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The Latest Trends and Insights in B2B Marketing

Leading analyst firm Forrester Research recently surveyed 270 marketing leaders to gauge the direction of B2B marketing. The research revealed top marketing trends including increasing investment in automation, personalization, and customer acquisition. It also asked respondents pointed questions about their strengths, weaknesses, and priorities for the year ahead.

Marketing Scorecard:  Strengths and Weaknesses
Survey respondents ranked these as their organization’s top strengths:
1. Knowledge of the markets and customers they serve (92%)
2. Positioning and messaging (74%)
3. Creative strategy and development (72%)

However, marketing leaders continue to struggle using data to effectively drive decision making. Their top 3 weaknesses are:
1. Using analytics to guide marketing decision-making (77%)
2. Measuring the pipeline impact of marketing programs (74%)
3. Accuracy of data in marketing database (72%)

Even more striking, 60% of leaders find it challenging to demonstrate the value of marketing in their organization.  To quantify value, Marketing leaders are focusing on these 6 metrics as the most important to measure performance:
1. Marketing qualified lead volume (59%)
2. Brand awareness (50%)
3. Influence (46%)
4. Opportunity volume (44%)
5. Sales qualified lead volume (41%)
6. Reach (40%)

Marketing Investment Areas
Moving into 2017, marketing investments are still slanted to new customer acquisition. According to the survey, 41% of marketing investment will be dedicated to existing customer enrichment with the other 59% dedicated to new customer acquisition. Moving forward, the spend mix is shifting — when asked how their relative investments in new customer acquisition versus existing customer enrichment are changing this year:

30% reported increasing investment  in existing customer enrichment
32% reported investment will remain at approximately the same ratio as last year
37% reported increasing investment in new customer acquisition

Marketing investments are also shifting to meet sales demands later in the funnel with technology investments for sales enablement. Among the leaders surveyed, 89% are investing or planning to evaluate investments in Sales Enablement Automation solutions. The top 3 challenges leaders face in gaining insights around customer engagement and spurring investment in new technologies are:
1. Buyers have multiple stakeholders involved in decision process with different agendas (78%)
2. Buyers are taking longer to make their decisions (49%)
3. Buyers won’t take sales phone calls from sales reps (28%)

Sales engagement technologies are also designed to help improve the alignment between Marketing and Sales – as respondents cite the weakest areas as:
1. Reporting results of joint activity (48%)
2. Acting like “one team” to senior management (48%)
3. Managing customer references and advocates (46%)
4. Sharing knowledge about customer’s buying process (44%)
5. Conducting pipeline reviews and reporting (42%)

Sales Engagement Platforms can help address top marketing challenges and deliver against your priorities this year.

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