- Changes in buyer behavior and expectations combined with new technologies and touchpoints are forcing demand marketers to rethink their approaches
- The introduction of new delivery mechanisms such as chatbots and digital assistants bring opportunities to think beyond the screen when designing the integrated tactic mix
- Demand marketers should explore trends in five key areas of innovation to reach and engage buyers
My dog, Trevor (pictured), spends his summers on the lakeshore, curating his rock collection with the determination of a demand marketer driving pipeline. Trevor doesn’t chase after just any rock, but rather targets only rocks that are the best fit for his objectives. He hunts for rocks that are light in color and slightly larger than a softball, then moves them to the shallows where the pile grows until the rocks can be warmed by the sun.
Trevor continuously applies insights from previous iterations of this process – reaching for the rocks underwater creates fewer ripples that hinder visibility, compared to slapping through the water from above. He’s finding new ways to accomplish his goals with precision, speed and a bit of style.
Demand marketers are reconsidering existing approaches to reaching and engaging buyers to accommodate the post-digital buyer’s journey and the consumer-like expectations of the business buyer. By definition, “innovate” means to make changes or do something in a new way. For demand marketers, innovation may take the form of finding new ways to leverage buyer insights in the tactic mix, or designing new approaches in offer strategies, delivery mechanisms and content experiences that engage buyers and fuel the revenue engine.
Innovation in the demand tactic mix means something different for every organization depending on current state and future vision, so knowing what’s possible and where to start is important. Whether personalizing content across digital properties or experimenting with mixed reality, understanding what motivates the target audience allows marketers to explore tactical innovations and trends in predictable, meaningful and measurable ways.
Demand marketers looking to drive innovation in their current approach or implement the latest trends should consider opportunities at the program and tactic level as well as the foundational elements that enable innovation: artificial intelligence (AI) and a culture of experimentation.
Designing Tactical Innovation
Audience context is the foundation of effective demand marketing, and changes in buyer behavior and expectations as well as new touchpoints along the nonlinear buyer’s journey are causing demand marketers to rethink program design and activation. The introduction of new delivery mechanisms such as chatbots, digital assistants and augmented experiences bring opportunity to think beyond the screen when designing and pressure testing the integrated tactic mix.
Demand marketers should look at three key areas of tactical innovation to drive interest, interaction and response and provide continuity in the buyer’s journey:
- Buyer enablement. Buyer enablement refers to the shift from selling to buyers to enabling buyers to get the information they need to support their decision-making process. Savvy demand marketers are leveraging voice interactions, chatbots and virtual assistants, and augmented experiences to activate and enable the individual buyer’s journey and deliver a personalized, omni-channel experience at scale.
- Interconnected tactic mix. The demand marketing tactic mix should be designed to attract, engage and qualify target buyers and provide a unified experience across devices and channels for any path the buyer may take. To maximize relevance in the marketing mix, demand marketers must think beyond account segmentation, persona preferences and individual behavior and understand the context of the buying group.
- Media optimization. Innovation in media requires an understanding of the buyer, an audience journey activated through multiple channels, and access to first- and third-party data sources to test and tailor messaging at scale. Opportunity areas include more precise targeting, real-time personalization, programmatic creative testing, interactive content experiences, user-generated content and new digital advertising formats.
Effective innovation is enabled by two building blocks: intelligence and culture. AI plays a prominent role in evolving digital marketing technology capabilities that empower marketers to gather and activate audience insights – using buyer signals such as fit, intent and engagement to trigger and tailor the next interaction. Realizing the power of AI for demand marketing and responding to new insights in real time requires a culture that fosters experimentation, data-driven learning and an agile approach.
- AI. AI enables marketers to know the B2B buyer like never before and answers critical questions about who the buyer is and what attracts and engages that buyer. The increasing availability and adoption of AI-powered capabilities in the tech stack continues to introduce new opportunities for B2B demand marketers to enhance buyer engagement through personalization, tactic matching, content creation and insights, program orchestration, and one-on-one conversations.
- Experimentation culture. Digital strategy and execution are iterative, driven by evolving buyer expectations, activation of new data sources and insights, and advancements in technology capabilities. Modern demand marketers must be responsive to buyer signals in real time so they can use those insights to optimize components like digital ads, email and the corporate website. Use data to guide decisions about where and how to innovate – and how to measure impact.
Each night, the waves hit the shore and redistribute Trevor’s rock pile so that he must restart the next day, like a demand marketer moving on to the next program in the campaign calendar. Because he approaches his task from a foundation of agility and continuous learning driven by priorities, Trevor continues to find success as he builds his rock pile a bit taller and a bit more stable every time.
Join Erin Bohlin and me in Austin next month at SiriusDecisions 2019 Summit to learn about key trends in digital for demand marketers, five opportunity areas for innovation and where to start – with inspiration and examples from B2B organizations using ingenious techniques to activate, validate and accelerate demand. Plus more pictures of Trevor! Add #trendingnow: Tactical Innovations in Demand Marketing to your Summit agenda in the mobile app!