According to Gartner's 2017-2018 CMO Spend Survey, marketing budgets have seen a 6% year-over-year reduction. Analysts say B2B marketers must embrace a new focus on smarter performance optimization.

Chris Pemberton, Partner and Digital Content Lead at Echo Group, writes on the Gartner blog:

“It’s time to assume accountability for business performance and show that marketing can grow the business while making hard choices.”

Increasingly, executives assess B2B marketing team performance on revenue-based metrics. Reaching increasingly challenging revenue goals requires an understanding of which marketing factors have the greatest impact on overall revenue growth. The three we see most often are:

  1. Unlocking operational efficiency
  2. Improving the customer experience
  3. Achieving pipeline growth

So, how does marketing efficiency, customer experience and pipeline health contribute to revenue growth?

3 Essential B2B Marketing Objectives

Demand generation specialists are seeking ways to impact the numbers that matter most by focusing on a few key objectives and "making hard choices," as Pemberton advises.

1. Improve Marketing Operations Efficiency

B2B marketing operational inefficiencies do not always have an immediate impact on revenue-based performance targets. However, manual tasks which could be automated are a waste of skilled marketers’ time and department budget, and therefore represent an opportunity cost.

The most highly effective B2B marketing organizations may not have more technology or different technology from their peers. In many cases, leading organizations have mastered operational efficiency, including process automation with existing technology investments.

Just 16% of the most effective CMOs believe they’re not effectively acquiring or using MarTech, according to Gartner. In contrast, 84% are maximizing technology to create operational efficiency, analyze performance and scale multichannel campaigns.

The Cost of Not Automating Manual Tasks

Spending 12 hours a week on manual tasks, like lead deduplication, scrubbing, formatting or uploading, may not seem like a significant waste of resources. However, over the long term, those hours often add up to more than 50 hours a month, and 600 hours a year. Those are hours spent on menial tasks, rather than on creating real value through optimizing lead sources optimization, creating high-value content, enhancing account-based marketing plans or creating new lead nurturing tracks.

Solutions which introduce process automation and integrate multichannel campaigns save time and budget. A focus on operational efficiency gives the marketer an opportunity to reallocate resources to act on important tasks such as developing new demand generation ideas.

2. Invest in Customer Experience

Brands which invest in customer experience see a direct correlation with increased revenue. Analysts recently studied 250 leading brands and found that companies which ranked in the top 50 in customer experience enjoyed 50% higher revenue growth than those at the bottom, according to a 2018 KPMG report.

While the value of customer experience has not changed in recent years, the customer’s expectations for what makes a “great” brand interaction has evolved. You must adapt to the changing expectations and preferences of B2B decision-makers in 2018 and deliver an exceptional customer experience.

Delivering Exceptional B2B Customer Experiences

Leading marketing teams are using software to orchestrate demand marketing strategies and deliver a customer experience that is increasingly one-to-one, personalized and driven by behavioral analytics.

Alicia Hatch, Chief Marketing Officer at Deloitte Digital, says her team’s B2B marketing objective is:

“Surrounding my customer with a total brand experience and not just serving up content...the idea is to provide the right content to the right consumer at the right time.”

The new B2B customer experience starts with creating content customers really want to use. Focus on sharing expertise and prescriptive guidance rather than being product-focused. Distribute these high-value assets in channels customers are already using.

Reaching the right prospects with the right assets will likely require tightly defined audience parameters and increased investment in media partnerships. To protect your customer experience investments, ensure media partners display the content with brand integrity and portray the brand effectively.

3. Pipeline Growth

Pipeline growth involves the adoption of strategies, targets and tools to focus on the revenue pipeline and achieve closed-loop performance optimization capabilities. Here are four steps to help you expand your pipeline.

Step 1: Collaborate to Set Strategic Pipeline Targets

Establishing quarterly and annual goals for pipeline growth is a collaborative effort between marketing, sales, customer success, leadership and product teams. During this stage, you should work to develop an understanding of sales targets and new product releases.

During the strategic phase of this exercise, you should also capture other variables which could impact the strategy, such as the expansion of the organization into a new market. The outcome of strategic pipeline goals should include specific financial targets for new customer acquisition, repeat customer spend, product category sales and similar goals.

Step 2: Allocate Budget by Revenue Category and Persona

With an understanding of how sales and product targets will impact the organization, you can begin to allocate funds for new customer acquisition efforts and customer retention campaigns. At this stage, it’s also possible to distribute the budget according to the persona or target account.

This research is best enriched with historical data from the CRM and marketing automation platform to define the average cost of customer acquisition, conversion rates and other key factors. The outcome of this exercise should guide decisions about how the budget is spent according to initiative and persona.

Step 3: Allocate Budget by Pipeline Stage and Activity

With both revenue targets and budgets for initiatives and personas or accounts, you can allocate funds within each category to lead generation efforts at the top, middle and bottom of the marketing funnel. For example, you may dedicate 20% of the top-funnel budget to reaching qualified new prospects who have never engaged with the brand before.

Based on historical marketing performance data from the marketing automation platform (MAP) and CRM, the strategy should address the creation of new content assets and the exploration of paid distribution channels.

Step 4: Continually Measure and Optimize Active Campaigns

Once you have established clear B2B marketing objectives, it’s important to continually measure each section of the pipeline against quarterly and annual performance goals. With tools for multichannel performance measurement and optimization, demand marketers can make dynamic improvements to campaigns, sources and audiences based on how the pipeline is performing.

Focusing on the Right B2B Marketing Objectives

Executives may measure you by revenue contributions, but revenue is dependent on several factors that the exec team often doesn't think about. The most successful revenue-driven marketing organizations invest heavily in supporting great customer experiences, increasing operational efficiencies and scaling the sales pipeline. By introducing automation, creating an exceptional multichannel customer experience and unlocking the ability to optimize performance continually, B2B marketing organizations can exceed targets for customer satisfaction and revenue growth.

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