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CMOs must assume the role of change manager if they’re to steer their organisations through the transformed lifecycle of the B2B buyer, an Australian inbound marketing consultant claims.
Speaking at an IDC event for technology marketing managers in Sydney on 29 October, G2M Solutions founder and MD, Chris Fell, said the rise of digital content and connectivity has revolutionised the B2B customer buying cycle by allowing them to control the information sourcing and decision-making process in a self-service way.
Fell pointed to a recent Corporate Executive Board (CEB) report on B2B marketing, which found today’s B2B buyer is 57 per cent along the purchasing journey on average before they engage directly with a vendor. Industry research also shows 85 per cent of B2B buyers now start the buying journey online.
“We are in the era of the buyer,” Fell told attendees. Today, customers “graze on content and information”, making it increasingly difficult for vendors to cut through the digital noise, he said. At the same time, consumers are getting better at blocking sales and marketing messages across channels, as well as pulling information how and when they want it.
Despite this, marketers continue to make the mistake of investing in “random acts of marketing” and short-term campaigns, rather than pursuing the customer throughout the entire buying cycle, Fell said – a process which can take 12 months or more.
“There is a growing chasm around lead generation, and it’s up to marketers to step into the gap, be closer to revenue and control that part of the [sales] funnel,” he claimed. “Marketers have got to have influence over the entire cycle.”
According to Fell, one of the keys to meeting this challenge is investing in content marketing excellence, although he admitted the volume and type of content required today has grown exponentially. He pointed out 78 per cent of B2B customers start their buying journey on a company website.
“Marketers need to be producing buyer-oriented, locally relevant and multi-format content,” he said. Fell also claimed many CMOs lack a clear migration path for where they want to go, and said a host are still struggling to link conversion rates of website visitors through to leads and ultimately customers.
Another challenge is the massive gap in digital marketing skills in Australia, he said.
As a way forward, Fell advised marketers to invest heavily on technology platforms such as marketing automation and data set integration in order to respond dynamically to potential customers when they need to.
CMOs must also take responsibility for lead and revenue generation, and have a clear plan in place to assist customers transition from awareness, through to lead generation and inbound marketing.
“CMOs must act as change managers more than they ever have before,” he added.
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