“There’s still a disconnect between brands listening through technology and knowing what to do with the information they’re hearing.” – Didier Bonnet, Capgemini Consulting
Last year, Forrester predicted B2C and B2B spend on US marketing technology to grow at 5x the rate of spending on creativity1. Yet two decades into the era of digital marketing and automation, B2B brands are overwhelmed by digital transformation. They have invested in technology but struggle with accessing and integrating data silos, as well as interpreting and acting on the powerful insights that lie behind big data.
Following challenges around evidencing ROI and delivering an excellent customer experience, “leveraging data to inform more efficient and optimized marketing programs” and “integrating disparate marketing technology platforms” were cited as the third- and fourth-biggest business challenges to B2B brands, ranked in the top five by 49% and 45% of marketing and insights professionals, respectively.
The martech difficulties faced by B2B marketers means that they are missing opportunities to distill actionable insights out of large, continuous streams of big data, and not leveraging this data to drive a more cohesive and holistic activation plan.
Not surprisingly, only 23% of B2B brands believe they do well in “maintaining an up-to-date customer database”, and only 21% rate their organizations as having strong performance on “targeting accurately and consistently across various platforms”.
Yet B2B marketers anticipate embracing technology further as between 3 and 4 in 10 expect CRM, big data and e-commerce to be significantly influential on their organization’s marketing and insights strategies and practices over the coming years. Over half of all B2B brands surveyed expect these trends to have at least somewhat of an impact on their marketing disciplines.
Influence of technology on marketing and insights strategies over the next 3 years
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The first step in the pursuit of digital excellence is to audit the marketing tools and systems used to drive an optimal marketing technology stack. This involves identifying the current and potential value from the suite of platforms in place, spanning the customer database, website, SEO, social media, data and analytics, etc. By removing inefficiencies, the redundancies from unfruitful tech investments can free up budget to reinvest back into the brand and customer experience. This could comprise more investment into creative to address the brand differentiation dilemma, or/and allocating budget into adjacent technologies to drive a more differentiated customer experience.
In addition to ensuring optimal investment in marketing technology, many B2B brands need to remove organizational silos to drive further efficiencies and become more agile. This requires the various marketing tools and platforms used across different business units to be integrated to communicate with each other. The 45% of B2B brands challenged by disparate marketing technology platforms should consider a customer data platform (CDP), if they are not already in the process of implementing one. CDPs synchronize multi-channel customer data from many sources – sales, product usage, website, email, call center, etc. – into a centralized repository. The more digitally savvy brands use this platform to better plan, conduct and analyze marketing campaigns with greater efficiency and a much stronger impact on the customer. For example, intelligent automation of the customer database can enable personalization of content delivered to each customer based on their behaviors, resulting in a customer experience that is more relevant and engaging, and a more seamless execution for the supplier.
The more successful B2B brands are those that have also established a Digital Center of Excellence (DCoE) within their organization to guide digital transformation efforts, establish best practices, and ensure optimal performance and revenue. The DCoE should comprise specialists across the various marketing technology stack disciplines, as well as other customer-oriented roles like customer insights. This results in a blended use of first party, second party, and third party data driving more effective decisions and outcomes.
In summary: how to win
Audit the marketing tools and platforms used to identify redundancies in the technology stack and free up budget.
Remove organizational silos to drive further efficiencies and agility. Do this by integrating tools and platforms to consolidate data from multiple sources, ultimately simplifying campaign planning, execution and analysis.
Establish a Digital Center of Excellence comprising specialists across various disciplines such as website, email, SEO, call center, insights, etc. Ensure this team drives integration of all customer lifecycle management processes, and establishes best practices based on performance outcomes.
1Pattisal, J. (2019). The Cost Of Losing Creativity, by Forrester
About the survey
B2B International’s B2B Marketing & Insight Study is based on online surveys completed by 302 B2B marketing and insights professionals at businesses across North America and Europe in Q4 of 2019. The participants work across a wide variety of sectors including knowledge based, process and construction, IT and technology, trade and services, among others. The average annual revenue of organizations responding to this survey is approximately (USD)$1 billion.
Contact Julia Doheny, President – B2B International USA, Inc.
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