You know what they say about December — it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Sure, they’re talking about the holidays, but it’s a good time to be a marketer too.
It’s the time when planning for the year ahead is in full swing, and that means you get to create a wishlist of sorts, outlining what it is you want to accomplish, how you plan to do it and what you need to make it happen. Of course you might not get to tackle everything, but there’s no harm in shooting for the stars when you plan.
With that in mind, what’s on your marketing team’s 2017 holiday wishlist? We recommend the following:
1) A Better Way to Understand Your Target Audience
Marketing takes on a lot of forms, but at the end of the day, it’s all about who you’re talking to. Who you’re talking to impacts what you say, how you say it, where you say it and even when you say it. As a result, that “who” should really drive your marketing program.
At a high level, most marketers know who they’re talking to, but how deep can you go with that understanding? The deeper the better, as the more you know about your target audience, including who they are, what they want, why they want it, why they want it now and how they’re interacting with your business, the better you can market to them.
To reach that level of understanding, you need both strong buyer personas and a powerful marketing automation platform that can help you track behaviors to understand how prospects and customers that fall into each persona interact with your marketing content.
2) Improved Journey Mapping
So you’ve created a lot of marketing content — good for you. What happens next? It’s time to put that content to work by getting it in front of the right person at the right time. And accomplishing that goal is all about getting journey mapping right.
Specifically, you need a way to take into account persona and buyer’s journey stage so that you understand the needs of each prospect at any given point in time. From there, an intelligent system can do some of the legwork for you by surfacing the next best piece of content or interaction to share with each individual based on all of the strategic insights you’ve fed it.
3) Simplified Personalization
In today’s world, personalization is everything. We’ve all come to expect a unique experience in everything we do, and B2B marketing is no exception. But delivering on that personalization imperative is often easier said than done.
It’s fairly easy to inject someone’s name here and there, but that no longer cuts it when we talk about personalization. Personalization has come to mean creating individualized experiences on your site (for example adjusting the content and key points that visitors see based on factors like their industry or persona) and offering a consistent experience across channels (for instance by creating a logical journey as the same person moves from email to social to search and so on).
Although it isn’t always easy, it also isn’t impossible to get this personalization right. It all starts with a marketing automation platform that can help with audience segmentation. From there, you can take on efforts like dynamic lead nurturing that take prospects down different paths (and at different speeds) depending on how they engage with your marketing content.
4) Easier to Attain & More Actionable Analytics
Data and analytics have been part of the marketing vernacular for years now, but many marketing teams still struggle to gain insight into data and put that insight to work. It’s time to change that.
Easy to attain and actionable analytics is increasingly setting high performing marketing teams apart from the pack. The reason is twofold: First, analytics need to be easy to gather so that you don’t waste valuable time that could be spent on strategic efforts simply trying to pull data from a system. Second, the analytics need to be actionable so that you can easily understand what they mean and identify a clear path to make changes based on that.
Together, this ease and actionability are critical. That’s because the easier it is to pull these analytics and understand what they mean, the more likely you are to actually do so and do so more often. In turn, this setup allows you to use the insights to optimize your efforts on a regular basis.
5) A “Marketing Personal Trainer” (aka Expert Resources to Guide Your Team)
What about a “marketing personal trainer” to help whip your efforts into shape? Much like how a personal trainer helps you get the most out of your time at the gym by focusing on what will make the biggest difference, an expert resource that works closely with your team through managed services can help hone your marketing automation program.
Specifically, managed services provides expert resources that your team can tap into in order to maximize your investment in your marketing automation platform. They might take on activities like email and landing page design, lead scoring, nurture campaign build outs, A/B testing or reporting, all so that your team can focus on driving the overall strategy.
6) A Fully Integrated Marketing Stack
Finally, we recommend asking for a fully (and natively) integrated marketing and sales stack.
An integrated stack is about more than reducing the number of systems you have to work in each day. This type of integration can help eliminate manual (and therefore error-prone) work to move data from one system to the next, which speeds up workflows and improves accuracy. Furthermore, it can help strengthen alignment across the teams that use these systems, allow for true automation and better intelligence, improve reporting due to having more complete and up-to-date data at all times and reduce costs.
What’s on Your Marketing Wishlist this Holiday Season?
Of course these are just six of many ways to fill out your marketing wishlist this holiday season. And while these recommendations are certainly a good place to start, as you build out your wishlist be sure to take take into account factors like the current state and maturity of your marketing program, your top goals for the year ahead and the team you have to support your initiatives.
With that in mind, there’s nothing left to say but happy list-making!