Gone are the days when marketing's primary focus was generating leads for the sales team. Now, marketing's scope is broadening to be more directly involved in driving business growth.
When it comes to customer engagement, sales and marketing teams have increasingly synergistic roles - and it has everything to do with how today's buyers buy. Marketers need to have a deep understanding of the multiple stakeholders involved in the buying journey, both online and offline, in order to develop relevant content and amazing customer experiences at the right time and the right place along the customer purchase path.
In my role leading Advanced Marketing Solutions at Dun & Bradstreet, I get the opportunity to meet with customers across a variety of B2B industries and sizes. They are earnestly searching for innovative ways to stay ahead of the curve and design "customer resonating" marketing strategies to grow their business. Hearing their views and applying them to what I see and know, I have formed two strengthening beliefs:
- The line between online and offline marketing is getting increasingly blurry.
- Data is the glue that can bring sales and marketing programs together.
This was the topic of my talk at Oracle Modern Marketing Experience 2016 - "Bridging The Divide - Integrating Offline & Offline Channels for B2B Marketing." - and I'd like to share some of the highlights with you.
Here's the thing. B2B marketing is complicated. This complexity is due to what I call B2B dichotomies - the dual-faceted nature of B2B as a result of technology advancements and the changing face of the buyer.
There's some important yin and yang dynamics in the world of B2B marketing involving people and channels that we need to keep our eye on. It's clear that digital native millenials are rapidly gaining influence on purchase decisions, and they're forming their impressions in large part using online research.
However, a large part - the final part - of decision making still lies in the hands of the folks who have not yet completely embraced digital. I call them digital immigrants, those who grew up before digital was so pervasive in daily life. Unlike the B2C space where millennials are already in final decisioning/purchasing seats, the B2B world is still largely run by an older guard.
But that's not all. The path to purchase in B2B is different from that which is typical in B2C. The B2B buyer's journey is a complicated matrix of online and offline touch points with multiple stakeholders involved in a purchase decision. They come in and out the funnel on the way to a final decision.
This Knowledge Tree article, "What Do Today's B2B Buyers Want?", highlights the reality of the B2B buyer group: "A DemandGen report shows that in the past year, 34% of B2B buyers have increased the number of stakeholders involved in the purchase process. For any given sales situation, there could be anywhere from 7 to 20 people involved in a B2B buying decision…it takes five to six decision-makers to agree for a sale to even happen."
Digital millenials, digital immigrants, online, offline, multiple buyers, a buyer's journey that is anything put linear…How can today's B2B marketers get a handle on this crazy pace and change? The answer is with data.
Activating and Connecting the Right Data
As buyers engage with your brand, online and offline touch points generate data that can be captured and input into a tool or system in your marketing stack. This can begin with an anonymous prospect you pick up via your website and goes into your DMP, to the known customer who makes his/her way through your marketing automation and web forms and ends up in your CRM.
As data is generated and populated in your sales and marketing systems, it's imperative to stitch the data together and enrich it for a consolidated view of your customers and prospects. To make the most of your data you need to:
- Know what data you have where.
- Bring needed data together in one place with a common, unique and persistent identifier.
- Enrich your first party data with relevant third party company and contact data.
Placing a bet on your data can feel like a risk, but I will tell you with confidence that it is the key to your marketing success. Is it hard? Yes, but with today's technology and data management best practices, it's not daunting. Is it worth it? Yes, and working with your marketing tech and data partners, you can rise to the challenge.
Not leveraging the data you've gathered and integrated inside your marketing technology investment can have repercussions, including putting generic irrelevant content in front of your prospects, lost sales opportunities, poor marketing ROI, lack of engagement visibility and brand damage.
With the right data in your hands, you can do analysis to:
- Understand whom you are engaging with, when and where.
- Measure the effectiveness of your content and engagement techniques.
- Re-calibrate, re-invest and re-deploy your resources.
With well connected online and offline channels, you'll develop an integrated omnichannel marketing and sales process that works smoothly. Your buyers will weave in and out of well-timed experiences, encounter useful engaging content and experts to help them make informed decisions and shake your hand when you win their business.
Dun & Bradstreet has partnered with Oracle to bring you more accurate, comprehensive data and tools to build competitive advantage. To find out more about how you can use Dun & Bradstreet data within your Oracle solutions, visit www.dnb.com/oracle