December 18, 2018 - By Wayne St. Amand, CMO, Nielsen Visual IQ
A version of this article originally appeared in destinationCRM.
Over the past decade, many B2B marketers have struggled to adapt to digital transformation, changes in consumer expectations, and mobile-first mind-sets. These factors have also significantly impacted the sales cycle.
Whereas B2C brands focus on engaging individual consumers, B2B companies must engage multiple stakeholders within an organization—from C-level management to user-level personnel—throughout a lengthy sales cycle. This has made B2B marketing much more complex, as companies are forced to identify the right mix of tactics for each role and at each stage in the funnel in order to acquire customers and drive value.
On the flip side, this disruption has also created new ways for B2B marketers to reach and engage with customers and prospects. Here are four key opportunities that B2B marketers must capitalize on in order to succeed in this new era.
While digital transformation can be disruptive to any area of the business, marketing is one area that cannot afford to fall behind. B2B buyers are everyday consumers too, and they expect to have access to relevant, up-to-date content anywhere, anytime, and on the device of their choosing.
To win their business, B2B marketers must be able to meet these demands and enhance the buyer experience in the moments that matter. But without the ability to track the consumer journey across multiple channels and devices, it’s impossible to assess the value of each interaction or identify the messages and tactics that move prospects closer to conversion.
To be effective, B2B marketers must embrace digital-era technology, such as multi-touch attribution, that accounts for the omni-channel buyer’s journey and measures the influence of each marketing touchpoint on a desired business outcome, such as a form complete or demo request. With a clearer understanding of the touchpoints that drive performance, B2B marketers can make smarter investment decisions that enhance the buyer journey and drive the success metrics they care about most.
B2B companies are typically very siloed, even within the marketing department. Often times, the technology platforms B2B marketers use to plan, execute, and measure their campaigns operate independently, using different metrics, reports, and taxonomies that make it difficult to see the whole picture.
B2B marketers need the ability to consolidate and normalize data across these siloed systems in order to gain a holistic view of each stakeholder and every marketing interaction leading up to a desired outcome. By consolidating audience and performance data into a single, centralized repository, B2B marketers can analyze and optimize their marketing performance in the context of key audiences.
With a holistic view of what’s working and what’s not for each audience, marketing teams can work together to maximize investment and deliver a better overall experience.
As B2B marketers continue to shift their strategy to build relationships with both executives and end-users, their messages, content, and offers must follow suit. Traditional, one-size-fits-all approaches to marketing and advertising are failing because they don’t consider how complex human behaviors influence what brands and products B2B buyers choose.
To keep pace with buyer demands, brands need to be distinctive and relevant. An audience-driven approach to multi-touch attribution not only provides B2B marketers with a deeper, person-level understanding of who their customers and prospects are and how they behave, but also clear insight into the messages that resonate strongly among executive and user-level personnel. B2B marketers can then use this insight to deliver tailored messages and experiences that meet each individual’s unique needs and preferences.
Content marketing has become a popular and effective approach for driving awareness and interest in the B2B sector. Yet many B2B marketers rely on multiple metrics, proxies, and survey-based methods to measure the effectiveness of their content and other branding activities. As a result, they have a difficult time combining these metrics for a holistic understanding of how each channel and tactic impacts brand engagement.
By embracing more advanced, multi-touch attribution approaches to measurement, B2B marketers can incorporate multiple types of brand engagement activities—such as content downloads, landing page visits, first-time website visits, and more—into a single currency. In doing so, marketers can pinpoint which channels and tactics are contributing to brand engagement and make optimizations that drive incremental brand lift.
While B2B organizations can often adapt more slowly than their colleagues in the dynamic B2C landscape, B2B marketers still need to keep up with the pace of change if they want to stay ahead of the competition. By embracing these four strategies, B2B marketers will gain insights into which tactics are producing the maximum benefit for each vital audience and steer their organization toward greater success in today’s digitally focused climate.
Find out how to connect your best-performing marketing with the people who matter most, download our ebrief: Reaching the Consumers Who Matter Most: A Q&A with Forrester’s Susan Bidel