Agile Marketing: A Framework for Marketing Success
Most will agree that the B2B technology buying process is as complex as it has ever been. There are more decision-makers and more ways to reach them than ever before. In fact, IDG research confirms that the typical B2B buying team consists of 9.5 people with each downloading seven informational assets during the purchase process. With this non-linear and complex landscape, it is no surprise that most marketers engage with buyers without having a complete view of who they are or where they might sit in their journey. The landscape of a buying committee’s content consumption looks like ten incomplete jigsaw puzzles. This lack of clarity can lead to “leaky funnels” or worse, openings for competitors to draft off your existing marketing spend. So, what can a marketer do to protect themselves?
At IDG, we have adopted an agile marketing approach that uses 5 straightforward key steps.
Step 1: Define the Buyer
While this sounds like marketing 101, we do see clients who own marketing KPIs but don’t know their target audience. We have worked with clients to look at existing customers and profiles to better define their target audience and motivations behind a purchase. We also help customers answer audience questions like:
- What size companies and types of industries do they fall under?
- What types of job titles or job functions are on the buying team?
- What is their motivation for purchase?
We recommend starting with “low hanging fruit” for immediate buyer insights. It is always helpful to take a look at third party research to better understand the marketplace as a whole and fine tune your buyer personas. At IDG, we run several studies around the roles of technology decision-makers, technology investment trends and specific buyer personas. One can also use marketing technology to gather insights.
Step 2: Create Access to Your Audience
Now that you know who you want to reach, how do you reach them? In the digital age of marketing, massive amounts of data is collected on users every day. The breadth and depth is staggering but often mutually exclusive. It’s our job as marketers to connect that data, understand intent and map the journey your buyers are on. Everyone has their own marketing stack, but two basic points to consider:
- Gather the existing data you have. You are sitting on a wealth of data that you can utilize in your marketing efforts. Your data sits in your customer database, in a cookie pool of site visitors and on social platforms. And, by its behavioral nature, this data will correlate with interest in your company allowing you to uncover and define marketing opportunities.
- Third party partners can compliment your data and expand your reach into your target audiences. This can include working with relevant sites, media partners and data partners to create audiences and identify new behavioral and firmographic signals.
This is an exciting area in marketing right now and many companies are working to make this easier (this warrants a post or two on its own!). The point is you’ll be able to plan your engagement strategy by evaluating the platforms and tactics that best reach your audiences while fulfilling on your marketing objectives.
Step 3: Engage The Buyer
The nonlinear nature of B2B buying means marketers are trying to reach a lot of different buyers at different points of their purchase journey. So not only do you have to pique your audience’s interest but you also have to keep them engaged with your company as they continue their journey. To do this, you should make sure your story hits across each stage of the buyer’s journey for each discrete audience that you target. In our programs, we often build content maps that align with our audience paths. We develop holistic marketing strategies that include a foundation of always-on tactics and pulse programs that together will meet the demands of your engaged buyers while successfully achieving business KPIs.
Step 4: Analyze
Data is crucially important to guiding your marketing strategy so you’ll want to adopt an always-on data collection and analysis strategy to understand where there is or isn’t success. This can get tricky as there are countless digital tools and platforms available (another post!). But, we recommend using a platform that can aggregate data from a variety of sources and present it visually to help you understand and share your program’s performance. But a dashboard is only as useful as the data it collects so also be sure to:
- Define and set the parameters and KPIs for your campaign at the onset
- Tag anything and everything you can (promotional methods, creative versions, targeting, etc.)
- A/B test to better understand user interests and your marketing’s effectiveness
Step 5: Optimize
More than anything agile marketing is a process. Central to that process is refining what we know about our audience, how we build paths to reach them and how we engage with them. While many of our clients plan their budgets quarterly, the most successful clients think about the long term. They are open to launching, learning and optimizing. You can call it agile marketing or being fluid. We call it the way we prefer to work.
Written by Eliza Chue
Eliza Chue is the Senior Manager, Program Architecture for IDG Strategic Marketing Services. Eliza’s job, along with the other Program Architects, is to develop rich, integrated marketing campaigns using IDG solutions and custom tactics.