B2B marketers are experiencing change at an unprecedented speed because of the impact of technology. It’s making today’s B2B buying process more complex and putting more control in the hands of prospects. The new buzzword ‘MARTECH’ is starting to become commonplace but are B2B marketers really taking full advantage of these new tools and do we fully understand what is now possible.
Some businesses have already adopted very sophisticated marketing technology infrastructures to support business growth. However, most B2B businesses have not yet gone beyond the obvious such as search, marketing automation and CRM infrastructures to support their marketing initiatives. For some, this alone has been seen as the ‘saviour’ of marketing. We have all read how the CMO’s relationship with their CEO is challenged and that there have been reported concerns that marketing cannot be relied on to deliver growth.
Then along comes technology and BAM! That’s it. At last, proof of the effectiveness of marketing investment.
However, technology has much more to offer if we could only navigate what is available. Of course this is not surprising bearing in mind the plethora of marketing technology available. Just like a gold rush we have been inundated with new technology and tools and it appears it has all become a little bit too techy for B2B marketers. I have heard many a Client say ‘it’s enough just dealing with our website’.
The charts below show just how fast the landscape is changing.
B2B companies that were early adopters of technology tools like marketing automation have now moved on. They are now using marketing technology to define business strategy, discover the best business opportunities, measure brand sentiment in real time and identify the real drivers for accelerated growth.
Listed below are few favourites that can improve marketing effectiveness.
1)Technology to validate how you go to market.
When you are developing new messaging, identity, imagery, and how to describe your value proposition how do you know if it will be effective. Questions you need to answer before spending precious budget and going to market with a new strategy. Conventional research tests addresses these questions via focus groups or depth interviews generally using stimulus boards, very much removed from how your target audiences might see your brand in real life. The alternative is online quantitative research which puts your brand in a digital context (ie a screen), but then allows only pre-determined, generally closed questions to be asked – it lacks the insight of qualitative research.
Now technology exists to deliver testing environments that are more true to life. This technology allows you to put your brand and messaging into context – on the screen of your target audience – depicted as web pages, advertising, email, or brochure. The survey is all online but enables you to gain qualitative responses. By responding electronically and dropping the digital equivalent of a post-it note onto their screen, respondents identify issues and the exact location of those issue.
What does it give you?
This type of research should be called ‘mass qualitative’ – it has all the advantages of qualitative research, but because the survey is online, you can mass sample your target audience quickly and cost-effectively. And once you aggregate all of the electronic responses, it shows you the hot-spots on the materials tested, where respondents have clustered their comments. It gives an overall assessment identifying modifications and enhancements, and can dive into specific areas to reveal individual verbatim comments. And because it gives context to your brand and messaging, you invariably find issues you least expected to be highlighted are critical to your success.
- Reduces the risk of launching brand positioning and messaging that is unclear or misinterpreted by your target audience
- Enables fine tuning of your proposition and message to improve engagement prior to investment in go to market collateral
- Puts your brand and collateral in a more real life context and minimises ‘research effects’
- Gives greater insight than conventional quantitative research
- Gives you the confidence of a larger sample size of an online quantitative survey
- Cost effective in terms of reach and results
2) Technology to enrich the customer experience
Technology exists that helps you strengthen your brand experience for B2B customers. Net Promoter Score (NPS) is said to be the strongest overall measure of your brand experience, reflecting your B2B customers’ approval of their experience and their intention to recommend it to others. But what do you do once you’ve measured your brand’s Net Promoter Score (NPS)? How do you make sure that next year, it will be stronger? The issue is that a single score doesn’t tell you what issues you need to address as an organisation to enrich the experience or shift your score higher next year. Is it a trust issue that has limited your score? Are you no longer perceived to offer the added value your competitors do? Or is it a service issue you need to address? Or is it a combination of things adding up to be a poor brand experience for your customers? With a single score it is pretty much impossible to tell.
How does it work?
The technology is a customer relationship assessment tool, that considers your B2B customers’ end to end brand experience, getting their feedback not just as an overall NPS score – your customers are also asked to score each aspect of their experience at a granular level. Armed with this set of measures, it highlights with accuracy which parts of your brand experience should be enhanced to make a positive difference on your customers’ perceptions.
What does it give you?
It provides your brand experience with a Net Promoter Score, but supporting this, details of where improvements could be made to improve that score, and the relationship strength with each of your B2B customers. You are given clarity on where to spend resources to improve your brand experience and how to improve the relationship with your key accounts. Over time, you can track your performance and identify brand and operational strengths and weaknesses contributing to brand perceptions.
- Guides your organisation on where and how to improve the brand experience and what you should do now you have an NPS rating
- Relates changes to be made back to an improvement in your NPS
- Tracks improvement in specific aspects of your brand experience as seen by your customers,
- Provides data at the level of individual corporate (B2B) customers scores the strength of the customer relationship, indicates how likely that customer is to
- Desert, and identifies what needs to be done to retain that customer’s business
3) Technology to help drive your brand performance
Why use it?
How healthy is your brand? How do you compare with your competition from capturing the interest of a prospect to turning them into a customer? What competitive attributes are market buyers using to make their provider selection choices? Is your brand best positioned to attract the largest market opportunities, and if not, how should it be repositioned? Most brands can respond anecdotally to these questions, but few have hard evidence and tracking data as a key business metric.
How does it work?
Using a range of measures the tool is able to connect your brand directly to your business strategy and prove that continued brand investment will enhance the commercial performance and potential of the business.
There are three distinct elements to the performance platform:
1. A brand strength tracking index
2. An assessment of your marcomms effectiveness in driving prospects to and through the purchasing funnel
3. A map of your competing brands and their relationship to these attributes and to the market segments missed
What does it give you?
As each of the above elements positions your brand amongst those of your main competitors, you are able to relate your brand directly to commercial opportunity. It will identify, with great accuracy, how you can capture market share from competitors by strengthening or transforming aspects of your brand. It gives you ongoing tracking metrics to validate your investments in the brand and evidence the impact your brand has had on the success of your business.
As a minimum, it will help you track your brand health. Used to its full, this is a platform from which you can capture unseen business growth opportunities and to connect the brand with the business development strategy of your organisation.
- Demonstrate to your business the existing and potential performance of your brand to exploit sales and profit opportunities
- Put brand investment at the top of the boardroom agenda and an ROI to brand investment on the board’s performance dashboard
- Provides an ongoing tracking of key brand performance metrics of yours and competing brands
- Provides a benchmark set of metrics prior to change and the measures that validate change and investment
- This is just three of the many technology tools that go beyond the obvious. Imagine the added value to your brand and business if B2B marketers unleashed the full potential technology now provides.
Mark Lethbridge CEO Gravity Global and President of MAGNET (Marketing and Advertising Global Network).