Empathy Is Key To Engaging B2B Buyers

Laura Ramos

It’s no secret, company websites are a key implement in the B2B marketer’s toolbox.  B2B marketers rate websites as the second most effective demand management tactic for building awareness (behind events) in our 2016 Business Technographics marketing survey. B2B companies also expect more than half of their customers to buy online within three years.[i] These trends show just how important it is for marketers to get the website experience right – and to produce Web content that builds empathy to engage buyers.

So, is anyone doing this well today?  And, if so, what are they doing to make their content more engaging? In “Empathetic Content: The Key To Engaging B2B Buyers” we looked at 60 corporate websites across 12 different industries to figure this out. Sadly, we found most fail to deliver engaging, customer-focused content. Sadder still, not much has improved since we first undertook this exercise in 2014.

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Practice Makes Perfect: Lessons From Practitioners About Sales Enablement Automation

Steven Wright

Register now for the March 21, 2017, Forrester Webinar: "Sales Enablement In Action: Learning From B2B Practitioners."

The Forrester Wave™ process involves more than vendors. It also requires interviews with two to three reference customers for each solution. The new report, which Jacob Milender and I wrote, "Applying Sales Enablement Best Practices: Reference Customers For The Sales Enablement Automation Wave™ Reveal Lessons That They’ve Learned," looks at how these practitioners have achieved the benefits of sales enablement automation (SEA).

We spoke to 20 sales enablement practitioners from a variety of industries who were evenly divided between reporting to marketing and sales. That is a lesson on how the role of sales enablement still straddles the organizational divide. And as with any technology, it takes a lot more than flipping a switch for SEA systems to get up and running. All practitioners agreed that getting their house in order (that is, finding, categorizing, reviewing, and restructuring content) was a necessary first step no matter what solution they chose.

The most immediate measure of a successful launch and implementation was adoption by sellers. “They love it! Content is much easier to locate,” was a frequent comment. But beyond immediate adoption, there are still challenges for many sales and marketing leaders in getting the most out of SEA, including going beyond using basic content usage reporting to correlating successful content with moving opportunities through sales stages.

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Get Started With Programmatic Advertising To Optimize Your Outbound/ABM Targeting

Steven Casey

The economics of digital advertising have never been a great fit for business-to-business (B2B) marketers. Unlike our peers in business-to-consumer (B2C) markets, we rely more on targeted and lead-based communications than mass reach. But — as a recent report that I coauthored with Samantha Merlivat has shown — two trends are changing that dynamic:

  1. Account-based marketing (ABM) is driving interest in outbound channels. ABM includes the tactics of reaching out to known and unknown contacts at target accounts with personalized messaging. This is a great use case for programmatic media buying — enabling you to deliver the ad to a specific person wherever she goes on the web (versus traditional advertising, which is about placing an ad where you hope a specific person, or type of person, will visit).
  2. The programmatic advertising ecosystem is evolving to better support B2B marketing. The buying platforms, data providers, and publishers that previously catered to B2C marketers have begun to increase their resources and alter their approaches to achieve B2B-specific goals.
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Link Marketing Results To Decision Making And Revenue Outcomes

Allison Snow

Link B2B Marketing Results to Decision Making and Revenue OutcomesIf you took your company name and logo off of your marketing collateral, would the reader still know that it came from your firm? How strongly does your brand shine through in unique language, perspective, and distinct value? 

You can ask the same about your marketing performance reports. Are the metrics that you use to demonstrate success unique? Do they reflect your firm’s core priorities? Without these distinctions, you may be providing a collection of data that is ultimately disconnected from decision making.

If your marketing reports don’t enable performance management, it’s time that they do. Eighty-two percent of CMOs report that their goals directly align to revenue targets. But many practitioners acknowledge that marketing performance management programs require significant tuning to link marketing results to decision making and revenue outcomes.

The window of opportunity for you to lead your marketing department toward revenue relevance is closing. I suggest that you do the following before it shuts:

  1. Uncover your firm’s explicit path to revenue. You might be satisfied to make your numbers, but switch your focus to supporting a revenue mix that reflects your firm’s most strategic priorities. Get in lockstep with your organization’s explicit path to revenue. Perhaps this is net new customer acquisition from a specific industry, building out the market presence of a specific segment of the product portfolio, or customer service proficiency for up-sell and renewal revenue in a specific business line.
     
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Pricing Strategies For SaaS Providers

Duncan Jones

Most leaders of SaaS providers understand the importance of minimizing Churn and maximizing account enrichment, but few fully appreciate how vital to those goals is a good pricing and licensing strategy. My newly published report Pricing Strategies For Software-As-A-Service  is a must read for any business software company that sells or is thinking of selling via a subscription model. Here is a quick overview for anyone who isn't yet a Forrester client. 

Some industry experts talk about the "magic ratio" of lifetime customer value to acquisition cost. Aligning the price you charge each customer more closely with the value they are likely to receive from your product is vital to increasing the former and reducing the latter. Simplistic pricing undermines lifetime value by undercharging those customers who get the most benefit from your product. Don't think you can fix this error later if you get it wrong at the start - I've seen many start-up vendors limit their growth potential in this way. Flat rate pricing helped them get traction early on, but then when they wanted to accelerate revenue growth they found it impossible to persuade those early adopters to switch to a variable pricing structure. 

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Looking Forward To The B2B Marketing Forum In October 2017

Peter O'Neill

As I did in 2016, I thought that I would provide you with a timely reminder that we have reconfigured our events calendar this year, and the B2B Marketing 2017 forum is now scheduled for October 5th and 6th in Austin, Texas. If you have not done so, it is still not too late to catch up on our recent forum — here is a blog debrief and this is a podcast where I was interviewed after the event.

Planning is well underway. B2B Marketing 2017 will deepen and expand the discussion of post-digital marketing that we began in Miami in October 2016. Post-digital marketing describes practices that replace segmentation and aggregation strategies with marketing techniques that addresses customers at an individual level and engages them at specific moments of need or opportunity. Post-digital marketing is personalized and opportunistic, and our Austin program will examine in detail the application of post-digital marketing to specific marketing tasks and challenges as well as the technologies and platforms to deliver on that vision. So please mark your calendars if you have not already done so.

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It’s Time To Take Flight With Social Selling

Caroline Robertson

The logistics of business travel can be nightmarish, especially when productivity is most crucial, which is business as usual for today’s business-to-business (B2B) sellers. On the surface, million-mile platinum status is evidence of rock-star sellers who are willing to jump on a plane at a moment’s notice to build new and enrich existing relationships on behalf of their firm. But what about when prospects and customers don’t want to see you?

Whether it’s increasing workloads, the ability to be more efficient by participating in remote meetings, or the fact that buyers prefer to self-educate in the early phases of the evaluation process, today’s B2B buyers are less inclined to take sales meetings. Many don’t want to engage directly with sellers until they are further along with their own self-discovery. And when they do, expectations are high for sellers to show up in an advisory capacity and provide consultative expertise.

How then can you be present as a recognized expert with prospects and customers who want to spend less time with you? Mary Shea’s newest report, “Add Social Selling To Your B2B Marketing Repertoire,” explains how B2B sellers who add social selling activities to their daily routine can do this — and much more.

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The B2B Marketing Change Agenda

Lori Wizdo

I think we all accept that business buyers have higher expectations in the age of the customer.  They've  fundamentally changed their buying behavior in this digital age. Unfortunately, too many B2B marketers aren't keeping pace. They must evolve from brand stewards, lead generation machines, and sales supporters to architects of customer engagement across the customer life cycle. B2B marketing leaders need to introduce a change agenda to help B2B marketers lead the transformation to customer-obsessed marketing.  Here are some key takeaways from my recent report -- Get Ready For The B2B Marketing Renaissance -- on this topic.

Hey, It's Time To Catch Up With Your Buyer. Today's digitally empowered buyer controls the buying process far more than vendors control the selling process. B2B marketers must rethink their customer engagement strategies to catch up with an already evolved buyer.

2016 B2B Marketing Budget Plans Reveal ‘Business As Usual' Thinking. B2B marketing program spend held steady in 2015 at, on average, 6% of revenue. Yet the marketing mix remains stable and somewhat stolid, showing that marketers aren't yet looking for new ways to make operational funds generate more compelling customer experiences.

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It's Time To Take L2RM Beyond Revenue Performance

Lori Wizdo

 

I've just refreshed the core documents in Forrester, Lead-to-Revenue Playbook. While L2RM pioneers have realized significant business gains, they have also realized that L2RM is not just about taking responsibility for the impact of marketing spend on revenue performance or about standardizing, automating, and scaling your current marketing practice. Today's digitally empowered buyer controls the buying process far more than vendors control the selling process, and re-envisioning the L2R process offers B2B marketers a rapid evolutionary opportunity to catch up with an already evolved digital business buyer.  Forrester defines L2RM as:

A business system for marketers whose offerings mandate a long, complex, or highly considered buying process, comprising integrated goals, processes, and metrics that reshape marketing practices to drive effective customer engagement across the customer life cycle — from awareness to advocacy. It is measured through the metric of revenue performance — from new customer acquisition through lifetime value.

The point of this graphic is to show how your L2RM process needs to be tightly aligned to your buyer's journey.  

I'm thinking of calling it the B2B Marketing Flywheel.  What do you think?

Thank you if you bothered [formerly 'Why Bother']

Caroline Robertson

If you had a chance to participate in our survey, thank you so much.  We have now closed the survey.  

If you didn't get a chance to but are interested in becoming a panel member, please e-mail Matt Camuso at mcamuso@forrester.com and we'll be happy to include you in our panel so you can receive regular updates and participate in our next survey.

Original Blog Post:

We've recently gone live with our most recent primary research panel survey through which we are investigating the progress of ABM, Seller enablement and B2B Branding. If you’ve seen the invitation and completed our B2B Marketing survey, thank you.  

If you haven’t, the biggest question you likely have is ‘Why Bother?’  Here’s what your input helps us do for you;

  • Tune our research agenda to your most important imperatives
  • Give you the context of where you stand in relation to other B2B marketing leaders
  • Create fact-based research to guide your decisions and influence your constituents
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