Marketing

B2B Marketers Pain Points, Performance, and Priorities for the Coming Year: B2B Marketing Monitor

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Digital-first poses challenges for B2B companies in terms of customer experience, while demand and brand positioning are top priorities according to the B2B Marketing Monitor study carried out by B2B International.

B2B marketing pain points and priorities

Due to the economic uncertainty and the rapid acceleration of the digital transformation, 2020 was a challenging year for most companies.

Many B2B companies – especially in manufacturing and industry – had not yet developed strategic roadmaps for investing in marketing automation and e-commerce, but were in a digital-first ecosystem to keep up with rapidly changing developments Market dynamics.

The most common challenge for B2B marketers

Establishing / strengthening customer relationships in a digital world is cited as a challenge by 55% of B2B marketers.

The proportion of person-to-person touchpoints on the buyer journey has dropped dramatically as B2B buyers use more digital tools to stay up to date, find new suppliers, evaluate options, order products and more. Not surprising, 54% of B2B brands have trouble connecting emotionally with customers in order to achieve higher brand engagement.

The pressure on B2B companies is to stay connected with their customers through digital or digital-only channels, and try to reach new customers in alternative ways that may appear faceless and devoid of empathy.

The top priority challenge for B2B brands

Providing a great CX throughout the customer lifecycle is the most frequently cited top 3 challenge for B2B marketers. Of all the challenges, CX – the third most common challenge (53% of respondents chose it) – has top priority for B2B marketers this year (selected by 43% as the top 3 challenge to focus on).

The more customer-centric organizations are the ones that understand how to get customers, how to keep customers, and how to turn customers into brand ambassadors. The trademark attorneys are the ones who spend more time spreading positive word of mouth over time, which leads to increased demand.

Only 22% of B2B companies say the customer experience (“CX Leaders”) is great, and this cohort is significantly more likely than their peers to measure customer longevity as a measure of customer loyalty.

In other words, those who understand how to tailor the customer experience to different customer needs and behaviors throughout the customer lifecycle are more likely to deliver higher value.

High performance B2B marketing practice areas

In 9 of the 10 tested marketing practice areas, only about a quarter to a third of the B2B brands rate themselves well, which indicates that the overall performance of B2B marketing is mediocre.

Despite the strain on marketing resources caused by the pandemic, performance has remained stable. Aside from tracking brand health, where a small increase in the percentage of B2B marketers rated their organization well compared to 2019, no improvements were made in any area of ​​marketing practice.

Building a thought leader position is the most powerful field of activity: 41% rated their performance an 8, 9, or 10 out of 10. This may be because positioning thought leaders has become the top priority strategy for the year ahead as marketing budgets have become more digital and content-driven.

The top performing areas of activity for B2B marketers

High priority B2B marketing strategies

Although delivering a great customer experience across the entire customer lifecycle is the biggest challenge for marketing, demand generation and branding has overtaken CX & Loyalty as the most important marketing strategies this year (especially in Europe).

  • The increasing importance of demand from 6th place in 2019 to 1st place this year suggests that B2B companies focus more on quick wins.
  • Similar, The development of the brand position (e.g. through thought leadership) has increased in importance from rank 7 in 2019 to rank 2 this year. Highlight the role of content in increasing brand awareness and brand preference on the way to becoming a first-time digital buyer.
  • The customer experience and customer loyalty have lost importance from rank 1 to rank 4. possibly contribute to the greatest challenges of customer experience management in a more digital world. The pandemic panicked many companies, shifting priorities from customer-centric to brand-centric strategies.

High priority marketing strategies from B2B marketers

Marketing opportunities for B2B companies

The mediocre marketing achievements in B2B companies and the CX challenges they are holding back show three ways B2B marketers can overtake their competitors:

  1. Embrace empathy in the digital-first ecosystem. The best B2B brands in their class offer hyper-relevant, personalized experiences tailored to the real people behind the digital touchpoints, at the right time in the right place and, most importantly, with authentic and empathetic messages. towards each person behind the interaction.
  2. Think beyond leads and loyalty to the worth of life. B2B customer experience guides are those who segment their customers based on relative importance to the business, e.g. B. the more profitable customer groups. This translates into a higher ROI on marketing spend by focusing on maximizing value versus minimizing cost.

    In other words, by determining how B2B brands can add more value to different groups of customers, they can in turn generate more value, resulting in a win-win outcome.

  3. Transition from a product-oriented to a customer-oriented way of thinking. Many B2B brands fall into the trap of focusing on what they need to sell, rather than the unmet customer needs they are going to meet. The impact of the pandemic exacerbated this inward-looking and short-term mentality as B2B organizations sought quick profits.

    However, the most successful B2B brands are those who not only go out of their perspective of the world to see the customer’s perspective, but also put the customer’s needs at the center of their actions.

Download charts and infographics on B2B Marketing & Strategy Trends and B2B CX Excellence for more insight into the B2B Marketing Monitor.

About the study: The B2B Marketing Monitor survey was conducted in the first quarter of 2021 by B2B International, a leading specialist business-to-business market research agency and part of Merkle B2B, owned by Dentsu. The sample size consisted of 301 marketing, insight, CX, and business strategy decision makers for brands serving the B2B audience and focused on large corporations (average revenue was $ 2.9 billion). The sample is international: 36% North America (mostly USA); 40% Europe (mainly Great Britain and Germany); 24% APAC (Singapore & Australia).

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Jeffrey Rabinowitz