B2B marketing is constantly changing, are you evolving?

20 years ago marketing lived in the world of branding as buyers lived in the world of unknown. Buyers didn’t know what’s out there and marketers had to find ways to reach them. Their only goal was branding and they only figured ways to be catchier. Then came the internet in 1990’s which slowly began to change things.

Find out if you have evolved with changing customer behavior and emerging technologies


1. 1990’s: The beginning – online branding

With internet the era of digital marketing age was born. Buyers started to spend more and more time on internet and marketers had to follow them there to be found. Marketers only goal was branding. Early digital marketers defined their online presence through simple websites and promoted their offerings via email. This worked wonders and helped marketers reach more and more prospects easily!

 

B2B Email 1

As the results were phenomenal every marketer began to follow suite. Soon all marketers started to put up their websites and send promotional emails. This worked well for years, but as marketing messages increased prospects got disengaged.

B2B Email 2

If your marketing strategy still revolves around decorating your website with your offerings and blasting your promotional messages over email, you are living in 90’s and your marketing efforts are going to junk!

 

2. Early 2000’s: Social networks and websites – driving website traffic

 

As the web grew, new websites started popping up and your prospects started to spend time there. As they spend more and more time on internet and it became important to drive them to your website. Furthermore, emergence of social sharing networks empowered the prospects to share information rather than just finding it. They took control from marketers and became more powerful, influential and discriminating than ever before. Proliferation of devices further empowered them to find information at any time. As they moved swiftly across channels, platforms and devices it became more and more difficult for marketers to catch their attention.

Marketing was not just about branding now, it was about engaging this buyer at her own terms. Marketing’s goal became to increase website traffic and share more and more information on social media platforms. Marketers started broadcasting their message over various social media channels, review platforms, industry websites and more, which was enough to catch prospects attention back then and engage her.

B2B Maturity Curve

If you’re here then in today’s time you are spraying your message all over praying it to work.

Moreover you are losing out on the immense potential marketing has towards driving revenue now! With growing marketing technology and ease of reaching prospect digitally, sales started to look up to marketing for generating leads.


3. Late 2000’s: Contextual marketing – Lead generation

 

By late 2000’s it became paramount to understand digital behavior of prospects and market relevantly to them. With the emergence of new technologies, it also became possible to track digital imprints of users and analyses them to launch omnichannel marketing campaigns over devices, platforms and channels.

A typical B2B campaign was centered on an asset or an event like ebook, whitepaper, video, webinar, etc. This asset was created around organizations offerings and then promoted on various channels like corporate website, sent to targeted list of customers, media, industry websites, etc. The prospect interactions on all these channels was tracked and she was assigned a score.

B2B 3

After a cut-off score was reached the prospect was considered a lead and handed off to sales. Marketer’s primary goal was to generate a high volume of leads.

If you are somewhere here on the curve then you are still far behind and are probably wondering why your marketing efforts are not working!

Overtime as content and events increased prospects became choosy and number of leads started to decrease. Also, leads generated from these campaigns only converted 0-3% of the time and sales close rate on such leads is anemic 0.8%. Slowly marketing started to realize the pressure of relevantly engaging user and generating quality leads for sales to contribute to revenue.

4. Early 2010’s: Buyer centric campaigns – Maximizing customer lifetime value

To meet the pressure of generating quality leads and deal with disengaged prospects marketers realized that they had to fundamentally change their approach. Prospects were now looking for solutions of their problems over internet. They were only interested in knowing how you could meet their problems, they were not interested in knowing about “your new offering” or “feature”. Marketing message could not be about you, it had to be about her.

Henceforth emerged a new are of marketing, “buyer-centric” marketing. This revolved around buyer, everything was about the buyer, instead of your offering the message centered on how it helps the prospect. It started with prospect and was all about moving her along her purchase journey.

B2B 4

 

A typical buyer centric B2B campaign consisted of:

  1. Interviewing buyers to understand the problems they are looking to solve
  2. Identifying “trigger events” that moved buyers to purchase process
  3. Understanding the buying process – content consumption patterns, who all are involved in sales process, etc.
  4. Defining buyer segments involved in the purchase decision
  5. Defining byers persona and their content consumption patterns
  6. Creating a content architecture – relevant and personal content for each segment and persona

B2B 5

Data from all these channels was now unified and stored at one place to create a single view of the customer. This helped both marketers and sales gain insights into prospect behavior and relevantly take the conversation forward.

If you are here, you have come a long way and are only few steps behind the present curve.

This approach was revenue oriented and aimed at maximizing customer lifetime value rather than driving volume for potential leads. The goal was to establish an ongoing dialogue with the prospect.

This approach worked well in engaging the prospect and gave phenomenal results. Still as far as B2B marketing was concerned there was a fundamental gap to be addressed. B2B sellers didn’t sell to individual prospects, they sold to accounts. Hence marketing had to be about accounts rather than about individuals. The technology for marketing to accounts it wasn’t readily available then, but now with new tools and tech marketing to accounts at scale is easily doable!


5. NOW: Account based marketing – Maximizing account lifetime value

 

Account-based marketing (ABM) is all about selling to best-fit accounts and growing existing accounts. It is a collaborative approach that engages multiple departments of your company including marketing, sales, and customer services.

ABM starts with identifying accounts you want to engage with, based on your past sales data, and then strategically market to each contact in that account. The 4 pillars of ABM are identify, expand, engage and advocate:

B2B6

  1. Once, you have shortlisted accounts you want to market to you identify your best fit prospect (SPOC) based on your Ideal customer profile.
  2. You then expand this SPOC into a whole account
  3. To engage them you define the relevant content and channels and then use personalized marketing to target them
  4. As the last step you turn your customer into your raving fans. You get them to advocate for you through referrals and reviews

The metric that matters is revenue. You drive more revenue by generating qualified opportunities, closing more new business and preventing customer churn.


If you here, then it’s the place to be at. Now you have to get it right and keep a lookout for emerging trends.

Digital marketing is constantly evolving with changing customer behavior and emergence of new technologies. The digital market is in a constant state of flux and a digital marketing professional has to keep up with this change. After all, you can’t afford to be left behind!

Tanu Gupta

Digital marketer and marketing technologist for B2B firms, specialize in defining digital strategy, demand generation, inbound marketing, and website development, with 9+ years of progressive experience in technology firms. Helps connect business strategies with digital marketing solutions through strategic planning, persistence, and business development initiatives. Focussed on revenue and engagement growth. Also experienced in business analysis, project management, solutioning and hands on CMS development.

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