30 second summary:
- In a very difficult year, B2B marketers had to turn quickly when some of their best lead generation and sales channels (meetings and events) were put on hold.
- At the same time, cool new channels like CTV often feel out of reach for B2B marketers.
- B2B marketers have to be innovative and not wait for the “old days”. In 2021, personal activity will slowly return, but now B2B buyers are used to online channels and often prefer them.
- B2B marketers need to take an omnichannel approach that doesn’t just apply to B2C marketers.
- By focusing on updated data uniting channels, B2B marketers can test and win with CTV and other new concepts as long as they create a cohesive experience for prospects.
As B2B marketers begin wiping the rubble off in 2020 and gauging what to expect in 2021, many will ponder the things to return to that have been interrupted in the last 10 months, namely sales meetings and events.
These two important elements of marketing are definitely going to come back, but any marketer who has moved forward with the same old mix of online marketing in the meantime will be left behind when other B2B marketers work with new and old channels like Salesforce and Hubspot on CTV and Digital OOH.
This year many prospects of a funnel in the center of the funnel are brought back to life. It’s a great opportunity to get the pipeline going and close deals. But at least the first half of this year, if not all of the year, will still see fewer trips and fewer in-person events than we all would like.
Rather than viewing this as a cause for pessimism, take this time to think about how new channels can be used to capture as many of these perspectives as possible. The real chance of closing the sale in 2021 is not a return to normal, but rather growth in omnichannel performance.
Redefine omnichannel for B2B
In 2020, B2B marketers doubled their preferred lead generation channels, namely email, search, and content marketing. These measurable workhorses must by no means be replaced in an omnichannel strategy. An omnichannel approach effectively brings these channels together and creates space for coordinated marketing on new channels.
I know what you’re thinking. Omnichannel marketing with CTV or Digital OOH is especially difficult for B2B marketers faced with smaller audiences and longer, more complicated sales processes.
But think about it; Without the benefit of in-person events and meetings, what better way to keep someone busy than showing your target audience a CTV commercial while they are streaming something at home? This is a very interesting opportunity that is well worth the extra work.
Focusing on omnichannel marketing doesn’t have to mean that B2B marketers have to spend money on “every channel”. Rather, it means two things:
- Uniform data: Use coordinated data, insights, and news across a strategic group of channels that create a rich marketing experience.
- Testing new channels and channel combinations: Test new channels and channel combinations like CTV plus email and direct mail using B2B-friendly strategies.
Create a data basis
I like the concept of “data portability” to explain how data goes into an omnichannel marketing strategy. It’s important to pull together key insights about audiences and prospects, but also leverage those insights across a variety of channels, technology platforms, and reports.
Here are some of the most important steps in creating a high-performing data strategy:
- Create a clean database: Do a New Years CRM hygiene sweep. Don’t forget simple things like addresses and zip codes in all files. The domain is great, but the more data you have on an account, the higher the match on each channel. For example, each Accountlink ID corresponds to a specific company name and zip code that reaches the right buying decision group, which means less media waste and frustration for everyone.
- Unify IDs across the tech stack: Select an ID or partner to bridge the gap between Marketo and LinkedIn and other major marketing technologies and platforms on plan.
- Let teams communicate internally: Align demand, email marketing, events and sales towards the same goal and make sure those goals can be pursued on platforms like Hubspot. Not only are you pushing leads into Marketo for demand, but getting more out of the martech stack by creating an audience that can be used for many channels with common goals.
In order to be able to make optimal use of the cross-channel execution, this new clean and portable data must be the backbone of a highly orchestrated measurement and analysis strategy. It is important to have full funnel mapping and ROAS tracking to match interested leads from new channels like digital television to sales, form downloads, and engagement.
It is also important to improve the ability to target specific audiences through key details like the job title. Device (CTV, Apple TV, cell phone, tablet and desktop); Streaming platform (Hulu, DirecTV Now, Sling, etc.); Geolocation; Time of day; and demographics, including gender or even income.
You always start with first party activation at the account level to create an audience. Then you look at the Intent Insights these companies have shown and create different audiences from new accounts with similar intent, and then slice all or some of those accounts by job title to get to the decision maker level.
All of this is meant to create a mix of audiences that you can test and optimize with.
The right B2B approach to testing new channels
Nearly two-thirds (73%) of the top performing B2B marketers nurture leads, compared to just 38% of the least successful. People still love email, but their inboxes are full. Everyone appreciates new research content, but they also like variety.
In order to successfully nurture leads, it takes some creative messaging across different channels. The element of novelty, surprise and change in the environment can make a major contribution to adding value in an omnichannel lead nurturing strategy.
One way to achieve this is to take a tried and tested channel like Hubspot and figure out how to connect it to a new channel like CTV. If you already have accounts in Hubspot, test a media campaign to reactivate your middle tier prospects.
In today’s world in particular, Hubspot has created great new features like in email videos that allow sales reps to quickly share demos, use cases, or newly added features with a customer in a personalized email. That type of engagement, tied to an ad that a customer might just have seen on the TV in the background, is likely to show bad news on TV.
These are the tactics that will give you a head start for closing a B2B deal.
When adding a new channel like CTV to a B2B stack, it’s important to note that this is only part of the cross-channel puzzle. B2B marketers should always evaluate their audience, demographics, and KPIs to determine which channel and strategy are best for reaching their target audience.
Even before we can do these personal events again, ideal for optimal success is to mix the human element and adjust the reach to reach and involve users.
Benjamin Goldman is Senior Vice President Digital at 180byTwo, a MeritDirect company. 180byTWO uses data-driven decisions to create meaningful opportunities for its customers, partners and customers. They use cutting edge technology, analytics, and data insights to drive our approach to data solutions and services.