Considering the lightning speed at which technology is transforming our daily lives, it’s no surprise that the marketing landscape is evolving at a similar pace. What does the future of marketing look like? While it can be a challenge to stay ahead of the trends, shifts, and latest developments in marketing at any given moment, we’ve never shied away from a challenge.
In the spirit of a new year and a brand-new decade, we looked at some of the biggest obstacles we, as marketers, have been facing up until now, and created some objectives and resolutions for the years to come. We also want to know about your own goals and objectives, so we can provide you with the most valuable resources possible. At the end of this blog, you’ll be able to share your resolutions, priorities, concerns, and more.
It comes as no surprise to us that more than a third of CMOs say their number one focus is sustainable growth.* So, we dug deeper, and found that marketers across the industry reported a number of substantial challenges that they felt stood as obstacles to achieving this higher-level growth:
- Finding effective scalability solutions
- Proving the impact of digital marketing
- Choosing and integrating the right technologies for their team
- Acquiring buy-in from executive leadership and the C-suite
As marketers ourselves, we went to work to figure out how to overcome these obstacles. We came up with five recommendations that we believe will help solve these challenges — and more importantly, that we believe will help drive growth well into the next decade.
1. Personalize everything
There are no two ways about it: your customers want personalized content from all your channels, including web and email. With tech transforming our ability to fine-tune every message, consumers have less and less patience for generic web content and marketing emails and are far more likely to tune you out if you aren’t speaking relevantly and directly to them.
Providing personalized content can create a better customer experience, and it also builds trust. When people interact with personalized content online and through email, they are much more likely to convert. Many B2B organizations have static websites that serve up the same content to all visitors, regardless of where they are from, what device they’re using, and their business data.
This is where AI can be critical to your personalization efforts. In fact, more than half of marketers that have AI use it for content personalization.* Using predictive models that use machine learning to determine which types of web and email content customers prefer represents the next frontier in personalization. By incorporating predictive content into your website, you can match the right content to each visitor, even if they are new to your site. (Browsing data like company name, location, etc. can help your model determine which content to serve.) It can also help you personalize email campaigns and make them better over time.
How companies are using AI in their marketing activities:
Our final word: adopt predictive modeling to personalize customer interactions with all your channels.
2. Focus on revenue attribution
Nearly two-thirds of CMOs say demonstrating the impact of marketing actions on financial outcomes is their biggest communication challenge.* But only about one-fourth of all B2B product companies and one-third of B2B service companies can prove the impact of marketing activities on revenues.*
These stats show a significant problem with current reporting strategies because as we mentioned earlier, one of the top obstacles for marketers is being able to prove to leadership that they should invest in marketing innovation.
Typically, CMOs use ROI and pipeline metrics to quantify marketing performance for the CEO and CFO. Those can be useful metrics—if they’re accurate. And surprisingly, even with the highly sophisticated tools and resources available with today’s tech, many businesses still use spreadsheets and other piecemeal tools to measure marketing attribution! Suffice to say, for long and complex customer journeys with many different touchpoints, these partial solutions do not remotely do justice to the impact of marketing on revenue.
Accurate revenue attribution is essential to marketing-powered growth. A comprehensive marketing attribution system can help you improve marketing performance and gain support for scaling successful innovations. Your system needs to be able to track the customer journey from the first, anonymous contact (such as a visit to your blog or website) through all the different interactions that precede a sale.
You should also be able to define multiple programs, channels, touchpoints, etc. and map your complete customer journey, no matter how long and complex it is.
It’s also important that your attribution solution connects seamlessly to your marketing automation platform and your CRM. Marketing automation systems can track performance for different channels, but they can’t always tie all this information together, or link it to sales. Your CRM contains bottom-of-the-funnel data and actual sales.
Our final word: audit your current marketing attribution solution — and if it isn’t accurate and doesn’t work seamlessly with your CRM, change it ASAP.
(*The 2019 CMO Survey, Deloitte)
3. Make mobile marketing a priority
Mobile marketing has always been challenging, especially for B2B companies and B2C companies that offer complex products. But mobile selling is now coming into its own, both with B2B and B2C consumers. Mobile apps can be a significant source of revenue for B2B companies, particularly when they’re used to capture repeat orders from existing customers.
Here are some quick, high-value tips for mobile optimization:
- Analyze customer behavior on your mobile-friendly web pages and in your mobile app.
- Understand how mobile users are interacting with emails they open on mobile devices. Almost two-thirds of emails are now opened on mobile devices.
- Take advantage of mobile-first channels, such as text messages, push notifications, and more.
Our final word: if you haven’t already optimized your website for mobile viewing and/or developed a mobile app, it’s time to get on it. Mobile should be an integrated part of your marketing plan, and fully supported by your marketing automation solution.
4. Measure long-term performance
Marketers are addicted to short-term metrics. Weekly, monthly, and quarterly goals keep us all on our toes. But most of the metrics we measure look at fairly compressed timeframes, and when we focus so intently on the short-term, we can miss longer-term trends that may reveal opportunities for growth.
Incorporating longer-term KPIs into your performance measurement mix can help you see further than your competition and grow faster. Long-term performance measurement requires a complete dataset, so whatever tool you use for marketing analytics should connect easily to your CRM and other relevant platforms. You should be able to design your own reports without resorting to spreadsheets or asking IT for custom code. You should also have access to predictive analysis that can forecast future trends from your existing data.
Predictive analysis often relies on machine learning and other forms of AI. Using machine learning can help you discover the characteristics of customers that respond to your marketing, seasonal engagement patterns, most appealing product combinations, and more.
Our final word: Make sure you’re set up tactically to measure long-term trends and don’t miss the opportunity to use the insights gleaned to design new, and more effective strategies.
5. Connect marketing and sales
Aligning your marketing and sales teams is a simple but effective strategy for growth. It’s also quite a bit harder than it sounds.
Many organizations have major disconnects between sales and marketing baked into their existing processes. Leads may be passed from person to person based on internal rules rather than customer requirements. Marketing data may not be passed to sales at all (or vice versa). And most frustratingly, leadership may treat marketing and sales as fully separate entities.
Yes, it can potentially feel like you’re walking into pandemonium. But don’t be deterred — connecting marketing and sales simply requires a mix of process and technology.
From a process standpoint, it means meeting with sales, sharing metrics, and identifying what needs to be improved. It also means being accountable for sticking to plans. And if you practice account-based marketing (ABM), it also makes sense to create a shared revenue model that tracks each step from lead to sale and allows marketing and sales to share ownership of the results. From a technology standpoint, you must find a solution to integrate marketing and sales data. It is also essential to have a marketing automation platform that will allow you to design custom lead scoring models and easily share information across teams.
Our final word: while it takes some adjustment time and requires thoughtful, direct communication, putting the right processes and technology in place will ultimately make collaboration with sales easier — and growth will follow.
Now, in the spirit of personalization, connectivity, and smarter predictions, we’d love to hear from you directly. What are your concerns, goals, and marketing resolutions for 2020? Take this survey to help us better understand what’s top of mind for you and most relevant to your business in the year to come.