Technology has seen a dramatic change in the last ten years. One knock on effect of this is that customers, both businesses and consumers, have altered not so much their buying behaviour, but the way in which they conduct their buying journey.
Ten years ago, the company receptionist or “gate-keeper” prevented sales people from cold calling their target customers. Today it is not so much people but data regulations and the shear amount of digital noise that act as the gatekeeper, preventing your message getting to your target audience.
Many organisations may feel that marketing is not for them and who could blame them with sales conversions being less than 1 per cent in most marketing campaigns. This will not encourage a CEO to expand the company marketing budget, but highlights the need for a different approach; think predictive analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to create customer profiles and personalised campaigns, and they may well reconsider.
Changes in the buying journey
In the B2B sense specifically, buyers are more empowered and savvier than ever before, understanding a lot more about products, solutions and the purveyors of those things. In the past it was a case of sourcing brochures, perhaps visiting a website and then calling different vendors and speaking to the sales team when researching a product or solution that could add value to your business.
The rise of content marketing has provided a raft of educational marketing material to help decision making. Peer reviews and social media have provided an easy to digest and readily accessible source of information. When was the last time you called up a retailer to ask about a product?
The same is true in the B2B sense. And it’s one of the reasons that lead generation is getting harder, as is targeting buyers at the right time in the decision-making or buying journey.
A new approach
However, despite this acknowledge of the need for change, there is still opposition, still resistance. One of the main reasons is that change is inherently risky. And nowhere more so than in the marketing environment where investing in new technology or software and not being able to show return in investment is detrimental not only to business, but also to future revenues.
Doing something different that delivers better results isn’t necessarily easy, but it is worth applying the effort. Why should we settle for mediocre or just getting by?
But what is this change? What is needed for B2B marketers to generate the right types of leads, target the right audience and do it at the right time?
Enter behaviour-based marketing
It’s true that marketers are already using programmatic marketing to target and attract new customers, but this needs to be taken a lot further. The approach needs to be more personalised, more focused and enable marketers to reach that crucial 2-5 per cent of prospects that are actually looking to buy, ready to make that decision.
This new approach is very much a qualitative, insights-based approach. Instead of relying on the established generic “spray and pray” methods, marketers need to pay more attention to behaviour-based marketing that is fuelled by buying intent data and is a way of transforming the quality of leads produced by marketing.
Behaviour-based marketing is so effective because it is able to accurately spot and take action on (often) elusive intent-to-buy signals demonstrated by the active <5 per cent of your audience. This approach enables you to target this audience with pinpoint accuracy and create hyper-relevant messaging for it…in real time.
However, this is where the first hiccup may be experienced; instead of receiving 100 leads from a campaign, for example, sales will only receive 25. Immediately the question is raised, why so few? Last time we received more leads. The key differentiator here is quality. How many of those 100 leads actually panned out versus how many of the 25?
Marketing teams will be subjected to the age-old argument of quantity and quality. But when it comes to lead generation, volume hardly ever guarantees results and a focus on quantity often results in encouraging a low-grade, production-line approach to generating leads.
Adopting a quality-driven approach may be easier said than done, especially in light of the above. So how do you best go about this? There are six steps to consider.
Best practice approach to behaviour-based marketing
Take a layered approach
By taking a tiered approach to define your total addressable market you can allocate the majority of your marketing and sales resources to those audiences that are most likely to engage with your business.
Optimise your efforts
Use a structured approach to learn where to place the most effort, where to cut ineffective activity, and how to identify those most likely to buy a lot quicker.
Recognise your buyers
Build a deeper understanding of your customers by researching and mapping the actions and behaviours of the entire decision-making unit for each customer. In turn this helps you build out personas and relevant topics.
Context – Consider how best to layer multiple behaviour-driven insights around your customers and prospect organisations from within your own systems and third-party buying intent platforms to reveal true intent
Timing – Gather insights in near time to establish the stage of the buying journey and the best fit persona to target. Buying journeys don’t last forever, so you need to react quickly.
Relevance – Prioritise your targets and ensure your messaging matches their needs, driven by behaviour and buying stage
Time to get personal
Personalise your messages for each prospect with relevant and current information to reinforce your own messaging and guide them along the buying journey.
Where mass marketing reaches a large audience, behaviour-based marketing may target only a handful of customers at any one time. The days of excitedly handing over your leads to the sales people, only to be disappointed when they don’t manage to close a sale, are over.
Behaviour-based marketing enables you to seek out the right audience, with the right message, and at the right time. The sales team will have in-depth conversations about which solution fits your customer’s requirements now rather than asking when a good time might be to call again. Customers will treat you as a trusted advisor and you become the final part of the puzzle in their buying journey. Now might be a good time to have that conversation with your CEO.
Jon Clarke, CEO, Cyance
Image Credit: SFIO CRACHO / Shutterstock