers B2B marketers the ability to track customers across the lifecycle journey from brand awareness to demand generation to customer retention and loyalty. Companies can use the same segmentation and nurturing techniques applied to existing customers when seeking out new business.
Technology has also led to advances in predictive analytics, which can help B2B marketers identify and target key accounts and prospects. According to the Aberdeen Group, more than 50 percent of B2B companies use or plan to use predictive analytics in the coming year. This should come as no surprise since this technique is an effective way for both sales and marketing teams to make the best of their data to identify, engage and nurture customers at clients that are most likely to buy.
Automation has also led to the rise of account-based marketing (ABM) in a totally new way. Thanks to advances in CRM tools, B2B marketers are able to reinvent this classic marketing discipline by using predictive models to discover and target accounts with the most intent. However, this approach takes work to get right.
B2B marketers sometimes make the mistake of applying B2C tactics to their marketing strategy. While both sectors can benefit from advances in technology and automation, the problem with this approach is that B2B marketers may find themselves using tools designed to target individuals in households instead of individuals within organizations, which are different.
B2C marketers, for instance, often target one or two different data points to target customers such as Baby Boomers in Denver or millenials in San Francisco. B2B prospects are better targeted through context in which individual data connects at the company level. Instead of targeting attributes, B2B marketers should focus on a 360 strategy that appeals to both individuals and the companies that they work.
The best way to do this is to identify the influencers who can affect the purchase decision. For example, a company marketing cloud tools should identify and target the people that work a prospect’s IT department, not the entire firm. This isn’t always easy. It starts with the data. Marketers should collect data from multiple data sources in order to identify the exact people that play an active role in purchase decision-making at a potential client.
Technology is revamping the way B2B marketers do business. It opens new doors and forces new ways of thinking.