Applying design thinking to build foundations for B2B marketing success

by Namit Bhargava
Head of Digital Sales, Digital Transformation
@WiproDigital

Business-to-business (B2B) digital marketers are increasingly taking a page out of the consumer marketing playbook by serving potential customers personalized experiences and targeted content. They’re adopting these tactics because their customers are behaving like consumers when it comes to making purchase decisions. About 74 percent of B2B buyers conduct half of their research online before making an offline purchase according to Forrester,1 while Gartner found that even in the late stages of the purchasing cycle, 83 percent of buyers continued their online research — for instance, validating information they get from sales reps.2

As B2B buyers demand more personalized experiences that are contextualized to their needs, CMOs, CIOs, and CTOs realize they need to embrace strategic initiatives enabled by data, technology, and marketing services and operations while investing in content marketing, big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.

Most organizations, however, fall short on realizing their vision to implement these initiatives — and these shortfalls are not due to a lack of will or technology. As of April 2018, 6,829 marketing technology products were on the market to support various sales and marketing needs.3 Over the past few years, businesses have invested in a variety of stand-alone technologies that serve a single or multiple marketing functions. Multiple products serving the same function often exist within the same organization without any integration to deliver an end-to-end omni-channel experience. To overcome these challenges and meet customer expectations, organizations must create nimble and agile marketing services.

Three crucial marketing considerations

To create agile marketing services, business leaders need to focus on these top three strategic marketing considerations: customer centricity, technology enablers, and optimized marketing services and operations.

Consider the following focal points to structure similar design thinking workshops:

1) Customer centricity

Achieving customer centricity starts with acquiring and optimally managing customer data — including data on past purchases, past inquiries, current browsing behaviour, and search terms.

Customer-centric organizations prioritize the following imperatives for data management:

  • Enable a 360-degree view through big data or a data management platform (DMP).
  • Implement data modelling to estimate the requirement for data and storage of records.
  • Identify the requirements for segmentation including the data required to enable it.
  • Target appropriate groups and provide relevant experiences through account-based marketing.
  • Establish the requirements for second- and third-party data and formulate a plan for integrating external systems. Second-party data is sourced from wireless providers, social media, cable TV providers, etc. Third-party data is sourced from external research agencies.
  • Identify the requirements for data governance and formulate a governance plan.

Questions that marketing departments need to answer:

  • How can we achieve a 360-degree view of customers across all channels as well as the ability to cleanse, standardize, and augment data?
  • How do we engage customers, drive awareness, generate demand, increase sales, and develop integrated campaigns?
  • Do any adjustments need to be made to go-to-market (GTM) planning, sales support, channel strategy, pricing, or customer experience?
  • How can we better orchestrate customer journeys using the existing marketing tech stack?

2) Technology enablers

Most marketing organizations buy the technology first, then try to figure out a way to use it. As a result, they often own multiple products performing the same or similar marketing functions. The complexity and cost of integration inevitably leads to a broken tech stack.

Key imperatives for organizations to effectively utilize marketing technology:

  • Rationalize and consolidate the existing tools, products, and platforms.
  • Optimize the performance of the digital marketing function in terms of time to execute campaigns.
  • Identify digital marketing tools that can be moved to the cloud to achieve cost reduction and operational effectiveness.
  • Identify the digital marketing tools that can be purchased as a service.

Questions that marketing departments need to answer:

  • Have we achieved a significant return on investment after spending time and money implementing marketing technology?
  • How can we simplify our marketing technology landscape to address the multitude of overlapping point solutions we have built over time?
  • How can we improve our capability through implementation of innovative technology in the areas of marketing automation, web/mobile experience, content, data, e-commerce, email, social media, targeting, analytics, and personalization?

3) Optimized marketing services and operations

Organizations often have multiple sets of resources working on the same tasks. For example, an organization’s digital marketing team might include two system integrators, each consisting of two employees, two sub-contractors, and four developers. With so many perspectives, conflicting priorities and lack of ownership arise, resulting in delays to digital projects.

Key imperatives for organizations to achieve optimized marketing services and operations:

  • Build an agile and lean marketing services and operations team to optimize inbound marketing (e.g., websites, campaigns) through vendor consolidation and automation.
  • Identify and implement technology that optimizes paid online and print marketing vehicles.
  • Develop an outcome-based model for successful implementation of data, technology, and marketing services to achieve faster time to market.

Questions that marketing departments need to answer:

  • Is there a way to improve customer personalization using our existing data, marketing technology, and current ways of working? If yes, what needs to change?
  • How can we shorten the time it takes to design, build, run, and measure marketing campaigns and programs?
  • Are all stakeholders clear on the responsibilities and priorities of our internal and external teams, agencies, and partners pertaining t: our infrastructure and platform support (both third-party and on-premise) and our marketing operations team (both in-house, and third-party agencies)?
Figure 1: Digital marketing imperatives — data, technology, and marketing services

The power of data, technology and marketing

Today’s B2B world demands thought leadership and action in the digital marketing space. Individuals can support the goals of their organizations — faster time to market, optimized marketing spend, and a consolidated technology stack — by initiating design thinking workshops to examine the strategic combination of data, technology, and marketing services. As global competition raises the pressure on organizations to differentiate themselves in new ways, the time to invest in these important considerations is now.

References

1 https://go.forrester.com/b2b/

2 https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/what-sales-should-know-about-modern-b2b-buyers/

3 https://chiefmartec.com/2018/04/marketing-technology-landscape-supergraphic-2018/