Resolutions are one thing, but planning out and developing real-world marketing strategies for a New Year are different ball games. So, what are the top tools and tactics for today’s B2B marketers?
We asked 10 top practitioners what their must-have tactics and tools were for 2018. The responses represented a wide range of business priorities and cutting-edge solutions marketers are prioritizing to better engage B2B buying groups — from experimenting with live video and intent monitoring to developing omnichannel marketing strategies.
The following overview covers the tools & tactics marketers from companies such as Aptos, DELL EMC, TeleTech and Quarry have planned for this year.
Content Measurement and Inside Sales Optimization
Christine Elliott, Content Strategy & Operations Executive, Crowe Horwath
In 2018, Crowe needs to get more aggressive testing technology tools. Right now, we are focused on content measurement and hope to pilot LookBookHQ to create meaningful, self-directed content experiences for our clients and prospects — and to help us better assess the relative value of our content. We also see value in testing Conversica to augment our inside sales efforts. Having a “virtual assistant” tirelessly nurture prospects until they are ready to raise their hand could have a dramatic positive impact. The bottom line? We must aggressively test new approaches and tools to stay relevant and competitive.
Extending Event Investments
Dave Bruno, Marketing Director, Aptos
We expect in-person activities and events to play a major role in our nurturing programs in 2018, and as the calendar turned over, we made a resolution to leverage each event to its maximum ability. As events take on a bigger part of our portfolio, we have to minimize the impact that these resource-intense activities have on ongoing content programs. We will make a priority of leveraging the event in our programs, and we will actually include post-event programs in our event content strategies.
We hope to leverage the progress we made in 2017, turning conferences into content that supported demand programs all year long. I will share some of the lessons learned from our 2017 efforts during a session at the upcoming B2B Marketing Exchange conference in Arizona, and look forward to hearing from others there how they leverage investments in events to create leads long after the event has passed.
Amanda Maksymiw, Content Marketing Director, Fuze
The popularity and efficacy of video content have been on the rise for the past few years, and more and more companies are developing strategies that embrace video content.
In 2018, we will experiment and test additional video formats including live video. We all know engagement goes up when a video is posted over a photo, but according to Facebook, live videos are 3x longer than regular videos. It is still in the early days, but I think we’ll see more B2B brands testing the format.
Daniel Glicksman, Senior Manager of Lead & Demand Gen, Cox Media Group
[I’m looking to] take aim at the Google featured snippets [via SEO] that answer the common questions our potential clients ask by demonstrating that we are the clear authority with the right answer by authoring thorough step-by-step content.
For example, how much does it cost to advertise on television? We rank on the first page of that search now, but I’d love to rank before No. 1 or No. 2 with information that is more accurate than that currently given. With so many questions asked today and plenty of incomplete or incorrect answers, correct and concise content is the key to control.
Ana Villegas, Senior Marketing Director, DELL EMC
My must-try tools and tactics for 2018 include:
Omnichannel nurture customer journey: Offline/online/face-to-face integration that leverages propensity models to identify the audience, the content, the format, the approach, the vehicle, the location and the timing across time. (For B2B this can span from three months to two years.) This will challenge the way we measure and approach big data. Vendors will need to expand their data history beyond the traditional timelines to understand end-to-end customer journeys.
Building marketers today for the marketing of the future: Growing my teams’ skills to thrive in a next-gen environment — one where big data, modeling, analytics, marketing technology and platforms keep growing, converging and merging. All of this entails a curve of constant learning, a passion for change, the drive to innovate and the resilience to cut through the chaos to find the right answer.
Intent Data Modeling
Jeff Marcoux, VP of Product Marketing, TeleTech
While the buzz terms of ABM and AI have been largely abused by the CX industry, we’ve finally reached a tipping point where businesses use smart automation to drive results.
Through the use of advanced growth analytics, including predictive analytics and intent modeling, sales teams can identify which customers are actively shopping and recognize optimal engagement timing. We will continue to see maturation in the adoption of this approach to help companies acquire new customers and grow wallet share faster and at a lower cost.
Additionally, the use of bots provides not only proactive customer engagement but also assists inside sales in providing the next best offer at the right point in the customer lifecycle, allowing for improvements in both timing and context in customer messaging.
Finally, cloud-based platforms to enable AI, knowledge management and automation across channels now allow for true contextual omnichannel experiences led by marketing and sales.
Masha Finkelstein, Head of Growth, BetterWorks
With a continued focus on marketing attribution and ROI optimization, it is essential to keep the tech stack lean and get creative with growth hacking at a lower spend. Here are some tools and tactics that I will definitely keep in my marketing arsenal:
- Real-time, behavior-based email nurture programs to keep prospects engaged;
- Regular check-in meetings with the sales team to make sure we are aligned and have the feedback loop going in both directions at all times;
- Omnichannel marketing programs targeting the decision makes in our key accounts through social, display, search ads and offline channels, with built-in sales follow-up tactics;
- Utilizing free channels as much as possible by partnering, participating in online discussions (i.e. on Quora, LinkedIn and other portals your target audience spends their time on);
- LeanData for lead-to-account mapping, routing and measuring ABM impact;
- PFL for direct mail marketing; and
- Last but not least, LookBookHQ for content marketing (I call it “the nurture on drugs”).
Andrea Fryrear, President and Lead Trainer, AgileSherpas
In all honesty, most marketers don't need to do more. Instead, 2018 needs to be the year of working smarter, not harder. Two simple tools from the Agile world – backlogs and workflow visualization – can help us do it.
The backlog is essentially a prioritized to-do list and serves as the single source of work for the entire marketing team. No more, “Oh hey, could you just…” conversations that derail people’s whole workday. If it’s not in the backlog, it doesn’t happen.
When we combine that with workflow visualization, also known as a simple Kanban board, we can see not only what work is coming next, but what’s happening with the team in the moment. We can clearly show what we’re working on, and what will be impacted by 'emergencies' or interruptions.
They may seem like simple things to try, but a little bit of Agile goes a long way.
Predictive, ABM and Personalization
Richard Hill, Managing Director of Growth, Quarry
We’ve been helping our B2B clients make the shift from broadcast to narrowcast marketing for a while now. This year, we're finally getting serious about practicing what we preach for our agency’s own marketing efforts. So in 2018, my top three must-try tools and tactics include:
Predictive: Sure, there’s hype. But having seen first-hand the impact forward-looking analytics tools can have on driving revenue for our clients, we know it’s worth it. So this year, we’ll be doubling-down on using intent data and predictive analytics platforms, like Mintigo and Bombora, to identify, prioritize and target active accounts.
Personalized video: Catching prospects' (even customers') attention these days is hard. Video can help. Personalized video can really help. This year we’ll be turning up our video marketing — and video selling — efforts, by expanding our use of Vidyard.
All these as part of a highly-targeted, multi-touch, multi-channel ABM program, along with new tools like LinkedIn Matched Audiences.
Steve Voith, Director of Marketing, Content4Demand
It may come as a shock that the marketing team behind a content agency is going to be most obsessed with…our content. More specifically, “content packaging.” In 2018, our team plans to turn up the packaging obsession in three core areas:
- Creation of individual pieces of buyer-focused content that spark engagement, exploration and measurable outcomes. This includes a heavy focus on interactive content — produced by our amazing digital design team in HTML5 and via tools like Ceros.
- Organization and collection of content in ways that are customizable to our audience groups. This means enabling our resource hub — powered by Uberflip — to be shuffled and re-organized according to industry vertical, buyer pain points and more.
- Customizing and grouping specific pieces of content for our top accounts and target industries — the backbone of our 2018 ABM strategy.
I’m most excited to see how our meticulously planned content packaging strategy will evolve over the course of 2018.