The Predictive Marketing Analytics for B2B Marketers Forrester Wave

Allison Snow

When my colleague Laura Ramos and I set out to “Wave” the B2B predictive marketing analytics space, we knew that while there are impressive results across the board here, marketers struggle to identify differentiation among its vendors. We’re thrilled to have published Forrester’s first Wave that provides clarification to B2B marketers who seek to connect their business requirements to a predictive marketing analytics solution.

The Wave process begins by screening dozens of interested vendors and each participating vendor – household name or not – brings exceptional capabilities to the market.

We included 11 vendors in the assessment: 6sense, BrightTarget, EverString, Infer, Lattice, Leadspace, Mintigo, MRP, Radius, The Big Willow, and Versium.

Forrester Waves have a track record of delivering objective guidance to technology buyers of all stripes, supported with an interactive tool that marketers can use to zoom in on the capabilities that are important to them. We chose to focus on how well these offerings give marketers the ability to deploy predictive marketing analytics across the customer life cycle, to integrate with other popular martech solutions, and leverage a variety of data sources. Laura and I prioritized the following core principles as we built and assigned weights to each of the 28 criteria:

  • The extent to which solutions can reliably predict an outcome in a specific time frame.
  • The ease with which marketing and sales can execute campaigns using model output.
  • The degree to which model output supports engagement across the customer life cycle.
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A Healthy Future Welcomes Consultative B2B Sellers

Caroline Robertson

 

Mark Twain unknowingly echoed the state of today’s B2B sellers when he said, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” As Mary Shea writes in her newest report, “B2B Consultant Sellers Reign In The 21st Century,” it’s a selective sickness that ails today’s sales professionals. Those at greatest risk of the displacement as we described in another recent Forrester report, “Death Of A (B2B) Salesman: Two Years Later,” are those high-volume, low-value transactional sellers who suffer listless interest from self-educated buyers who are purchasing online at an increasing pace. But for customers who are uncertain about solutions that best suit their needs or ones with complex challenges, there remains healthy growth for sellers who possess the right attributes and who adopt the rigor of a new regimen.

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Power Your Digital Ecosystems With Business Platforms

Dan Bieler

Platforms” are fast becoming all the rage in the B2B context. Several traditional businesses like GE or Siemens are claiming to either offer or become a platform operation. A big driver for platforms in the B2B context has been the success of consumer-focused platform businesses like Amazon, Uber, or Airbnb.

Although the reality of B2B platforms looks more mundane than the hype, platforms in the B2B context offer real benefits to ecosystem participants. In the B2B context, the emergence of business platforms, like SupplyOn or GE’s Predix, primarily delivers new opportunities for enhanced customer engagement and operational efficiencies and agility.

Business platforms empower ecosystem participants to successfully cater to emerging multistakeholder environments through real-time, near cost-free, and omnidirectional information exchange. Business platforms empower ecosystems by facilitating the information exchange between products, partners, customers, and vendors. Business platforms support:

  • The infrastructure that connect ecosystem participants. Business platforms help organizations transform from local and linear ways of doing business toward virtual and exponential operations.
  • A single source of truth for ecosystem participants. Business platforms become a single source of truth for ecosystems by providing all ecosystem participants with access to the same data.
  • Business model and process transformation across industries. Platforms support agile reconfiguration of business models and processes through information exchange inside and between ecosystems.
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Trust Must Be The Foundation Of Your B2B Digital Ecosystem

Dan Bieler

Far from being a soft issue, trust underpins the management of your digital business and digital ecosystems. Trust is one of the most vital elements of any business relationship. But the shift away from linear value chains focused on internal relationships toward more open networks of relationships in the context of digital ecosystems has made trust a critical driver of new revenue opportunities and more efficient operations. As the foundation of your B2B digital ecosystem, trust has a significant impact on your bottom line as:

  • Multistakeholder relationships are gradually replacing interpersonal relationships. Enterprise customers expect their presales and aftersales engagements with vendors to be coherent and consistent. CIOs must support trust-building technology across the value chain.
  • Digital transformation that doesn’t put trust at the center will fail. Digital alters business dynamics. Trust is the oxygen of business activity. Without trust, all enterprise stakeholder relationships are suboptimal.
  • Trust scores will emerge to certify the trustworthiness of business and workers. To overcome the challenges of false identities and data tampering, data custodians will emerge to authenticate identities and ensure data quality.
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Platforms Are The Foundation For New Value Creation

Dan Bieler

While a lot has been written about consumer-facing platforms like Facebook and Uber, the platform impact on business-to-business relationships has not been as extensively investigated. However, these “business platform models” are transforming the way how traditional businesses create value. Business platforms will reorganize a wide variety of markets, work arrangements, and ultimately value creation and capture.

Business platforms push productivity improvements beyond automation activities. The real value creation now comes from analyzing data. These platform dynamics force every business to rethink its approach to innovation, marketing, sales, product development, delivery, and customer engagement. Business and technology leaders need to prepare to platform dynamics for several reasons:

  • Platforms change customer behavior and how businesses interact with customers. Business platforms will trigger radical changes to how we work, engage with customers, create value, and compete for the resulting profits. These business platforms offer companies fast access to scalable expertise at transparent cost and drive the much needed agility to quickly adjust customer experiences to changing requirements.
  • Business platform value creation centers on information gathering, sharing, and analyzing. Platforms focus on information exchange and provide an easier, more transparent way to access, analyze, and share this information. Business platform owners are developing power that may be more influential than that of the actual factory owners. But business platform owners do not have to own all factors of production; they tap into the expertise of platform participants.
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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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Forrester’s First CPQ Wave Addresses The Tech Needs Of The Empowered Buyer

John Bruno

If you’re in a B2B environment, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the changing behaviors of your customers in recent years. As a result, technologies have shifted their focus to get closer to the customer and I'm not talking about just CRM or SFA. With a flurry of acquisitions and new entrants to the CPQ market popping up regularly, we decided to tighten the aperture and evaluate the top 11 CPQ vendors in The Forrester Wave™: Configure-Price-Quote Solutions, Q1 2017. These vendors do the most to address the rising, empowered B2B buyer. Below are some of the key findings from the report:

  • Customer and buyer experiences become a priority. CPQ is not about engineers. It’s not even about sellers anymore. CPQ is about the customer, and in this case that means both the end buyer of your products and the customers of your technology (indirect channels selling on your behalf) expect easy and effective interactions. CPQ is now a key enabler to delivering a high quality customer experience.

  • CPQ has no channel limitations. CPQ is not, I repeat, is not a back office solution anymore. It’s long addressed the needs of front line sales reps, and now it extends its functionality to all available channels. This means companies can extend the same business rules and logic to indirect channels (i.e. partners, dealers, distributors, etc.), customer service reps, eCommerce sites, and even emerging channels like IoT devices.

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It's Time For B2B Brand Equity To Step Out Of The Shadows

Dipanjan Chatterjee

B2B brand management has come a long way from its roots in consumer packaged goods and has gradually branched out to play an equally central role in B2B markets. B2B CMOs are just as invested in bettering their brands as B2C. No longer relegated to industry rags and trade shows, B2B marketing is entering a new age, with firms like CA Technologies, General Electric, and IBM in the vanguard. At a Forrester event, General Electric CMO Linda Boff remarked that GE is often the first brand —not just the first B2B brand —on platforms like Pinterest, Snapchat, and Vine.

But are most B2B brands successful in following in the footsteps of these trail blazers? Forrester research with over 1,000 B2B and B2C decision-makers reveals mixed results. Here's the good news: B2B CMOs include Brand in their top three priorities and consider Brand Management to be the strongest skill set in the department. But here's where it gets ugly: 25% of B2B CMOs consider Brand Awareness an important marketing metric; only 15% believe Brand Equity is important.     

This chasm between awareness and equity, which also exists for B2C brands, can prove particularly vexing and stubborn for B2B because of some commonly held misconceptions:

  1. Brand matters more for B2C (a lingering notion despite being soundly dispelled)
  2. The role of brand (in a traditional sales-driven culture) is to drive awareness and fill the mouth of the funnel (the reality points to a vital role in securing choice and loyalty)
  3. Brand Equity is amorphous, eludes specification, and hence best avoided (there exist many robust quantitatively-specified equity models
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Voodoo Branding

Dipanjan Chatterjee

"A Contemporary Version Of Witchcraft"

Wally Ollins, of Wolf Ollins fame and a legend of sorts in the branding world, didn’t look too kindly upon brand measurement. "There are too many people," he said "... who are fed the rubbish that if you can't analyze it - if you can't chew it up into numbers - it doesn't exist." Not one to mince words, he continued, "I deeply reject all that and find it to be a contemporary version of witchcraft." It's hard to argue with Wally; somewhere along the way doctrine and data have dulled the notion that brand is, to quote JetBlue's CEO, "the way we feel." 

The Inevitability Of Measurement

David Aaker is a legend of sorts as well in the branding world, and a lot of his work centers on brand equity. David writes of brand as an asset. And as an asset, it is must withstand financial scrutiny and ROI justification. CMOs may know it in their hearts, but CEOs and CFOs must see it on paper. That leaves us with the unenviable task of calculating the incalculable. Many have rushed forward to meet this challenge. I describe various measurement techniques in detail in my new report for Forrester clients: Branding Never Sleeps; a brief summary appears below.

Four Measurement Streams

  • The nitty gritty of brand performance is relatively easy to measure using survey, operational, and transactional data
  • Near-real time brand sentiment can be captured by social listening, although skewed samples and lack of established frameworks muddy the water
  • Perception can be surveyed, but traditional ask-and-tell tracking of emotions is fraught with problems; neuromarketing offers some emerging and exciting avenues 
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The Brand is Dead. Long Live The Brand.

Dipanjan Chatterjee

It's not about whether brands have value. It's about how to manage the value.

Twilight Of The Brands

In early 2014, our profession faced an existential crisis. The end was near, said James Surowiecki, in his New Yorker article, "Twilight Of The Brands." Look at Lululemon, he cried. The cult-like athletic wear brand was reeling from product failure and leadership indelicacies. And he referenced new research that said consumers were "supremely well informed," and did not need to "rely on logos" to determine value.

In The Pink Of Health

Turns out Surowiecki wasn't so well informed after all:

  • More is not better. It is true that the digital age brings with it more information about brands. More than many would care for, really. And therein lies the rub – this tsunami without filter or curation does little to clarify and more to confuse.
  • Brands signify more than information. The idea of brand as a signal of value is valid, although simplistic. More information may bridge quality and trustworthiness gaps, but a brand is much more. It conveys an emotional connection. Information plays no role in sipping a Coke or running in Nike. 
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