A B2B marketer will now have to be as responsive and agile to the changing market needs as any B2C marketer, but with probably lesser insights and data
B2B marketing has come a long way from just supporting sales with a list of marketing activities. It is now taking center stage to drive effective demand generation by influencing around 60-80% of the buying process. The various marketing tactics deployed are witnessing a convergence of the offline and online experience to reach, engage and influence prospects and customers. Technology available today enables metrics across all these tactics and helps in insight-driven decisions and actions to create revenue impact. Today the marketing ROI can be measured better than before.
Here are the TOP 5 trends in B2B marketing:
1. Strategic v/s tactical approach:
Marketing is no longer chasing an activity-based goal, it is now more targeted towards revenue-based goals, such as quality of leads generated, marketing contribution to the pipeline and conversions to opportunities. As per a recent survey of marketers in the Demand Gen report, this is already a reality with 53% marketers measured on revenue-based quotas, while 20% have a lead based quota.
2. Sales and marketing alignment:
According to the Annuitas 2019 survey, respondents indicated a high degree of overlap between sales and marketing KPIs, at about 72%. This results in better alignment between both the teams on achieving joint KPI’s and making the buying experience seamless for the customer.
3. Insights driven marketing - value v/s volume:
As per a recent survey, 66% of B2B marketers said improving their ability to measure and analyze marketing impact was a top priority (Source: Demand Gen Report).
The convergence and connection of data from the Top of the Funnel (TOFU) driving through to the Middle of the Funnel (MOFU), till the lead makes it to the Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU), can result in great buyer-centric insights. This results in delivering a more targeted lead -to -revenue conversion strategy. The focus therefore shifts to the value of leads generated with contextual information on the buyer persona and intent rather than just volumes of leads.
The B2B marketer feeds off these insights to leverage appropriate tactics like Account Based Marketing (ABM), create personalized customer experiences, produce high performing content and CTA’s, develop better offers, provide better intelligence to the inside sales team as they hone in the intent to buy.
As the funnel grows, what really helps the B2B marketer to win the conversion war, is to go deep and not too wide. A recent survey shows that 58% of B2B marketers are focusing on lead quality over quantity (Source :Demand Gen Report) and it reinforces how insights can drive lead quality.
Source : Drift
4. Create a holistic impact with brand messaging and content:
Creating a revenue impact requires deepening customer trust with the brand by engaging with these prospects and customers with value-driven content through the funnel across various personas. It is an integrated marketing and communications approach that elevates the demand generation program.
5. Technology for tracking and measuring outcomes and not justcampaign stats:
The starting point should be the outcomes that need to be measured, and then the technology that can enable it. One may have the best marketing technology stack but if it is unable to track and measure the business outcomes and KPI’s, then it is a dead investment. A technology stack that connects the top and middle of the funnel marketing activities to the actionable insights; is the holy grail for a B2B marketer.
Key Challenges for a B2B marketer in 2020
1. Responsive and agile to changing business needs
A B2B marketer will now have to be as responsive and agile to the changing market needs as any B2C marketer, but with probably lesser insights and data. According to the ANNUITAS 2019 report, CMOs are more equipped to analyze engagement channels that are driving higher revenue impact, so instead of cutting budgets, they are able to be more agile in spending. CMOs may keep the same overall budget but shift spending.
Shifting spends basis the market needs requires sharp business acumen and a perfect alignment of the marketer with the field. This change in marketing tactics for higher revenue impact may result in managing and executing challenging integrated programs with nimbleness.
2. Changing the sales and marketing mindset:
B2B Marketing is not about just sales enablement but a win-win partnership between sales and marketing to develop a good lead-to-revenue model. It becomes a challenge when some of them misconstrue that as stepping on each other’s toes whereas, this mindset can be changed with new skills and ensuring they have a common goal to give the buyer a frictionless buying experience. The buyer is the glue that needs to stick these teams together even when lines do blur at times.
3. Connecting to the right buyer:
Knowing the right buyer who will consume your product comes via various digital platform analytics, but the ones which matter are from the field sales team, the inside sales team and the product teams on the ground. It is still a challenge to orchestrate this informal channel of qualitative information. Sharing the buyer’s challenges, intent to buy across personas will enable marketing to target better and make it more contextual.
Recommended tools for effective lead generation
Different tactics yield varied results from the same tools. Selecting the right combination of a tool and the tactic, depends on the scale and the program objective for the campaign.
It is imperative to decide on the goals for all tactics like emails, social, events, ABM, inside sales and cold calling etc. A tool is only an enabler and should not be the program goal. A connected CRM for the sales and marketing funnel , across all channels, a marketing automation tool, and all the data analytics can a knit a program together for starters.
*The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer