The B2B Digital Landscape is Changing Quickly
New technologies and vendors are continuing to emerge with better, faster and more efficient tools. Learn how B2B marketers are leveraging investments in technology to save their companies time and money.
New technologies continue to emerge. Vendors are offering better, faster and more efficient tools, and marketing tactics are constantly evolving to keep pace.
But perhaps the most important factor in shaping the digital landscape of B2B marketing is the people. B2B marketers are now in the midst of the next industrial revolution, and they’re changing. It’s not happening in the near future; it’s happening right now!
Advancements in IoT, artificial intelligence, robotics, quantum computing and the like are allowing marketing and executive teams to capitalize on opportunities like never before.
As Godfrey grows programs with our clients and develops relationships with new prospects, we’re finding marketers in the manufacturing industry are getting smarter and more tech-savvy every day.
Compared to their counterparts of even just a few years ago, today’s B2B marketers have a better understanding of what technology can do for them, and they’re taking advantage of it. Additionally, younger digital natives are entering key leadership positions, and they seem to intuitively know how technology can reshape marketing.
ROI and Accountability
Because technology is changing so rapidly, marketers realize that they need to keep up simply because their company risks falling behind the competition. We’re seeing a combination of marketing teams working to break down barriers as executive teams raise their expectations for return on investment (ROI).
Marketers understand that they need to track leads and sales across the entire marketing funnel. They know they need to demonstrate a level of accountability that their CEOs are now expecting or even demanding.
For many companies, this expectation of accountability has moved from “nice to have” to “table stakes” and sometimes even “deal breakers.” The reason for this is as old as B2B itself. If B2B marketers don’t embrace these new realities, they may find themselves suddenly at a competitive disadvantage.
Investments in Technology
In the past, the size of the investments required to transform legacy systems has deterred companies who sought to inject ROI accountability into marketing. There is no doubt that those hurdles are significant. Getting cooperation, buy-in and adoption for new systems from different business divisions, such as IT, sales, customer support and finance, can be extremely challenging and time-consuming. For some companies, that’s too many fingers in the pie, so nothing ever changes.
But costs are coming down, programs are becoming more sophisticated and companies are beginning to see the value in enhancing the tools they use to measure marketing effectiveness.
The Threat of Competition Looms
The reason for this changing emphasis comes back to the threat of competition: Companies who up their game could take their markets by storm.
Doubling Marketing Success
John Wanamaker famously quipped, “Half of the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.
What if you could beat his famous axiom and know which half of your marketing was effective? You could instantly double marketing effectiveness by eliminating the non-performing half, and double down on the half that’s working.
Those who can prove the results of marketing efforts will get a larger marketing budget, time and time again.
Improving the Effectiveness of Creative
Imagine what would happen if you knew the track record of value propositions that resonated with your audience. What benefits or headlines worked the best? What kinds of visuals drew the most response?
So much wasted time and cost could be eliminated. And what are now often purely aesthetic decisions can be resolved with hard data.
We’ve been doing this for clients for years, but as they improve their technology stack, we can get more granular on what creative is driving sales, not just impressions, clicks and conversions.
In a typical paid search program, we initially write three ads for each keyword, testing different value propositions, landing pages, brand names in/excluded from the headline and different calls to action. In many cases, we’re able to quickly filter out the non-performing components, which quickly increases or doubles click-through rates.
But many times, that just results in better clicks and more cost-effective campaigns. It’s great, but does that really improve sales?
Many marketers today now want to know which creative variations or touchpoints are truly driving sales. By getting the right technology and internal adoption in place, some companies are able to get that granular to truly know which half is working and which half isn’t.
Reducing Creative Costs
Rather than refining and perfecting marketing materials that may or may not work, what if you did some quick A-B testing of various value propositions and went with the winner?
Imagine how a campaign could be enhanced by adding new components, like a video to show how a product works, or a calculator to show how much that product could save a prospect.
Take it one step further by factoring in segmentation. What if you directed the millennial engineer to the video, the boomer R&D scientist to a white paper and the CFO to the savings calculator?
Getting to Market More Quickly
There’s also the benefit of getting to market one or two months earlier with a new product and having the first-mover advantage that has become such an important topic since the 1990s.
While some experts question the cost of being first, everyone agrees that the longer you have a market to yourself—before competitors can develop a comparable product—the more benefits you realize. Specifically, you can gain market share, improve economies of scale, lock up key suppliers and reach higher profits. (For a detailed description of the first-mover advantage, see these discussions in the Harvard Business Review and Investopedia.)
As a result, adding even a few months to your first-mover advantage could make a huge difference in a company’s bottom line. And that alone could justify the investment in great marketing measurement.
Projecting Future Sales
Imagine how valuable you’d be to the C-suite if you could outline the actual cost of reaching your company’s potential market, the true cost of communicating a product or branding message and accurately project the revenue impact.
Admittedly, most B2B businesses aren’t there yet. But marketing technology has advanced so far that it provides a path to realize those opportunities. If marketers continue to fight and press for these technologies, we can make the capability a reality much more quickly.
Suppose a company’s roadmap to start projecting sales is five years away. If they start on that journey today, they’ll have five years of experience, and five years of data to inform their decisions. And in this competitive environment, five years is a lifetime.
A new, agile startup with a better product and all the right marketing tools at their disposal could leverage the technology and feasibly surpass their competitors.
Working With Realistic Budgets
Think about how a comprehensive iterative system of evaluation, integrated and fully incorporated into your marketing program, could help shape the future—not just of B2B marketing, but of a business’s bottom line.
Budgets could be shaped by a full understanding of the market dynamics and resources could be allocated in a way that aligns with the best opportunities. Marketing then becomes a project input, no different than raw materials, engineering time or energy costs.
The Marketing Future
The goal for B2B marketers needs to continue shifting from today’s best guess to tomorrow’s data-driven marketing resource and planning system. The future of marketing is being shaped today, not simply by the weapons that technology has to offer, but by the marketing warriors wielding those weapons.
Matt Boaman - Vice President, Marketing Channels
Matt’s digital expertise and results-oriented approach has helped advance clients' digital program performance. In his new role as vice president of marketing channels, he leads the digital, public relations and media teams.