Guest blog: Targeted B2B marketing has never been more important

By Lisa Hancox, Head of Marketing

Over to Jon Clarke, CEO at Cyance for this guest blog…

In the last few years, the behaviour of B2B buyers have changed, and so the marketing industry has adapted in response. The vast amount of information that B2B purchasers can find and the often-lengthy process, from research to consideration to buying, means it’s becoming more challenging to target and move those buyers through the sales funnel. And the ultimate challenge for most businesses now, is how to attract customers in increasingly targeted ways while growing revenue and market share.

The legacy mass marketing tactics of the past are way past their sell-by date. Marketing teams now need to be able to identify, categorise and then target customers at the right time and show them the right message. They need to take a more insights and account-based approach, as Suzanne Griffiths wrote about on this blog recently, and yes, change is needed in order to keep up with a transforming environment.

For the most part, marketers have been using programmatic marketing to target and attract new customers, but I think this needs to be taken even further, and be more personalised. Doing so will enable businesses to reach the 2-5% of customers or prospects that are actively looking to and are ready to buy.

Enter behaviour-based marketing, fuelled by buying intent data, which I believe is a better way of transforming the quality of leads produced by B2B marketing. The latest backdrop of GDPR and the required compliance adds an extra layer of complexity to the picture for in-house and agency marketers and their sales counterparts, but that complexity can be confidently overcome.

Executing behaviour-based marketing does however need a shift in mindset, something which will inevitably mean educating internal audiences. Moving away from traditional methods can be daunting and some of the C-suite may view it as risky too. The shift is to move from generating large amount of leads of questionable quality, to generating high calibre, relevant leads. It’s the age-old argument of quality versus quantity. In the case of B2B lead generation, volume doesn’t guarantee results.

Instead, success comes from the confluence of three factors: context, timing and relevance.

When it comes to context, we all know how useful the right digital keywords can be in identifying audience segments and what they’re talking about. Context is important because it identifies accurate behaviour signals and separate the warm leads from the cold ones. In practice, building context into the keyword approach means layering insights onto words, including which sites customers are using to do their research, to whether a specific industry problem is being discussed. Each layer that is added helps build a single picture of who that customer is and how your brand can meet their needs.

The next element is timing. Gathering insights about your customers’ needs to happen in real-time, or as close as possible. This is critical as you need to interact with them the moment they show you they’re ready to make that decision to buy. Without real-time insights, you run the risk of engaging with them too early or too late in the buying journey. Understanding timing also helps you tailor the message. With real-time insights you can see where they are in the process and be agile enough to send them the right message as quickly as you can to capitalise on the momentum.

Lastly, there’s relevance. This step is critical in ensuring you’re sending your prospects and customers the right content that addresses their needs and resonates with them — and of course reflects your products and solutions as the answer they’re looking for. And the type of content and actual messaging depends on where they are in the buying journey.

In the B2B sector, personalisation is so much more than knowing a customer’s name. It’s about understanding their pain points, what they’re looking for and how your company’s products or services can solve those challenges for them.

Helping brands and agencies to find new customers at the right part of the buying journey and sell more to existing customers is our purpose.  Using a combination of data and computer science, we help clients around the world to transform sales and marketing results.

Jon Clarke is CEO of Cyance, a multi-award winning B2B customer behaviour technology company.