Most B-to-B marketers are faced with the dilemma of more marketing channels than resources.
We are living in the age where there is a marketing channel or marketing platform for almost every aspect of B-to-B marketing. From outbound channels for customer acquisition to platform channels for managing the marketing process. It seems there is a provider at every turn offering the latest marketing technology with promises that their technology will wholeheartedly produce the marketing results you are looking for.
How many marketing channels should you support?
Depending on the size, sophistication, and resources of your company, this could range from one to one hundred. For the scope of this article, I’ll build a fence around this and put an annual revenue range of up to $50 million.
As a starting point let’s look at the customer’s journey in the considered purchase process. This can be segmented into 6 steps – awareness, interest, trial, purchase, adoption, and advocacy.
With each step there are outbound, inbound, and internal channels that affect the customers’ interest, emotional connection, and purchase rationalization of the product’s promise, features, and benefits.
Awareness – Can you identify the channels that consistently produce high awareness levels for customers that may be interested in your product? Channels to consider would be digital display advertising, social media marketing, offline advertising (print), and event marketing.
Interest – Does the customer’s experience start with a specific channel? For example, paid search, website SEO, email, or mobile marketing?
Trial – How can you truly demonstrate that your product lives up to its brand promise? Do you offer a risk-free return policy? Can you demonstrate your product at an event or trade show? Are there partners or distributors actively making calls on potential customers?
Purchase – How easy is it to purchase your product? Is your website set up for E-commerce? Are all of the internal departments on the same page when it comes to providing a superior online customer experience?
Adoption – Is there an after-the-sale follow up? Is the customer service department tied in with the engineering department to quickly address any issues or operational procedures that may affect product performance? Do you have an internal repository of product knowledge that can be quickly accessed?
Advocacy – Are you utilizing your customer relationships to the fullest degree? Do you have a loyalty or rewards program? Is there a customer recognition event for those that have helped to make the company successful?
Identifying the right balance. Every company works with a finite budget. Therefore, it’s necessary to reassess supported channels through a defined set of analytics that are important to the company and relate to achieving business goals. At the same time, this should also shed some light on understanding the customer’s journey and purchasing experience while interacting with your brand.
The real cost of MarTech platforms With the marketing environment consisting of so many fragmented channels, it’s no wonder that MarTech (Marketing Technology) has inched their way into the internal resources of marketing departments. While these platforms can provide benefits and help with managing the marketing process, they can also become a significant cost factor – up to 30% of the overall marketing budget. Plus, factoring in personnel costs, it’s not inconceivable that the MarTech cost could consume one-half of the overall budget, leaving the marketing department scrambling to find the resources to support the revenue generating channels.