B2B companies are often overlooked when it comes to performance marketing. They’re seen as slow-moving enterprises that stick to traditional marketing campaigns with beginning, middle, and end points. Ceri Jones, VP global demand generation & marketing operations, Basware, proves otherwise – B2B companies can, and are, embracing change and adopting performance-driven marketing with aplomb.
The power has shifted
Today’s buyers are online, sourcing the information they need when they need it and, as a result, the complexities of enterprise buying have changed. With over 80% of sales cycles starting with a simple search, we have put the onus on customer-driven marketing, and shifted our focus from ‘selling’ to organisations to empowering individuals and organisations to buy.
Creating business opportunities requires a different approach to marketing. The new best-practice approach must put the customer first and be data-driven.
Prospects are identified in their own time – when they are ready to buy, armed with product information, competitive intelligence, and other customers’ experiences. Often, they are mid-funnel before engaging with sales.
Innovation, organic growth, and a growing global footprint have driven steady growth since our inception. However, this growth has spawned siloes and complex processes throughout the organisation.
The change – people and processes
Once the need for the business to adapt to become more customer-centric was understood, the ultimate goal was to transform the way the business engaged, nurtured, qualified, closed, and created long-term customer satisfaction and loyalty.
A centralised demand centre has become part of the answer to the question of how to deliver a more personalised customer experience. The biggest pivot has been the adoption of ‘performance marketing’, focused on data-driven decision-making.
It has required finding a common and joined-up, scalable means of going to market that brings together both centrally and locally planned activity, removes inefficiencies, and takes a complete view of prospect data. Essentially, our people have had to start thinking in a different way, rather than simply using digital tools as an ‘add on’ to old, traditional, outbound marketing models.
To support consolidation and centralisation, we have carried out a comprehensive audit of suppliers and tools, recognising that an historically siloed approach to tool selection meant there were too many of both. The work we have done towards understanding user requirements has enabled us to rationalise and remove duplication.
As discussed earlier, we have recognised that our customers’ first touchpoint is usually our website. With that in mind, we have invested significant effort in our website, so that it enhances the user experience – no matter what stage of the customer journey has been reached.
We have rationalised the amount of content on the site, and used insight into website visitors’ behaviour to inform and nurture activity. When we can see where prospects are going online, and what they are telling us via forms, we can use this data to personalise their experience and guide them on the most appropriate journey using automated tools.
Impact on marketing
We are moving away from the accepted templates of conventional marketing activity, ‘doing stuff’, to data-driven, outcome-focused marketing. We have also adopted a ‘think global, act local’ mindset.
Historically, campaign activity was based and budgeted around a build-activate cycle, where launch would be the endpoint. Then the cycle would start again from scratch.
Now, we have a ‘build-and-always-on’ model that is constantly measured and refined in response to buyer behaviour. We add to the always-on strategy with campaign ‘moments’, or highlights, that we promote via email or events, featuring new content or themes.
This helps to avoid large, ungainly builds that are labour-intensive, inward-focused (about what we want to say) and don’t deliver return-on-investment. Minimal time is spent on iteration, and we deploy resources with the aim of continual improvement, basing adjustments purely on performance.
With streamlined processes, and an agile approach to marketing, regional activation can take account of differences in market needs and maturity levels. We can also enhance the things that lead to more demand, rather than ‘turning on the tap’ when demand slumps, which creates wastage.
The business benefits of customer-centric performance marketing
We are now better placed than ever to provide the answers to customers’ business problems, enabling them to discover the information they need via their preferred channels.
By looking at the ‘moments of truth’ touchpoints, we identify the gap between expectation and delivery, helping us to define and improve KPIs and metrics.
A consistent brand and digital experience makes it easier to engage with prospects in a more meaningful way. We have simplified our marketing, now running a small number of integrated marketing plans that form a significant proportion of our marketing programme strategy, over a longer period of time.
With knowledge and expertise from across the business now housed in a single centre of excellence, we’re able to deploy resources and activity that give us the demonstrable return-on-investment we need.
Because of the significant changes we have made, we can now show that marketing is contributing 60%+ of net new pipeline, and up to 25% of actual closed business per quarter. This makes a powerful argument for the marketing function. With an understanding of how pipeline converts from touch, through nurture, through opportunity creation, we are approaching marketing in an entirely new way, making the most of the technologies and practices that support agility, innovation, and digital transformation.
The work we are doing reflects the new digital reality, that buyers are in control and that they control how and where they engage with potential suppliers, expecting to be treated as individuals when they do engage. Specifically, it helps us to address six trends that every business is facing:
– Technology is integral in everything – and digital UX touches everything
– More sophistication around data and results – but insight is still vital
– Growing pressures on filling the funnel and pipeline performance
– Content exists, but not necessarily the right content based on buyer behaviour
– Social channels have greater adoption, but are harder to engage on
– Marketers need to be adaptable and responsive to change to maintain pace
Ceri Jones is vice president at Basware, running their global demand centre, where he is responsible for digital execution and marketing operations.
Ceri has worked for some of the leading B2B high tech companies in leadership Marketing roles for over 15 years, running EMEA Field teams for companies like Oracle, Actuate and Serena Software before moving into digital marketing and operations, with a particular focus on CRM and MAP systems.
Basware is the global leader in providing networked purchase-to-pay solutions, e-invoicing, and innovative financing services. Basware’s commerce and financing network connects businesses in over 100 countries and territories around the globe.