With nearly two years of COVID behind us, marketing teams continue to evolve the best ways to reach prospects who now work from home most—if not all—the time. As we look towards 2022, the strategies for reaching customers may not change all that much, but in talking to industry experts, the focus should clearly be on the use of technologies to improve the ways marketing teams leverage data analytics to enhance buyer engagement.
Kristin Hege, the Founder of Convey Communications, emphasizes the importance of technologies like artificial intelligence, chatbots, and automated workflows—to identify buyer signals, keep sales and service teams informed about customers, and to accelerate timelines for connecting with prospects. Gaining these capabilities makes it possible to fail fast and to learn better ways of engaging buyers.
“Focus on making sure your data is accurate and timely,” Hege says. “You need to know who your buyers are and where they hang out online so you can go to market with products and services effectively.”
This recommendation can be challenging for companies with isolated databases collecting prospect and customer information, which is common when mergers and acquisitions occur or when firms grow rapidly. It’s critical to extract, normalize, validate, and consolidate data into a central repository that sales, marketing, public relations, and customer service teams can use to make sure prospects and customers receive consistent messaging from across the company.
Tech Buyers Are Human, Too!
Hege adds that engagement tactics are just as critical as the data collected on potential buyers. “Tech buyers are human too!” Hege points out.
“They spend their time on social media sites and will react to personalized communication that speaks to their needs for technology solutions as much as they would to messaging about the latest smart TV. The format of the content you serve and the experience can be similar, but you need to show you understand their pain points so they know you are talking to them.”
For engaging with buyers, Gina Sansivero—the Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Communications at AtlasIED—recommends focusing on social media outreach and discussion forums over email. “People open email to communicate with colleagues and customers—not to look for products,” says Sansivero.
“They are so saturated with email that they turn to private messaging platforms like Slack and Teams, which means they’re less likely to respond to marketing messages that come through email.”
Someone visiting a social media platform, however, is there because they’re looking for something. If you reach them at the right time with the right message, you have a much better chance your message will be heard.
“Use video and short messages on social media platforms,” recommends Sansivero.
“And with the right analytics and algorithms, you can identify where your audience hangs out. Offer educational content that gives them value, which will prompt them to want to know more about your offerings and choose to visit your website or download your content.”
Micro Events Growing in Popularity
Sansivero also predicts that large-scale, in-person national and international conferences will not rebound in 2022. Attendance may improve but won’t return to pre-pandemic levels. In addition to people being cautious about their health, they also realize that it’s difficult to justify the budget for traveling long distances.
“As an alternative, consider micro-regional or city events,” Sansivero suggests. “Businesses can identify targets in those geographies and develop event content geared towards that local audience. Each event across the country can have curated messaging that is more on-target than it can be at a national event.”
Demand Generation More Important Than Lead Generation
For marketing teams who continue to work remotely and may very well stay remote after the world gets beyond COVID, Sansivero emphasizes the need to identify the right tools for demand generation, sales enablement, and creative services. Marketers need a high level of communication and analytics to know their market and what’s working well
“Communication tools should make it easy to bring resources from all areas (writers, designers, video, audio) together to know what each other is doing and what works well,” Sansivero adds.
“This helps team members feel comfortable with each other and to freely engage in critical thinking. They can also identify good ideas on one project that can be applied to another project. Everyone feels a sense of co-ownership over what’s coming out from the entire team.”
Another key trend Sansivero points out is how demand generation is now taking over from lead generation as a key marketing requirement.
“Lead generation typically comes from lists of people who sign up for a webinar, newsletter, or a conference,” says Sansivero.
“They may represent your target audience but are considered cold as individual leads. Demand generation, on the other hand, gets prospects to engage based on a use case, an educational message, or a pain point relating to what your product solves. They come to you seeking information as a warm prospect that you can then nurture to convert into a customer.”
All Comes Back to the Quality of Data
Ultimately, engaging with customers in 2022 will come back to the quality of your data. CRM and marketing automation platforms can give you the information you need to develop effective campaigns and to measure what’s working and what’s not working. This is key because, as Sansivero points out, marketing is not an exact science.
“Marketing strategies must constantly adjust based on buyer habits, the time of year, buying cycles, and the influence of consumer technologies on business technologies,” says Sansivero.
“With analytics, you can continue to tweak your messaging, and when a strategy stops working, experiment all over again.”
Here’s to hoping your marketing team can identify the quality data it needs to enhance your buyer engagement campaigns and has a productive 2022!