2022 will be here before B2B knows it — a simultaneously scary and exciting thought. As the industry still grapples with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic that seemingly blended 2020 and 2021 together, marketers are hopeful that the new year will present new opportunities for success. With that in mind, Demand Gen Report’s 2021 edition of the Strategy & Planning Series (#SPS21) included 19 sessions — the most ever featured — that provided marketing teams with actionable advice and takeaways as they continue planning out their 2022 strategy.
The online-only event dove into the ins and outs of ABM and ABX, new methods of personalization and data strategies to consider, with additional sessions that featured digital event strategies, sales enablement and revenue marketing. To help lay the foundation for a baseline going into 2022, Salesforce's session spotlighted the company's benchmark research that found 78% of marketers plan on using last year’s crises as a catalyst for improvement, which indicates B2B’s resiliency and willingness to face challenges head-on.
#SPS21 provided marketing teams with an analysis of changing trends and what they could expect in the new year, exploring topics such as:
- Harnessing cross-channel strategies to sync outreach across teams;
- The role of intent data and the need to refine ICPs to create stronger account-based strategies;
- The importance of internal alignment in driving successful strategies; and
- Much more!
Adapting To Email’s ‘New Normal’ & Automating Cross-Channel Strategies
One of the most concerning trends going into the new year is Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection (MPP), which launched on Sept. 20. For those unfamiliar, the MPP is designed to hide IP addresses by downloading and opening all emails accessed through the Apple mail app on a proxy server first. While it’s designed to promote consumer peace of mind, it also presents a big challenge for marketers who traditionally relied on open rates as the parameters to measure email marketing success — thus was the focus of Validity’s #SPS21 session.
However, email marketing is just one cog in the marketing wheel. Modern B2B buyers demand cohesive cross-channel experiences that rely on personalization, display ads and intent data. And it's not easy to keep all those channels organized and working in harmony. Enter the predictive orchestration movement, as outlined by Triblio’s Chief Customer Officer Andrew Mahr.
Throughout Triblio's session, Mahr explained that while it seems challenging to embark on an orchestration journey, intent data is essential. Additionally, he discussed tips to promote budgetary alignment within key strategies and provided real-world examples to strengthen his case for automated orchestration.
“Orchestration and cross-channel experiences that use multiple tactics are the future,” Mahr said. “We see more marketers moving a highly automated buyer’s journey, where they change tactics throughout the funnel. They might use a less expensive display adat the top of the funnel to generate interest and switch to targeted LinkedIn ads further down.”
During ON24’s session, the company’s Head of Strategy Cheri Keith emphasized the importance of aligning the entire customer journey at the highest level to every marketing program or campaign. Audience-centricity is the name of the game, and Keith shared the five levels of an audience-centric program fueled by intent:
- The marketing content/messaging itself;
- The delivery mechanism: The way you will engage your audience;
- Engagement: What goes into that delivery mechanism that creates the engaging experience for the audience. What do we want people to do?;
- Key CTAs: How do we want the audience to behave at the end of the experience without leaving them at a dead-end; and
- Buying signals: Taking first-party data and listening to triggers. How do you take the information, put it back to the top and ensure the next program is based on that learning?
“Each layer needs to look and feel different for new prospects versus existing customers,” said Keith. “Having these five core areas separate and distinct will go a long way.”
Successfully Leveraging ABM/ABX Initiatives
The foundation for any ABM campaign (and marketing strategies in general) is data. While companies have comprehensive datasets on their customers, research from Kingpin revealed it’s often too comprehensive, leaving marketing teams struggling to sift through an abundance of intent data, behavior signals and firmographic data to identify accounts that are in-market for solutions, and how to best engage them.
Throughout Kingpin’s session, Chief Strategy Officer Nigel Williams walked viewers through the importance of investing in ABM campaigns, providing insights into the importance of collecting first-party engagement data, first-party website data and third-party intent data to create a well-rounded account profile.
“Take a customer that you think is a good match for your ideal customer profile (ICP) and compare it against your actual ICP,” said Williams. “Bring all client-facing teams into a room and start to work through it, reviewing the account history, objectives and audiences, as well as what you know about the account, including their departmental and executive strategies and priorities. From there, you can look at lookalike accounts and extrapolate the findings across a wider audience that’s identified by the ICP, so you can start to build out a bigger picture.”
In ZoomInfo’s complementary session, the company’s Sr. Director of Strategic Marketing Hussam AlMukhtar and Director of Demand Generation Mitchel Hanson expanded on the importance of defining ICPs across departments, with a focus on the role of alignment. They explained that when identifying accounts that will match the ICP, companies should be cognizant of potential target blockers and work on softening them, which is only possible with highly communicative internal teams.
“Efficiency and alignment are furthered in the account selection process,” continued Hanson. “When you’re sitting with sales and planning teams, there are a few things coming at you, including identifying who you want to sell to — your ICP. Look at it through three lenses: Highest value accounts, fit and timing. If you take the highest value accounts and do an overlay over who has good fit and timing, that’s what you can guide the sales team toward.”
Taking The ABM Road To Revenue
When discussing the “greatest of all times (GOATs),” there are always a few commonalities between them — Simone Biles and Michael Phelps are both Olympians, Serena Williams and Lebron James are both pro athletes — and the marketing world is no different, specifically with ABM campaigns. While most organizations realize the importance of ABM strategies, everyone doesn’t operate on the same level. Some are more successful than others, which was the focus of MRP’s session that featured Jennifer Golden, MRP’s Director of Corporate Marketing.
With an eye on the strategies and tactics of enterprise ABM performers, Golden provided attendees with an actionable, 10-step roadmap to increase ABM-generated revenue.
“The three commonalities across all elite ABM performers are the maturity of their programs, integration between sales, marketing and ABM systems and significant availability into ABM programs across internal teams,” explained Golden. “You can try to iterate and find success over the years to get to the stage where these elite performers operate, or you can replicate the learnings of others and adopt high-performing strategies from the start.”
Golden continued that the elite performers follow the same best practices, which include:
- Prioritizing problem-solving;
- Focusing on collaboration and breaking silos;
- Ensuring tech is tightly integrated;
- Expanding the use of data; and
- Implementing new message delivery methods.
Of course, revenue isn’t entirely ABM-based—there are various other factors that contribute to it, including the sales reps’ ability to identify and meet with leads. There’s often a disconnect between sales readiness and client readiness, which results in the time-consuming feat of “lead chasing.” To promote better lead conversions and stop the chase in the new year, organizations must shift to a more consumer-driven buying and selling experience.
Kronologic’s VP of Marketing Scott Logan discussed pipeline at length throughout Kronologic's presentation, highlighting how goals and forecasting must be more accurate to properly inform pipeline. Additionally, he explained that ROI and pipeline rely too heavily on SDR success, and many organizations are wondering if they have the right resources to hit higher pipeline and revenue targets.
Logan recommended that practitioners implement a Calendar First approach to help generate revenue and alleviate responsibilities from SDRs, as well as increase top-of-funnel velocity and boost qualified lead to meeting conversion rates. He explained that a Calendar First approach automates the meeting bookings by sending an automated invite synced to the sales reps’ calendar so the client can pick a meeting time that works best for them.
For more insights and takeaways from the 2021 Strategy & Planning Series, register for free and access all the sessions on-demand.