In recent years, B2B companies have witnessed a profound shift in the way business buyers engage with them. Today’s buyers make decisions in groups and are inclined to maintain their anonymity for longer periods, avoiding contact with salespeople until they are ready, or sometimes entirely. These changes have major implications for B2B marketers.

As Buyer Behavior Takes A Toll On Revenue Growth, B2B Marketing Needs To Change

According to Forrester’s Marketing Survey, 2024, 75% of B2B marketers say that buyers are taking longer to commit to a purchase compared to a year ago, and that’s a big jump up from 67% a year earlier. Because of the increase in anonymous digital buying behavior, B2B marketing leaders are facing a new reality: Buyers have evolved, but B2B marketing hasn’t — at least, not fast enough.

Emerging B2B technologies such as generative AI, customer data platforms, data providers, account-based marketing platforms, and B2B advertising solutions are helping to address anonymous digital buyer behaviors. Additionally, new tactics like intent monitoring, conversational marketing, technographics, and identity resolution can contribute to improved buyer engagement. But these advanced capabilities are hitting a wall of conventional marketing silos. As these new digital tactics become pervasive across demand, account-based, field, and customer marketing, it’s more likely than ever for buying groups to endure a sequence of disjointed vendor interactions.

The B2B Marketing Functions Accountable For Pipeline And Revenue Must Break Through Their Silos

Forrester found that B2B marketers face three significant internal issues when it comes to implementing marketing programs and campaigns, and all of them are rooted in silos. The first is coordinating across siloed marketing teams and marketing service providers, which also hinders sales and marketing alignment. The second is using multiple sources of data and creating a single view of the customer across marketing teams and the customer lifecycle. The third is the inability to develop campaigns and programs based on customer needs, which means that marketing teams are either unable to derive customer needs or unable to translate those needs into relevant programs and campaigns.

These challenges are interconnected with changing buyer behavior, as silos may fragment the buyer experience across the full lifecycle of interactions. To overcome these challenges, marketing leaders must adopt a unified, outside-in strategy that considers the entire customer lifecycle. This strategy, developed by Forrester and known as lifecycle revenue marketing, involves marketing leaders who step up to break through silos and accomplish three key objectives:

  1. Orchestrating full lifecycle audience engagement, catering to all audiences, including anonymous, pseudonymous, and known
  2. Collecting and sharing full-lifecycle engagement insights, including both self-guided interactions orchestrated by marketing and the connection to resulting human interactions with salespeople
  3. Influencing the full lifecycle of buying motions and opportunity, from acquisition through upsell, cross-sell, and retention, via coordinated efforts

Enter Frontline Marketing: The Linchpin In A Customer-Obsessed Growth Strategy

Lifecycle revenue marketing is not executed by one team or leader but rather by a coalition of frontline marketing functions working together to break through silos and achieve revenue growth together. Frontline marketing is Forrester’s term that encapsulates the B2B marketing teams responsible for buyer audience engagement and most accountable to pipeline and revenue outcomes. These are typically demand, account-based, field, and customer marketing. But across different types of B2B organizations, frontline marketing teams could be called growth marketing, digital demand marketing, relationship marketing, or lifecycle marketing.

The names aren’t important. What’s important is the fact that frontline marketing is starving for strategic leadership. While technology and tactics play a role, unifying frontline marketing around the customer lifecycle and adopting a holistic, customer-obsessed, and frontline strategy (i.e., lifecycle revenue marketing) will be a key driver of future growth in modern B2B organizations — but frontline marketing leaders can’t wait for a better strategy to be handed to them from higher levels of the organization. They must become more strategic on their own, manage up, and transform frontline marketing into a linchpin in the company’s core B2B customer-obsessed growth engine strategy.

Now Hiring: Frontline Marketing Leaders For Lifecycle Revenue Results

Realizing frontline marketing’s growth potential requires a leadership mindset that can recognize the need for strategy at the frontline level and upstream levels. The good news is that B2B organizations are paying attention to the need for marketing strategy. When Forrester’s Marketing Survey, 2024, asked B2B marketing decision-makers which internal processes they plan to add or enhance in the coming year, “marketing strategy” was cited most often — and more often by marketers at or below the senior-director level than at the VP level or above.

Leading frontline marketing on a strategic journey to become a revenue engine linchpin requires bold changes. But B2B marketers may not have much of a choice: If you don’t like change, you’ll like disruption even less. Buyers have made their decision to change. Will you follow them on the path to growth? Join us at Forrester’s B2B Summit North America to learn more about frontline marketing leadership, lifecycle revenue marketing, revenue process transformation, and more. If you’re already a Forrester client, schedule a guidance session with me to learn more and start or continue your frontline marketing growth journey.