Technology is the number one driver of large-scale change in any industry and marketing is a prime example of that phenomenon. When it comes to technology in general, the B2B world has traditionally been fairly resistant to change. To be fair, B2B is a complex universe, and implementing new technology on such a grand scale isn’t easy for any industry, but the B2C marketing world has always been a bit more nimble and open to emerging tech.
However, where B2B is setting the standard for B2C is in the realm of demand generation. B2B marketers and salespersons know the importance of not just creating leads, but nurturing them throughout their journey from initial exposure to a brand to (hopefully) an eventual purchase. B2B marketers have learned to leverage sophisticated data practices like content monitoring and predictive analysis, as well as aggregation and automation platforms to target both decision makers and their influencers.
B2C marketers, however, have traditionally struggled with utilizing data at this level because they need to reach such large audiences, and their own in-house platforms and networks have not had that capability. B2B marketers have handled the scalability issue much better by adopting tech platforms and developing one-to-one relationships with media partners.
This recently acquired ability to target at the deepest levels without sacrificing scale is causing a massive shift across the B2B industry, and the ripples will undoubtedly be felt in the B2C world too. In fact, now is the time when B2C marketers should be taking a page out of the B2B playbook by using technology to create and nurture leads.
Technology and data have led to a gradual convergence of sales and marketing. Traditionally, marketing and sales have worked separately toward the same goals. Both teams want to drum up interest, know what their customers and prospects need before they approach them, and eventually drive a purchase, and ideally create long-term relationships. However, they have usually used very different tools and techniques to get the job done.
Recent and emerging platforms have begun to change that paradigm by eliminating data silos and integrating data use into every aspect of customer engagement, whether it’s making predictions or building awareness or closing the deal. This accessibility by both teams to vital data about their prospects on a large scale has driven a more holistic marketing approach.
Columnist David Dodd states that the sales methodology paradigm and the marketing centric paradigm have thus far been at odds—there are organizations that tend to favor one over the other based on their particular structure. But in a market as complex as B2B, marketing automation and sales acceleration should work hand in hand to drive engagement; this collaborative philosophy has been shown to increase both leads and sales, as well as significantly shorten the sales cycle and avoid wasting resources on unqualified leads.
For B2B and B2C marketers, technology will only continue to break down departmental walls as we develop more and more ways to gather, store, organize and utilize data. In addition to the blending of sales and marketing, infrastructure platforms are enabling IT, HR and other disparate teams to collaborate across organizations to deliver better experiences and drive revenue.
Image via Doc Searls