The role of the B2B marketer is in flux. 

  • Marketers now have more channels to manage than ever before
  • They have more tools to implement and integrate than ever before
  • And the line between sales and marketing is blurring

None of these trends are slowing down. In fact, even more change is likely, the more technology and processes evolve. 

The bad news is that developing an effective automation strategy is tough in such a complex and changing environment.

The good news is that these changes are creating new opportunities for marketers to deliver better quality leads and demonstrate their value.

So we invited marketers from four businesses that are getting this right to share their experiences at a special event. This is what we learned.


1. It’s a marathon not a sprint 

Although every organisation has different aims and objectives, all successful marketing automation programmes share common traits. 

Phil Ball, MD of marketing automation agency Clevertouch, recommends the same process for all his clients: start simple, build confidence and trust in the new approach. Then layer in sophistication over time.

Jeremy Spencer, MD of Toshiba Tec UK and Eire also recommends a considered approach. “Marketing automation is a marathon, not a sprint. We dived in at first and that was the wrong move. Now we invest a lot of time and resources in planning, and organising our business internally, before we launch a campaign.”


2. The right skills are essential 

To get the best out of your tech, you need the right people behind the scenes. And it’s not just about technologists – you need a blend of strategic visionaries, data analysts, content specialists and project managers.

Ball was quick to draw attention to CRM experts: “These are the people who can give meaning to your reports and organise your data for compliance and better targeting. They’re essential if you’re to communicate the value of your programme to the rest of your business.”

If you don’t have the right skills in-house and you’re unable to recruit new people, then hiring an agency can be a tempting alternative.  

Vanessa Byrne of ICON, recommends this approach, “Our marketing team only consists of ten people so we’re heavily reliant on tools. We use the support of an agency, to scale our programme.” 


3. Collaboration can help with GDPR compliance

GDPR requires businesses to handle personal data in very specific ways and this means marketing and sales teams will need to start working together. 

All of the marketers we interviewed agreed this was crucial and Missy Pentney, Marketing Communications Manager, EMEA at Microlease is already seeing the benefits of closer collaboration, “One of the key requirements of GDPR is securing unambiguous consent to use an individual’s personal data. Usually, this task is managed by marketers, who capture data using online forms. But recently we’ve shared this task with sales teams. The results were astounding. By securing consent over the phone we now have an opt-in rate of around 95%.”  

That’s huge. And a reminder that though it will lead to more work, GDPR compliance will actually help B2B marketers do a lot of the customer-centric things they’ve been planning to do anyway. 


4. ABM will change the way you market. 

Account-Based Marketing is a strategy that targets prospects by company and creates personalised experiences at scale. Done well, ABM can outperform other B2B marketing programmes and at less cost. CRM data helps identify key accounts that are worth the greatest amount of revenue, and working in tandem with sales, you can orient your marketing campaign to present solutions based on their pain points. Carefully curated nurture campaigns will help a lot to personalise at the company level, and being completely aligned with your sales team is an absolute must.


In summary...

Whenever a discipline goes through massive change, there’s a mixture of concern and excitement. Concern about the way things used to be done. But optimism that there’s an opportunity to work in smarter, better ways. 

Our conversations with these B2B marketers left us feeling that though things may not be the way they used to be – they are getting better for B2B marketers trying to deliver real value to their organisations and their customers. 

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