Leadership Strategies

How Marketers Should Engage with Buyers Today. Your Questions Answered.

A follow up to IDC’s Adaptive Customer Engagement Model Webinar
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In a recent webinar, we presented an entirely new marketing and sales approach to replace the well-known funnel. Based on extensive research, IDC’s new Adaptive Customer Experience (ACE) model is a circular and evolving framework and not linear at all, like it’s predecessor. This is because engagement with tech buyers is no longer linear. B2B buyers have B2C experience expectations today.  They expect you, as a vendor, to understand and provide solutions for their challenges, jobs to done and business outcomes. ACE is a customer-centric framework to evolve how you go to market.  

“Marketing is the conductor of orchestrated journey engagement, with data, automation and analytics to make this all work.”

– Laurie Buczek, Research VP, CMO Advisory Practices

And perhaps most importantly, to fully engage with a buyer, marketing and sales need to play on the same field. Put another way, no longer should the two functional groups be looked at as if they are running a relay race, where marketing passes a baton onto sales to finish the race. it is, instead, a customer experience journey, more like an orchestra, where all the instruments work together to make one beautiful masterpiece. And if marketing does a good job as conductor of the orchestra, the sounds become music that buyers want to sit and listen to, rather than just noise that they walk away from.

“More activity doesn’t bring more success” in “random acts of marketing”

– Jason Cunliffe, GVP Content Marketing Services

The webinar introduces this new framework and covers all of the elements in depth. From new analytics to content considerations. If you did not have an opportunity to attend, you can listen to the on-demand version. We received fantastic questions that we think will help you get started in a new marketing and selling approach.

Q1: Is the customer data platform (CDP) available in marketing and sales automation solutions?

 CDP is a very large category right now. You’re seeing niche players, but also established CRM or marketing automation vendors that are baking CDP into their platform experience. For more information, you can read IDC’s Marketscape:  Worldwide Customer Data Platforms Focused on Front-Office Users 2021-2022 Vendor Assessment.

Q2: Do you recommend building bespoke analytic platforms or are most off-the-shelf platforms good enough?

We are seeing that commercially available CPD and analytic capabilities can deliver functionality faster, more economically and with scale than home grown solutions.   Use the 80/20 rule to start – 80% off the shelf with the option for light customization for 20% of capability.

Q3: On the customer data platforms and analytics, can you talk about where you would typically see these functions reside in an organization? 

IDC recommends that customer data platforms (CDPs) are implemented as enterprise capabilities versus an overlay of a functional data silo.  ACE hinges on democratizing customer data rather than it being a departmental resource only.  Data and analytics are the only enterprise resource that enable the adaptive engagement more real-time.  To implement for success, it requires a collaborative effort between customer facing business functions and IT.  For more information refer to The Data Pardox Reshaping the CIO and CMO Relationship

Q4: Do you assume the tech stack and data scientists are in place to implement ACE? If not how does one start?

It is important to approach this holistically and as a system. Often, companies buy the tech first.  Let’s learn from the historical missteps of buying technology and thinking it will magically change the way you operate. It’s like buying a Ferrari but not having anyone who knows how to drive it. You must start by thinking about the skillset that you need. Marketing leaders are building marketing data operations competencies in-house, which include people who understand the business and how to use the data on a sophisticated level to be able to extract insights from the data to inform marketing action. Then couple this with people who really know how to create content that tells a connected story and supports the buying decision journeys rather than creating content in silos.

IDC Research finds that at least 25% of your people competencies are going to be in content strategy and in marketing data science.

Q5: Can you expand on the type of effective content that moves the needle?

Content that is highly measurable outperforms content that cannot be measured. So, the more content you can create that is interactive and provides a deeper, richer experience is more engaging and also highly measurable. It’s through testing that you can adjust content until it delivers the outcomes you want. You also should consider all of the other elements that are working together. Examine what efforts are coming before the content launches and what came after. Think about the entire customer experience with the content.

In addition, IDC Research finds that B2B buyers expect more interactive, immersive and omnichannel content across their engagement stages.  It is a mixology of content mediums that lines up to how buyers want to receive specific types of information.   Content creativity has been noted as most important for marketing effectiveness.

Q6: What are some examples of interactive content?

This is important to start to define. What does this look like? It can be calculators or business value assessment tools on your website where users can calculate how their business outcomes can be achieved (or the ROI) with your solution, without having to speak immediately to a human. Some buyers still want long form content pieces such as PDF’s, but significantly more want shorter content formats such as ebooks with embedded video, that provides options to read the content in smaller digestible pieces, if they need to. Also consider mobile applications and augmented reality that provide a realistic overlay of what your solutions can look like in a buyer’s environment.

IDC Custom Content Solutions sees that 70% of the content we create for clients is consumed on mobile. So, this is a key channel that needs to be considered, along with improvements in content readability.

It is time for a new operating logic.

To purchase the new IDC Perspective and learn more about the research behind the ACE Framework, click here – The Digital-First Era Demands a New Marketing and Sales Model: Introducing Adaptive Customer Engagement.

Or, to learn more about how we can help you implement the ACE model please reach out to one of our colleagues at IDC. Contact us today.

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Laurie's research focuses on helping companies achieve their business goals through better connection with today's empowered customer and the application of management science to the transforming marketing function. Leveraging almost three decades of experience in roles across marketing, customer experience, IT and sales, Laurie advises senior leaders on topics including content marketing, personalized experiences, sales enablement, buyer decision dynamics, organizational design and marketing operations.