Rob Morrice

Prolific North recently whittled down a list of several hundred companies headquartered in the North to establish the region’s top 75 B2B brands with regards to sales revenue and levels of employment.

With many leading B2B brands attracted by the bright lights of the capital, I’m delighted to see that the North – the industrial hub of the UK – remains the place to be for many of B2B’s biggest hitters.

However, with the digital era disrupting marketing right down to its very roots, B2B brands across the North need to take heed. It’s time for a greater industry-wide focus on the digitally powered customer journey and its contribution to business success.

How to measure relative digital marketing maturity?

Well, we believe this is achieved by benchmarking digital proficiency against what we refer to as the four tenets of modern marketing. These encapsulate an effective strategy for each stage of the journey from awareness to purchase. Together, these form the strategic platform underpinning campaign success.

We find these definitions and summaries helpful:

  • Reach and Attract: How firms segment and target campaigns. We’re talking intelligent data profiling, publishing content in the most compelling formats and pushing it out via the most effective paid, owned and earned channels.
  • Engage and Inspire: How businesses collect data and go on to interact with leads. This is all about sending the customer on the most relevant journey. It’s about creating consistency across all digital touch points and using personalization to nurture prospects further down the pipeline.
  • Nurture and Convert: How companies qualify prospects and integrate with sales. The most advanced marketers are already using automation and predictive analytics to qualify leads.
  • Analyse and Optimise: How sophisticated organisations are at deploying tools and resource. The marketing cloud is the Holy Grail here, allowing all data (inbound and outbound) to be held in one accessible place for campaign planning, execution and reporting purposes.
  • Technology: a high-stakes game

Today, marketing campaigns are only as effective as the technology that powers them. In response to this changing digital landscape and the way in which buyers go about their decision-making journeys, our proprietary marketing model, Mi 3, is underpinned by a range of the latest technologies and tools. This ensures that all campaigns and dialogue programs are effectively integrated with campaign automation tools, CRM platforms, social media applications and content management platforms – table stakes for modern marketers.

With the majority of the buyer journey now completed online, prior to sales engagement, there’s an opportunity for B2B brands to build demand generation engines that are highly targeted, automated and efficient.

Stein-IAS-Logo_1500x1500The problem is, despite measuring up to a global benchmark as highlighted by our recent Digital Marketing Maturity Index (DMMI) study, many of the North’s biggest B2B brands have a way to go to reach digital marketing maturity. This is because very few are in a position to harness the benefits of the marketing cloud and reap the benefits of a comprehensive view of the customer across all touch points.

Too few brands are customer-centric enough to derive maximum value from the marketing cloud, which lends itself to those that concern themselves with highly segmented and personalised interactions.

It’s vital that campaign automation sits at the heart of the marketing cloud – making it the single, most important component and purchasing decision. Why? Because, while web, data, commerce and CRM are all vital components of your stack, automation plays a more critical and cross-functional role – throughout the entire customer journey.

Fight for the right cause

So, what do you need to look for in a marketing cloud solution with automation at its core?

Openness, scalability and support. Ignore the industry analysts, ignore the vendor marketing and ignore the case histories. Go forth and buy the biggest and best campaign automation solution you can afford and then build your marketing cloud around it. If you do that, you won’t just win the technology battle, you’ll win the customer war.

Rob Morrice is the CEO of Stein IAS.

Try the DMMI tool now and find out just how big the North’s biggest brands are on digital.