B2B marketing continues to change, especially as its success is intertwined with the latest advances in marketing technology. It was not that long ago that all B2B marketers had to do was generate awareness for their products or services. They would tee up the leads for sales and a certain percentage of them would close.
This is no longer the case. As B2B marketers are asked to drive the customer experience more holistically, marketers should accept and embrace these monumental shifts in Marketing Technology.
1. Marketers are Responsible for Buyer Education More Than Ever Before
A Google and Corporate Executive Board study showed that buyers are 57% through their decision process before engaging with a salesperson. This is not a new study, but many marketers have not really internalized this shift. Marketers must not only generate awareness, but also move the buyer along towards a sales conversation.
This study is really the justification for a robust content marketing program that focuses on education. Too many B2B marketers are still doing “feeds and speeds” marketing and calling it content. They need to focus on providing value for their prospects by helping them solve their business problems. These leads don’t get passed along to sales unless the right conditions apply. Lead scoring models can determine when a prospect is ready.
2. Customer Data is Key to Customer Experience
There is so much customer data out there, even for B2B companies. According to IDC, customers generate approximately 3 billion terabytes of data per year. One of the challenges that marketers face is that some of it is just not actionable. The CMO Club found that 85% of CMOs say that their lack of access to data is preventing them from implementing a true cross-channel marketing strategy. That’s a huge missed opportunity. There are technology solutions for this, but marketers must understand the problem to be solved before buying technology.
The point of having all this data is to use the right data to communicate with customers and prospects on a one to one basis. This is where customer experience begins. These early interactions that show that marketers really understand prospects’ needs sets the tone for the future relationship.
3. Identity is the New Currency
Many prospect and customer interactions are unstructured, so we need a new way to identify people as they pick up different devices and engage on different channels. Managing this new challenge requires connecting identities across a variety of online and offline channels to one unique person. It also must span both anonymous marketing channels – such as display advertising and search – and known marketing channels, such email and mobile.
This marketing ID can seamlessly stitch together a profile so marketers can orchestrate an experience that resonates with individuals. This helps marketers take action and engage a prospect or customer based on the most relevant data points across different channels.
4. Marketing Automation is Expanding
Marketing automation used to be about sending email and driving prospects to landing pages. It was simple. Prospects would fill out a form, and based on a small number of implicit and explicit factors, the appropriate leads would find their way to the sales team.
But now, it is so much more. On the input side, all that data mentioned above plays a role, as marketers capture those unstructured activities and layer them onto known prospects. The outward functions have grown too.
Landing pages and email are just the beginning. Search, social, display, mobile, web, direct contact, even mail and phone are ways marketers can reach out to their prospects and customers using marketing automation. If there’s a channel out there, marketers can manage it with technology.
B2B marketers will succeed in driving more awareness, leads and ultimately sales if they change how they think about marketing’s role in their organization before they think about implementing the latest and greatest MarTech solutions.