We can look to COVID-19 as the accelerant needed to adapt B2B marketing, but it is only that, an accelerant. Buyers were changing their habits long before COVID (how they consume content, research and make decisions, engage with vendors), and they will continue on that path. We are now in a buyer's world, and we need a buyer-driven strategy. But it's a significant change for organizations that typically follow a marketing-driven or sales-driven strategy. Integrate believes they have the technology to help make that change.
I spoke with Integrate CMO Deb Wolf about the changes marketers face and how the technology, Integrate's in particular, is evolving to support those changing needs.
Adopting a buyer-driven strategy
Wolf said that buyers don't care where they are in your marketing-defined journey map; they don't know or care about campaigns, accounts, or anything marketing or sales organizes. They want information to help them make purchase decisions, and they want an easy path to purchase regardless of where they are. Organizations need a solution that orchestrates a consistent experience across the entire journey.
Although there are a number of best-of-breed technologies to support marketing and sales, including ABM solutions, marketing automation, sales enablement, and so on, only a few tackle multiple channels and strategies. For example, Demandbase One is a combination of lead generation and ABM. But no tech vendor is investing in all channels. That's where Integrate sees its Demand Acceleration Platform (DAP) fitting in.
The Demand Acceleration Platform mixes account-based marketing, demand generation, and lead generation capabilities into a single platform. It also includes event (in-person and virtual) marketing, along with other capabilities.
The key to Integrate's DAP is its data capabilities. Integrate has a built-in CDP that cleans, validates, and verifies the data coming in before it's sent to marketing automation or the CRM (this includes ensuring compliance with privacy regulations). Wolf said the company also put a lot of investment into data sights, enabling marketers to see exactly what they are getting from channels, identifying intent, and delivering more personalized experiences across the account, marketing campaign, or person.
Other capabilities include content syndication - Integrate has a marketplace that includes over 150 publishers - and a robust marketing ecosystem with partnerships that include technology vendors, data providers, service providers, and others. And, of course, it has capabilities for tracking, measuring, and improving performance.
Why is the shift to a buyer-driven strategy so hard?
Why is this shift to a buyer-driven strategy so hard? Wolf believes it is because organizations continue to be siloed - in their technology and organizational structure. And it's true - even within departments, there are silos of information and team set up. A buyer-focused strategy requires a horizontal approach, and that's a real challenge to shift towards.
Marketing is also now a full lifecycle team; it's no longer only about acquisition, and marketers are challenged with thinking beyond the sale. That makes this shift that much more challenging but also full of potential.
Wolf suggested that it's key for orgs to stay agile and find solutions to piece together the entire buyer journey. She recommended setting up smaller groups to focus on what this new experience is all about; all continually shift and align to that experiences all the time.
Something else Wolf said was important to recognize. B2B buyers know how to buy in a B2C way, and they want (even expect) to apply that B2C buying experience to their B2B buying experience.
Ten key elements for a buyer-driven strategy
Wolf walked me through what Integrate believes are the ten key elements of a buyer-driven strategy. They include:
- Deliver a buyer-driven experience. You need to build an experience that is ‘connected, aligned, and personalized to the buyer. Not to Sales.
- Be open for business. Wolf said you want an Account-Based Management (ABM) strategy, but you also want to be open for business for anyone who wants to engage with you. Intent data helps you find the right accounts to drive demand with them.
- A single point of truth. You need a centralized location to manage your data
- Data governance at the core of everything. Marketable, compliant data is critical to support your buyers across all channels.
- Precision targeting. To get buyers to you, you have to meet them where they are before anyone else does.
- Personalize. Personalize. Personalize the experience.
- Multi-channel experiences. You have to use a variety of channels, where the buyer is, and that build connected, meaningful touchpoints.
- Measure and adapt. It's critical to have visibility across all channels to measure performance and understand where you need to focus your efforts.
- Be agile, including your organization structure. Things are constantly changing, including for buyers. You need to have the processes in place to ensure you can adapt as necessary.
- Build buyer-focused teams. Let me implement the technology and processes to build omni-channel experiences.
It was nice to talk with Wolf about building marketing strategies that combine what are typically siloed activities. B2B companies need Account-Based Marketing, but it shouldn't be a standalone strategy implemented by a separate team. When visitors come to your site through lead generation or demand generation programs, they should be evaluated as potential accounts and treated accordingly.
If organizations continue to build silos in the marketing department, they will struggle. Of course, the flip side is that they will also struggle to build these buyer-driven teams that cross boundaries. Which struggle is worth the effort? That's a no-brainer.