More than 80 percent of B2B marketers “consider marketing technology comprehension and use as a core requirement of their job,” according to Forrester research. Why the emphasis on technology? The discipline of marketing has become inundated with data, in part because of the way customers communicate. As Paul Smith, SVP at Salesforce Marketing Cloud, writes:
“Both business and consumer customers typically use five devices or platforms – think email, Twitter, phone – to engage with a brand before settling on a purchasing decision. This connectivity, shaping how customers make choices, is also creating an explosion in customer data.”
It’s a potential goldmine but extracting value requires the right technology solutions.
Marketing professionals who can best navigate these solutions prove more “efficient and effective,” asserts Forrester:
“Marketers who utilize appropriate technologies that navigate multiple touch points, anonymous exploration, and nonlinear purchase journeys are able to generate more qualified demand.”
Solutions abound. If anything, marketers can become overwhelmed by the selection.
Three Keys to Selecting the Right Technology Solutions
We help our clients zero in on technology solutions that share three key abilities:
1. Making it Personal: Enabling Buyer Personas
Technology solutions should be able to facilitate engagement based upon the unique needs of the buyer by supporting the development of buying personas. These research-based constructs representing unique customer categories serve as detailed touchstones to inform content, messaging and outreach.
B2B marketers are even more reliant on persona-marketing since their clients are varied and numerous. Many B2B purchasing decisions aren’t made by an individual; they require the consensus of a team. As Arnie Kuenn explains in his article, “Why You Need A Persona-Based Content Marketing Strategy”:
“If you’re selling to a buying team, persona-based content marketing is crucial. Each member of the buying team likely has a different title or job function and a certain role in purchasing.” Plus, the bigger the price tag, the bigger the team, “making it even more important for businesses selling big-ticket products or services to create and promote content based on buyer personas.”
2. Playing Well with Others: Integrated Solution Capabilities
Successful marketing organizations often rely on multiple marketing solutions. These applications should play nicely together, integrating automatically and seamlessly. In the past, each function – from data management and audience modeling to content management and lead qualification – has been addressed with a unique “best-of- breed” solution. Too many hours have been wasted trying to get them all to work together. Organizations should not be squandering their time knitting together technology.
Smith espouses the benefits of multi-channel integration: “B2B marketers looking to get ahead of the curve should … make sure the data on their customers is connected across each channel – whether it’s in-store, on the website or on a social media platform,” he asserts.
“Only by having a single, cohesive view of the customer can businesses identify, respond [to] and anticipate their needs.”
B2B marketers should focus on solutions that provide a platform of capabilities that deliver the greatest value over the greatest set of capabilities, reducing the need to go through an extensive process of integrating things together.
3. Supporting Marketing/Sales Integration: Contextualized Qualified Leads
As discussed in a prior post, the roles of sales and marketing are becoming more intertwined. The most effective B2B marketing solutions offer rich integration with sales automation solutions to support coordinated handoffs and closed-loop reporting and analytics.
By accessing the analytics and integrating with sales applications, marketing solutions should be able to provide valuable context for qualified leads, answering questions like:
- Why do I say that they are qualified?
- What’s the content?
- What’s the messaging that they’ve digested?
- How far along are they in the understanding of the value my organization is going to deliver to them?
Leads not just deemed as qualified but also contextualized will harness the power of marketing to help sales. When we all work together, we can accomplish more. Technology should facilitate that collaboration, not inhibit it.
Looking for guidance in selecting your next big technology purchase? Wondering how to choose the right solution for your marketing function? Find out how Baker Tilly can help.