More than 2,300 marketers, including this writer, gathered in Nashville this past week for SiriusDecisions’ annual confab on all things marketing. Amongst the usual parade of waterfalls, models, and frameworks (all SiriusDecisions’ stock in trade) were some consistent themes highlighting the direction that B2B demand generation – or demand creation, as our hosts would have it – is evolving in 2015:
1. Outbound is the New Inbound.
For the last five years or so, inbound marketing and demand generation have been virtually synonymous. But as I wrote in this earlier post, inbound marketing can’t do the job alone. In an era when 67 percent of the buyer’s journey occurs digitally (as we heard in Nashville) it’s incumbent on marketers to engage with prospects as early and as often as possible in that process. New technologies, notably predictive analytics (from companies like Leadspace) and targeted online advertising (Choozle, Demandbase), now make it possible to 1) more accurately identify a company’s most likely buyers, and then 2) engage with those prospective customers in more proactive, targeted, and personalized campaigns.
2. Demand Generation Marketers Need to Think Sales Enablement.
More and more B2B marketers are now accountable for revenue targets, not just leads or even sales-ready prospects. As we marketers assume responsibility (or at least accountability) for more of the sales cycle, it makes sense that the strategies, programs, content and channels we employ are brought to bear against more than just the top of the funnel. Sales enablement programs can’t be unilateral, however – the divide between the marketing and sales role may be closing, even merging, but in the meantime, it’s critical for marketers to involve their sales colleagues closely in the planning, design, and execution of those campaigns.
3. Lead Nurturing Isn’t Just Email Anymore.
There’s no sign that email won’t continue to be the workhorse that it is in helping to filter, qualify, cultivate and progress leads through the sales cycle. But several factors – email overload, the proliferation of mobile devices, and increased privacy regulations – mean that marketers also need to look beyond the inbox for new and creative ways to nurture prospects. Targeted display advertising is an obvious candidate, but social media is also an intriguing possibility. Consider a company like Insightpool, whose technology enables marketers to identify, connect and nurture 1:1 social relationships at scale.
4. Marketing Technology Isn’t Slowing Down Anytime Soon.
SiriusDecisions reported that for companies under $100 Million, investment in marketing technology (as a share of total marketing spend) has increased 300 percent in the last 4 years. Equally interesting is that the share allotted to tech-related services (implementation, management, best practice consultation, campaign development) has increased 200 percent in the same period. Even as B2B marketers aren’t always getting the most from their new investments, many are leveraging outside expertise to put the technology to best use.