Traditional industries have experienced a shift in buyer behavior that has been dramatically accelerated during and after the pandemic. Purchasing processes have in many cases been forcibly digitalized, and companies that were already behind in digitalizing their sales and marketing operations have fallen even further behind. This is especially notable in traditional B2B companies in manufacturing and/or industrial segments. The digital development during the pandemic corresponds with what would take 5–10 years at the previous rate of development.
Buyers going digital means that there is more data available for use in businesses’ data-driven decision-making. Despite this, some companies are backing away from data-driven strategies. Outdated and non-agile processes are unable to respond to rapid market shifts, and thus are inefficient since they are unable to utilize new insights. Instead, these companies are investing in broad communication rather than digital marketing specifically tailored to their target audience.
Potential explanations for why B2B companies struggle with agile and data-driven marketing
Outdated processes and change-averse individuals are the biggest contributors to halted development. A 2020 study conducted by New Vantage Partners illustrates that companies are failing in their efforts to become data-driven, and that “93% of respondents identify people and process issues as the obstacle”.
Agile organizations, data-driven decision-making, fast implementations, and a customer-centric mindset are key
A company’s communication strategy and channels cannot be decided through five brainstorming sessions and a whiteboard covered in post-its. Instead, they must adopt a customer-focused and data-driven approach that is able to quickly identify low-hanging fruits and underinvested business areas.
Leading companies are proactive in adjusting to external shifts, implementing new strategies in pace with how the market changes. Measuring and reporting are foundational to this, as is basing each step in their processes on data. Only when it is possible to show positive ROMI (return on marketing investment) on the bottom line, you will have succeeded. Digitalizing sales processes and closing the gap between marketing and sales requires that one can show possible ROI on all marketing activities, or at least connect marketing efforts and sales.
Shift to a ROMI focus
CMOs know that marketing tends to be an under-invested source of sales; data-driven digital marketing is especially under-utilized in traditional organizations. Moving investments from outdated areas to target new areas of possibilities is especially important during crises, making continuous budget and process evaluations vital. Every marketing activity must be related to KPIs, and everything needs to be measured, all the time. Real-time marketing is the key, and quarterly or bi-annual evaluations are not enough. Leaders need to continually tweak budget and resource allocation to optimize their use of data, and ROI.
“Leading companies are rapidly moving to an ‘outside-in’ perspective, adaptive to external factors. When your buyers are searching for and comparing offers, it’s more important than ever to provide them with the solutions they are looking for. Not to sell, but to help them buy.”
—Gabriel Ghavami, CEO, GO MO Group
By prioritizing measurement and analysis to increase precision in marketing, it is possible to win even during crises. Data-driven operations adaptive to new insights enable companies to gain market share by communicating smartly, rather than loudly.
A crisis introduces many different opportunities, from shifts in buyers’ needs and behavior to changed conditions on the market – it pays to speed up when your competitors slow down. This is supported by a PWC report, where advertising stands out as an area in which many companies have reduced their investments. All the while, companies that kept a high marketing budget saw large increases in their share of consumer focus.
Doing the research and being agile is something that must permeate the entire organization up to the C-suite. While this is true for marketing, these attributes benefit companies in other business areas as well. One example of this comes from the tech industry, where Apple’s positioning and data-driven business planning – focused on their supply chain – allowed them to stand strong in a global shortage of semiconductors. Agility was also what let Tesla break sales records when the rest of the industry dropped. When their factories in the United States were forced to close due to Covid-19, Tesla quickly shifted their production to China, where the virus was more under control.
We see similar things happening in our client base in Sweden. Recently, we showcased a client whose market was also turned upside down during 2020. They offer services in education for adults, with a yearly turnover of over SEK 500 million. Agile marketing operations allowed them to quickly adapt to new market conditions where location no longer mattered as a competitive advantage.
How can your company benefit from data-driven marketing?
GO MO Group is a digital marketing agency that focuses wholeheartedly on B2B Pull Marketing. Do you wish to know more about how your organization can benefit from data-driven marketing strategies and make use of under-utilized business opportunities in B2B using pull marketing?
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Timothy Larsson, Digital Marketing Coordinator
Came to GO MO Group in 2020, and now works with GO MO’s communication and brand. Has a deep interest in digitalization and marketing of industrial companies. MSc in Marketing and Consumption from the Gothenburg University School of Business, Economics and Law.