Posted by Tony Kontzer, Guest Blogger
As NetSuite's fast-growing community of solution provider partners is painfully aware, it's not your grandmother's business-to-business marketing landscape anymore.
Marketing as a discipline has reinvented itself several times over the past 50 years, and on the B2B front, the last five years have seen the rise of the era of integrated marketing, during which buyer behavior has been reshaped by the Internet.
"Buyers have changed the way they do their sourcing of information," Kathy Contreras, research director at B2B research and advisory firm SiriusDecisions, said during a presentation to solution providers Tuesday at SuiteWorld. "They spend the majority of their time online sourcing before they even contact a salesperson."
Solution providers ignore that shift at their own peril, said Contreras.
"Making sure you're aware of that buyer behavior is really critical," she said.
That reliance on self-guided online research has resulted in a handful of marketing trends that solution providers must weave into an omnichannel strategy if they're going to grab all the business they can. They must personalize their marketing, engage buyers in multiple channels, combine online and offline tactics and deliver content marketing to where buyers are.
Oh, and they need to integrate and measure what they're doing. Today's numerous digital channels result in trails of bread crumbs that marketing departments must invest in understanding, not only to make themselves more accountable, but also to take full advantage of the business opportunities.
"Marketing organizations that mark the buyer's journey via integrated multichannel programs create twice as much pipeline as those who do not," Contreras said. If you're not doing thorough measurement yet, she added, "now is the time to start."
And about that content advertising: Contreras strongly advises breaking it up into bite-sized chunks that reflect buyers' compressed schedules. To accent this point, Contreras asked for a show of hands of how many people had read a 10-page white paper, cover to cover, within the last three months. Only one person had.
She recommended sprinkling small bites of content throughout the numerous places that influence buyers during their research. Those can be anything from social media and association web sites to analyst and vendor blogs, or even the solution provider's own blog. Content should be packaged in multiple formats—as tweets, blog pots, white papers, videos, podcasts, webcasts or any other of a number of options.
And, of course, it's important to ready your web site to detect the impact that all of that content marketing is having, and to make sure buyers can use your site regardless of the devices they use.
"Make sure your web site is SEO optimized and mobile ready," Contreras said.
Going forward, Contreras said solution providers should plan to do more to understand buyer behavior, focus more on sales enablement, and make themselves more strategic and process-driven. And not to beat a dead horse, but they really need to be able to effectively measure all of this.
"For every area you spend in marketing, you should be able to track the return on that investment," said Contreras. "If you're not going to measure it, don't invest in it."