In our first blog that introduced “The Path to CX Excellence,” we talked about every brand’s path being unique. The path you follow depends on your current business priorities across marketing, sales, commerce, services and field service. This blog explores the path an organization might take if they want to improve their B2B marketing. Thus, its title “The Path to CX Excellence for B2B Marketers”……
In 1993, I was given my first email address while working for a small private company. It seemed like magic! How could we have ever done business without this amazing communication tool? We used ACT! (Account Contact Tracking) to manage our contacts and sent “bulk” emails to groups of contacts to communicate about important business opportunities.
It was an exciting, cost-efficient way to communicate—faster than the post office and cheaper than a phone call. As email popularity grew in the 90’s, we were hungry to add any business associates into the contact database. Too late to call a contact? No problem. Send an email! It changed the way we did business almost overnight.
Marketers took advantage of this new channel and next built a presence on what we called the “World Wide Web” – aka the Internet. Thus began the digital age of marketing.
In today’s Experience Economy, customers expect marketers to know them better than they know themselves. Customers expect seamless and personalized digital experiences—right now. As digital marketers, we often have obstacles in the way. Things such as siloed and bad customer data, disconnected point solutions, plus scale and performance issues that hinder the creation and measurement of how experiences are performing. It’s frustrating for even the most seasoned marketer. Now with the influx of new marketing experience expectations from buyers, it can be difficult to know where to begin.
At Oracle, we’ve had a front row seat watching how many of our customers have addressed these challenges. From them, we’ve noted four specific stages of maturity in their strategies, programs, campaigns and how their various teams interact across the business. We call this the “Path to Marketing Excellence.” These four stages are consistent across:
Business to business (B2B) sales,
Large considered purchases, and
Business to consumer purchases (B2C), with nuances for each.
For this blog, the focus will be on B2B marketing teams.
#1 Broadcast Marketing is where the path to marketing excellence begins - at the most basic stage of marketing automation. The focus for the marketer here is to gain efficiencies in automating mass email communications across their contact database. Marketers are primarily focused on one to two channels, email and a website, where they hope to engage new prospects and current customers.
If they have a CRM system, it may be integrated so they can pass contacts back and forth between marketing and sales. Most communications in this stage are ‘batch and blast,’ where the same messages are sent to all contacts at once. Here, marketers seek to reduce the costs of customer acquisition and improve marketing efficiencies.
Unfortunately, this is only good as a short-term fix because 55% of the total emails sent across the globe are marked as SPAM because the messages are irrelevant to the person receiving them. Opt-outs increase, and we begin to see deliverability issues. When this occurs, marketers realize they have to understand their customer’s interests better, which pushes them to the next stage.
#2 Responsive Marketing is more of a conversation with customers and prospects than a one-way push. At this stage, marketers begin to react and respond to customer behaviors. They collect and engage customers across multiple channels with the specific goal of increasing revenue and decreasing the time to buy. By engaging customers on the channels they frequent most, it increases the likelihood they will interact more with an organization. Lead scoring and lead management are a part of this stage and we see specific strategies hone in on the right targeting and segmentation strategies that create the best audiences, based on each contact’s specific interests.
The marketing team becomes more mature and begins tracking behaviors. If forms or pages are abandoned, they can do testing to better optimize their emails, landing pages and web experiences. They become smarter about their customer’s interests. They begin nurturing them by providing adaptive, more personalized campaigns designed to guide customers toward a specific experience path based on their interactions.
Most marketers that fall into this stage do a good job of acquiring new leads. However, a lack of message consistency across channels might plague them, making the experience feel broken. According to Gartner, 90% of marketers still struggle to seamlessly connect more than three channels at a time, making consistent messaging and coordination a major challenge - encouraging them to keep pushing to get to the next stage.
#3 - Relationship Marketing shows marketers embracing more AI-driven decision-making to increase customer retention. Customer experiences are connected across marketing channels, increasing the relevancy of their marketing programs and offers.
At the heart of this stage are advanced segmentation, strong ABM programs that increase marketing and sales alignment, send-time optimization, AI-driven offers and intelligent orchestration. This is very sophisticated marketing at this state of excellence. If you’re a B2B marketer, you’re likely enjoying great returns as B2B buyers who consume highly consistent information across multiple supplier channels are 4x more likely to be more interested in your brand. There’s much more that should be considered. Data silos among marketing, sales and service can inflict a lot of pain on customers when the right hand of your organization doesn’t know what the left hand knows. The Experience Economy requires marketers to think beyond the traditional bounds of marketing, otherwise, this stage hits a wall. Remember, customers today only see a single brand experience. Nonetheless, most organizations still do not connect marketing, sales and service together, leaving gaps across the full experience.
In the Experience Economy, the customer experience (CX) is the new battleground. Not having data connected among marketing, sales, and service puts your organization at risk of losing customers because of disruptions to their experience. “To the customer, it’s all one big team: Customers don’t care which department they talk to when they need help. They just want to get their questions answered and their problems resolved.” (Forbes)
#4 Lifecycle Engagement is all about delivering a unified brand experience across all customer touchpoints. The ultimate goal is to maximize customer lifetime value and reduce customer churn by delivering a relevant, consistent and timely experience at each customer touchpoint. Central to this stage in the journey is a data-first approach that connects customer intelligence across marketing, sales, commerce, service and loyalty systems.
With this comprehensive understanding of customers, marketers, sales reps and service reps are better able to have contextually relevant interactions with customers. Every time your customer engages with your brand, it increases your ability to outcompete your rivals in the market.