Traditional business-to-business (B2B) marketing strategies try to cast a wide net in the hope of catching as many companies as possible in their target market. In those days, even this approach had its risks in niche markets that required focused targeting of customers.
Fast forward to today’s digital era: more than 75 percent of B2B purchases today involve limited interaction with individual salespeople. B2B buyers are increasingly expecting the same levels of service they receive as consumers. With mobile access, chatbots, abundant peer-to-peer product reviews, IoT and AI fueling this trend, the traditional ways of B2B marketing are lagging behind many organizations’ digitalization pathway.
Where Did We Get It Wrong?
Smarter data can now fuel B2B marketing, but companies that are carrying out digital transformation initiatives are not tapping that data. Real-time leveraging of this data will separate the winners from the losers, regardless of the investment into digitalization.
“Mobile and advanced AI are just a couple of inputs that are forcing transformational change in engaged marketing. Mobility demands creativity that is consumable in a mobile setting, and the acceleration of AI means that answers and information must be in an always-on state. Innovation and speedy adoption of new technologies are table-stake requirements for marketers in our digital B2B future,” said Mark Bunting, chief marketing officer, Rackspace.
Organizations need to re-evaluate the role of marketing in the digitalization age by leveraging data and technology in marketing efforts. In doing so, they can create smarter, more focused and more relevant campaigns that resonate best with customers. Customers, in turn, benefit from promotions speaking directly to their needs. This kind of focused approach – account-based marketing (ABM) – was previously expensive and risky. But now, digitalization has made it almost an imperative.
“Marketing and sales will be aligned to work closely together on companies' goals. For instance, companies will create sales-driven content market marketing campaigns. This will allow companies to get discovered through an inbound marketing strategy where visitors have the intent to purchase. This content will be created by the sales and the marketing team. This content will be shared to the accounts the sales team want to target,” said Jonathan Aufray, chief executive officer, Growth Hackers.
Digitalization is Fueling ABM
With digitalization in place, B2B marketers can identify the information that resonates best with customers. They can now target their customers effectively by leveraging various digital channels such as marketing automation, predictive analytics, and content automation in eDMs. Fueled by intelligent analytics, ABM offers deeper understanding, level of attention and customization to the targeted top-tier customers.
Such a data-driven approach will enable B2B marketers to interact with their key customers in a highly personalized, relevant manner that speaks directly to their needs. It will, therefore, boost both customer experience and the ROI of the marketing efforts.
“There is no ‘one-size fits all' marketing strategy when it comes to B2B technology companies. Although the DX has enabled us to determine and shape our strategies, we must not lose sight of the creative/story-telling component. But the most important tenet of marketing is capturing the perspective and voice of customers. We only exist to empower the greatness of the people we service. Addressing their needs as a ‘most trusted partner’ is the goal. We are here so our customers can be great,” said Bunting.
Look before the leap
Given the sheer potential of ABM, organizations embracing digital transformation will also do well to implement it in the right spirit. They need to have experts and professionals using ABM automation tools who have a deep understanding of the organizational goals. Beware that not aligning marketing and sales to the company's overarching growth plans can turn a powerful tool into a double-edged sword.
"Measuring the right metrics is important. You don't want to measure vanity metrics. You want to track metrics, analytics, and data that will help the company grow. Targeting and personalization are crucial for ABM campaigns,” said Aufray.