Metrics and Analytics

The Five Keys to Successful B2B Marketing

October 31, 2021

5 mins read

The Five Keys to Successful B2B Marketing

The Five Keys to Successful B2B Marketing

To discuss the five keys to successful B2B marketing we must first begin by looking at how B2B marketing has changed in recent years. In short, B2B marketing has evolved from funnel focused to revenue focused measurement. So, how does the modern marketer in a B2B brand make the transition to driving revenue? Consider these five keys to successful B2B marketing.

Audience Focused

Traditionally the primary metric by which B2B marketers have been measured is lead generation. The value of B2B marketing has often been connected solely to the quantity of qualified leads delivered per week, month, quarter. The proverbial MQL to SQL conversion has been the bane of many B2B marketers’ existence. Not unlike the practice of accounting where numbers can be contorted to tell a story, marketers have tinkered with the criteria of leads to satisfy weekly reporting, appealing to sales leaders’ perpetual thirst for leads and who often respond with statements such as “the leads we get from Marketing are crap.”

The modern B2B marketer understands the importance of knowing her brand’s audience crafting strategies designed to build a loyal audience to attract them to their brand. This strategy is imperative considering that the typical B2B buying committee spends only 17% of their journey speaking with suppliers. Building a loyal audience increases the chance of being one of the vendors on the buyer’s short list in that 17% slice of their journey.

ABM is Maturing

Account Based Marketing is not a new concept. It’s been around for decades. What is new(er) is the maturity of ABM technology that enables marketers to identify and target accounts with more efficiency and measurability. B2B marketers are realizing that their limited resources can be deployed more efficiently and with better results by focusing on accounts, or market segments where they have a greater chance of succeeding. With the advent of intent signals and campaign management on target accounts, ABM is maturing and therefore gaining mindshare in the C-Suite as a viable B2B marketing strategy. There is one caveat for ABM to succeed. Marketing and sales must be joined at the hip. Marketing leaders and sales leaders should meet regularly to monitor the current state of their ABM strategy. In my view, weekly meetings are a must to review key metrics and to keep the communication lines open and heathy, allowing for actions to take shape based on shared goals.

Employee Brand Advocacy

According to the annual Edelman Trust Barometer, over the last ten years a person like yourself, aka employees, is the second most trusted source of information about a company, second only to academic experts. The modern B2B marketer recognizes the power of the employee, equipping them with training and tools to enable them to engage in digital engagement. When employees understand what’s in it for them to share content online, and what’s in it for their employer, they are more willing to be a brand ambassador. Employees have potential to reach and influence decision makers in their network. Make no mistake though, giving employees content sharing tools is not the answer in and of itself. Employees need training to understand the value of their personal brand and to their employer’s brand. The WIFM (what’s in it for me) syndrome must be conquered to achieve effective employee branding results with proper training and tools.

Omnichannel Content Production

Once upon a time, B2B marketers could deploy a successful content strategy based solely on their blog. In a recent HubSpot report, the top producing content assets in 2021 are: 1) video, 2) blogs, 3) infographics, 4) case studies, 5) interviews, 6) eBooks, 7) white papers, 8) checklists, 9) other. The message here is that buyers are consuming content on their journey in a variety of formats. Ignoring any of these content formats is a risky venture. At a minimum, I recommend combining videos and blogs into an omnichannel approach. This is the approach we’ve taken at iQor with the Digitally Irresistible podcast which is available in video, audio, and blog formats.

Contribution to Revenue

Earlier I made the case for marketers to shift toward building a loyal audience. I don’t suggest doing this at the expense of contribution to pipeline. But, how does Marketing attribute its output to pipeline and revenue? The answer lies in the old saying “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

The CRM has long been the purview of the Sales organization. It’s time that CRM is either owned by Marketing or at a minimum a shared asset. The biggest obstacle to measuring Marketing’s contribution to revenue is lack of attribution tracking in CRM. Commonly, when Marketing requests the addition of tracking fields in CRM, it is met with resistance for several reasons. The most common reason is “salespeople won’t comply with the request.” I cringe when I hear this. In other words, salespeople don’t want to influence what Marketing works on to help them win more deals. Perhaps, if it’s communicated to Sales that they can influence the priority of Marketing’s output based on measuring what contributes to revenue, this objection would be eliminated.

Getting salespeople to fill in certain fields in CRM to help measure Marketing’s contribution to deals is very helpful. However, marketing technology is available that integrates with CRM so that the tracking can occur organically. For example, content shared by salespeople with customers and prospects can be tracked in CRM to learn which content assets contributed to closed deals. Sure, this requires budget. The point is that the technology exists to measure contribution to revenue, so we can throw the excuses of yesteryear out the window when it comes to measuring Marketing’s contribution to revenue.

If you give me permission to add a sixth element, it would be culture. In this context, culture is recognition that the CMO is trusted more by the CEO than by other members of the C-Suite. As more CMOs take ownership of the customer experience, CMOs will have more opportunity to engage with their C-Suite counterparts in meaningful conversations and initiatives, accelerating the recognized value of their contribution, enabling the Marketing function to receive proper attribution to revenue. And that is the ultimate goal.

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