Death Of The B2B Ad Campaign

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russell"Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Russell Glass, CEO at Bizo.

Yes, the B2B advertising campaign is in the last throes of death.

Don't believe me? I’ll explain.

It all started with the buyer's journey, which has changed dramatically over the past three years. The B2B sales cycle has increased in length, with buyers as much as 90% along the cycle by the time they reach out to a sales representative, according to Forrester Research.

In the past, the buyer's journey began with a prospect reaching out to salesperson, who responded with a phone call, visit or the mailing of a brochure – and maybe all three. In the digital age, prospects search on Google, visit vendor websites, consult product review sites, engage on social media, consult forums and, along the way, encounter myriad forms of digital advertising. They do this all before emailing or calling a salesperson.

What's also changed is that buyers consume information across a wide range of channels and devices, from smartphones to tablets to PCs. This means that marketers must communicate effectively with buyers whenever and wherever they are online.

Since the buyer's journey takes them across many sites and devices, the advertising campaign is dead, having been replaced by always-on marketing where the prospect always receives targeted messaging at the right time.

Just as it would be crazy for a company to shut down its website, it is now equally shortsighted to turn targeted marketing off, given 90% of a prospect's time is being spent away from the marketer's website. Marketers must constantly be in touch with their prospects on all devices and all platforms. It's an always-on, multichannel world.

As a B2B marketer, you have a lot more customer touch points, systems and data to tie together and understand than you did five years ago. You must know if the finance professional that visited your website two days ago on her mobile device is the same one who just downloaded your white paper on her PC. You need to know if the CEO you targeted on social is the same one who read your email newsletter. It's complex, to say the least.

The Shift To Always-On Marketing

The responsibility falls to marketers to educate buyers during the entire journey. If you stop continuously getting your message out via email, on social networks or through display advertising, it's like shutting down your website for three months. Sure, your messaging and content will change, but you can't turn your messaging off. When your buyer is on, you must be on. Otherwise you'll lose substantial sales opportunities.

Marketers now build out their marketing technology stacks with automation software, CRM systems, content-management systems, analytics tools and data-management platforms. Today, many brands have separate teams and tools in place to drive their marketing efforts, from display to search and social. With the marketing stack, marketers are better able to bring together their marketing efforts under a single roof.

Bringing Simplicity To Measurement

All of this has the capability to integrate all customer data into a single place. This capacity allows marketers to get a complete view of the customer. It increases the sheer amount of insights marketers can now access. Most campaigns operate in a silo, and it's nearly impossible to know if a social ad drove a conversion or if it was the email the customer received that did the trick. With the right capabilities in place, brands can now determine when and who to serve ads, based on where they are in the funnel and their "digital body language," meaning what they've searched for, how they've navigated the website, which emails they opened and what display ads they viewed. The output will be high response rates that marketers can attribute back to their CRM record.

We've Seen This Before

As a marketer, it's easy to understand that if a consumer searches on Google or Bing for a surfboard, it would be crazy not to immediately serve that customer a related surfboard ad. Search is the original template for an always-on campaign. Marketers don't turn their email nurture campaigns off, either. And marketers now must apply the same lessons to the multichannel worlds of mobile, social media and display advertising.

Close The Loop

A final point is that your best customers may actually be current customers. Just because you sealed one deal doesn't mean you stop selling to them. Start by leading your customer down the funnel with awareness, engagement and finally conversion. But don't stop here – drive customer success, cross sell and aim for customer advocacy.

If you take this always-on approach, and serve the right messages based on prospect or customer needs, you're guaranteed to create a full customer life cycle that will pay huge dividends.

Follow Bizo (@bizo), Russell Glass (@glassruss) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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