B2B Marketing Trends of 2015: The Importance of Customer Experience, Data Quality and Attribution
January 12, 2015
It's a new year, and with it comes new marketing trends for leaders and practitioners to absorb and deploy as part of their B2B marketing strategy.
To spark a conversation on the top trends this year, we consulted marketing thought leaders about their predictions for the top B2B marketing trends for 2015 -- and at first glance, the trends they foresee for next year seem to be all over the map. Some said the use of predictive analytics will continue its rise. Others spoke about a continued increase in the importance of demand gen professionals.
But overall, our experts surfaced three key insights for the year ahead, noting that customer experience will become central for B2B marketers, that data quality must become more important, and that attribution will continue to make strides.
While these trends may seem unrelated, there’s a thread that ties them all together: All of them relate to the rise of data-driven, customer-focused marketing. The companies that are leading the pack are using the data taken from their websites, email newsletters, social media, search engine marketing, and other digital efforts to understand their customers better – and more importantly to serve them better. Here are the insights from six thought leaders about the trends that will define B2B marketing in 2015:
Six Thought Leaders Share Trends That Will Define B2B Marketing In 2015
Sam Adler, Senior Director-Demand Generation, Zend Technologies
With the recent announcement of Infer's $25 million round of funding, it's glaringly obvious that predictive analytics is a space that a lot of companies have their eye on. There are a bunch of vendors offering a predictive analytics solution (Lattice Engines, Mintigo, LeadSpace, Infer, SalesPredict, 6Sense, Fliptop), and I believe that as the technology improves, and more companies start to leverage the benefits, we'll see an efficiency in targeting that we haven't seen in the past. Being able to hone in on the prospects that have high purchase propensity is a game changer.
On the business intelligence front, there are a lot of vendors making headway in the attribution reporting space, but I don't think it's quite there yet. Implementations are rarely straight forward, but similar to predictive analytics, there are a lot of players in attribution/business intelligence, such as Domo, Birst, InsightSquared, BrightFunnel, and FullCircleCRM.
In 2015, customers will become less and less satisfied with mass personalization; they’ll start expecting true individualization – messaging and offers specific to each person’s behaviors, needs and preferences, including both offline and digital channel preferences.
I liken what’s happening in marketing to what we’ve seen for years in financial transactions processing in the banking sector. In the financial industry, companies have been able to store, manage and deliver data per individual, in real-time. You can go to an ATM in Prague, it’ll spit out Czech Crowns, and automatically debit your account back in the U.S. It’s immediate and invisible, and increasingly individualized.
Moving forward, marketing organizations need to do the same, connecting with their individual retail, entertainment, and healthcare customer. These are all industries, in ways, that are fluid, seamless, ongoing, meaningful and not just personalized by name, but based on truly knowing the individual consumer based on likes and wants they’ve openly shared with you because they trust your brand and like the experience.
It all starts with a vision of what you want your customer’s experience to be. Then, you’ll need a comprehensive data strategy that will tear down silos, unravel snarled data streams and implement integrated processes designed to put the customer at the center of all you do.
Meagen Eisenberg, VP-Customer Acquisition & Marketing, DocuSign
Marketing cloud vendors, such as Oracle, Salesforce, and IBM, will get into the predictive analytics space – through build or buy. Predictive analytics are critical for lead scoring optimization, really owning the data, and making sales efficient. At DocuSign, we are already seeing the early benefits of understanding our customer DNA and next generation lead scoring.
Demand gen experts, digital marketers and those with a strong grasp of marketing technology will continue to see a rise in salary and demand in the market as we accelerate the digital age. There are so many searches for demand gen talent currently, including hiring for demand gen at DocuSign.
Content marketing hype and discussions will turn to more of the importance of customer experience from acquisition to advocacy – especially for SaaS companies. That will of course be dependent on delivering the right content at the right time, to the right person for the best experience.
George Stenitzer, Founder, Crystal Clear Communications
2015 will be a year of even smarter devices, smarter buyers, and smarter marketers. Outsmarting competitors will be the key to success in the year ahead. Smart mobile devices will simplify user tasks such as payments. Smart B2B buyers will learn rapidly by gleaning the best content. To win in 2015, smart marketers need to see through customers' eyes, understand buyer personas, educate buyers, tap big data, and offer content mapped to the buyer's journey. That's the way to win.
Ruth Stevens, President, EMarketing Strategy
I’d say a major issue of the moment is data quality. B2B marketers need to be sure the contact and profile information they have on customers and prospects is both complete and accurate. If not, they are wasting marketing communications dollars, possibly offending targets by addressing them incorrectly, and, worst of all, missing sales opportunities.
There are abundant tools available, some new, some old, to help with data hygiene. But it mainly boils down to process. Key-entering the data correctly in the first place, and doggedly attending to keeping the data clean and complete.
A key problem is that data hygiene is often neglected, left to the lowest person on the totem pole—it’s definitely not the sexy part of B2B marketing!
Natascha Thomson, Founder, MarketingXLerator
This should not come as a surprise, but in 2015, marketing will be increasingly data-driven and automated. Consequently, predictive marketing will gain in popularity. There is a danger of over-automation and reliance on data vs. good marketing instinct that should always be part of the equation.
Learn more about how other marketers are adapting their businesses to the rise of data-driven, customer focused marketing. Order your copy of 'The Big Data-Driven Business':