Time to pay homage to one of the unsung B2B marketers of the ages: John Lennon. Yes, outside of his music hobby, he was quite the digital marketer. He was just before his time, that is all. In fact, I like to think the iconic classic ‘Revolution’ was the anthem to B2B marketing: “You say you want a revolution. Well, you know. We all want to change the world. You tell me that it’s evolution. Well, you know. We all want to change the world.”
Yes, changes – evolution – revolution. Think about that in context of B2B digital marketing. Today’s business-to-business environment is evolving and is driven by a different kind of buyer, one normally engaged in long and complicated buying cycles. They are diligent, connected, and conducting more research than ever before to make decisions. Consuming information from multiple channels, prospects control the buying cycle to complete high-consideration & high value purchases. To win under these conditions, companies must make each interaction count.
So where is the focus for the B2B marketer? Large portions of marketing budgets allocated to, for example, paid marketing spend, email campaigns, etc with the goal of driving engagement to some call to action. And should that initial step of ‘Awareness’ actually motivate the buyer to ‘Consideration’ (e.g. web landing page), 95% of those visitors are never known to marketers. Historically been challenging for their marketing automation system to engage when you don’t know the prospect.
The simple input/output process of the funnel is no longer sufficiently dynamic for today’s B2B Marketing reality.
And in those fortunate times when they do know the prospect and can engage – say via email – normally it is quite generic creative and copy where the best results garner 30% open rates. Further, consider that by this time the prospect has largely established their perceptions, likely skewing their final determination.
Daunting? Yes. But do we throw up our arms, continue to spam, and hope for lead scoring systems to work their magic? Not so fast, as John Lennon told us, “Don’t you know it’s gonna be alright. Alright, alright.”
B2B marketing has evolved to leverage many of the learnings and personalisation tactics from consumer marketing. Today’s B2B digital marketing revolution is embracing how marketers can use the behavior of their prospect to understand their interests & communicate to them accordingly.
Today’s leaders are segmenting their prospects based on not only what they know about them, but how they are navigating across paid, owned, and earned channels. So once that prospect moves into the B2B marketing funnel, they can be nurtured via tactics including targeted & personalised display ads, facebook news feeds, LinkedIn ads, and certainly targeted first party communications.
Now, empowering B2B marketers during these stages of engagement are our beloved marketing automation systems. These beloved systems utilise underlying algorhythms that, when matched with either the marketer’s or third party data, are resulting in some interesting and valuable opportunities across data optimisation, customer segmentation, and targeting.
The marketing funnel is now a perpetual loop. While this better represents a customer’s actions and enables more effective marketing, it provides a new set of challenges to B2B marketers.
Once these prospects are converted into customers the real fun begins. Concepts including loyalty & advocacy are not strictly reserved for retail. Enhancements in digital storefronts (aka B2B or B2B2C eCommerce) supporting processes like entitled access across catalogs, pricing, B2B contracts, requisition lists, purchase orders, lines of credit, workflow, order approvals – these are just some of the efficiencies and/or personalisation buyers have come to expect.
Further, optimising sourcing and fulfillment then becomes the ‘holy grail’ for B2B buyers. Offering ‘personalised’ options on not only how orders can be sourced, fulfilled, and serviced post sale may not inherently seem like personalised service, but buyers will tell you different. Enhanced service? Greater account visibility? Easier to do business with? Buyers are people too – since when don’t we like that level of ‘personalisation’ in our experience.
Pitfalls to avoid
Now, even with the best technology and goals, like any revolution there continues to be pitfalls to avoid. Areas like:
- Overvaluation of last-click attribution (last click isn’t always the best indicator where your investment is working)
- Branding in the B2B world (commonly underestimated)
- Effectiveness of display ads (often overlooked)
- Utilising areas outside a business environment like social networking sites (planned appropriately, can potentially be effective times to deliver a personalised message)
There are just a few to note.
Clients joining the revolution have collectively realised incredible benefits. Those that invested in developing a deeper understanding of their customers and prospects and how best to market and sell to them:
- Excel at lead nurturing and can generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost per lead with little to no incremental investments in staffing
- Optimise lead scoring and can enjoy 28% better sales productivity and 33% higher revenue growth
- Nurture leads and see double the bid-win-ratio compared to peers not nurturing leads and delivered 47% higher average order values
- Can more easily validate, justify, and focus marketing tactics.
As John Lennon would say, “You say you got a real solution. Well you know”.