"Made for me" has become a mantra in an era of customized Starbucks orders, tailor-made jeans, and the selfie culture. It’s all part of the evolving "Experience Economy,"" the growing evolution of putting the customer’s expectations first in developing B2B marketing and sales plays to offer relevant and contextual buying experiences.
"Technologies are turning us all into accidental narcissists," said Brian Solis, Principal Analyst with the Altimeter Group. Speaking at the recent B2B Marketing Exchange, he continued, "Every bit of the technology we use in our day-to-day lives is changing us. We are literally at the center of our own universe."
Marketing technology has produced marvelous solutions for identifying and drilling down to provide detailed profiles of leads and existing customers. But technology is only part of the solution. “At the end of the day, there’s a human being trying to make a decision, trying to advance their career, or not get fired, or do something that helps transform their business in the same way you’re trying to transform yours," Solis observed.
It’s been said often, but it bears repeating: People, not personas or accounts, ultimately make the buying decision.
Not surprisingly, companies that are winning in this Experience Economy are spending more time understanding and responding to their customers’ behavior and preferences. By leveraging technology to help engage customers with consistent, relevant messages throughout the buying journey, B2B organizations are finding they can increase the lifetime value of their relationships with top-tier accounts.
This interactive white paper will look at how buyers’ evolving expectations are creating a new era of engagement where sales and marketing reps must align on data, tactics and strategies to compete. Among topics to be discussed:
How to transform
your marketing and sales teams to adopt an audience- and human-first mindset;
The importance of
keeping accurate data of key accounts stakeholders to have relevant, contextual conversations;
How to continue
the conversation beyond the closed deal to enhance customer experiences, prevent churn and identify areas for cross- and upsell; and
case studies highlighting how progressive B2B companies are getting to know the faces behind the brands they sell to and leveraging that insight to boost marketing and sales conversations.
Any effort to engage buyers starts with the right data. For example, ObservePoint, a provider of Web auditing solutions, leveraged enriched contact data from Synthio to fuel a targeted LinkedIn ad campaign.
For companies looking to enhance their databases to ensure effective campaigns, consider these best practices:
"Garbage in, garbage out"
This is a good rule to remember with data. Before importing data, make sure it’s clean and current. Employees get promoted, people move on, companies pivot their business models. It’s essential to maintain the correct information to engage effectively.
WORK WITH COMPLETE AND ROBUST PROFILES
That include demographics, technographics and firmographics. The more layered your data, the better your marketing and sales teams can target relevant leads and provide them with engaging messaging.
CONSIDER AUTOMATED ENRICHMENT
Anything you can do to enrich and ensure a clean database that requires less time and error-prone human manipulation — particularly automation — the better your result will be.
Audit your data
What do you have, what don’t you have, what are you using, what data silos should be broken down to make your efforts more effective?
Determine what data matters
Make this decision based on your company’s key objectives and what type of content will best engage the buyer.
Shifting to an audience- and human-focused mindset is a process. It begins by determining how your audience makes buying decisions and mapping out the journey based on their behavior and preferences.
Data points can help marketers construct relevant personas, then build campaigns around their habits and preferences. “We have to understand: what is someone’s intent, and what is the context of their decision making?” Solis said. Knowing that helps establish the best tools for reaching those prospective customers, whether it’s a podcast, a blog post, a banner ad or something else.
Jeff Marcoux, VP of Product Marketing for TTEC, said marketing and sales personalization takes shape at four levels:
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"We can automate parts of our relationship-building process, but at the end of the day you can’t automate relationships," Marcoux said.
Working from an accurate and detailed database is at the heart of any efforts to personalize and engage. But it’s a challenge. "It requires one part vendor, one part governance and one part business process to make sure you’ve got clean data," said Jon Russo, CMO and Founder of the B2B Fusion Group, and a Board Member of the Marketing Operations Cross-Company Alliance (MOCCA).
Focusing on the top of the marketing and sales funnel is evolving into an emphasis on a customer’s lifetime value. And that means moving away from relying primarily on activity-based and vanity metrics toward measures of engagement and total account potential.
"I think the problem is that a lot of marketers are incented for net-new acquisition—and in that climate, there is less incentive to make sure their data integrity is up to snuff,” said Russo. “Frequently companies don’t have a deep relationship and data-gathering structure.” Building loyalty — which is the end game — demands having a process to manage data and a focus on maintaining a high-quality customer experience that reflects their ongoing needs.
“We have great data that we can trust to help us deliver great one-to-one experiences at scale,” said David Chirakal, Director of Marketing Technology and Operations at the digital marketing agency Quarry. But he cautions against doing too much, too soon.
“A big mistake that some marketers make that hinders executing on more personalization is trying to do too much at once. They have this big vision of how they can use all this great data to build a robust and personalized experience, and it’s a lot of work,” Chirakal said.
“It’s always a good idea to start small with a pilot to see what works and what doesn’t, then iterate and optimize from that,” he added.
Look at behavior data. How are customers using your website, and how can you deliver experiences that more closely align with and support their behavior?
Create personalized experiences built to reflect key individuals’ needs and preferences based on past engagement.
Study intent data to reveal cross-sell and upsell opportunities.
Determine and rely on the data sets that align with and support your business goals.
Audit your technology and tactics to decide which tactics make more sense for your audience and the product you’re selling.
Facing a steady decline in delivery and engagement metrics — and with major campaigns on the horizon — Basware needed a way to correct and enhance its data.
The answer for this provider of purchase-to-pay and e-invoicing services: a fully automated data enrichment program developed in conjunction with Synthio and Marmato Consulting. Integrated with Basware’s Eloqua instance, the enriched data resulted in more valuable prospects, thanks to the inclusion of additional profile data; the ability to provide more relevant content; the removal of obsolete contacts; and more.
The enrichment process resulted in a net gain of 92,000 adjusted records, expanding Basware’s database reach by 42%. Having the most up-to-date information on each contact also means Basware can deliver more relevant and engaging content to those contacts.
Intent data is quickly gaining favor among marketers to customize campaigns, Chirakal said. First-party intent information reflects how contacts or accounts are engaging with content on your company’s website. “By looking at that and seeing trends and how people are engaging, now I can personalize content and messaging based on relevant topics that they’ve shown an interest in,” he said. Third-party intent is even more promising, providing marketers a window into searches across the entire Web and a way to target prospects by subject. It also helps marketers better pinpoint the individuals who are likely to be driving the purchase decision.
Personalized video can catch a prospect’s attention. “I’ve seen a pivot to video in cold emails to differentiate and personalize the message,” Russo said. “That’s a novelty approach,” he added, with a bit of a “wow” factor.
Marketers as guides. Cross-selling and upselling recommendations, already baked into many consumer marketing campaigns, are something B2B marketers can leverage. “Amazon and eBay really have personalization down,” Russo said. “That’s where eventually B2B needs to head — to be more personalized and offer more of an Amazon-type experience.”
AI-enabled conversational sales and marketing that automates and creates qualified leads. “BOTs can actively shadow customers as they are going through their journey, listen to their voice and text, understand not only their sentiment but all use cases, know when to respond, and, more importantly, when to escalate to a human,” Marcoux said.
Predictive analytics that determine the optimal time to offer upsell opportunities to current accounts with a higher likelihood of conversion. “These are the people we should care about the most. We have great data that we can trust to deliver great one-to-one experiences to them at scale,” Chirakal said.