If you’ve ever wondered whether marketing trends are cyclical, look no further than ABM — a sales strategy introduced more than a decade ago that has seen new and vibrant life in the last year, as countless marketers and sales managers have sought to take a more holistic view of the accounts in their pipeline. We’re certain we’ll see a similar seismic shift in the year ahead, which is why we wanted to hear from experts in the field. So, we asked press, analysts and other industry influencers, “What’s a retro concept, throwback idea, or disruptive strategy that will make headway with marketers in 2017? Read on to see what they said!
Industry Analyst and Host of CXOTALK
As I talk with everyone — marketers, CIOs, data scientists — the common thread is customers at the center. It is an old idea that seems obvious on its face. After all, what could be simpler than putting customer needs first? However, in practice. organizing a business around the customer is more difficult than it seems.
When you place the customer in the center, as a reference point, you begin by asking, “What does the customer want?” This requires talking with customers and listening carefully. That customer feedback can then inform your marketing strategy. But it goes far beyond the veneer of marketing alone.
For example, customers may tell you they want better support. This means looking at customer service processes and policies. Going further upstream, a look into support could reveal product design flaws. But, as you address those issues, supply chain and inventory issues may unfold. And, then we get to the entire matter of e-commerce and user experience, not to mention improving communication among all these departments.
So, while placing the customer in the center sounds nice, getting there demands heavy lifting. And that’s why this old concept continues to gather renewed attention.
Forbes contributor, President of BroadSuite, Inc. and V3B
Account Based Marketing has found a resurgence due to the movement toward personalization. As marketers seek to get a better 360 view of their customer while leveraging cutting edge technologies like IoT, Mobility and Big Data to individualize customer experiences, you will find them moving toward marketing strategies that look a lot like personal selling. We are in a world where Right Time Marketing wins. That means the right offer at the right time and it is the most digitally transformed businesses that will emerge the winner; ABM is a part of that winning strategy.
VP & Principal Analyst – Digital Marketing & Sales Effectiveness, Constellation Research
Direct Mail Campaigns – A Digital Twist on a Classic Marketing Idea
As customers and prospects continue to get bombarded by vendor emails and retargeted ads, open and click through rates are rapidly declining. In a sea of mass email, a well-designed and targeted direct mail campaign can help companies rise above the noise. A classic marketing concept, I’m not talking about the bulk mail of yesteryear sent to hundreds or thousands of people, but a targeted campaign that blends the physical with digital. This “nouveau” approach to direct mail incorporates the ability to leverage marketing automation technology to infuse digital elements to make it engaging and trackable. The key is targeting the right customer and making it a high-touch offer for reheating stalled pipeline deals, customer cross-sell/up-sell, or an integrated part of an Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategy. Once the target audience has been determined, create a visually-compelling physical mailer with digital call-to-actions such as a mobile game, a personalized video, or integration to an existing loyalty platform or application.
Here are a few tips to help digitally-enabled direct mail campaigns stand out:
- Get the personalization right – Customers today have little to no tolerance for botched personalization. Get the audience data right and personalize accordingly. As an example, if you choose to personalize based on industry or vertical, that information has to be correct. If your campaign is part of a pipeline reheat initiative, interview the sales person, check the account history and past marketing data to get it right.
- Be creative – Design a visually appealing mailer or package, and show your creativity with a good hook and make it fun. For example, there are many companies that can help bring gamification elements into marketing campaigns.
- Have a clear call-to-action – Be clear on the action you expect the customer to take. Is the digital element driving the customer to a specific video, a game, or a personalized landing page? Be clear and keep the offer simple.
- Test, test, and test again – Test your mailers for durability and ensure your digital codes/links/assets work as designed. There’s nothing worse than having an interested customer/prospect and then they can’t access the game or site.With a little creativity and leveraging marketing automation to help, a digitally-enabled direct mail campaign can delight customers and help differentiate your company.
- Follow-through – Combine an email teaser to cover your bases and if you offered a prize or gift, don’t forget to send it. Sounds like stating the obvious, but I still see marketers drop the ball at this point and nothing ruins credibility faster than a lack of follow-up.
Contributor to Entrepreneur, Inc.com, Fortune, Venturebeat, BusinessInsider, USAToday
In spite of the many ways they now have to communicate, consumers still crave immediacy. This is disruptive. In 2017, live interactions will take center stage, with Facebook Live already available and YouTube Live debuting soon. Marketers will find ways to use live video to engage customers and stand out on already overcrowded newsfeeds.
One area predicted to make a strong comeback in 2017 is direct mail marketing. Businesses now realize that consumers are inundated with messages through email and social media. By creating eye-catching print materials, they can get the attention of consumers through the postal system. Why it still can be costly, direct mail items like postcards can get results without a high up-front expenditure.
More and more, businesses will set aside organic marketing in favor of paid advertising on social media, since it allows them to reach highly-targeted markets based on collected data.
For direct-to-consumer marketing, email will be important. It’s not exactly a throwback, but it is one of the oldest online marketing mediums and it will play a vital role. The goal of email marketing in 2017 will be to provide a personalized approach that makes customers feel as though they have a relationship with the brand.
Although not a “throwback,” blogging will continue its increase in relevance for social media marketers, with businesses seeking out influencers who can get their message in front of large groups of readers. When this succeeds it can be a disruptive strategy. The goal will be to create content that is interesting and readable, while also keeping it visually appealing through the use of graphics and images.
Lisa Hoover McGreevy
Marketers who dismiss telephone calls as relics from the past are missing the boat — and an opportunity to learn more about their customers. Call intelligence tools that help marketers gather data on who’s calling and why will make a big splash in 2017.
Today’s consumers interact with their favorite businesses on mobile devices every day, but not just via an app or browser. Studies show that up to 80% of customers will call a company even after they’ve visited its landing page.
In 2017, marketers will need to go back to the basics of customer engagement and remember that phone calls are just as important today as they were 20 years ago. The big difference between then and now is that we have the technology to pull useful data from those calls and use it to improve marketing campaigns and strategies.
As marketers rush cover all their digital bases, it’s important to remember that customer phone calls are just as important as other omnichannel avenues. When marketers harness the power of call intelligence, they deliver an exceptional customer journey and create the best experience for each caller.
Editor in Chief, MarTech Advisor
Sales and marketing alignment is a throwback concept that will finally see some solid traction in 2017.
Due to the combined evolution of the marketing tech and sales tech landscapes the lines between sales and marketing continue to blur rapidly. We now have a whole range of much hyped account-based marketing (ABM) tech products straddling the intersection of sales and marketing.
Into 2017 we will see a unified sales and marketing effort to connect the dots along the entire customer journey with greater refinement and ease of operation.
Do you agree with our respondents? Disagree? We’d love to hear your thoughts on upcoming marketing trends that will make headway in 2017, so please leave your comments below!