Over the past two weeks, I was fortunate to attend HubSpot’s Inbound and Salesforce’s Dreamforce for the second time each. After a ton of sessions and speakers and subsequently sleeping for a whole weekend, I thought back on what I’ve learned since attending these two massive events in 2014. What I concluded is that many things have changed in B2B marketing, yet so much has stayed the same. I attended one session at Dreamforce this year titled B2B Marketing: Reimagine Everything, which, as a B2B marketer, piqued my interest. While Salesforce’s own Joel Book and Mathew Sweezey presented some great statistics and new trends of B2B marketing, I found that the core framework that makes up the B2B marketing process and strategies hasn’t changed much. As marketers, we’re always looking for the newest, most efficient, and best way to foster a great customer experience, but after this session I concluded that we don’t have to truly reimagine our entire job and skill set—we just have to make some tweaks! Below are the 7 pillars of successful B2B marketing relayed in the session, most of which you’re hopefully employing already, and a number of new spins on each.
- Generating leads: Any B2B marketer will tell you that lead generation is one of the ultimate goals of marketing. According to Book and Sweezey, 48% of B2B marketers say that email is the most effective driver of lead generation. But lead generation through email marketing is still new to many marketers, and it can be difficult to organize and keep track of leads, especially as more are added each day. One new way to keep prospects engaged and educated that I learned from this session is sharing preexisting content and company information in marketing emails. This ensures that no leads get lost or confused along the way, and maximizes content exposure.
- Leveraging social media: From social selling to marketing’s “online voice,” social media and presence was a huge topic at Dreamforce this year. Social media is a widely untapped resource for many companies, especially those in highly-regulated industries. But today’s buyer is constantly connected and checks an average of 7 different social channels a day. Companies need to think past the traditional mediums like Twitter and Facebook to stay top-of-mind with buyers. Use marketing automation tools to find out where your buyers are discovering your company, and focus your attention there.
- Providing a dynamic experience: Buyers view an average of 1.7 pages when they visit your site. You have to be able to recommend content—certain subsequent pages or collateral— based on the limited information you have about the individual to keep them visiting more pages. If you can use any previous behaviors to better tailor your site or correspondence, do so.
- Enabling a 1:1 customer journey: This is similar to providing a dynamic experience, but involves more than just your website. Optimizing your customer journey requires you to personalize the experience from the buyer’s first encounter to purchase, and can result in a 15% increase in revenue, according to the Book and Sweezey. Personalizing the buyers’ journey involves analyzing and predicting their behaviors based on data in your marketing automation and CRM solutions, and making each interaction as relevant to the individual as possible.
- Lead nurturing: If your leads aren’t following the prescribed “journey” that you’ve assigned to them, it’s time to employ lead nurturing. Lead nurturing allows you to keep in touch with leads that may have fallen through the cracks, or have postponed a “next step” in their buying process. Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads, so it’s important to use your marketing automation tool(s) to keep them engaged with compelling content and relevant emails.
- Lead conversion: As stated before, leads on average only look at 1.7 pages on your website. Did you give them an opportunity to convert on those pages? If you don’t give leads the information or resources they needed while they were on your site, they may never be back. In order to maximize conversion rates, you should automate lead management using lead scoring and lead routing, which helps to identify the hottest leads and pass them to sales efficiently.
- Aligning sales and marketing: In this session, the speaker shared a statistic from Gartner: 80% of the buying cycle will be in the hands of marketing (not sales), by 2020. SiriusDecisions and other research firms offer varying percentages for this trend, but what is clear is that the buying process is changing and sales has to keep up. Sales and marketing need to align their goals, metrics and communication in order to effectively and efficiently interact with prospective customers.
As you can see, these pillars are no different than trends you may have seen at Dreamforce or Inbound last year, or maybe even the years before that. But the way we approach these as modern marketers continues to change. Each process becomes more streamlined, and every prospect demands a more personalized experience than the time before. Marketers are innovating at a faster pace than ever, but must continue to adapt in order to keep up.