“Buyers have vastly more information at their fingertips, and are in control of the pace and content of the buying cycle. Marketers must evolve with buyers to be effective.”
by Steven Woods, July 2013
Marketing is the art of changing a buyer’s perspective. We are perhaps most familiar with this idea with brand preferences. However, in longer buying cycles, it is equally important to guide buyers from being satisfied with the status quo, through learning about a space and realizing that improvements can be made, to making a purchase of a selected vendor. At each stage, marketers guide the buyer’s shift in perspective by presenting the right information, in the right medium, at the right time.
To do this, marketers have long realized that they must do five things well:
Modern marketers need to do the same five things. However, in the modern era, buyers have vastly more information at their fingertips, and are in control of the pace and content of the buying cycle. Marketers must evolve with buyers to be effective modern marketers.
To know your buyers, you need to understand not just the facts about them—names, titles, and industries—but also indicators of interest, engagement, and likes. The best way to understand this is to watch a buyer’s “digital body language”—the story told by their clicks, searches, shares, and views. This tells you more about who they are as buyers, and allows you to target the stages of awareness, education, and active buying in differentiated ways.
Once you know your buyers through their digital body language, you must engage them effectively. Our own experiences as consumers of marketing tell us that the vast majority of marketing fails to engage us. To be effective modern marketers, you need understand each unique buyer, and then deliver a message with timing and content specific to that individual buyer’s stage. You then must scale this individually personalized approach to the hundreds of thousands of buyers in your funnel. Marketing automation is a key tool for modern marketers.
While most buyers today will hesitate to talk with a salesperson, only a salesperson can help them with some of the later-stage details of a transaction. A modern marketer’s role is to understand the cues in behavior that would indicate that readiness for this conversation. By defining these criteria objectively in a lead scoring framework, marketing and sales can define a “common currency” around a qualified lead. Sales can define follow-up paths and close ratios, and marketing can commit to lead production of defined quantities and qualities. Both marketing and sales can then define the actions that are optimal to drive revenue productivity.
Learning from the overall process is critical, and modern marketers analyze not just that they achieved a 38 percent or 21 percent on a given metric, but whether that result is amazing, awful, or average, based on a real-time comparison of it against a benchmark of actual data from peers effectiveness on the same metric.
Modern marketing builds on the core principles of marketing: knowing buyers, engaging them effectively, converting them to revenue, and learning from the process. By understanding based on digital body language, engaging based on each buyer’s own timing and reality, converting only when buyers are ready to engage sales, and learning in context of real-time metrics, modern marketers are driving substantial top and bottom line improvements for their businesses.
Steven Woods is general vice president of software development at Oracle Eloqua.