We’re about a month into a new financial year and as the year’s new targets, budgets and strategies come into play, perhaps this is a good time to explore some of the big trends that are likely to impact B2B marketing this year.
1. Account Based Marketing
B2B marketing campaigns often tend to be expansive in scope – aiming to cast a wide net across numerous channels, with the aim of drawing as many potential clients as possible into the marketing funnel.
This strategy however isn’t viable for companies with small marketing budgets, such as the small start up – a type of business entity that is extremely popular today, and whose growth is only expected to grow.
Focusing all your marketing efforts on very specific target accounts, which in essence is what Account Based Marketing (ABM) is, is a more feasible and lucrative option in such cases, with a higher ROI.
In a large market place, this strategy allows you to focus on creating campaigns that are tailor made for your high value prospective clients. It’s more like having blinkers on and less like trying to hit many birds with one stone.
Almost 85% of marketers who measure ROI describe account-based marketing as delivering higher returns than any other marketing approach, with half of those marketers citing significantly higher returns.
Key factors of an effective ABM strategy are accurate identification of the target market, focused coordination between sales and marketing teams, as well as the development of personalised campaigns that truly appeal to the identified potential customers.
Selling to people who actually want to hear from you is more effective than interrupting strangers who don’t.
Smarketing (derived from Sales + Marketing) is the alignment of the Sales and Marketing departments – critical to the successful implementation of an ABM strategy.
Why is it imperative that these teams work in tandem? The following statistic sheds some light:
74% of business buyers conduct more than half their research online, yet 89.5% of purchases are still completed by a salesperson.
ABM could be viewed unfavourably by a sales team, as in essence it is being asked to work with fewer leads to generate sales. But in reality, with a well executed ABM strategy, the leads generated at the beginning of the process are all sales qualified leads (SQLs), and hence that much further in to the sales funnel.
The key is for both teams to understand that they have a role to play at various points in the process. For example, the sales team has ‘hands on’ experience that can help identify the target accounts as well as a better understanding of these clients that can help develop an accurate client persona. The marketing team can bring its expertise in to develop suitable and appealing content for this client persona. Finally, each team can execute the multi channel strategy across various marketing channels, using the method each is most skilled at.
Marketers doing ABM are about 40% more likely to report alignment with their sales team compared to marketers not doing ABM.
3. Inbound Marketing
Inbound Marketing is here to stay and has a key role to play in developing a successful ABM strategy. Content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimisation and branding present a business with the opportunity to offer real value to potential clients, not just a promise or a showcase of the company’s achievements.
Just how important is content in bringing SQLs to you? Here are some statistics that pretty much say it all:
…supplier websites are the most popular channels for conducting research online, according to 83 percent of respondents…
Individual customer stakeholders who perceived supplier content to be tailored to their specific needs were 40% more willing to buy from that supplier than stakeholders who didn’t.
CEB in Harvard Business Review
At The Intersection Of ABM, SMarketing and Inbound Marketing
To truly realise the potential of an Account Based Marketing strategy, content creators need to focus on developing highly directed material that demonstrates thought leadership. Any content creator worth their salt today knows that video is the way forward – but how creative can you get? How quickly can you adapt to incorporate the latest technology and trends, to deliver your message in an appealing way that stands out amongst all the content that exists in cyberspace?
The key lies in accurately understanding the end user and developing content that addresses their needs, solves their problems and adds value to their lives, as opposed to tooting your own brand’s horn. The idea is to develop a relationship built on empathy. This can only be successfully achieved if the people at the front line (Sales) and the people who develop strategy (Marketing) work closely towards a common purpose.
The effective integration of these 3 ideas could help forge a strong, focused and measurable B2B marketing strategy that yields desired results.
Gitanjali Singh Cherian