Thinking B2B: How tech is changing B2B marketing
by Warren Moss (@warrenmoss) Marketing technology (martech) has come a really long way over the last few years, particularly in the B2B arena. The tech out there at the moment is incredibly powerful and can leverage data in ways that can enable and facilitate brilliant B2B marketing campaigns. That said, as powerful as it is, it still needs to be implemented properly.
A good agency will act as an implementation partner to its clients to help deliver the best results. As Joerg Niessing, INSEAD affiliate professor of marketing, says, “It’s about optimising the use of technology, not maximising the use of technology.”
An intent engine, which alerts B2B marketers to increased activity around certain search themes from a target account, can be incredibly powerful. Eg, if you’re a corporate bank and you’re looking for corporate finance clients, you’re able to get notifications when a company on your target list has an increase in search activity for online content that is corporate finance-related. These intent signals could kickstart a marketing process that targets that company.
An increase in related search activity doesn’t necessarily signal a desire to buy, but it does give B2B marketers the opportunity to put their hands up in the hope of generating something more significant. The data is anonymous; it doesn’t show who’s doing the searching, just that there’s an increase in search activity. An intent engine measures the traffic over the course of three months to determine a baseline, which allows it to detect these spikes in search activity and alerts the marketer.
Account targeting is a different solution, which allows B2B marketers to target digital advertising directly to a target account. This solution allows for the marketing of products and services to employees and decision-makers at a specific business — the target account — rather than marketing more broadly to a category, industry or sector. It’s particularly helpful as part of a tender or bid process, where participating companies aren’t allowed to communicate directly with the client to ensure that the process is fair.
Targeting ads by to a specific account helps keep your company top-of-mind without communicating directly with them; in effect, it’s the digital version of putting up a billboard outside a target account’s office building.
It’s also possible to target accounts by personalising your website experience, based on the incoming account. Software is able to serve customised versions of your company’s website to target accounts, based on who they are. It will then show solutions that are only relevant to their company or industry, making it a great component of an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy. It makes visitors to the site feel as though they’re recognised, that you have a firm grasp of their needs — and can also be used to direct their interests in a certain way.
Tool, not a strategy
There are upwards of 7 000 different marketing technologies out there but they’re a tool — not a strategy. Using them correctly still relies on an understanding of the needs and expectations of a client, or target client. Once you’ve used the tech to reach them, you still need to offer them valuable content that puts you on their radar and helps them make a purchase decision. Much of B2B marketing has to do with how your company is able to make a client or target client, feel; it’s about how the sales team connects with them.
The ability to customise a website to what a prospective client wants is a powerful tool that delivers a strong customer experience. The tools are there — it’s up to B2B marketers to use them judiciously in pursuit of their objectives.
Warren Moss (@warrenmoss) is the CEO and founder of Demographica, a multi-award winning full service agency that specialises in the B2B category. He has been chair of both the Direct Marketing Association of South Africa (DMASA) and the Assegai Integrated Marketing Awards (Assegais), as well as the only African to judge the B2 Awards, which recognise the top performing B2B marketers in the world. Warren contributes the monthly “Thinking B2B” column, which looks at the latest trends in B2B communications and explains why it is fundamentally different from B2C comms.