With Kay Kienast, Chief Marketing Officer, True Influence.
How a Marketing Cloud improves ROI and customer relationships
The B2B customer journey can be a winding, complex process that last months. Thankfully, marketers can now turn to an integrated marketing cloud to get a clear picture of how to connect with potential customers through this process with relevant, timely content delivered in the most effective channels.
The technology is maturing. The methodologies are in place. The final step in the evolution of integrated marketing is for B2B sellers to fully embrace it, both strategically and operationally, before they can reap the benefits of higher-performing campaigns and deeper customer relationships.
But some B2B marketers are still pushing out fragmented email blasts or random display advertising orders with no clear picture of how it all fits together in an integrated marketing campaign. Many of us don’t know what’s really connecting with our prospects, so we don’t know where to focus our efforts to engage customers and move them closer to that buying decision.
There’s still work to be done.
Integrated Marketing: What it really means
First, let’s clarify what we mean when we say “integrated marketing campaign.”
An email series is not a campaign.
An email series is a single-channel tactic that should work as just one component of a broader, multi-channel integrated marketing campaign. Such campaigns include email, social, display, voice, webinars – every channel where you touch customers. All contact points should be orchestrated to ensure you send a clear, consistent message and deliver content that meets a prospect’s engagement level and stage in their customer journey.
And the impact of every tactic in an integrated marketing campaign must be analyzed in real-time, so you can react and shift resources to high-performing channels.
Still, I routinely hear marketers call email drops “campaigns.” This is an ongoing transformation in our industry, and it’s going to take time.
Here at True Influence, we’re fully committed to integrated marketing. We recently launched our True Influence Marketing Cloud™ that brings all our intent-driven B2B demand generation services under one management “umbrella”. We believe it’s an enormous step forward in helping sellers realize the full potential of integrated marketing.
But first, B2B marketers must fully understand and buy into the philosophy.
Where are we on the road to integrated marketing?
The push for integrated marketing is nothing new.
Leading marketing automation and CRM vendors have been bundling transactional tools and analytics into what they’ve branded as integrated marketing solutions for years now. About a year ago, Forbes declared that integrated marketing “is the future” in a column that offered this definition of the concept:
“… integrated marketing refers to the process of aligning and coordinating a marketing organization to deliver a consistent, seamless, customer-centric content experience across all channels.”
As Forbes also stated, more compelling to data-driven B2B marketers is research from Gartner that shows integrated marketing campaigns across four or more channels outperform single or two-channel campaigns by 300 percent. It’s worth noting here that as far back as 2012, Gartner was predicting that integrated marketing would increase ROI by as much as 50 percent.
The focus on integration across channels and messaging extends beyond the traditional definition of marketing. This piece at Demand Gen Report notes that more than 30 percent of sales and marketing pros say they have doubled down on integration and now have a Revenue Operations group at their companies. Again, the focus is on complete integration of all contact with prospects and customers across marketing and sales, and the ability to quickly measure and adjust revenue marketing programs based on what’s working.
Because the customer journey is not a straight line – and you have to meet your customers where they are, not where you’d like them to be.
How integrated marketing drives higher-performing campaigns and better ROI
As I mentioned earlier, the many benefits of integrated marketing campaigns can be summed up in two categories: higher-performing campaigns and deeper customer relationships.
First, let’s take a look at campaign performance, which ultimately boils down to ROI on your B2B marketing spend. As a marketer, you need to know what is working now – not what worked a month ago.
If a display advertising run is simply not driving your B2B engagement strategy, then you need to shift your resources to an email campaign that is. And you need to do it today: not in a month, when the analytics team gives you a cross-channel report. Those kinds of reports are just historical artifacts, not insights you can actually put to use.
Obviously, this type of real-time, cross-channel management requires you to have an integrated marketing platform that analyzes and reports on each of your channels, as well as empowering you to reallocate resources in real time.
We’ve built this functionality into our True Influence Marketing Cloud. Our CTO, RK Maniyani, recently discussed how our martech stack tackles many of the key integrations needed for this kind of real-time, integrated marketing – his post is well worth a read.
From a marketer’s point of view, I’ll tell you that with our marketing cloud, you can see the results of all your B2B demand generation programs – by channel, account, and at the contact level – in a single interface. Omni-channel attribution gives you a complete picture. With one click, you can move an audience segment from an underperforming program to one that is getting results. And our marketing cloud also integrates with leading marketing and sales automation systems to provide a full view of the entire revenue pipeline.
This kind of real-time intelligence and program management is essential to executing Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and named account strategies, with the ultimate goal of optimizing ROI of your marketing spend. Because, as we all know, just pushing random MQLs into the pipeline isn’t going to cut it anymore.
How integrated marketing helps build deeper customer relationships
I’ve spent a lot of time in this post discussing integrated marketing’s impact on ROI and program metrics. In B2B marketing, the bottom line is the bottom line.
But as marketers, we also need to embrace the long-term value, even beyond the current sales cycle, that an integrated marketing communications plan can bring to deeper relationships with prospects and current customers. And this boils down to understanding that today’s B2B buyer is in control of their own customer journey. You have to meet them on their terms to be successful.
The key to building trust with B2B buyers is providing them with valuable information they can use to make important decisions. And you have to provide them this information when they want it, in the format and channel where they prefer to consume information. The relationship you build not only helps make a sale this quarter, but also builds affinity for the next buying cycle and helps turn purchasers into advocates for your brand.
There’s plenty of data to prove the value of integrated marketing in building these relationships. As reported by CMS Wire, a recent survey showed that leaders in building world-class customer relationships tend to have implemented integrated martech stacks in their overall push to break down data silos and implement a 360-view of the customer experience. And industry analysts Kantar reported that integrated marketing campaigns are 33 percent more effective at building brands.
The first step, of course, is knowing when an account or individual contact is in-market for the information you have to share. All our B2B demand generation services here at True Influence are powered by our category-defining intent data intelligence, allowing you to segment audiences for your integrated marketing campaigns to include accounts and individuals who want to hear from you.
With our marketing cloud, we also give you full visibility into which programs and channels are working, and let you quickly shift your focus to messages and contact points that are resonating with your audience. With omni-channel attribution, you also can clearly see how each contact influences a prospect, allowing you to create consistent, powerful campaigns that build customer trust.
Ultimately, I think that fully embracing integrated marketing will break down the hesitance many marketers still have about creating preference centers that allow customers to dictate how they want you to communicate with them. It’s as simple as this – the customer is in control. If they don’t want to talk to you, it’s not worth your bother to try to talk to them.
It’s up to you to find the best way to engage your customers, today and in the long-term, and integrated marketing is the strategy that will get you there.
The time for integrated marketing is now
It’s hard to argue with the benefits of an integrated marketing strategy, both to your bottom line this quarter and to your long-term relationships with customers. Advances in integrated marketing solutions, including our own True Influence Marketing Cloud, give marketers the full visibility and control to execute integrated marketing campaigns. Now, it’s up to marketers to make the commitment and reap the benefits.
Learn more about the True Influence Marketing Cloud and how it can help you accelerate revenue. Then contact us at 1-888-301-4758 to talk about how to put the marketing cloud to work for your business.