B2B Marketing Blog

The Golden Age of B2B Marketing Is Here [UPDATE: One Year Later…]

By Jordan Con
Oct 6, 2016

A little over a year ago, Dave Rigotti, Head of Marketing at Bizible, wrote an article about why he thought it was the golden age of B2B marketing and why he was proud to be a B2B marketer.

“We’re finally getting the tools and credit we deserve and it’s all thanks to the marketing technology revolution, especially marketing operations. Just look at our SaaS marketing technology stack: so much of it is specific to B2B.

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This revolution didn’t happen overnight, nor could it have. Smart marketing is reliant on data. Pure and simple. So what data is driving the B2B marketing technology revolution? Marketing operations, specifically the focus on revenue.”

He went on to describe the various segments of marketing technology that were showing signs of promise, all with a focus on marketing generating more revenue.

He mentioned technologies including ABM systems, attribution solutions, and even marketing platforms and ad networks built specifically for the needs of B2B marketers. And then he closed by saying that he was proud to be a B2B marketer because of the marketing technology and what it empowers us to do.

So a year later, where are we now? Should we still be proud? Are more B2B marketers able to impact and prove their impact on the bottom line?

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Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

ABM has become the hottest B2B marketing development of the year. It means spending less on unqualified prospects, which allows marketers and salespeople to spend more time and resources properly engaging prospects that we already know are qualified for our product or service.

At Bizible, we planned on slowly increasing the proportion of ABM that we were doing throughout the year. We’d start with 10% ABM and 90% demand gen, then shift to 20% / 80%, 30% / 70%, etc. But within the first quarter of the year, we found ourselves investing nearly 100% of our paid media in ABM strategies because it was so successful.

The shift to ABM has been much swifter than we could have imagined. With account-based attribution that we can trust (which we’ll touch on next), we’re able to see the value of account-based campaigns.

In the last year alone, the ABM ecosystem has dramatically matured. The advancements in ABM technology now mean it can be planned efficiently, executed at scale, and measured accurately. For organizations that align with the strengths of ABM (reasonably finite number of possible customers and larger deal sizes, for example), it is one of the prime reasons for this golden age.

Attribution

Similarly, attribution has come a long way this year -- particularly in two ways. First, attribution has had to work with ABM strategies. B2B deals are made by accounts not individuals, so in order to connect marketing’s impact to revenue, it’s critical for attribution solutions to map complete account journeys, from the account’s first touch to the account’s last touch (hopefully closed-won). Account-based attribution is critical to successful ABM. In fact, this year, Measurement (a.k.a. account-based attribution) was added as the fifth pillar of the ABM cloud.

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Second, multi-touch attribution models have developed significantly. An increasing number of B2B marketers are now using multi-touch models like the W-shaped model to account for multiple marketing touchpoints at different stages of the funnel. Some are even measuring their marketing impact beyond the opportunity stage and using the Full-Path model. And even beyond that, attribution solutions are beginning to use machine learning algorithms to create custom attribution models.

These two developments have made attribution more accurate and more actionable. If the golden age of B2B marketing is about technology that enables marketers to increase and show their revenue impact, attribution is the quintessential example.

B2B Ad Networks

One of the most important (if not the most important) B2B-specific ad networks is LinkedIn. Because it foundationally is a professional job-seeking network, LinkedIn has a treasure trove of professional data, like company name, company size, professional skills, and job titles. Naturally, these also make for effective means of audience targeting for B2B marketers.

But since Dave originally claimed the benefits of B2B ad networks, LinkedIn has improved even more. Features like bulk list uploading have allowed for B2B marketers to more easily use LinkedIn for ABM at scale. This September, LinkedIn also announced native conversion tracking. This is the first step in helping marketers understand their down-funnel performance.

From ABM execution to measurement, B2B ad networks are becoming more sophisticated.

As you can see, the golden age of B2B marketing hasn’t disappointed. In fact, it’s better than we expected and shows promise for an even brighter future.

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