It’s amazing what you can learn from talking to the market. Ask the right questions and you can pick up those juicy little nuggets of hard-earned experience that collectively help frame the realities of being a fully paid up member of the B2B marketing fraternity.
Which is exactly what we pride ourselves in doing at Quantum Marketing. As an end-to-end demand generation agency, we don’t just speak regularly to our customers – we also speak to an average 70,000 decision-makers every year, influencers, movers, and shakers each year. The question is what are they saying? Well, knowing that brevity is the mother of an engaged audience, we’ve summarised these insights – and used them to form a list of the 8 principal concerns putting frowns on the faces of B2B marketers:
Frown #1: the continued misalignment of sales and marketing
The traditional view of this issue pits two very different animals together: the short-term, deal-focused sales ‘hunter’ who can’t see beyond his or her next commission cheque; versus the results-driven marketer trying desperately to establish a long-term brand story. Whatever the reality inside an organisation, such misalignment can quickly lead to a range of significant consequences:
A lack of strategic client interaction over the desire for more strategic pipeline wins
Poor conversion levels, and the abject failure of ‘marketing qualified leads’ to convert into ‘sales accepted leads’
Weaker customer experiences where a desire for commercial outcomes trump any thought of building a credible brand journey
Frown #2: the demand for revenue-driven ROI
It was interesting to note from the Nielsen CMO Report 2018 that only 1 in 4 marketers are ‘highly confident’ they can quantify ROI.
What conclusion can we draw from this? Well, the feedback we’re receiving is that it again highlights the ‘short-termism’ of board-level thinking. Where the emphasis (and indeed all connected incentives) are directed almost exclusively toward servicing the sales funnel.
It therefore takes a brave marketer to stand before the executive and talk influence and brand awareness. Not when the only word proven to elicit a response is ‘leads’. Certainly evidence exists that this scenario is changing, but future momentum will still be based on smarter ways of measuring impact.
Frown #3: the growing urgency to attribute
Marketing attribution has long been a headache for marketers because it’s a seemingly intractable problem:
In part this is due to too many options and too much data, leaving many stuck in ‘analysis paralysis’
There’s also the mind-set of ‘last click’ attribution, and only recognising the last act prior to any engagement (thereby ignoring all the other online and offline interactions that potentially influenced any decision)
It’s a real bind because as the market tells us measurement is vital, but it’s nearly impossible to show the impact of marketing on the business without a cross-functional view (which brings us back to S&M alignments etc.).
Frown #4: the challenge of extracting insight from data
It seems that since the dawn of the internet, marketers have been promised ever greater insights into their audiences’ behaviours, expectations, and ultimate desires.
But despite the gathering, mining, manipulation, and understanding of data being staple activities for most marketing teams, turning data into insight (and insights into actionable intelligence) remains a common challenge.
The principal conclusion to be drawn from this is that while marketers remain spoilt for choice when it comes to collecting data, they are still in the main struggling to extract any real meaning from it (a fact confirmed by 61% of CMOs in a recent Drum article).
Frown #5: Knowing what to do about GDPR
Building on the insights story comes the challenge of striking a balance between extracting value from data versus the responsibility for holding it in a compliant fashion. This is where GDPR enters the picture, alongside the hefty penalties threatened for any data breach.
For marketers the legislation is fast leading to three noticeable reactions:
Compliance and legal teams are having a stronger voice on campaign execution
This in turn has helped decimate the marketable audiences available for campaigns
The result being an escalation in complexity for brands looking to foster direct relationships with EU prospects and customers
Frown #6: a disconnected martech stack
Returning to the Nielsen CMO report, another two headline findings were:
79% of CMOs expect to invest more in marketing analytics and attribution in 2019
74% have little or no confidence that they currently have the right tech in place
As for the why, what we’re hearing in frequent conversations is that despite an influx of investment in martech, a lack of integration and trusted/consolidated data continues to limit progress.
What’s more, many aspects of the martech stack are described as ‘not user friendly’, leading to disconnected customer experiences – and no clear idea as to how best to improve the situation.
Frown #7: cracking the channel partner challenge
Let’s start with a number: speaking to customers, our research suggests that only 32% of MDF budgets ever get spent. Ask why and the reasons you hear begin with the word ‘lack’ – of control, resource, organisation, and clearly defined ROI targets.
To make matters worse, most channel networks feature different types of partner, with different types of expectation:
Tier 1 partners – the larger firms working in more structured and sophisticated markets that seek a competitive advantage from new and stand out marketing activity
Tier 2 partners – mid-size companies with big ambition but limited resource who prize ‘ease to market’, and always-on campaigns that deliver a constant source of active leads
Tier 3 partners – who struggle to find budget and are therefore looking for a ‘reason to believe’ in any marketing activity, alongside a realistic assessment of the returns on offer
There’s obviously no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to meet these diverse needs, but there are certain capabilities that it helps to make available (and where agencies need to step up). These range from creative planning, through automation, to simplified campaign management – with a nuanced understanding of local markets thrown in for good measure.
Frown #8: changing relationships with the SI community
This last point may seem a little ‘left field’, but large systems integrators (the usual suspects including the Big 4) are exerting a growing influence on any activity designed to engage corporate customers.
Partly this is down to issues connected to data quality and GDPR, as these large firms see upsurges in demand for their data transformation practices. Then there are the on going ‘deep’ relationships they have with clients that often elevate them to the level of ‘trusted advisor’.
For B2B marketers this can create demand for you to run activities specifically aimed at the SI community and ‘influencing the influencers’. This however can also be a double-edged sword, as these same SIs can be customers and competitors at the same time.
Turning those frowns upside down
So that’s the less than magnificent 8 risks and challenges causing collective frowns for marketers. A mix of reporting, analysis, and data issues not helped by the fragmentary nature of service delivery offered by traditional B2B agencies.
At Quantum Marketing however, the situation is a little different. That’s because we’re a truly end-to-end demand generation agency focused in the technology sector. And when we say end-to-end we mean it – everything from creative, through data, to hands-on client engagement (yes – actually speaking to them!). A level of integration that helps overcome many of the challenges listed above – and leads to some pretty impressive results to boot.
Want to find out a little more? You can ask any question you like, or request the agency overview by messaging me or to learn more click here.