B2B marketers have it tough. The role of the B2B marketer is changing faster than most. They have to reach and nurture multiple decision makers to create a single opportunity. What’s more, the business buyers they’re targeting demand even greater personalisation – 65 percent say they’ll switch brands if a vendor doesn’t personalise communications to their company.

In light of this, we wanted to know where today’s most successful B2B marketing professionals are focusing their efforts. In short – what makes a top B2B marketer tick?

Here’s what we found. 


1. ABM personalisation

When you’re targeting fewer, larger prospects, you can afford to get serious about personalisation. Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is helping top B2B marketers make an impact – as they direct handpicked or tailored content to targeted accounts.

This laser focus makes personalisation much easier, allowing the marketer to communicate the right content, at exactly the right time in the customer journey. But getting it right depends on data – and that depends on real collaboration with Sales.

Today’s top performing B2B marketers are 2.1x more likely than their underperforming peers to say they understand how their marketing efforts impact individual accounts. Tellingly they’re also 2.1x more likely to share goals and metrics with their sales-focused counterparts.


2. Customer journey alignment

Just as a screenwriter needs an iron grasp on the characters and context of their script, B2B marketers need a comprehensive understanding of their customers’ journeys. What channels are they using? When do they want to hear from you? And what happened in their last interaction with your brand? 

These questions are extremely important. In fact, 89% of the top marketing teams – across B2B, to B2C and B2B2C – have aligned with a customer journey strategy to help ensure they’ve always got an answer.

But there’s still room for improvement. Most marketers say just over half (51%) of their marketing messages remain ‘identical from one channel to the next’.


3. Artificial Intelligence

One thing that’s making almost every trailblazing marketer tick right now – B2B included – is AI.

72% of top UK marketing teams are either using AI already, or plan to pilot it sometime in the next two years. Of those teams already harnessing AI, 52% already see it as essential in their efforts to create 1-to-1 marketing experiences across every touchpoint.

In B2B, it’s the early adopting, top-performing teams that seem to most keenly recognise AI’s potential – this group is 1.7x more likely to see AI’s power to transform customer segmentation and audience modelling than their underperforming peers.


4. Data integration

AI – like so much great B2B marketing – depends on data. It’s next-to-impossible to align your customer journey, and deliver on customer experience, if you don’t have a single, comprehensive customer view. And that leads us on to the not-so-secret weapon of so many high-performing teams – their martech stack.

86% of all high performing teams say their current stack is ‘extremely or very effective’ at delivering ‘better analytic insights’, while 85% say the same about enabling a ‘more cohesive view of customer data’. 

And when it comes to enabling 1-to-1 marketing for more personalised experiences, high performing teams consistently named the following tools as ‘essential’ to getting the job done:

  • Data management platforms (DMP)
  • Customer relationship management system
  • Marketing analytics/measurement tools
  • Channel coordination

A real barrier to gaining that invaluable, single, shared view of your customers – which, it should be noted, is still the third biggest challenge for all for UK marketing teams – is the proliferation of communications channels.

But top B2B marketers aren’t phased. In fact, they’re making significant strides in channel adoption and coordination. Between 2015 and 2017, the use of video advertising and SMS messaging for B2B marketing grew by a staggering 204% and 197% respectively.

What’s more, the highest performing B2B marketers are 2.8x more likely than underperformers to heavily coordinate marketing efforts across channels, nine out of ten seeing the positive, direct link between connected customer journeys and customer loyalty and customer engagement. 


B2Beating the competition

Whether it’s through precision targeting, innovative AI or smarter use of channels, winning B2B marketers are finding new ways to persuade their prospects – and help their organisations stand out from the crowd.

For further insights into what sets top-performing marketers apart, be sure to download the full 2017 State of Marketing report.