Perhaps most notable of Forrester’s 2016 Predictions is the dramatic shift of B2B marketing strategies, which will begin transforming its customer engagement strategy with a focus on life-long customer retention. As the study’s lead author, Laura Ramos, explains to Ad Age, B2B consumers are feeling more empowered in their positions as buyers, and they will start to demand a more comprehensive, consistent customer experience—one much like the experience enjoyed by average B2C consumers.
Naturally, data figures to be the main driver of that revolution. Brands will have to use a more evidence-based strategy and tech-generated insights to build a better brand voice that appeals to B2B consumers. These aren’t small changes, and CMOs will have their hands full delivering a product that meets expectations.
This is a case of consumers wielding the power over brands seeking their business.
Traditionally, B2C buyers have been more affected by brand voice and customer experience, but these are becoming much more important in B2B buying processes, according to Ramos.
The individuals behind B2B purchases are beginning to handle these purchases the same way they might, for example, purchase a dishwasher: A combination of research and information, along with other practical considerations, are mixed in among their reception of the brand’s voice and the overall experience.
This is forcing CMOs to reconstruct their brand’s voice, shifting from a promotional tone to one that is more conversational and engaging. Of course, data underpins these decisions—such B2B marketing strategies can’t be flippantly altered. And just as loyal B2C customers are built in the post-sale division of the sales funnel, B2B buyers will be much more concerned with the overall experience, including what happens after the transaction.
B2B buyers will be more eager to notice signs that a seller takes an individualized approach to that company, rather than read them the stale digital marketing copy handed to every other prospect.
“I also think this whole customer-obsession, get-to-know-your-customer, know-your-customer-better is going to create some investment in things like voice of the customer, meaning really analyzing the voice of the customer, not just doing surveys,” says Ramos. “So things like social and brand listening, and community platforms.”
The experimentation phase needs to end as CMOs target a limited set of technologies to implement their new digital marketing strategies. To this point, many CMOs have remained in the preliminary phase of being “curious” regarding marketing technologies. They’ve been eager to test out possible solutions but have lingered in that phase of deployment, failing to settle on a course of action.
Expect that to change in 2016. Ramos makes the point that marketers don’t need more technologies—they need to use the ones already at their disposal. Cross-channel solutions should be implemented, as well as predictive selling tools, which will require CMOs to bolster their “data aggregation, enrichment, and cleanup” solutions.
In the past, marketers may have complained that a lack of tools limited their ability to leverage technology. That’s no longer the case, and 2016 will be the year digital marketing tech is finally put to the test.
Interested in learning more about making smart marketing tech investments? Here’s your roadmap for investing in marketing technology in 2016.