The Future of B2B Marketing
The New Role of a B2B Marketer
CHANGE #1: Help Sales Own the Top of the Funnel
Today, sales reps and SDRs are taking on a much larger role at the top of the funnel, due to a few factors:
- GDPR and privacy laws have reduced the number of marketing emails sent in affected countries. Some companies are shifting their plans to send personal emails from a salesperson, instead of HTML emails from marketing.
- More tools are available to accelerate Sales email. Many reps are adopting tools like Outreach, SalesLoft, and Yesware, and by some estimates, these high-velocity sales reps can send 1000+ emails per month each using these platforms.
- Companies with smaller marketable databases can find new buyers using sales prospecting tools to fuel faster growth.
- Personalized emails are often more effective. Buyers are more likely to engage with a great cold email that has been customized for them over a generic HTML email from Marketing.
That means Sales is working on the activities that used to “belong” to Marketing, such as sourcing email addresses, prospecting new leads, emailing prospects, and leveraging social media. In this new environment, Marketing has a new job. To be successful, they must influence and guide their revenue team on how to create relevance for each customer, not just execute campaigns.
CHANGE #2: More Integrated, More Orchestrated with Sales
Marketers, how you evolve to work with sellers is the most important factor in your success.
Your role is becoming less about pushing campaigns to leads, and more about creating meaningful interactions for different members of an account’s buying group — often in conjunction with Sales and SDRs. It’s about supporting sales cycles, accelerating deal velocity, and working more efficiently together with Sales.
In short; more integrated and more orchestrated.
It’s synchronized and simultaneous, not sequential.
Rather than a hand-off baton pass, great Marketing and Sales teams operate as a soccer team, working together to pass the ball back and forth down the field to create and win new business and drive account growth.
This is B2B marketing orchestration, an ongoing and coordinated process throughout the entire customer journey. To support this new go-to-market motion, Sales and Marketing must look at the same data (see our guide to ABM analytics) and proactively share insights relative to each account and engagement tactics. (Hint: ABM standups help!)
According to TOPO’s 2019 Account Based Benchmark report, the #1 indicator of account-based success is the coordination between marketing and sales. TOPO’s 2017 Marketing and Sales Development Orchestration research also shows organizations currently executing marketing-SDR orchestrated campaigns typically realize a 30-50% lift in ‘meetings set’ at target accounts, with some organizations reporting a 100% increase.
CHANGE #3: Focus Marketing Beyond New Business (Post-Sale)
Marketing’s focus must shift away from just new business to thinking about all kinds of revenue; new business, expansion, even retention. Modern B2B marketers will focus on the entire account journey.
This is important because as much as 80% of the revenue companies earn is generated after the initial sale. And The Pacific Crest SaaS Survey (now KeyBank SaaS Survey) found that the fastest-growing companies get disproportionately more of their new annual contract value (ACV) from upsells.
There are four ways marketers can change to support this new revenue process:
- Expand demand gen to include expansion — Demand gen teams should think about their role differently, adding campaigns, content, and contacts to drive pipeline for expansion business, not just net-new activity. Consider where various buying centers are in different parts of the journey against products, and note that this means possibly talking to new personas that historically have not been in your database.
- New measurement — rather than just net-new leads and pipeline creation, Marketing should also be measured by expansion pipeline and revenue, customer engagement, and other metrics that allow them to track and manage their impact on post-sale revenue.
- Help drive adoption and value — Some may say product adoption and value is a job only for the Customer Success team, but that’s like saying only Sales drives revenue. In both cases, Marketing can and should help. Marketing can support adoption by contributing what we do best — creating content, automating processes, nurturing contacts, etc.
- Brand affiliation — Our current use of customer advocacy is often limited to serve Marketing’s purpose e.g. using customers to generate a case study or a reference. Instead, Marketing should evolve from pure customer advocacy to creating a true connection with customers that drives a deeper level of brand affiliation — think of the loyalty of a Harley Davidson customer.
By the way, this is not just relevant for SaaS firms. Telecom, healthcare, distribution, banking, and large capital businesses such as jet engines are all thinking about recurring revenue past the initial sale.
CHANGE #4: Market to Accounts and People
It’s not enough to market to either leads or accounts. While traditional marketing automation is built around the lead, not the account, buyers are part of a committee, and marketers must be able to target them in the context of their broader account journey. This is a core principle behind the rise of account-based marketing.
However, at the same time, marketing is almost always directed at a person. You send a package to a person; you invite a person to an event; you have a meeting with a person. That’s why marketers need to address the needs of both accounts and people, taking into account the multiple dimensions of a deal including persona, account, behavioral history, intent, journey stage, and more.
CHANGE #5: Orchestrate Plays Across Channels
No marketing channel alone is effective enough to get your message through. According to InfoTrends, email-only campaigns have a 7.9% response rate, while account-based advertising has its own limitations:
- Average CTR of display ads is 0.1%
- Over 30% of US internet users have an ad blocker enabled
- B2B match rates can be as low as 20%
Instead of single-channel engagement, savvy marketers are finding success building more orchestrated plays across channels that combine both digital and non-digital tactics in a seamless way. For example, following up on direct mail with an SDR call, or an event invitation with a personal follow-up from an executive.
CHANGE #6: Measure Marketing and Sales Impact On Long Revenue Cycles
The nature of B2B deals are long and complex. The way we measure the impact of Sales and Marketing needs to adjust in three ways to this reality:
- Include non-campaign touches. Traditional multi-touch attribution looks only at campaign successes to show ROI, but that misses the impact of everything else: web visits, email opens, clicks, and more. Consider the impact every touch has on the customer journey to truly understand what works and what doesn’t.
- Focus on Marketing and Sales touches. A non-digital phone call from Sales may impact pipeline just as much as a campaign response from Marketing. Given the team-based nature of modern B2B sales and marketing, ROI attribution today requires you to include Sales and SDR interactions as much as marketing touches. Perhaps the best way to drive more pipeline is to do fewer marketing campaigns and hire another SDR!
- Measure leading indicators of revenue. With such long sales cycles in B2B, you must look for leading indicators of account progression, not just pipeline and revenue. By the time you look at pipeline and revenue, it’s too late.
- Focus on quality not quantity. Marketing needs to create influence with the people who matter in B2B deals, no longer on lead quantity. Which would the sales rep value more — 20 random low-level professionals downloading your white paper, or one meaningful conversation with a decision-maker at one of her target accounts?
B2B teams must be able to answer the question: Are the right people at the right accounts spending time with our company, and is that engagement going up over time? We need to start focusing on how we’re creating and deepening relationships, and how that engagement increases over time.
Watch the Predictions
Want to hear from experts in the industry about the future of B2B marketing? You’re in luck!
We’ve got predictions by Maria Pergolino, Randy Frisch, Katie Martell, Matt Heinz, Justin Gray, Maneeza Aminy, Craig Rosenberg, and Engagio’s own CEO Jon Miller.
Are You Ready?
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