Planning the Personalised Journey
The word campaign describes many things in B2B marketing, from a single email blast through to a coordinated program of cross-channel activities spanning months or even years. A successful marketing department needs to run both these things and everything in between.
The vast scope of what a campaign can be makes both planning and reporting challenging for businesses of all sizes. In a world where marketing needs to justify every penny, every marketing activity must contribute to the customer journey. The days of scattered one-and-done activities have ended. Business value and marketing efficiency are now the foundations for ongoing success.
Good planning and coordinated strategies are much more important than they used to be. Random acts of marketing have been replaced by 13-week calendars that roll up to a set of mutually agreed campaign themes fitting the core business objectives. Marketers need to be able to report the business outcomes of these themes to the board, as well as the results of each individual activity to the CMO.
Marketing no longer operates in a silo. Many CMOs now have revenue targets that they must meet. Those that don't are expected to measure the success of their activities in language that the CEO and CFO understand. That means pipeline and product growth, rather than leads and opportunities. Campaigns need to generate actual business value rather than promises of future growth. Businesses want the age-old misalignment between sales and marketing to be solved, and are incentivising both sets of departmental leaders to close the gap between marketing outcomes and sales expectations.
These changes in reporting and measurement influence marketing at every level. Every marketing plan is based around a core set of themes and messages related to how the business wants to present itself to the outside world. When defining those themes, marketers start from the basic go to market strategy decided at board level, building their messaging around the growth sectors and the competitor threats. Personalisation is the name of the game, focusing on the value that each product or solution brings to a specific customer.
Actually delivering a revenue or growth target, requires that message to be focused on the customer, not the product. Modern consumers will tune out businesses that talk too much about themselves. There is simply too much content and too much noise in the marketplace for such a self-centred approach to cut through. Instead, marketers need to start with the buyer's perspective. Your customers want to know how your business helps them. Consider the core challenge solved by each product, then articulate this challenge and the potential benefits of solving it. If that message aligns with the goals and values of your audience, then success will follow.
B2B buying is a complex and long-winded process. Marketing reinforcement is needed at every stage. As such, every message has to resonate across the funnel. If simply collecting large numbers of leads is not a measurement of success, then that message must be relevant to all the right market segments and should continue throughout the customer journey. It should solve the brand awareness need, defining the values and positioning of the business and its products or services.
With subtle tweaks, that same theme should also work in a lead generation context, acting as a tent pole for evaluation stage content, thereby providing a reason for prospects to convert. That theme will then continue down the funnel as a starting point for sales conversations, linking the different teams and departments within the business together. Sales enablement collateral will translate that initial concept into the essential benefits of whichever products or services are being sold.
Personalisation is about more than just content. It's about tactics too, allowing prospects to consume that content at the time and location of their choosing. Your content needs to reach the buyer in the places they research potential problems and possible solutions. That's never the same for every individual. It's not enough to simply rely on customers to organically reach your site. They'll already have compiled a shortlist by that point, and you probably won't be on it. You want to be setting the parameters for that shortlist, defining the requirements and fixing the boundaries that every vendor must meet. That way, the buying process is already stacked in your favour even before customers start thinking about brands.
Every buying process is different, and in a competitive marketplace, every little advantage helps. Try to understand the most common customer journeys, and look to influence the buyer at critical moments by placing your content and message at the optimum locations. Not every channel needs to be served, that's just not efficient. However, the right channels need to be served, with the right content, for the right buying stage. Learn the strategies that work, and those that don't. Repeat the successes, but also try something new every time. In doing so, it is possible to deliver value for both the customer and the business. Your customers are always learning, and you should be too.
Banner Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel / Unsplash