By Rahul Sachdev, CEO, Fortella
Not all that long ago, companies measured the value of their marketing efforts in terms of brand awareness. Marketers filled the role of brand ambassador, laying a foundation of knowledge, so the sales team didn’t have to spend valuable time and energy getting prospects up to speed.
Today’s marketers serve a different function, particularly in the B2B world. A recent research report that interviewed leading B2B marketing executives illustrates this shift in terms of data: Less than seven percent of marketers rank brand awareness as their top priority. Instead, driving revenue — in the form of pipeline fulfillment, bookings, and client renewals — is the most critical priority for 67 percent of B2B marketers. Top performers generate an ROI of seven times or greater from their efforts. But if revenue-driven marketing is so vital for success, why aren’t more companies doing it?
The answer isn’t simple. Moving from traditional marketing to a revenue-first strategy is difficult, and many companies can’t help but get in their own way.
Here’s what’s preventing companies making the most of revenue-driven marketing.
1. They don’t care enough about data quality
Much of how companies fall short can be summed up in a single word: data. Many companies make the mistake of thinking all data is created equal. Collecting data is not enough; marketers must distinguish quality data and leverage it in decision-making to be effective.
Where is revenue coming from? That’s the kind of question that should be driving data acquisition. Breaking down revenue information into the vertical segments, geographic regions, buyer roles, and so forth is vital for a successful revenue-driven marketing program. According to our survey, top-performing marketers are 31 percent more likely to cite data quality as one of their top three challenges. We can infer that this challenge is prevalent among this group because they emphasize quality over quantity.
2. They don’t match the segmentation to the business
As nearly all B2B marketers know, wide audience nets are old-fashioned time-wasters. Ninety-seven percent of B2B marketers say they target specific audience segments based on one or more criteria. But even marketers who understand the value of segmentation may not be executing it strategically.
B2B marketers need to be smart about matching their segmentation strategy to their industry, location, and company size. Most marketers (62 percent) go to market by “target, named, or strategic accounts,” which coincides with the growth of Account Based Marketing (ABM) and the rise of ABM software companies.
However, B2B marketers in the tech industry tend to be more granular in their segmentation. These marketers over-index on the number of segments they employ compared to respondents across every other industry. Instead of ABM segmentation, tech marketers use industry vertical as the most common go-to-market strategy, followed closely by customer size and geography. They then target named or strategic accounts.
Marketers need to resist the urge to adopt a strategy simply because it worked for another company — or even previously for their own company. It’s also worth noting that larger companies tend to rank geography as a top go-to-market strategy, which makes sense because larger companies tend to have a global presence. Smaller companies likely won’t reap the same rewards from geographic segmentation, as they don’t have the same reach.
Segmentation isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Marketers need to understand their company’s specific place in the marketplace to define segments that matter most to them.
3. They’re not in lockstep with sales
Top B2B marketers don’t just lay the groundwork for the sales team, they’re with them every step of the way. For revenue-driven marketing to work, marketing and sales need to be in sync. Top-performing B2B marketers are 21 percent less likely to cite sales team alignment as a challenge.
Their harmony with the sales team may result from better processes: Top marketers cite process as a problem 38 percent less than their lower-performing peers. Information silos are often remnants of old-fashioned marketing processes. Companies should take a step back and re-evaluate every part of their marketing workflow to determine its validity in the current model. The more seamless the process, the more successful the team.
4. They don’t have the right marketing tech stack
The average marketer is not shy about leveraging technology to their advantage, with most using five to six different digital tools. But once again, it’s not just about using tools — it’s about selecting the most advantageous ones for your specific market and industry.
Marketers that still rely on spreadsheets are preventing their business from achieving its full potential. Spreadsheets are archaic and inadequate for tracking pipeline growth, bookings, and renewals, all of which relate to revenue. The most successful B2B marketers — those generating an ROI of 7x or above — are 24 percent less likely than other marketers to rely on spreadsheets as an integral part of their planning and execution.
Smart teams will examine whether the tools they’re relying on to drive their business are truly working for or against them.
How you can level up your marketing in 2021
B2B marketing is evolving at top speed. Though most marketers have adapted analog processes to account for the influx of data and technology, many still fall short of their revenue-driving potential.
Before adapting processes, marketers need to take more responsibility for driving revenue. It’s tempting to focus on top-of-funnel metrics, but top-performers take accountability revenue — including upselling and customer retention.
Fortunately, what B2B marketers have to do in order to succeed is no secret. Make 2021 the year you tie marketing to revenue by investing in the right technology, processes, and people. To get your copy of our “State of B2B Marketing 2021” survey, download the complete results here.
About the Author
Rahul is the co-founder and CEO of Fortella – an AI-based Revenue Driven Marketing software company. He is a technology executive with experience in marketing, CRM and social domains.
Prior to Fortella, Rahul served as the CEO of Get Satisfaction, an online community platform for marketing and customer support. Earlier Rahul was the head of content sharing and workplace products at LinkedIn, and General Manager of the Communications, Media & Energy product at Siebel Systems.
Rahul holds an MBA from University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and a BSc with Honors in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from Loughborough University (UK).