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How B2B Marketers Can Thrive in the Age of Adaptation

4 minute read | Tina Wilson, EVP, Media Analytics and Marketing Effectiveness | July 2021

If there’s one rule B2B marketers have had to abide by over the past year, it’s been to be flexible. According to Nielsen’s 2021 Annual Marketing Report, many brands had to adjust their 2020 marketing mix spend to one degree or another. For example, nearly a third of technology companies significantly adapted their spend.

These findings make sense: the pandemic drastically changed not only consumer habits, but also business priorities and budgets for many organizations. Marketers were forced to find ways to do more or with less or course-correct on tactics. Successful adaptation is often easier said than done though. So, what can marketers do to remain agile while still making a positive impression on their target customers?

1. Gain control of measurement

A common roadblock to adaptability for marketers is a lack of insight into how to revise their tactics. Nielsen’s report found that only 20% of large companies ($10M+ in marketing budget) are confident that they have the right marketing technology in place to measure ROI. This means that many campaigns may be underperforming without marketers realizing it. Worse yet, even if they do realize their strategies aren’t as effective as possible, they don’t have clarity into which specific elements of a campaign are underperforming. By consequence, they may elect to cut the entire strategy instead of making acute, cost-effective changes.

While ample resources are certainly helpful for executing swift campaign adjustments, so too are advanced measurement tools that illuminate changing customer behaviors in real time and enable marketers to adjust their strategies along the way. Marketers have always needed to stay ahead of shifting preferences, but the pandemic accelerated the rate of change to a point where it could be overwhelming (if not impossible) to stay up to date if monitoring engagements needed to be done manually.

Static marketing technology of the past won’t cut it, though. In today’s digital world, marketers have ample data at their disposal—meaning they need tools that extend beyond data collection and are capable of synthesizing what’s most important to their brand and tactics. With future-forward technology capable of securing granular, targeted insights into how audiences are responding to their efforts across platforms, marketers have the context needed to confidently and quickly adjust their marketing mixes to ensure they address targets on the channels they’re currently using and not wasting spend on the ones they aren’t.

2. Reconsider the potential of omnichannel

Taking an omnichannel approach to marketing isn’t a new concept—many marketers already strive to create a seamless brand persona across online and traditional store experiences that guide the customer from the top to the bottom of the funnel. Now, however, is the time to focus on the customer experience across each individual touchpoint, versus only the point of purchase, and align investments across platforms to maximize customers’ engagements.

As brand goals evolve, marketers should be updating their activations at every point of the customer journey to work holistically, with every touchpoint serving an explicit and measurable purpose. Nielsen found that customer acquisition ranked as the top objective for the year for surveyed marketers, and yet most marketers only plan to increase spend on social media and search to achieve this goal. Instead, marketers should balance their allocations across customer touchpoints, making sure that those touchpoints work together to move customers towards overarching brand goals.

3. Above all, resist the urge to stop marketing

Uncertainty over change may make marketers hesitant to continue spending on new initiatives, but pulling back has the potential to stunt business success in both the short and long term. Consider: Nielsen’s database of long-term effect models suggests that brands that stopped advertising in the second half of last year could see revenue declines of up to 11% this year.

Marketers don’t need to stop campaigning—they need to leverage available resources to help them succeed. Again, dynamic measurement tools will prove valuable in this pursuit. Budget is often the primary barrier to the adoption of marketing analytics and attribution solutions. But basing investments on industry assumptions over true customer insights risks marketers’ efforts falling short, thereby wasting even more spend. As the pandemic places increased pressure on marketers to perform, measurement tools can help marketers allocate their resources wisely and validate their efforts to executives who may then be convinced to increase spend on more campaigns in the future.

The current moment stands as an opportunity for B2B marketers to make a positive impact on customers. As companies navigate their new normal, now is the chance for marketers to demonstrate why their product or service is more important than ever. And with the right measurement and creative thinking, marketers can ensure their tactics map to specific objectives that move the business forward during this unique time.

This article originally appeared on dmcny.com.

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