2017 predictions in B2B marketing: Part 2

Lauren Kincke, Oracle practice manager at The Pedowitz Group takes a look at the biggest B2B trends for 2017

The leaves are turning (well finally here in Austin, TX) and some of us have even started the holiday shopping process. So in the spirit of all things end of year, here is the second installment of my 2017 predictions for B2B marketers.

I’ve broken up my predictions across six domains: people, process, strategy, technology, customer and results. These correlate to the six controls that make up the RM6 methodology used to assess marketing maturity. In my first post of my six predictions I covered strategy and process. Here we’ll focus on technology and the customer.

Prediction #3 – Unified systems to rule them all

No one is surprised when I say MarTech is exploding exponentially. The real question is how are you tackling this as a marketer? Technology is complex and often daunting. The big elephants in the game want you to believe you need to buy all of your products from their “marketing clouds” and maybe that is the right choice for you, but realistically there will always be outliers and tools that you do not have the ability to acquire through your bigger vendors. So, what kind of approach should you have towards integration? 

2017 will be the year YOU tackle this problem, whether that is simply because it supports your business goals or because a program or campaign demands an integrated environment, your first order of business should be in getting your house aligned.  Establish your full technology set, understand how it all connects (or doesn’t) and how it can connect. Then make a plan for filling in the gaps between the tools. I know this sounds like an obvious goal, but the reason it is so critical is two fold: 1) B2B marketers are all being asked to do bigger, better things with less budget 2) We have to support a single-voiced customer experience to ensure the positive outcomes our customers demand.

My second prediction in the technology space is less a prediction and more a statement of fact. If you aren’t already doing it, you will cease to have a choice. Personalization is here to stay. Whether it is personalization of your emails, your website or your advertising there is no getting around the fact that personalization drives the best engagement with your customers and thus higher conversion rates.  If your technology house is in order personalization on a large order in a scalable manner is your next stop. Look to tools that allow you to leverage your marketing data across all of the channels you use to communicate with your customers and prospects.  Without your unified system set you will find this a difficult goal to accomplish, so the order of operations here is simple. Get your tech house in order, then use it to power your personalized customer experience.

Prediction #4 - Creativity and data collide

The customer experience (CX) drives everything we do as B2B marketers, or should.  It is the roadmap for what content we supply at what point in the process, how we engage and how we are doing in terms of delivering a positive experience. 2017 is the year that your content and your technology become integral to a unified CX. 

If you are in the B2B space you have likely written off all of the conversations about the Internet of Things (IoT) as having anything to do with you, just assuming your B2C brethren will have to conquer that beast on their own. Think again. While the data from your FitBit or your Roku may not have any impact on a B2B campaign what does is data coming back from an IT network management tool, the hardware or equipment your company sells and other streams of information you may not have leveraged outside of the customer service space previously. 

In reality IoT impacts all marketers, the data we leverage and the data we have access to only make us better at providing a comprehensive and personalized journey to our customer. Isn’t that why we are all here? How you use that data will determine your effectiveness as a marketer. Feeling overwhelmed yet? Not to fear. Start off with an understanding of what you have and how accessible and clean that data is. Check out this simple data cleanup calculator to help you understand the ROI for using all that data when it’s squeaky clean.

Finally, as we watch CX and marketing collide even further remember, your content still matters. No one wants to read boring whitepapers and data sheets for days. Creative matters. If 2014 was the beginning of the boom in infographics, let 2017 be the year of creativity in content. From interactive assets to videos and beyond, technology has enabled us to do so much more within a user friendly UI. Make sure you are leveraging technology to its fullest potential and outfitting your programs and campaigns with customer friendly, shareable content. 

In my next and final 2017 predictions post I’ll tackle the two remaining areas, people and results. Stick around and let me know what you think in the comments section below.