How can we better engage our customers? How can marketing and sales teams work more efficiently? How can we produce more qualified leads?
If these types of marketing strategy questions are floating around in your mind as we enter the new year, keep reading. Nobody wants to be the company left behind because they missed the trend, and everybody wants to get ahead with new groundbreaking marketing techniques.
As always, marketing is evolving. Successful marketers know that staying ahead of the game means adopting the trends that will give you sustainable growth and make your company more competitive.
So, how do you know which trends are worth pursuing? To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of the six most promising trends to adopt. You’ll find practical tips along the way to help you get started with each one.
1. Give Your Relationship with Sales More Accountability
Instead of the vague sales and marketing arrangements of the past, it’s time to focus on measurable contributions—from both sides. Successful marketing and sales teams are increasingly going to be defined by how well they can work together. Marketing should be embedded into the sales process by helping move leads through the pipeline.
Instead of having separate goals, combine your goals into business goals. Service Level Agreements (SLAs) become a matter of how much of the goal each team will take, in a measurable way.
Consider a few tangible ideas for increasing your teams’ accountability to each other:
- Have both marketing and sales at planning meetings
- Ensure sales operations and marketing operations are in close communication
- Use a common reporting tool so that everyone has access to a common set of metrics
2. Strive for Precision in Your Personalization
Marketing isn’t quite there yet when it comes to complete adoption of artificial intelligence or machine learning, but these technological advances will continue to influence our decision making. As AI advances, so will our marketing capabilities. Marketers will soon have even more tools at their disposal to make personalization more precise. With AI’s predictive abilities, you won’t have five personas – you’ll have 5000.
But what can we do to make our personalization more precise while we wait for AI to come around?
Personalization starts with your data – what type of data you have, where you compile it, and where you put it to use.
- Gathering data: Behavioral data (which can be gained through marketing automation’s web tracking abilities or online community engagement) is what you want for personalization purposes. You want your audience to show you what they want by where they’re clicking, so you can use that to further refine their content and create a personalized experience.
- Compiling the data: Got lots of data floating around but no way to connect it? Integration is the name of the game – get your platforms talking to each other so that data from all of them is being funneled back to your AMS or CRM.
- Using the data: Personalization can happen anywhere – emails, your website, your online community – and your goal for the data you pull should be to improve the experience your user has with your organization. Create a system that allows you to easily access your data, review insights and trends, and use it to shape your next strategic initiative.
3. Be More Transparent with Your Audience
Gating content is key to getting leads, right? Not so fast. People are questioning whether the content you’re offering is really worth the exchange of their personal information. Your resources need to be high quality to be gated. If people haven’t gotten good quality from you in the past, or if what you’re offering isn’t innovative or new, they may go somewhere else, where the information is free.
Let’s consider our goals, if you’re doing inbound marketing – is what we really want our prospect’s email address, or do we want to help them through the buyer’s journey by educating them and solving their problem?
You already know the answer. We need to keep focusing on transparency with prospects. Your new strategy could be un-gating more content or giving visitors one form to fill out that unlocks a resource library. Be more educational and less promotional. Get back to the inbound basics.
4. Make Customer Success Your Business
Is upselling to your customers one of your big goals this year? It might be time to replace that with a goal focused on customer success. Customer success is a longer, more robust path toward improving your marketing reach. When your customers are successful because of you, you end up creating loyal MVPs, who will eventually promote your value.
Tools like online community can help you educate, build relationship, and grow brand rapport with your customers. If you help them become successful, work through problems with them, and genuinely meet their needs, you’ll end up with a crowd of loyal followers who want to help you succeed, too.
5. Use Social Media for Your Brand, Not for Demand Generation
Is social media still part of your B2B demand generation channel? It’s time to start phasing that out. While still highly effective in B2C marketing and sales, social media is becoming less and less of a direct B2B lead generation channel. Facebook, although it’s only one of the platforms, is making it harder for brands to get content exposure.
Focus your social media efforts on promoting your brand, recruiting new hires, or giving your company a human face through sharing about your culture or office events.
6. Consider Core Functionality in Your Tech Stack
How will you achieve your tech stack nirvana this year? Sure, maybe that nifty new tool promising to do everything all at once has caught your eye – but before buying new software, always ask yourself:
Am I buying this because of its core functionality? Or am I being drawn in by the “extras”?
Our rule of thumb is to consider core functionality first. Don’t buy something new because it has two shiny extra things – that’s a waste of money and will likely create more disruption. After all, it’s better to go with a few different platforms that each do one thing really well, rather than one or two platforms that do many things mediocrely.
Focus on function first, and build or rework your stack so you’ve got the best integrated platforms working together, each doing their specific thing well.
How Will You Adapt in 2019?
Changing your strategy can be hard, especially when you consider letting go of programs or software that your organization is attached to. But if you want to succeed, embrace change as an opportunity for growth. This means finding new ways to reach your prospects and customers right where they are, whether that’s through new technology or channels, a different approach, or getting back to the basics. In 2019, one thing is for certain – your strategy should revolve around the needs of your audience.
Download the worksheet, Top 5 Automated Campaigns for Associations, to get an outline of five critical campaigns associations should run on a daily basis.