An interview with Alysha Spencer
O2’s Head of Enterprise Acquisition
and Upsell Marketing
04 Minute Read
- Joined O2 as Head of Enterprise Acquisition and Upsell Marketing in April 2019
- Helped to found the award-winning B2B agency, Transmission in November 2017
- Extensive agency-side experience at Iris Worldwide, Rooster Punk and Transmission
- Has worked with a wide mix of B2B and B2C brands including Samsung, CBRE, Barclaycard and Shell
Most B2B marketers can only dream of the brand recognition levels that Alysha Spencer has to play with. As Head of Enterprise Acquisition and Upsell Marketing for O2, she represents a business that every B2B buyer in the UK has heard of, with brand codes that make its communication instantly distinctive. However, recognition and awareness are only one part of the picture in today’s B2B tech landscape. As Alysha explains, being known as a B2C brand doesn’t instantly result in informed business decision-makers considering you as a partner. It might even get in the way.
“We do get a halo effect from awareness of the consumer side of the O2 brand,” she says. “On the flip side though, a lot of people don’t realise that we have a business offering. Hurdle number one for us is explaining that we do business. Then we have to explain that we do more than mobile. It’s only then that we get to talk about what we have to offer and why you would come to us over competitors. There’s a longer journey and narrative that we need to build to get our audience to where we need them to be.”
The narrative involves introducing the range of communications technology solutions that O2 offers to businesses through partners like Microsoft and Cisco. It’s a portfolio underpinned by the brand’s core mobile network – and by a reputation for customer service that Alysha believes can be a key differentiator. “Mobile will always be a core part of our proposition, but we’re looking to build awareness of our expertise in the digital workplace space,” she says. “We provide tools to facilitate remote and flexible working, leveraging our connectivity and network expertise to recommend the most appropriate partners and putting together a full communications suite to help address their business challenges. We get the highest Net Promoter Score (NPS) scores in the sector, and one of our marketing priorities is emphasising that quite intangible aspect – the high level of service and support that you get as a valued O2 customer.”
Navigating a changing buyer journey through data
So how do you introduce buyers to the experience of working with your business? For Alysha, the solution lies in taking greater control of the buyer journey, emphasising relevant, personalised and considered content that nurtures opportunities rather than just generating leads. As she explains, it’s an approach that’s particularly important given the impact of Covid-19.
“The pipeline we were used to dealing with now looks very different,” she says. “Deals move more slowly, and buyers are more risk-averse. This creates a more acute need from sales for marketing support. We always knew that we needed strong sales enablement in the form of the right messaging and toolkits – but the last year has highlighted the need for constant insights and intelligence about the audience as well.”
The best way to generate better quality audience insight data is to keep engaging that audience beyond the first touch. That’s precisely what Alysha is doing. “2020 was all about testing channels to drive lead volumes, and so we’ve now switched focus to making sure buyers are qualified and ready to have conversations with sales. That involves building up the opportunity over time and keeping the ‘Why O2?’ message front of mind at every stage of the customer journey.”
Balancing broad awareness with bespoke buyer experiences
Of course, a detailed answer to the question, ‘Why O2?’ depends on who’s asking it. Personalised messaging focusing on the benefits for particular functions is an important element in Alysha’s strategy for 2021. “We try to become more buyer-oriented further down the funnel,” she says. “As consumers, people increasingly expect bespoke, personalised experiences, and we want to be able to provide those too for our customers. We’re using data to understand the challenges for different functions so that we can really pull out the benefits for HR, IT or Operations and articulate them in our creative and messaging.”
Alysha balances this tailored messaging with a broader approach at the top of the funnel that adapts to the changing nature of tech buying. “We know that decision-making units are getting wider and the people with buying power are changing,” she says. “We try to reach a broad range of roles and functions with our thought-leadership programmes and always-on awareness campaigns. We’ve then got the flexibility to learn and optimise as we go. One of the things that we’re testing is intent data, which gives us increased insight about what our target audience is engaging with. That helps us to prioritise where to put our spend – and which accounts are worth sales focusing on.”
Putting a higher value on sales conversations
That ability to direct sales efforts to where they’ll deliver the greatest return is a key element going forward. “Last year was about scaling up our marketing engine, whereas this year we’ll be looking more at the conversion piece,” Alysha says. “We’re really focusing on qualifying those leads and making efficient use of sales’ time and energies. Closed-won is a shared goal with sales, and we have skin in the game. We’re serving up opportunities, and we’re also helping take those opportunities through the funnel.”
That’s the key to making a famous brand count as a B2B marketing asset. Awareness at the top of the funnel is easy to come by when you’re as well known as O2. Turning that awareness into a relevant understanding of how you can help – and translating that understanding into meaningful opportunities for sales – is where a marketing team can make a real difference. Like other B2B tech marketers, Alysha knows that difference will have more value than ever this year.
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