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5 B2B Marketing Trends to Plan for In 2021

Making predictions after a year like 2020 may seem mildly crazy, but here at Sureshot we’re big believers in data’s ability to help us make better decisions – even in the midst of utter chaos. With that being said, we’ve taken a look at some of the latest stats released from the 2020 CMO Survey, sprinkled in a few insights from industry thought leaders, and come up with a short list of items worth giving your attention to. It’s our hope that your strategic marketing plan for 2021 will lead to a significantly better year for you and your marketing ops team.

Trend #1:  Digital Dominates Customer Experiences

According to the CMO survey, 84% of customers now place a higher value on their digital experience of your brand. Obviously, the significant gains in digital preferences are strongly related to quarantining during the pandemic. However, based on the rule of 21 days to make a habit, it is highly likely that the significant importance of your brand’s digital experience will remain at these levels even after things return to business as usual.

Prep Steps for Enhancing Your Digital Experience

To ensure your digital experience is contributing (rather than detracting) from your bottom line, we recommend you look at everything with fresh eyes and take the following steps:

  1. Survey your customers about their digital experience. Give them a reward for their time, and seek their unbiased input by giving them the option to remain anonymous. In addition to asking multiple choice questions, always-always-always leave a blank for customers to write in their own answers. You will be amazed at the things you will learn from their candid responses. Lots of budget-boosting ideas have been gleaned from customer survey responses.
  2. Visit your site as a customer. Pretend you need one of the solutions you offer and see how easy it is to get the information you need. Take note of page load times, imagery and functionality. Is it intuitively easy to navigate your site? If you offer chat, how long does it take to connect with a chat-bot? What happens when you visit the site on a mobile device? Does everything work like it should? Ultimately, your goal is a friction-free customer experience.
  3. Optimize your martech stack. Oftentimes the difference betweenan amazingdigital customer experience (CX) and a lackluster one is how well things are connected in your stack. A good integration tool enables all of the tools in your stack to work together more efficiently and effectively. It also reduces the number of manual steps your team has to employ in order to make things work. Plus, it gives you control over how data is disseminated across your stack and allows you to trigger real-time cross-channel campaigns – a critical part of your customers’ CX.

Trend #2:  Automation Makes Everything Possible

Remember a couple of years back when account-based marketing (ABM) was the ultimate marketing buzzword? Yeah, 2018 was a great year! Anyway, what ABM purported was that you needed to give a highly personalized experience to key customers in order to increase sales, brand loyalty, customer lifetime values (CLVs), etc. While in theory ABM makes complete sense, in practice it gets complex pretty quickly —unless you use automation.

Perhaps, even more exciting than the hyped ABM statistics of yesteryear are the new ones concerning automation. According to Christopher Lara, Operations Manager for marketing firm WPdigital, personalization and automation are two of the biggest web development trends he sees for 2021. In his research he found that of the companies that implement marketing automation:

  • 76% see a return on their investment within the first year
  • 80% see an increase in leads
  • 77% see an increase in conversions

“If you want to capture leads, nurture them, and convert them, marketing automation makes it easy to build an entire pipeline toward your goals,” said Lara.

Prep Steps for Automating Absolutely Everything

The wonderful thing about automation is that once you set it up, it does all the heavy lifting for you. It is the answer to how to work smarter not harder. It is also the Wizard of Oz behind all the marketers who boast of amazing ABM exploits. Assuming that you have a great Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) in place, such as Eloqua, Marketo or Hubspot, here are some other steps to take:

  1. Ensure your data is high quality. The data you share between apps, tools and systems, and that you use to personalize campaigns needs to be clean, complete, standardized, and ready to use at a moment’s notice. The ideal way to do this is via a Customer Data Platform (CDP). A good CDP will integrate with your MAP, centralize data access and ensure data quality is maintained throughout your stack. A great CDP will enable you to view and reach your Total Addressable Market (TAM), monitor data quality on a segment level, visualize and share data insights, and analyze your ability to market to customers across channels.
  2. Scale personalized campaigns. A Content Automation Tool (CAT) is a true game-changer when it comes to your ability to send highly personalized cross-channel campaigns to all your customers. Once you integrate it with your martech stack, it pulls relevant content based on each customer’s data attributes. Then it takes the right content and plugs it into the right campaign template (SMS, email, direct mail, messaging apps, etc.). Finally, you can set it to send automatically based on the triggers you choose. CATs help preserve your budget by finding content from all connected sources and repurposing that information according to the correct channel.  Their template-based approach to cross-channel marketing also fosters sales enablement.

Tune In Next Week

Be sure to check out Part Two of 5 B2B Customer Trends to Plan for In 2021!