B2B marketers aren’t ‘just B2B marketers’ any more, and there are good reasons for that.
First up: channels. Gone are the days when events, brochures, websites and e-books were a marketer’s main tools. Today you can add social media, analytics, CRM, ABM, DM, automation and paid search to that list – dozens of channels to size up, join up, and use across your business.
One benefit of this channel proliferation is that more of the buyer journey can be completed before a prospect reaches the sales team.
Marketers have dozens of opportunities to guide and educate prospects towards specific products – before they even qualify for sales.
Even better, those channels are producing data. And that makes it much easier to attribute leads to the marketing materials that brought them to you.
However, marketers still have to combine all these channels to form a cohesive customer journey.
And it’s not easy. According to Forrester and CMO Council research, 86% of B2B marketers say they struggle to execute personalisation across the entire buyer journey.
For brands like these, data isn’t the problem. They’ve got more channels to exploit and more customer touchpoints generating more data than ever before. But 71% of companies still fail to connect data to actual actions – because information isn’t insight. You can have all the data in the world and still have no idea what to do with it.
The new challenge for B2B marketers is to turn that data chaos into a simple, powerful, connected view of every customer – one that’s intelligent enough to show you what your next move should be.
These are the tectonic plates that are shifting, and changing what it means to be a B2B marketer.
The question is what does all this change mean for the role of a 21st century B2B marketer?
We recently gathered a group of London’s leading B2B marketers at Salesforce Tower in London to find out – and this is what we heard.
We’re moving away from speculative marketing campaigns based on past performance, and closer to laser-focussed marketing based on data-driven insight.
Because of that, B2B marketers now know which assets prospects have downloaded. They know which assets they’re clicking on in real time. And they know which materials have guided prospects further down the sales funnel.
When you’ve got such a clear view of marketing’s contribution to a sale, its ROI becomes a lot easier to measure. So much so that many marketers (including our own) have sales targets nowadays.
Marketing isn’t ‘fluffy’ anymore, and this shift towards analytical marketing is only going to accelerate.
It feels like a new piece of disruptive marketing technology launches every week.
If marketers want to craft cutting-edge campaigns, they need the best tools. So a big part of the job is keeping up with the latest, greatest technology: understanding what’s available, determining whether it’s the right fit for their strategy, and learning how to put it to work.
The ‘marketer or technologist?’ question has been answered: you have to be both to stay ahead.
Each of these new marketing tools creates new streams of customer data – and there’s gold in that data, if you know how to mine it. You can learn which campaigns are working, how much pipeline you need to ensure coverage, the measurable impact marketing is having on sales, and much more.
The job of a marketer now is to make sure that data isn’t siloed and disjointed. If it is, the customer experience can become disjointed too.
Customers expect businesses to know which marketing assets they’ve consumed. If your marketing channels aren’t communicating and you repeat a step in the journey, chances are you’ll alienate your buyer.
It’s crucial marketers unify their data, connect the dots, and deliver a seamless customer experience to their prospects.
After all, you only get one shot at a first impression.
New channels and data sources represent a big customer experience opportunity. But however powerful a new process or technology might be, it’s not always easy to get your people to change the way they work.
B2B marketing leaders have to be the ones that step up and effect that change.
In many ways, data-hungry marketers have never had it better. They’ve got more ways to connect with customers, and more information about those interactions than ever before.
But when we hear that 71% of companies fail to connect marketing data to actions, it’s clear that B2B marketing still has a long way to go.
They’ve got the data, and the technology is out there. Now marketers need to balance their new roles as salespeople, technologists, data scientists, and change managers. If they can do that, they can turn data chaos into insight-driven customer experiences.
Find out what is top-of-mind for 3,500 marketing leaders around the globe, in our fourth annual State of Marketing Report.