Peter Isaacson is chief marketing officer at Demandbase, a leading targeting and personalization company for B2B. It offers a subscription-based ad targeting and Web personalization solution that enables marketers to connect campaigns directly to revenue.
Peter has more than 25 years of marketing experience in both B2B and B2C marketing, ranging from branding, advertising, corporate communications, to product marketing on a global scale. As CMO for Demandbase, he handles overall marketing strategy and execution, including product, corporate, and field marketing.
I invited Peter to Marketing Smarts to discuss what he considers the "golden age" of B2B marketing (happening right now), how the B2B marketing industry is evolving, and how B2B marketers need to completely change their approach to be successful.
We delved into the advent of "account-based marketing" (ABM), and discussed how it's quickly emerging as one of the most effective approaches for B2B marketers today.
Here are some highlights from my conversation with Peter:
Don't just use B2C tactics: Adjust them so they're more effective in the B2B space (02:58): "B2B marketers are using B2C tactics and just applying them to B2B, and using them inappropriately. And it starts with measurement. Too often, B2B marketers are focused on click-through rates, purchasing based on CPMs [cost per thousand impressions], and things like that. And those really don't have a strong correlation to actually closing business, driving pipeline, and developing revenue. So, for instance...retargeting is one of the most common tactics used by marketers right now, and it's proven very effective for companies like Zappos. You're just going through the buyer's journey, you're about to buy a pair of shoes, you abandon the cart, but you've clearly shown interest. Zappos will drop a cookie on you and haunt you to the ends of the earth for the next four weeks trying to get you to buy that pair of shoes or another pair of shoes.
"For B2B it just works a little differently. First of all, 85% of your B2B Web traffic are people that are never going to buy your product. They're analysts or partners or friends and family, or people just doing some research, but it does not actually include the accounts that you are most focused on. So retargeting them—that 85%—and delivering display advertising to them makes no sense. A better approach is to only deliver account-based retargeting, focusing only on the accounts that matter most to your business and only retargeting ads at those companies. [That's] a much more efficient approach to retargeting and a much more effective one for B2B marketers."
Forget marketing-qualified leads: To measure success, look at the bottom of the funnel (05:10): "When we're talking about advertising, one of the things that we look at is lift. So, if you're going after Fortune 500 companies, one of the important metrics that we focus on is what percentage of those Fortune 500 companies...have now come to your website after you've initiated an account-based advertising campaign. Once you get them onto your website, then you can start to engage them. You can start to move them across the funnel and into pipeline and closed revenue. That's a key one.
"I think marketers these days are making the mistake of not measuring things that are really close to revenue. Too often, we'll focus on MQLs [Marketing-qualified leads], which are further up in the funnel rather than saying 'what's my impact on the actual pipeline, and how is marketing actually contributing to closed revenue?' One of the things that we measure here at Demandbase with our own marketing programs is what we have done to our close rate, what we have done our average contract value, and how we've improved funnel velocity. All of those three measures have a significant impact on whether we make our revenue in the quarter."
Account-based marketing technology has enabled marketers to focus on huge numbers of their best qualified leads at once, maximizing revenue (06:49): "The most important strategy [in B2B marketing right now] is account-based marketing.... It's developing into a category, really. It's been around for 10 or 15 years, but 10 or 15 years ago it was a very analog approach to marketing. It was really a field marketing team sitting down with their field sales team, identifying 25 or maybe 50 accounts that they could really focus their attention on. What's has changed in the past two or three years is that, with the development of technology from Demandbase and other vendors, you can actually do account-based marketing at scale. So, applying digital techniques to advertising, website personalization, and other parts of the funnel, instead of being able to target and market to 50 accounts, you can actually marketing to 500 accounts or 5,000 accounts, even."
Peter and I talked about much more, including the most effective strategy for marketing at scale, and the importance of nurturing the post-purchase relationship, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!
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Music credit: Noam Weinstein.
Peter Isaacson, chief marketing officer at Demandbase, a targeting and personalization company for B2B, offering a subscription-based ad targeting and Web personalization solution that enables marketers to connect campaigns directly to revenue. Follow Demandbase on Twitter.