B2B marketers in the technology sector are faced with greater and greater challenges, including shrinking product lifecycles, margin erosion, destruction of barriers to entry, ubiquitous big data claims, and security breaches to name a few.
So in today’s environment, where the global production of data reached four zettabytes in 2013 — more than double the amount in 2011 — and over 60% of buying decisions are made before your salesperson contacts a prospect, the question is, "How do technology B2B marketers differentiate products and services in a relevant and sustainable manner focused on increasing revenue and reducing the cost to serve?" The key is putting the customer at the center of your business strategy.
Harvard Business Review recently published research that identified 29 unique relationships which can exist between your organization and your consumers. Each relationship profile requires a unique journey to maximize value. Consumers demand that companies understand the type of relationship they want and respond appropriately. Successful firms embrace this and hold up their end of the bargain. Research has shown that B2B consumers are more emotionally attached to brands versus B2C consumers. Emotional engagement is a key requirement for successful organizations. Unfortunately, research shows many brands don’t meet these expectations.
Today’s B2B marketers must be strategists, allocating shrinking and scarce resources to support priorities focused on increasing return on investment. We must be technologists, always evaluating the latest and most useful technologies that constantly flood the marketplace. We also must be able to predict the future, because one thing is for sure — the future of our businesses will not look much like the past.
Placing the customer at the center of your business strategy creates Relational Intelligence, as described by HBR. With Relational Intelligence, a company is aware of the variety of relationships their customers can have with them, thus reinforcing and optimizing those connections. This is where and how we as B2B marketers hold up our end of the bargain. Merkle has helped many clients build their Relational Intelligence with our proven Connected CRM framework, which employs both anonymous and identified customer data to increase targetability and relevance of marketing experiences. This unleashes relationship intelligence to create a differentiated value-added experience. Our experience has shown that relevant and timely interaction increases short-term profitability and long-term customer value.
In our experience, successful clients start with the development of roadmaps for delivery of their integrated customer journey experience which includes segmentation, relationships, message sequencing, and experiences.
Those organizations that embrace the journey and optimize behavior through an integrated customer experience quickly create sustainable differentiation in the marketplace, drive customer loyalty, and build shareholder value long term.