B2B audiences expect the same responsiveness and relevance in interactions with providers that they seek in their personal consumer interactions. That algorithmic co-creation of interest-based experiences across digital platforms that are uniquely “for you” — where content feeds are curated through consumption and the latest trends are embedded in the experience — has set a high standard for B2B marketers. Providers must meet their discerning audiences where they are, anticipate their needs, and enable them to take the next step.
For B2B organizations, this requires choreographing the information requirements, interaction paths, and engagement style of an individual with other members of the buyer or customer group as they move together through the customer lifecycle. The ideal state is to deliver personalized experiences assembled on the fly using signal-responsive rules to adapt tactic treatment based on what’s known, inferred, or predicted in that moment of interaction.
A network of signals and sensors already exists in the marketing tactic mix, embedded inside content, delivery mechanisms, data sources, business applications, and interaction behavior. These signals inform marketer and machine who to engage, with what content, and when — and just as signals of intent have long been leveraged to drive efficiency in revenue processes, a more holistic and interconnected approach to using those same signals should be leveraged to benefit the customer by delivering contextual interactions with immediate value.
Enable Frontline Marketers To Enable Buyer And Customer Groups
B2B organizations require a comprehensive signal-sensor network to fuel precision interactions inside the customer-obsessed growth engine. Focusing on signals that illuminate customer needs, preferences, perceptions, motivations, and influences will enable marketers to create more meaningful interaction experiences. Organizations that struggle to put the customer at the center of their universe do so because they’re not taking advantage of the insights that they already have or could easily gather, resulting in poor or incomplete signaling systems, interpretive capabilities, and response mechanisms.
B2B organizations must know their customers, anticipate their needs, and empower them with each interaction — or lose to providers that do. This requires understanding the influences and behaviors characteristic of their audiences, where to capture those insights, and how to classify and connect those insights across systems and workflows. Three key actions help B2B organizations look across data sources, tactics, and interaction types to effectively leverage the signals that matter most to putting the customer first:
- Embrace interdisciplinary signal literacy. Your audiences don’t care if the tactical goal is to create awareness or generate leads. The reality is that those “leads” in aggregate are a signal containing important information about the makeup and needs of the buyer or customer group. A true 360-degree view of the customer requires not just observing the occurrence of signals indicating that a buyer may be in market but also the ability to capture, connect, and interpret information from multiple signals in that moment to deliver cohesive and valuable interaction experiences across marketing, sales, and product. B2B organizations must embrace signal literacy across functions as a frontline marketing skill and a key responsibility. Tune teams and technologies into signals that matter most to the audience and business context throughout the B2B customer lifecycle across personal and self-guided interactions.
- Use four dimensions of customer value to separate signal from noise. Customer-obsessed B2B organizations must take advantage of all available insights in order to proactively detect, diagnose, and take action on signals that indicate whether a customer realized value in an interaction. Economic value requires frictionless interactions, so marketers should use interaction behavior to translate engagement to enablement. Functional value delivers immediate relevance in tactic interactions that support productivity and efficiency at each stage of the customer lifecycle. Experiential value is cooperative and co-created through pleasant interactions that recognize audience expectations, preferences, attitudes, and engagement levels. Symbolic value is derived from meaningful experiences, requiring B2B marketers to understand the psychographic makeup of their audiences in addition to firmographics to inform content, creative work, and activation.
- Empower and interconnect frontline marketing teams. Buyer and customer expectations for immediacy, value, and transparency are mirrored in the expectations characteristic of a younger-generation workforce. Employees expect intelligent and actionable insights specific to their role. Frontline marketers are internal customers that require value realization through the technology, processes, and culture that they depend on to get work done. Customer obsession requires democratized access to comprehensive, dynamic, and real-time insights about customer audiences made available through a purposefully designed and interdisciplinary signal-sensor network. Signals and sensors, interpretive mechanisms, and next-best-action decisioning must be integrated across the B2B customer lifecycle to enable intelligent response across contexts, systems, and processes. This helps B2B marketers on the front line understand, reach, and engage their audiences and trust that they’re doing so with respect, relevance, and proper use of data.
A holistic signal-sensor network that synchronizes seven sets of signals enables the B2B customer-obsessed growth engine by providing a focused, comprehensive, and near-real-time understanding of audience context across interaction types. Join us at Forrester’s B2B Summit North America in Austin, Texas, June 5–7, to learn more!