B2B buying habits are adapting and evolving at a rapid rate thanks to the growth of technology and information at the buyer’s disposal. To accommodate this behavior, B2B organizations need to continuously optimize their campaigns to meet buyer expectations. That includes everything from maximizing account-based marketing (ABM) and boosting sales enablement to fine tuning the role data plays within campaigns.
These topics were discussed in detail during Demand Gen Report’s inaugural B2B Campaign Optimization Series. More than 1,000 marketing and sales professionals signed up for the week-long webinar series designed to offer insight into key tactics and best practices that can optimize campaigns and boost overall success.
To prepare for ABM technology, Moravick said, “you have to have the right foundation in place first, or that technology will take you off kilter. You have to find a way to work with what you have, build what you can and get a working model.” He explained this kind of clear-eyed approach is “something that takes work, effort, teamwork and collaboration to get in place,” but the payoff is potentially big.
After building a solid foundation, Moravick and Heinz agreed that sales and marketing need to be aligned and on the same page for ABM to take off.
Heinz recommended several keys to integrating ABM with the sales team:
- Make sales an early partner and collaborator;
- Work from common objectives and definitions;
- Build and manage a common set of target lists;
- Execute from a consolidated engagement plan;
- Think in terms of macro and micro campaigns;
- Develop shared data and insights; and
- Improve your content precision.
Formulating an ABM game plan was a popular topic during the week-long series. In another session, Demandbase’s John Dering and Nani Jansen spoke about the five steps to ensuring that you are reaching the maximum ROI for your ABM strategies.
These five steps include:
1. Measure the baseline. “Start by laying out revenue goals and from that number you can build backwards on what your pipeline needs in order to hit revenue goal,” Jansen said.
2. Identify your target accounts. Use simple segmentation to figure out which accounts are most likely to close, and which are most valuable to sales.
3. Develop your marketing plan. This can be done with events, webinars and field marketing. “You want a cohesive experience to help you resonate within the accounts wherever they are,” Jansen said.
4. Execute your plan. “Make sure you’re reaching prospects on all channels regardless of where they are,” Dering said.
5. Iterate and optimize. “After you execute the campaign, you can’t stop there,” Dering said. Evaluate your baselines to see how you performed against them, and try new tactics if others are not working.
“An ABM approach is a partnership between sales and marketing,” Dering said. “The success of your campaign doesn’t end when you launch it. You have to figure out ways to make it easy for sales to capitalize on the work you are doing.”
Developing The Right Content For Nurturing Success
Once a foundation is set, it’s important to adapt your campaigns to nurture prospective buyers that are not in a position to buy at the moment. In a session with Act-On Software’s Linda West, she covered the basics and best practices regarding lead nurturing, audience segmentation and defining the buyer’s journey.
West set the stage by quoting a Forrester Research statistic: “Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost.” West explained that “most B2B companies are adopting [nurturing] as a key strategy in their demand gen programs.”
West said nurturing is vital to efficiently move buyers through their decision-making process. “You want to give them the right tools and information to allow them to progress,” she explained. “If they need to know how to implement a certain strategy in order to buy your product, you should educate them on that strategy and how to adopt that so they’re ready to buy your product.”
While B2B marketers have to make sure they are educating prospective buyers, they also have to meet buyers’ content preferences. The Demand Gen Report 2016 Content Preferences Survey shows that 88% of B2B buyers prefer shorter content formats, while 84% prefer more interactive/visual content accessible on-demand.
“Buyers’ to-do lists are longer, and their brains are more scattered,” said Alicia Fiorletta, Content Strategist for Content4Demand. “It has become more crucial than ever for B2B marketers to provide actionable information that allows them to do their jobs better.”
During the presentation, Fiorletta highlighted five “hacks” to cracking the interactive content code:
- Align format decisions and messaging to your buyer;
- Let technology do the heavy lifting;
- Repurpose content for interactive formats;
- Integrate interactive elements into existing assets; and
- Promote and amplify interactive content across channels.
Ultimately, Fiorletta concluded that B2B marketers have to “break free from the status quo and see how adapting your content with interactive capabilities can boost marketing initiatives.”
Adaptable content is finding increased value within B2B organizations due its ability to be formatted for particular stages of the buying journey. Hana Abaza, VP of Marketing at Uberflip, discussed ways to optimize content throughout the entire buying cycle and its impact on sales effectiveness during her webinar presentation.
She explained that content marketing and its role have evolved over time. “Content is everywhere and easy to access,” Abaza said. “The lines between marketing and sales are really starting to blur. We have to look at a changing paradigm in how companies actually think about how their marketing and their sales teams are structured. If you’re on the marketing side, you have to think like sales. In sales, you have to always be helping your buyer.”
Abaza indicated that content will only work “if there is alignment between marketing and sales, and only if the experience is compelling.”
Content format also has a significant impact on buyer behavior depending on where they are in their buying journey. Video content, in particular, is growing in preference for B2B buyers and has shown usefulness as a nurturing tool, according to Joe Gelata, Head of Global Demand Generation and Revenue Operations at Vidyard.
“As companies are starting to develop more content, they are bringing buyers further along the buying journey through the help of video content,” Gelata noted during his session during the latter half of the series. “Video is super powerful for optimizing marketing campaigns to boost engagement, increase click-throughs and boost conversions.”
Gelata said salespeople are using video to sell on a more personalized basis and added that video provides valuable buyer insight. “It’s just another way to gain deep data on buyers based on their engagement with video content,” Gelata added. “Integrating video content with MAPs and CRM keeps all the data up-to-date, offering opportunities to enhance personalization and boost engagement.”
Alignment Positions Marketing With Key Buyer Insights
Marketing and sales alignment provides both sides of the organization with more accurate insight into its target audience. However, aligning both teams on the metrics that matter can be a difficult challenge to overcome without effective communication, according to Bonnie Crater, President and CEO of Full Circle Insights.
“The data in a marketing automation platform is different than the data in a CRM,” Crater said during her session. “When both teams get together, they have a hard time communicating because the information they have about previous campaigns conflict with one another. Ultimately, marketing doesn’t have the visibility they need to effectively execute their campaigns.”
Being able to track the impact on revenue gives marketing the visibility they need to identify what aspects of their campaigns are really working, according to Crater.
“If you prioritize on the basis of leads generated, you’re going to see a very different result than if you prioritized based on revenue generated,” she noted.
Predictive analytics in particular is becoming an important part of the marketing stack. In fact, 87% of B2B marketing leaders said they have already implemented or were planning to implement predictive analytics, according to a survey from Radius and Forrester. During their session, Radius’ Shari Johnston and John Hurley broke down some key use cases of predictive.
One major issue predictive can solve is the problem of acquiring too many leads. “Marketers often have the problem of various channels from all over their demand gen engine pouring into marketing automation,” Johnston said. Predictive can help answer questions, such as: How do we decide which prospects to send to sales? And how do we decide which ones to focus our attention on first?
Utilizing a predictive platform can help reduce marketing budget waste by ensuring the best prospects receive the most effort from sales, as well as increase buyer engagement and brand experience with more appropriate and personalized follow-ups.
“With a predictive platform, you only have to contact 20% of total prospects to reach the 60% who will actually convert,” Hurley said. “Without the model, you have to contact 60% of total prospects to reach the 60% who will actually convert.”