We can all agree that the marketing technology space has been growing at an unprecedented rate over the past few years. In 2011, Scott Brinker’s MarTech SuperGraphic had roughly 150 vendors on it - now there’s upwards of 5,000. As consumer behavior continues to rapidly change, we’re seeing a proliferation of new solutions aimed at helping marketers adapt their strategy and tactics to win over today’s digitally-savvy shoppers.
So, with all this technology at their fingertips and a constant shift in buying patterns, what do marketers need to think about as they head into 2018? Analysts Lori Wizdo and Steven Casey of Forrester recently hosted a webinar detailing their “2018 Predictions for B2B Marketers.” Here’s what they had to share.
Adopt a Customer-Centric Approach
Forrester analyst Lori Wizdo kicked off the presentation by noting how important it is for marketers to put customers at the core of their purpose this year. Marketers need to need to pivot away from a “go to market” strategy with a product/service mindset and shift to a truly customer-centric approach. By taking a deeper dive into how customers realize value from products and services they’ll be able to execute a more effective “go-to-customer strategy.”
One way to execute on this customer-centric strategy is to produce personalized messages that resonate with local audiences. Lori emphasized the importance of leveraging channel partners to localizing marketing messages through syndicated campaigns and co-branded content. When executed correctly, local retail partners can be a powerful channel to amplify your brand voice through consistent, relevant messaging.
Engage the New Business Consumer
According to a recent Forrester report titled, “The Birth of the B2B Consumer,” B2B buyers are increasingly acting more like consumers due to a “combination of learned and native digital consumer behaviors that are having a dramatic impact on every phase of the B2B customer lifecycle.” This sentiment was echoed in the predictions webinar and it’s also something we’re seeing among our own customer base. People don’t want to fill out forms or be hounded by a sales representative. They want to review products on their own time, with more of a self-service approach.
In order to reach their prospects, B2B marketers need to keep this consumer-like buying behavior in mind. Marketers need to target their prospects with personalized content along their entire path to purchase so they have the information they need and are able to “find their way,” in a pattern that feels natural to them.
Begin Exploring AI-Driven Customer Engagement Opportunities
Forrester reported that in 2018, 50 percent of B2B marketers will turn to machine learning to deliver better relevance and increase content volume production. While it’s clearly already picked up traction among marketers, we’ll see greater AI adoption for personalization and predictive marketing campaigns.
Forrester suggested that marketers prioritize investment in predictive marketing for real use cases that will generate real term value. There’s a major opportunity for AI to help solve some of the marketers’ biggest challenges like developing personalized content, understanding what topics to hone in on or accounts to target.
While it’s an exciting time in the marketing technology space, it’s also a challenging road ahead. Consumer buying behaviors continue to shift, and you need a marketing partner who is able to help you keep pace with the needs of today’s customer.