- In a very tough year, B2B marketers had to quickly pivot 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 to B2B marketers.
- B2B marketers must innovated, and not wait around for the “old days.” In 2021, in-person activity will slowly come back, but now B2B buyers are used to, and often prefer, online channels.
- B2B marketers need to lean into an omnichannel approach, which is not just for B2C marketers.
- By focusing on updated data that unites 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 brush off the debris from 2020 and assess what to expect in 2021, many will be thinking about the things they can return to that have been on hiatus for the past 10 months, namely sales meetings and events.
These two important elements of marketing will definitely come back, but any marketer that keeps trudging forward with the same old mix of online marketing in the meantime will be left behind as other B2B marketers gain traction with new and old channels colliding like Salesforce and Hubspot with CTV and Digital OOH.
This year, a lot of mid-funnel prospects that went dark will come back to life. It’s a huge opportunity to get the pipeline going and get deals closed. But, at least the first half of this year, if not the whole year, will still be affected by less travel and less in-person events than we’d all want.
Rather than think of that as a reason for pessimism, take this time to think about how new channels can be used to capture as many of those prospects as possible. The real opportunity to close sales in 2021 isn’t a return to normal, but rather a growth in omnichannel performance.
Redefining omnichannel for B2B
In 2020, B2B marketers doubled down on their favorite lead generation channels, namely email, search, and content marketing. These measurable workhorses are by no means supposed to be replaced in an omnichannel strategy. Rather, an omnichannel approach effectively brings these channels together and makes room for coordinated marketing on new channels.
I know what you might be thinking right now, omnichannel marketing that includes CTV or Digital OOH is particularly hard for B2B marketers, who are faced with smaller audiences, and longer, more complicated sales processes.
But think about this; without the benefit of in-person events and meetings, how better to keep someone engaged than showing a CTV commercial to your target audience while they’re streaming something at home? That’s a super-engaging opportunity that’s worth the added work.
Focusing on omnichannel marketing doesn’t have to mean B2B marketers need to spend money on “every channel.” Rather, it means two things:
- Unified data: Using coordinated data, insights and messaging across a strategic group of channels that create a full-funnel marketing experience.
- Testing new channels and channel combinations: Testing new channels and channel combinations like CTV plus email and direct mail using B2B friendly strategies.
Creating a data foundation
I love the concept of “data portability” to explain how data feeds into an omnichannel marketing strategy. It’s important to think about uniting important insights about target audiences and prospects into a single whole, but also to be able to use those insights across a variety of channels, tech platforms and reports.
These are some of the most important steps to creating a high-functioning data strategy:
- Create a clean database: Do a New Year’s CRM hygiene sweep. Don’t forget simple things like having addresses and zip codes on all files. Domain is great but the more data you have on an account the higher match on every channel. For example for every accountlink ID, it corresponds to a specific company name and zip code that reaches the right buying decision-making group, creating less waste of media and frustration on everyone’s end.
- Unify IDs across the tech stack: Pick an ID or a partner that can help bridge the gap from Marketo to LinkedIn and other key marketing technologies and platforms in the plan.
- Get teams to communicate internally: Align demand gen, email marketing, events, and sales with the same goal and be sure these goals can be tracked in platforms like Hubspot. For demand gen, don’t just shove leads into Marketo, get more out of the Martech stack by creating an audience that can be used for many channels, with common goals..
To make the most of cross-channel execution, this newly clean and portable data needs to be the backbone of a highly orchestrated measurement and analysis strategy. It’s important to have full-funnel attribution and ROAS tracking in order to attribute interested leads from new channels like digital TV viewing to sales, form downloads and engagement.
It’s also important to build in the ability to target specific audiences by important details like job title; device (CTV, Apple TV, mobile, tablet and desktop); streaming platform (Hulu, DirecTV Now, Sling, etc.); geolocation; time of day; and demographic, including gender or even income.
You always start with activating first-party at an account level to create one audience, and then you look at the intent insights those companies have shown and build other audiences from new accounts that display similar intent and then you cut 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 allow you to test and optimize.
The right B2B approach to new channel testing
Nearly two thirds (73%) of top performing B2B marketers nurture leads compared to only 38% of the least successful. People still love email, but their inboxes are full. Everyone values new research content, but they also like variety.
Nurturing leads successfully requires some creative messaging across different channels. The element of newness, surprise and a change of environment can go a long way to delivering value in an omnichannel lead nurturing strategy.
One way to approach this is to take a tried and true channel like Hubspot, and figure out how to connect it to a new one, like CTV. If there are already accounts in Hubspot, test a media campaign to re-activate mid-tier prospects.
Especially in today’s world hubspot has created great new features like in email videos’ that allow sales people to share demos, use cases, or newly added features quickly in an personalized email to a client. That type of engagement tied to an ad a client might have just seen on the TV that is on the background probably scrolling bad news on TV.
These are the tactics that push a lead to close a B2B deal.
When adding any new channel like CTV to a B2B stack, it’s important to remember that it is just a piece of the cross-channel puzzle. B2B marketers should always assess their audience, demographics and KPIs to determine which channel and strategy is best for reaching their intended audiences.
Even before we can do those in-person events again, mixing in the human element and adapting outreach to attain and engage users is ideal for optimal success.
Benjamin Goldman is Senior Vice President, Digital at 180byTwo, a MeritB2B Company. 180byTWO employs data-driven decisioning to create meaningful opportunities for their clients, partners and their customer. They leverage cutting edge technology, analytics, and data insights to drive our approach to data solutions and services.
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