The role of marketing is changing, moving beyond acquisition and deeper into the funnel to support sales, according to C-level marketers and experts at the B2B Marketing Exchange (B2BMX) in Arizona in February. As part of that, B2B marketing executives are shifting more focus on the overall customer experience (CX) and customer life cycle.
Marketers know CX is very important, but they have yet to master it, Jeff Marcoux, CMO Lead for Worldwide Enterprise Marketing at Microsoft, shared during his keynote address. He suggested building marketing strategies around buyers’ or customers’ challenges on a human level and identifying what motivates them.
During a CMO panel at B2BMX, Meg Hoyecki, VP of Marketing at Ciox Health, a healthcare data management company, said retaining current customers is a major area of focus for her company. “One of our biggest audiences at Ciox is current customers,” she said. “Our customers are really hungry to hear from us and understand what’s going on in healthcare.”
Creating communities and central resources for customers has been another major effort for marketing executives, and they’ve approached it in various ways.
The company has a community publication called The Jobsite, which provides specialized information for construction industry professionals. He said it is also cost efficient. “I call it the race to zero,” Hamdy said, “getting my cost per lead to zero. Demand gen got retitled agile engagement [in our company]. No more mass emails. No more newsletters.”
Jim D’Arcangelo, VP of Marketing at When I Work, an employee scheduling software company, said his company is interested in creating communities that address the needs of specific groups of customers. “They can come in and access the information they need,” he said, calling it “part of the next generation of demand gen.”
Hoyecki said the community-building she has constructed for her customers is enhanced by social media. “I’m seeing a huge explosion with social,” she said, which gives customers the support they need and the ability to ask each other questions. “It is a huge base of folks,” she said, indicating her company will share more content socially going forward.
Hamdy likened his company’s role to “being a broker” of communication for customers.
Sometimes what takes hold for marketers is “doing well by doing good” to appeal to human emotions within customer communities. Aptos, a commerce platform solution for retailers, has seen great success with a philanthropic effort they’ve undertaken, according to David Bruno, Aptos’ Marketing Director.
Bruno describes his company as a customer-focused culture that shapes everything the company does. “We spend an awful lot of time as a company investing in our community,” he said. The outcome of that from a marketing content and strategy standpoint has paid off well for Aptos.
“We’re particularly active with an organization that helps vulnerable kids around the world called the Retail Orphan Initiative,” Bruno said. “When it comes to customer marketing, it is infinitely easier to ask a customer to co-market with you if there is a cause attached to it.” He created a microsite and a sub-brand called Commerce of Caring, as well as a podcast series.
“It’s beautiful content; we tell beautiful stories,” Bruno added.
In the past, Aptos would struggle to get customers to co-market with it. When Aptos created a silent auction to merchandise “windows” in its tradeshow booth to major retailers, it was able to sign on six retailers within a month, including brands like Tumi, New Balance and Z Galleries, and it raised $16,000 for the charity. “That’s the most important thing, but as a customer marketing strategy, it makes it a lot easier to get people involved. It really helps us to get customers to be much more engaged,” Bruno concluded.