Sifting through the plethora of B2B marketing trends from industry experts, we see four critical pathways that CMOs should consider taking in 2022. What’s on the horizon? The keyword is strategy. Virtually every company of the middle-market and enterprise variety is at an inflection point. Most functions or departments are undergoing a reinvention of how they work and deliver value to their organizations under the framework of digital transformation. It’s not a new concept, but the commitment and focus is certainly renewed and accelerated. We expect a shift to a more integrated and holistic enterprise approach to content, buyer empathy, measurement and partner engagement – especially urgent for those in the technology sector.
Let’s explore what these pathways are and what they can mean to marketing teams:
- Content as a strategic business asset
- Deep buyer understanding and empathy
- Measurement redux
- PX stands for partner experience
Content as a strategic business asset.
“Prepare for the great merger of marketing content, content marketing, and content operations. Content is becoming a business strategy. Full stop. Content marketers will need to upskill into strategy, technology, and content structure. Content strategists will need to upskill into creative storytelling and thought leadership. And everybody will need to upskill into measurement design.” Robert Rose, CMI
What does this mean? The high quality and relevant content that companies need today does not create or publish itself. In order for content to actually deliver on business strategy, change needs to happen at the organizational level in terms of strategy, operations, talent/teams and how content is measured. For many organizations, content has been largely channel-driven, tactical and ad-hoc without real purpose. And traditionally, content teams have been small, time-starved, underrepresented siloes with little time to be strategic. All contributing factors to why it took a pandemic to elevate content strategy in organizations. But that’s OK, we say better late than never.
To get your bearings on the state of content in organizations, including why having a strategic framework is foundational, read our take on content evolution.
Deep buyer understanding and empathy.
“Since customer expectations and behaviors have drastically changed due to the pandemic, it has become more complex (and crucial) than ever for B2B companies to predict customers’ intent more accurately. The ever-increasing digitalization of customer journeys demands marketing teams take on a larger role across the buyer life cycle. Mapping a customer’s entire experience with a business. It helps ensure a holistic customer view is considered when planning new products or services to improve the customer experience. B2B business can master the following CX fundamentals for effective marketing: understand the customer better than competitors, create strong and unique experiences, and build a customer-focused culture.” Gartner
Not jargon. Buyers do consider themselves to be on a journey when it comes to choosing and using B2B products and services. A long and hard journey, fraught with misalignment and indecision. Not made easy by many, save for the experts quoted in this post and your friends at ComBlu. Not to toot our own horn too much (we have to a little), but when we paint the 360-degree view of the buyer journey, it’s pretty eye-opening for our clients. When we connect all of those dots from pre-awareness and post-purchase, teams can feel buyer pain over their own — and they can see opportunities to enable and empower buyers at different stages of need.
“B2B marketers have a perception problem, in many cases of our own making. We make up our own acronyms and expect the rest of the company to get on board, vs. starting with metrics and language that the CFO, CEO and Board already use and value. We focus on the “marketing of more” (more leads, more clicks, more impressions!) which is a never-ending race. If we instead focused on impact, quantity becomes secondary.” Matt Heinz
This. In terms of measurement, most companies are doing it wrong. Admittedly so. In fact, their entire approach to measurement and reporting needs to be recalibrated. Marketing teams struggle with attribution, yes — but they struggle with executive alignment more. CMOs needs to measure and report on higher level outcomes and strategic impact to their peers in the C-Suite. They need a better, broader understanding of how marketing activity as a whole contributes to revenue and reputation. Don’t stop tracking leads and clicks to understand campaign and asset performance (critically important) but evolve. Provide learnings and insight into the bigger picture and what’s next. Before you can redesign your measurement approach and ultimately deliver an integrated dashboard, get your arms around what every team is looking at by doing a comprehensive metrics audit and reporting review.
PX stands for partner experience.
“For the first time, CMOs will stake claim on partner experience (PX). B2B partner ecosystems are changing…We predict that in 2022, half of B2B marketers will start to look at partner ecosystems as creators of value, not just as channels to markets, and will establish a PX function.” Forrester
Yes! Typically responsible for 50% or more of revenue for most technology companies, partners have been underserved for years. The CMO is the perfect leader to own this important channel. Partners are a trusted source for buyers (more so than suppliers), but good ones can be timely and costly for customers to identify. Much can be done to help buyers find the right partner match. Partners are a wealth of knowledge for marketing on the state of buying, industry dynamics, and hot topics and should be tapped. We recommend building out partner personas as a jumping off point.
Let’s recap – there are four critical pathways B2B marketing leaders should consider taking in 2022. Elevate content strategy. Understand and empathize about your buyer more deeply. Measure and report differently and more strategically. Engage partners more methodically. Start working your magic. Or, connect with us and we will work ours. Here’s to a happy, healthy and productive year ahead!
Jenny is a digital content strategist, who leads customer-centric engagements that focus on understanding B2B buying behaviors and developing custom roadmaps.
Her expertise is creating buyer personas and mapping digital content journeys to assess the multi-channel user experience. She helps clients operationalize plans across workstreams and identifies processes to create efficiencies in marketing operations. Jenny also has extensive time under her belt developing and managing customer advocacy programs and community building.
She has helped a diverse group of organizations including Cisco, VMware, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, BMO Harris, Capital One and many others become more customer-centric.