It’s that time of year again, when everyone starts thinking about what next year will bring. It’s a time to both reflect on the gains of this past year and think about what we can do to prepare ourselves for the future.
Marketing technology changes faster than anyone can keep up, but at the same time, many of the challenges of the past few years remain challenges today. Here are five B2B marketing challenges that marketers will face in 2016:
1. Continued Maturation of Account-Based Marketing
Account-based marketing (ABM) became a huge focus for B2B marketers this year. It’s been a sales term for a while now, but marketers are finally catching up...and more importantly, they are now starting to have the technology to catch up.
Right now, account-based marketing entails things like setting up specific LinkedIn ad campaigns targeted at big accounts, and making sure that the messaging of those ads match the type of work the sales team is doing on those same accounts.
But what’s the next step? How do marketers leverage the advances in digital marketing and the vast amount of data that is being collected to do even more effective ABM? What does ABM look like in 2016? We’re not sure...and that will be the challenge marketers face this upcoming year.
2. Marketing-Sales Alignment
SiriusDecisions research shows that “highly aligned B2B organizations achieve 19 percent faster revenue growth and 15 percent higher profitability.” According to the State of Pipeline Marketing survey, only one-third of organizations consider their marketing and sales teams tightly aligned. Organizational alignment, according to SiriusDecisions, is when an organization has a collection of technologies that are selected and architected to effectively execute core sales, marketing and product processes, measure the results and achieve those functions’ collective goals.
In 2016, marketers will need to think outside of their marketing silo when considering new technology and processes. It will take a shift in mindset to begin thinking about how their marketing decisions affect the sales team and the product team, in order to ensure that there is strategic organizational alignment.
3. Focusing on Quality Content, not Quantity
Content marketing is thriving in the B2B marketing world. It seems like just about every company has adopted it as a major marketing priority, and that of course leads to one thing: major clutter. In 2016, B2B marketing teams will need to figure out how to break through the clutter and that will be through quality -- creating content that both resonates and has compounding value.
[Source: Tomasz Tunguz]
How do you know what content will live on and keep producing value? How do you recycle and optimize content for different formats?
4. Mapping the Customer Decision Journey
Knowing your customer has always been a pillar of marketing. It’s the fundamentals. That’s why it is so shocking that even in 2015, only 13 percent of companies firmly believe they understand the decision journeys of their customers, according to the Marketing Disruption Study (ANA and McKinsey & Co). And nearly half can’t measure the critical stages of that journey. With the amount of data that is now available and with all of the advances in marketing technology, that isn’t acceptable.
B2B companies, if they want to gain a competitive advantage, will need to research and invest in the marketing tools necessary to better understand the customer journey. Once marketers can better map the customer decision journey, they will be able to provide more value by matching their content and offer strategies to the correct stages in the funnel.
5. Connecting Marketing Spend to Revenue
And if you talk to their executives, that’s because marketers are currently unable to prove the value of their investments. If marketers want their bosses to invest, they have to be able to connect their activities to revenue -- show that the money going out is doing something to bring money back in.
The 2015 State of Pipeline Marketing Report found that marketers who use marketing automation tools, CRMs, and attribution solutions enjoy a greater ROI...and are able to prove it through attribution.
Marketing attribution connects marketing activities to their downstream revenue, allowing marketing to accurately receive revenue credit. It gives credit where it’s due. For example, with attribution, marketers will be able to say that the $30,000 spent on the PPC campaign drove $100,000 in revenue. If marketers can report like this, rather than saying it drove X amount impressions or Y amount of clicks, companies will be more open to investing in new marketing technology.
It all comes back to revenue.
Are you ready to take these challenges on?