B2B Intent-Driven Marketing Trends for 2022
A shift to intent-driven marketing in B2B is well underway, & efforts are being directed toward people whose behavior indicates they’ll buy.
Remember the classic movie, “Field of Dreams” and it’s famous catchphrase, “if you build it, they will come?” Historically, B2B marketing teams operated on that same theory: if they produce good content, buyers will come.
But today’s savvy marketers know that’s no longer the case, says Julie Preiss, CMO at Appgate.
“The shift to intent-driven marketing is well underway, and efforts are being redirected toward people whose online behavior indicates they’re in a purchasing cycle,” Preiss says.
Preiss provides three major trends impacting the success of intent-driven marketing in the B2B world.
These include hyper-customization, anaconda-like alignment with sales, and creating metrics mindshare. Let’s break those down:
Traditional marketing was based on a ‘one to many’ model – if you put our message out to as many people as possible, you’re bound to reel one in, Preiss explains.
“That outdated mode of marketing may still work in consumer scenarios, where people typically make low-risk, low-cost buying decisions, but it isn’t effective in the B2B world where buyers make critical decisions impacting business operations.”
Purchasing cycles may take years to come to fruition and involve many people. Each person plays a unique role in the process and needs different types of content to make their decision. That requires marketers to develop hyper-customized content.
“To do that successfully, we must dig into the data available through our technology platforms and understand how to read the tea leaves in terms of technographic and psychographic signals. It’s easy to see the difference between a ‘canned’ email and one that caters to your role, challenges and business situation. The more customized you can be, the greater the chance your message will resonate.”
Alignment with sales
Every B2B marketer knows that without sales alignment, their efforts will fall into the abyss of campaigns that seemed solid but produced disappointing results.
In the intent-based marketing world, this alignment must be especially tight. There has to be agreement on the strategy followed by proactive campaign collaboration, training, and a feedback loop.
“It’s best to start small, perhaps target the top 2-4 accounts, then refine processes and build on success,” Preiss says.
“Most sales people are not know for their patience, yet patience is essential when it comes to intent-driven marketing. Immediate goals are to create a personal relationship and build credibility for the company. Conversations lead to conversions. Opportunities become a natural output of the entire process – and that takes time.”
Creating metrics mindshare
For decades, B2B marketers (and other stakeholders) have measured success by mostly focusing on inbound lead activity.
A suspect who takes certain actions and eventually ‘scores up’ to a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), based on arbitrary factors, becomes the focal point of our hopes and dreams.
“But as the saying goes, hope isn’t a strategy. Focusing on ambiguous leads isn’t an effective metric in today’s buyer-driven experience where people do most of their validation before speaking to a sales person.”
The buying process is distributed across many people who engage at different times with different content. The fact that one person downloaded a white paper or report doesn’t mean a lot in the grand scheme of the journey.
Marketers must gain mindshare and agreement around measuring a new set of metrics geared toward measuring intent.
Additional B2B intent-driven marketing trends
With the rise of internet usage by prospects, it’s easier than ever before to create digital profiles of likely buyers, says Lee Bellon, Founder at Wishfinity.
“Combining users’ online behaviors along with qualifying triggers, marketers can insert contextual messages to preferable constituents. As a result, intent-driven marketing can improve marketing performance and lower marketing costs.”
As leads peruse websites and mobile apps, marketing platforms collect an increasing amount of data about those future buyers.
Big data provides marketing segmentation based on user actions, topics of interest, search history, psychographics, demographics, geolocation, and other buying signals that marketers can use in isolation or collectively. Additionally, marketers can consider prospects’ stage in the buyer journey and the content they’ve viewed.
“Cross referencing rich buyer personas with dynamic content, multi-channel marketing, AI/ML, and marketing automation provide companies with highly effective means to target the right lead at the right time. However, even as marketing algorithms improve, they’re still guessing what buyers want. Therefore, the next evolution in intent-based marketing is BUYER-SPECIFIED sales.”
Phil Wheaton, Chief Marketing Officer at Copia Wealth Studios, says the biggest trend they’ve noticed is that AI is taking over the entire space.
“There are dozens of tools that have either integrated machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI/ML) into their platform or have completely pivoted to focus on it. This shift makes a ton of sense because software is eating the world, and AI/ML is an essential part of the fourth industrial revolution. I expect more and more services to be augmented or consumed by AI/ML over the next few years.
“The other thing I’ve noticed, which is much more fundamental, is that the language of intent-driven marketing is becoming more commonplace. The terminology used to describe personas and funnel activities is a lot more respected than it once was. Attitudes have changed because the tools are becoming more sophisticated, so it’s much easier to defend a thesis or position with actual data and insight.”