With the digitalization of B2B, marketers have access to more marketing tools, leads and data to inform their revenue and marketing strategies. Revenue marketers in particular are responsible for converting prospects and leads into customers, and the current B2B landscape has solidified their new role as leaders in the buyer’s journey.
Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing, recently participated in research with ON24, exploring how top-performing marketers have adapted to trends in buyer engagement, the diversity of content, the rise of personalization and more. According to the report, 89% of participants created specific content to support the buyers throughout their journeys, emphasizing the heavy involvement of revenue marketers in digital marketing success.
Heinz sat down with Demand Gen Report to discuss the impact of the “all-digital” landscape, the new role revenue marketers must play in the buyer’s journey and some creative tactics you can use to revamp your digital strategies.
Demand Gen Report: What were some of your takeaways from the research you did with ON24 that you think apply to today’s climate?
Matt Heinz: The experience of the customer matters now more than it ever has before. B2C has conditioned us to expect hyper-personalization in real-time. But right now, so much of the B2B market still has a lot of ground to make up. I don’t think anyone actually likes getting cold calls, sales emails, added to newsletters without their knowledge or having to fill out forms. But these are all things that B2B companies do simply because that’s been the norm for all these years. But if your buyers don’t like what you’re doing, why would you insist on doing it? I think that’s a really obvious gap that the B2B market has yet to bridge.
We know our customers want better experiences, but so many of the tools at B2B’s disposal are — honestly — archaic. And it’s a self-perpetuating cycle that B2B hasn’t been able to escape from.
Optimistically, I do think we’re right at the beginning of that paradigm shift towards becoming more customer-centric. The channels we use, the content we create, the tools we have access to — it’s all starting to change — slowly, but surely. And the organizations that will lead the competition in the years to come are those who are having that realization and acting on it now.
DGR: How have you seen the “all-digital” landscape impact marketers’ approach to engaging their core audiences?
Heinz: The highest-performing marketing programs out there actually aren’t all digital. They’re still incorporating the phone and strategic direct mail effectively. And they’re setting the table for non-digital programs in mid-late 2021.
DGR: We heard from a lot of marketers in the months after lockdown that they were seeing a real spike in visitors and activity but were struggling with conversion levels and weighing whether that was real qualified traffic they were driving. Have you seen similar trends and how are smart marketers responding?
Heinz: We have seen consistent demand with a lack of ability to purchase. That means sales cycles are temporarily longer and close rates are similarly lower. This isn’t a decline in need, but rather a freeze on resources to buy. Prospects are absolutely still buying, we just as sellers need to get tighter and more disciplined with our ROI and value proposition messaging.
DGR: Has this changed the way you are seeing companies structure their lead scoring and lead nurturing programs?
Heinz: The biggest change has been on the intent data front. The best performing marketing teams in the pandemic are leveraging intent signals — inside and outside of their content and nurture streams — to identify the in-market prospects.
DGR: In general, with tactics like ABM becoming more prevalent, are you seeing more marketing teams double down on driving qualified leads — and maybe lower quantity — to really reach and engage prospects who are more likely to become customers?
Heinz: I am heartened to see more companies prioritize an account-based approach to their marketing, which includes measuring qualified/engaged accounts more prominently than leads and contacts. This absolutely includes generating less volume and focusing on better quality of engagement with prospects and on behalf of your sales team.
DGR: What are some tactics/insights marketers can use to create engaging experiences that work in driving more qualified leads?
Heinz: It varies by stage of the buying journey and sales funnel. For top of the funnel, challenging the status quo requires introducing insights and new ideas in a creative way. Sometimes that means hosting a virtual live concert or cooking class to get a prospect's attention, followed by a short talk about market insights and opportunities. No product discussions, at least not yet.
DGR: What other creative tactics have you seen in terms of how marketing teams are helping to supplement the gap created by physical events?
Heinz: All that we lost when physical events shut down was the venue. The value exchange between event producer, attendee and sponsor is still there and equally desired.
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