This distinguished gathering celebrated the launch of Modern’s Digital Connections 2023 report, delving into the concerns keeping B2B CMOs awake at night. These marketing leaders boast CMO roles at nine global businesses, from FinTech to consultancy and SaaS firms. Over the past 15+ years, they’ve accumulated invaluable lessons and continue to challenge the norm, creatively utilising marketing tech and pioneering novel initiatives.
So, what did we glean from their expertise?
1. Capitalise on the often-neglected opportunity of marketing to existing customers
We’ve all experienced it. You only hear from the service provider at the point where your contract is up for renewal. A service that’s totally under used and under valued, so you cancel.
“Customer marketing is an area where B2B hasn’t yet cracked the code. It’s a whole new opportunity, and it’s coming.” says Margaret Franco.
Julie Woods-Moss at Thoughtworks shares three successful programmes she’s implemented:
- ‘Forget Me Not’ for existing customers
- ‘Ready for Re-sign’ before renewal
- ‘Never Lose Twice’ for lost accounts
Retention is all about advocacy. “The way to do customer marketing at scale is to leverage the capabilities of your ABM team. Slice it: what can we do now, next and in the future? So the customer doesn’t just get the call at renewal; you’re creating value in the quiet periods too.”
2. AI experimentation offers potential for scalability and cost reduction
Consider these AI-powered trials for your development team:
- ABM at scale – personalised messaging based on company insights or AI-developed programmatic campaigns (a challenge we’re eager to solve)
- Bespoke imagery – let AI generate customer photography within brand guidelines to save costs (inspired by Julie Woods-Moss).
3. Non-linear funnel tracking across channels is crucial
We know that the buyer journey is non-linear – i.e. we don’t start at the top of the funnel and nicely work our way down. The reality is that you need to be everything, everywhere all at once – so how do you orchestrate that? This is challenging a world of linear workflows, user journey maps and structured thinking. “Forget nurture as one stream. Think of it as tracking multichannel engagement, not individual campaign effectiveness”, says Margaret Franco.
4. Prioritise people over tools and capabilities during marketing transformation
“When there’s a marketing organisation transformation to be done, it should always be people first”, says Andy Bailey, former CMO at OnProcess. “If possible, focus on getting one thing at a time, for example, brand development and messaging in year one, the sales and marketing engine in year two. It inevitably involves changing the shape of the team and their skills over time, and that can move like shifting sand.”
5. Keep the creative spark alive for breakthrough brand and content
“There’s a lot of focus on marketing tech, getting the mechanics of the demand generation model up and running, it’s easy to lose focus on the other key talent for a CMO – driving creative outputs. So how best to tackle it?” Asks Nick Webb, CMO at CloudPay.
Think out of the box with creative content formats. Whitepapers, pricing tools and webinars have been done to death in B2B. So what will truly break through? Margaret Franco shared the story of her brainchild Finastra TV, now on series 2, which serves video content on demand in a ‘bingeable Netflix style’ format. Powered by marketing automation and built by an inhouse team, it has helped to drive 26 times more engagement than in-person events and webinars.
In short, capitalise on marketing to existing customers to keep them happy (don’t just call at renewal time!), experiment with AI for scalability and cost reduction, track engagement across multiple channels, focus on people, and don’t forget to keep the creative spark alive (Finastra TV, anyone?).