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B2B Marketing continues to change on an almost daily basis. The way that technology impacts the world we live in means that marketers are more dependent on it than ever before to truly keep up and get ahead of shifting customer needs. With fully empowered buyers who are bombarded by information on every side, making sure that your message is heard starts with putting buyers at the center of your marketing efforts. 

Creating a truly streamlined, customised customer experience needs data, and data needs software and skills that can collect, interpret, and apply this wealth of information, and when all of these factors are in play, an average B2B marketer becomes an advanced marketer. Unfortunately, not every business has access to the right combination of skills and technology to overcome the challenges presented by an ever-increasing mountain of customer data, and the need to centralise customer relationships. 

To get a better understanding of how the combination of skills, technology and data enabled B2B marketers, and the specific methods used by advanced marketers to distinguish themselves from their peers, we worked with the Harvard Business Review Analytics Service, to compile a report that examines the marketing methods of B2B marketers around the world

Just 15 percent of survey respondents have widespread use of advanced tools, analytics, and practices to better leverage data in their marketing and sales efforts. 

What differentiates an advanced marketer

Advanced marketers have been successful at not only implementing the technology that makes their marketing efforts more efficient, but also at streamlining both processes and metrics across their business. Because of this, their teams are able to think beyond the immediate buyer-seller relationship and to think about how their strategies impact the customer journey. They’re able to cultivate better relationships with customers, and tend to have a much closer alignment with their sales teams. 

The report found that these marketers were able to implement technologies like analytics software and marketing automation platforms for a variety of users across departments, fostering greater collaboration between different parts of the business. 

Advanced marketers shared some success metrics such as revenue with their sales teams uniting the overall measure of success for both functional areas, and encouraging alignment and shared responsibility. 

56 percent of marketers surveyed said that technology is extremely important at every phase of the buying process, yet less than a quarter (23 percent) say they use technology extensively to manage customer relationships, and only 38 percent say their marketing tools are integrated into their CRM.

Accessing the right technologies

That said, many organisations still face challenges when looking to implement the right technology and ensuring that it’s accessible for their staff. Utilising technologies like marketing automation is increasingly necessary in an age when the buying cycle is so digitally driven, and so heavily customer-centric. Automation means marketers are more efficiently able to collect buyer data and pass qualified leads to sales. The report found that almost half of manual marketers who do not use marketing automation are passing all of their leads to sales unqualified.

The problem lies in the fact that passing unqualified leads increases the amount of time sales teams must spend dealing with prospects who aren’t true prospects. This is valuable time that could be spent closing deals. Inevitably, with sales’ time splits between interested buyers and uninterested passersby, there will be opportunities that fall through the cracks. 

Automating your marketing enables your marketing team to better help your sales teams by qualifying leads, nurturing colder leads to a warm, sales-ready state, and ensuring that those leads who are ready to speak to sales are passed to them quickly and efficiently. Sales teams can then spend more of their time following up with leads who are ready and willing to engage. 

72% of advanced marketers reported that marketing metrics were easily understood by all users, while only 39% of limited marketers and 30% of manual marketers made the same claim.

Building teams with the skills for the greatest success

The  other area in which B2B marketers struggle is in hiring the right combination of skills to keep up with their growing technological needs. The report found that a significant skill-gap exists between those marketers who are advanced, and those who still rely primarily on manual methods. As more businesses strive to implement automation and analytics technologies, marketing teams need to look to hiring the skill to interpret customer data and apply this understanding to building campaigns and creating content. 

As the marketing landscape continues to evolve, the pressure grows for B2B marketing teams to have the right combination of technology and skill. The customer can only take centre stage when these elements are in place to accurately manage and draw insight from the influx of data. To keep up with these needs, marketers must be adaptable, and able to grow and develop new methods and measures at the pace of change. 

Read the full report for more insight into how the changing landscape of B2B marketing requires a connection between technology and analytics, and marketing and sales.