For marketers, planning is in our DNA. So, as we review our campaign triumphs and tribulations of the past year, where do we need to focus in 2017? What improvements can we make? What new and exciting directions should we follow? Here are the top five priorities I’d like to share with my fellow marketers for the year to come:
1. Account-based marketing (ABM)
If you work in marketing and have not yet heard of ABM, then you’d better start doing your homework! The idea of focusing on ‘target accounts’, ‘named accounts’, ‘strategic accounts’ – or however your company describes them – is not a new concept but marketers now recognise that they can do so much more on the marketing side with account-based marketing strategies than ever before. As new technologies and measurable methodologies emerge in this area, ABM is proving to be a critical part of current marketing thinking and strategies. The competition to grab people’s attention is fiercer than ever before, so we all need to hone in on specific buyers in our top accounts in the most effective and trackable ways possible.
2. Closer coordination with sales
It’s not rocket science. The vast majority of businesses are in it to make money. Shocking, right? If you’re in B2B marketing, one of your key goals is to feed the sales team with qualified leads and opportunities by ensuring that the top of the funnel is overflowing with business possibilities. But the devil is in the detail and all too often we see marketing and sales teams working in silos. Marketing could be bringing in vast numbers of leads, but if the sales team has shifted its strategy, or decided to put specific focus on certain products, buyers, or even geographies, you might be throwing time, money, and effort away. Make sure to maintain close synchronisation and open communication with the sales team, and always dive in to the nitty gritty of the sales specifics to be truly effective.
3. Analyse, analyse, analyse
Marketing is getting more scientific by the minute. Put a strong focus on your marketing data in order to further understand how to spend your budget wisely: define which KPIs you’re trying to achieve and then take a good look back at last year’s activities to see which campaigns helped drive you closer to your goals. What worked? What didn’t?
Tap into to ALL of the data sources that you are using. Make sure to leverage video marketing that plugs into your marketing automation system, social tracking, and more. But you’ll need to strike a balance and avoid bogging yourself down with so many statistics that you end up lagging on actual campaigns and marketing activities. Focus on the key figures that you can truly learn from, and take action accordingly. Having said all that, don’t let too much data put you off from taking risks and betting on cool new technologies and tools that could be the next big thing in marketing.
4. Tap into today’s hottest digital trends
Modern marketers should immerse themselves and their marketing activities in the digital trends that are rapidly taking over so many aspects of our lives including social media, mobile, video and personalisation and, in future, virtual reality. Take video, for example, which has quickly become the medium of choice for communication nowadays. Marketers have been using video for years, but now it’s time to ensure it is treated properly as an additional data type to enable lead scoring, adding calls-to-actions within the videos, interactive features, and more. Marketers need to tap into emerging behavioural patterns and digital trends to increase their effectiveness.
5. Find the balance between art and science
I like to think that marketing is a great blend between art and science. The art side is all about the less tangible items in the marketing mix—PR, awareness, branding, etc.—while the science side is primarily the nitty gritty, trackable, lead generation campaigns and activities. Finding a good balance for your organisation between the art and science will help ensure that you’re getting the company’s brand in the right places and positioning your executives as thought-leaders, both of which will impact the success of specific measureable marketing campaigns.
It will be interesting to see what 2017 will bring as our world continues to evolve and change so quickly. Alongside futuristic innovations like Amazon Go and virtual reality (VR), and with at least one digital device in our pockets, marketers have a rapidly growing amount of data, channels, and mediums to reach their audiences. It’s time to get to work.