Business-to-business marketing is often seen as the poor cousin to business-to-consumer marketing. Interestingly, research shows that the volume of B2B transactions is 20 times higher than B2C, and the B2B industry is worth $400 billion. If you think about it simply, a business will buy 200 computers, but an individual will buy only one.
B2B marketing has dramatically changed, like all marketing. No longer is it just accountable for managing leads. Digital channels such as email, SMS, webinars and YouTube have dramatically how marketers create, execute and analyse campaigns.
B2B marketers face a number of issues. New approaches mean marketers are replacing transaction-based direct marketing campaigns, for example the volume email blast, with interactive ones that are more conversational and ongoing.
Most of the communications for the B2B marketer occur online, which is ideally suited for automated lead interactions as it supports the flow of information and is highly automated.
B2B marketing expert, Carlos Hidalgo, the CEO and principal of The Annuitas Group, believes that it is how marketers use the automation technology available. He says they need to understand technology is simply an enabler. “If they don’t get this, they will stay stuck in tactical ruts.”
It is a similar situation with the impact big data has on lead generation. “Marketers are not tapping into big data an effectively as they could.”
“The potential is there to have a huge impact in terms of data analytics and predictive analytics, but it is having very little impact in most B2B organisations.”
“While many organisations have the data, there is a gap as they are not utilising this data to improve their approach and establish a better dialogue with the buyer, thus improving their results,” said Hidalgo.
Breaking down silos
In many marketing departments, content and campaigns are developed in silos across several different parts of the organisation. One part of marketing manages message development; another part manages media buying, while another develops web content.
This means it can be difficult to align the team on messages and manage intricate executions when so many different hand-off points can impact quality and timing.
Hidalgo believes there will be a structural shift in the way marketing and sales departments sit within an organisation.
“Many organisations have structured their marketing in a siloed or tactics-driven manner, which in most organisations, simply serves sales. This only compounds the problem of not being able to take a buyer-centric approach to marketing and sales.”
“I see the more progressive organisations beginning to understand there needs to be some centralisation of these functions with the ability to extend this out to the global organisation.”
Tearing down long-established corporate silos won’t be easy; studies show little interaction occurs across conventional business boundaries. Unfortunately, most marketers have grown accustomed to this lack of interaction. It is simply assumed that content and campaigns will be developed in silos across different parts of the organisation.
Like all marketing, B2B marketing is evolving and professionals need to become better equipped to do the jobs the business needs them to do – engage buyers and maximise the value of those relationships.
“To date, over 80% of marketers claim they have been self-taught,” Hidalgo says.
“While we can learn a lot while on the job, the lack of marketing training is abysmal, especially given the importance of this role. I see over the next five years there will be an increased focus on the education of marketers and skills development.”
Major technology advances typically come with challenges. Delivering measurable results requires an effective delivery platform, process controls, and efficient processes.
B2B business models drive consistent processes and practices throughout an enterprise.
“Too many companies have jumped to marketing technologies – especially automation – in attempt to improve and have failed. I believe others will learn from these mistakes and ensure that process, strategy and technology are viewed as essential to an organisation’s revenue growth,” Hidalgo says.
Carlos Hidalgo will be speaking at ADMA Rethink, Australia’s B2B Innovations Summit, in Sydney on April 9 and 11 in Melbourne. Click here for more details, or to register.