• Emily Malone

4 things for b2b marketers to get serious about in 2018

What does it take to deliver a well-executed customer experience in 2018? What are the emerging strategies and technologies to look out for? Well, according to Salesforce‘s annual State of Marketing report, these are where today’s most savvy b2b marketers are focusing their efforts.

1. ABM personalisation

Account-based marketing (ABM, for short) is where you concentrate on targeting fewer, better-quality prospects. The main benefit of ABM is it makes personalisation so much easier, because you’re directing hand-picked, tailored content to specific researched accounts. This helps you make more of an impression, because you’re communicating the right content at exactly the right time in your customer’s journey. But that all depends on getting the right data, of course, so you’ll need to work collaboratively with your sales team or use a tool like Datanyze.

To get started with ABM, you need to first identify your target audience. Then you need to research your accounts with your sales team, create your content, and choose the channels you want to run your campaigns through. Don’t worry, I’ll write a separate post which goes into more detail about getting to grips with ABM, so keep an eye out for that!

2. Customer journey strategies

What channels are your customers using? When do they want to hear from you? And what happened in their last interaction with your business? Context, data, and history will help you grasp exactly what they need from you at each stage of the journey. In fact, Salesforce found that 89% of the top marketing teams have aligned with a solid customer journey strategy, to help make sure they’re always giving their customers the best service.

But it turns out that there’s still room for improvement. Most marketers say just over half (51%) of their marketing messages remain ‘identical from one channel to the next’. This is probably because gaining a single view of our customers and leveraging data from various sources can be fairly difficult. Pair that difficulty with rising customer expectations and the massive growth of new marketing channels, and you can see why it’s a bit of a head-scratcher. This is why 2018 is the year to really nail your customer journey strategy down and find the right tech to help you.

3. Artificial Intelligence

AI is increasingly lending marketers a hand with reducing manual workloads and improving their targeting. And no, it’s not going to replace marketers and marketing teams, like some have speculated. So adjust your tin hat, because it’s simply going to help us be more efficient at what we do. Essentially, marketing is all about communicating with people, right? Well, AI is just going to help amplify that.

Here are a few things AI will lend a hand with:

  1. Leveraging smart scoring to predict each customer’s likelihood to convert

  2. Using predictive intelligence to segment and build audiences based on likely future actions

  3. Automatically adapting the journey for each individual customer

  4. Delivering the best next product, content, or offer each time

  5. Getting more from our data and ramping up personalisation, without burdening teams

  6. Sending messages at the right time, when a customer is most likely to engage.

4. Marketing tech

Salesforce expects that using marketing technologies will become much more popular over the next couple of years. They found that high-performing marketers tend to be heavier tech users, with most reporting that their current tech stack aids collaboration, increases productivity, and drives a more integrated view of customer data. The top marketing teams also say that data management platforms are the most must-have tool for one-to-one, personalised marketing — at every touchpoint.

86% of all high performing marketing teams say their current marketing technology stack is ‘extremely or very effective’ at delivering ‘better analytic insights’, while 85% say the same about enabling a ‘more cohesive view of customer data’.

High performing teams also consistently named these tools as ‘essential’ to provide more personalised experiences:

  1. Data management platforms (DMP)

  2. Customer relationship management system (CRM)

  3. Marketing analytics/measurement tools

  4. Channel coordination.

So it’s clear to see that in general, personalising the customer journey with new strategies and integrated technologies is what’s concerning marketers the most in 2018. Because, well, that’s just how you find the best quality leads these days. If you’ve entered January looking to spruce up your sales and marketing with any of this in mind, take a look at how we can help with that!