Traditional email is out and highly personalized marketing—including programs tailored to customer needs as expressed in social media and customer accounts—is in, Forrester Research says.

It’s time to trade in mature tools like traditional email for ones designed to personalize, automate and analyze interactions with customers across several channels, including social media and customer accounts, Forrester Research Inc. says.

B2B marketers will achieve better outcomes ... by transitioning from an email marketing strategy to an omnichannel engagement strategy with a marketing automation program.

As B2B buyers expect more personalized B2C-like e-commerce, B2B sellers have more marketing options to connect with such digital-first customers. But sellers need to focus less on things like traditional email and more on personalized and automated marketing, Forrester says in a new report.

To be sure, e-mail marketing still packs a potent punch as a decades-old reliable and low-cost means of marketing, the report notes. “Email response rates have been consistent, even though service prices have declined,” it says. “And this had made email marketing an extremely low-cost, but still important, method for regular targeted customer and prospect interactions.”

Still, B2B marketers will “achieve better outcomes—whether through higher return on investment, higher levels of engagement or better customer experience—by transitioning from an email marketing strategy to an omnichannel engagement strategy with a marketing automation program,” Forrester says.

Rather than rely heavily on traditional email blasts, Forrester says, marketers should reach out to customers and prospects via a mix of marketing and sales tools, including online display and search ads, videos and outreaches by sales reps—all with message content and timing of automated outreach based on the interests and needs of customers as reflected in their account activity and past purchasing records.

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The report—“The Forrester Tech Tide: B2B Marketing Technologies, Q4, 2018”—reviews 18 B2B marketing technology, or “martech,” categories that meet three criteria: Being an important contributor to B2B marketing, being commercial available and either already having or gaining a strong market presence.

The report also organizes the martech categories into four quadrants: New or “low maturity” technologies divided among those with “high business value” or “low business value; and established or “high maturity” technologies also divided among low and high business value.

The report suggests that B2B marketers invest in new technologies of high business value, including account-based marketing, automated programming advertising, and measurement and analytics programs.

Forrester also lists dozens of martech vendors by the categories they serve.

Among the report’s takeaways:

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  • B2B marketing programs oriented toward customer account activity are “now table stakes.” Marketing technologies like account-based marketing platforms, customer engagement marketing and marketing automation platforms provide insights on customers’ needs and organized ways to interact with them, then measure the results “at the buying center and account level.”

The report notes that B2B companies that have implemented a marketing automation program have been known to produce 50% more revenue through B2B marketing than companies without it.

  • Social channels are now a “critical path” to engaging modern B2B buyers and providing valuable insights into their purchasing behaviors and preferences. The report lists social engagement tools among new technology applications of high business value that B2B marketers should invest in and use in coordination with marketing automation, CRM and email.

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