Sunday, March 13, 2016

How Changing Buyer Expectations are Expanding the Mission of B2B Marketing



In November of last year, a group of analysts with Forrester Research published a set of predictions about how B2B marketing will evolve in 2016. Their predictions cover a range of topics - including marketing strategy, predictive analytics, marketing technology, and content marketing - and most of the predictions point to the continuation or amplification of trends that have already begun.

In my view, the most significant Forrester prediction is that "B2B Marketing Will (Finally) Adopt a Go-To-Customer Strategy." Forrester's analysts argue that the role of marketing is expanding, primarily because of changes in how business buyers prefer to access and consume information and because of rising buyer expectations for consistent customer experiences both before and after a purchase is made.

Forrester writes, "In 2016, B2B marketers will develop a digital engagement strategy that will influence, persuade, and build trusted relationships across the customer life cycle, by expanding marketing's role into domains previously owned by sales or service organizations."

Forrester's analysts contend that the need to provide engaging and consistent experiences across the entire customer life cycle will lead marketing to become "the steward of the customer relationship" and "the architect of full customer engagement." They write, "2016 is the year when B2B marketing will adopt an omnichannel orientation and reduce the influence of product marketing and other departments on customer-facing aggregation and optimization of content."

While I certainly don't believe that this transformation will be fully realized in 2016, I do believe that Forrester's analysts have accurately described how high-performing B2B companies are beginning to redefine the role and objectives of the marketing function. Recent research by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) reveals that senior marketing leaders from around the world have a similar view about how the role of marketing is both expanding and changing.

In early 2015, EIU published The rise of the marketer:  Driving engagement, experience, and revenue. This report was based on survey responses from 478 senior marketing executives from North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa, and Latin America, and on in-depth interviews with several marketing leaders.

In the EIU research:

  • More than 80% of survey respondents said they need to restructure the marketing function in order to better support their companies' strategic objectives.
  • Seventy-five percent said that over the next three to five years, marketing will become responsible for managing the customer experience.
  • Respondents said that creating lasting engagement is becoming the most important marketing objective, and 63% of respondents said that the best way to define engagement is in terms of customer renewals, retention, and repeat purchases.
There's no doubt that B2B marketing is evolving at a rapid pace, and it's also clear that changes in the behaviors, preferences, and expectations of B2B buyers will require companies to expand the scope of marketing's responsibilities.

Illustration courtesy of Gabriel Rojas Hruska via Flickr CC.

2 comments:

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