August 21, 2019 Andrew Warren-Payne
Earlier in the year, we covered the topic of scrappy marketing on the ON24 blog. The scrappy marketing series (and the accompanying B2B Marketer’s Guide to Scrappy Marketing) was about getting marketing done fast with limited resources, and finding out what works well — and what doesn’t.
However, there comes a point where once campaigns are up and running, reinventing the wheel doesn’t seem like the best thing to do. So what should marketers do in this scenario?
Optimization may provide an answer.
What do we mean by optimization in B2B marketing?
Unfortunately, the definitions for optimization that apply to B2B marketers might are somewhat lacking.
Merriam Webster defines optimization as “an act, process, or methodology of making something (such as a design, system, or decision) as fully perfect, functional, or effective as possible.” But while “functional or as effective as possible” might be applicable, there’s no way to define perfect — and as we covered in the first scrappy marketing post, pursuing perfection can often hold marketers back from doing anything at all.
The idea of conversion rate optimization has been commonplace since at least the early 2000s, with Moz defining it as “the systematic process of increasing the percentage of website visitors who take a desired action.”
But while that might be fine for businesses that transact exclusively online with just one buyer, the reality of B2B marketing means such a limited approach is simply too narrow.
Optimization in B2B marketing should cover all of the customer experience
For many B2C marketers, the customer is a single person, who more often than not is acting alone.
Things are more difficult for B2B marketers. As customers are businesses or organizations with multiple employees, there are often multiple people that must be marketed to — a critical factor contributing to the rise of modern account-based marketing.
The book The Challenger Sale covered how the number of people that get involved in a buying process has grown, with the latest analysis estimating that the average number of stakeholders may be greater than 10 individuals. Naturally, decision making is taking longer.
As such, the typical way in which B2B marketers measure performance — the number of marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) they generate — isn’t enough to truly impact the bottom line. A whitepaper download or simple handover to sales cannot be the endpoint of conversion.
Putting the customer first and optimizing the outcome of such a process needs a wider view and should not be simply structured around siloes of customer success, sales and marketing. It should start with understanding the experience of all stakeholders within a target account, ideally working back through their journey to find out where improvements can be made.
This is the reason why ON24’s W.E.B.I.N.E.R.D. curriculum goes beyond the basics of just driving registrations — touching on engagement, brand, insights, networking, experience, results and data. All of these areas can be optimized.
Why is optimization important – and critical to long term success?
At a simple level, optimization can help provide any marketer with some easy wins. By identifying key points in the buyer journey and making the process simpler, easier and of a higher-quality, marketing can increase its contribution to the bottom line.
But there’s also a bigger picture at play. The reality is that the length of time for which companies can enjoy success is shrinking. Analysis by Innosight has found that the average tenure for companies on the S&P 500 has shrunk from 33 years to 24 in 2016. By 2027, that length of time is forecast to be just 12 years. In the next decade, about half of these large companies are expected to be replaced by newer firms on the index. Companies need to change to stay competitive.
It’s also not just companies that need to change. Individual marketers need to optimize their own skills in order to maintain their employability in an increasingly tough environment. By bringing optimization into their own work, they will be able to demonstrate continued results even as competitors up the challenge.
In the short term, optimization is also important as key factors can change rapidly. Targets go up at the same time as the costs in acquiring new customers rise. Meanwhile, potential buyers disengage after being deluged with poor-quality marketing and sales outreach efforts.
The marginal gains of optimization add up
However, there is good news even among the challenges that B2B marketers are facing. Continually adding small gains adds up over time to an improved experience throughout the buyer journey – whether at the qualification stage, during an interaction with the sales team or even as they consider renewing or upgrading.
So stay tuned to the ON24 blog to find out how you can optimize your marketing, drive more revenues and stay above the pack.
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