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Best Practices

Mind The Gap: How To Succeed In The Engagement Economy

The digital transformation has taken the B2B world by storm, with advancements rolling out fast and furious. In fact, digital transformation is projected to be the most disruptive force in business in 2017. Innovations like cloud computing, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence continue to give marketers the opportunity to connect with costumers better than ever before. It’s this desire to feel connected that has led to the birth of the Engagement Economy. The need for tailored “experiences” is the foundation that breeds meaningful content engagement and that the Engagement Economy is built on.

But as marketers race to build and adjust strategies to stay relevant and meet evolving costumer expectations, they may be missing the mark. In Marketo’s State of Engagement Report, some substantial gaps are highlighted between what customers want and what marketers are delivering.

In order for B2B marketers to truly succeed in the Engagement Economy, it’s important to identify and close these gaps.

Gap #1: Marketers and customers aren’t always on the same page

Today’s customer wants to feel heard and valued. They want consistent and personalized experiences across different channels. And they want those experiences to be delivered in the right moment This isn’t groundbreaking news for most marketers. In fact, 83%  of the 2000 marketing professionals surveyed feel they’re already delivering a consistent and personalized experience and 82% believe they have a deep understanding of how best to engage their customers. So much so that they’ve invested a lot of time and resources into redesigning their strategies.

Well, turns out marketers may not understand their audience as well as they thought. 65% of B2B customers feel brands could do a better job of aligning their engagement activities with their preferences. Diving deeper reveals the #1 reason customers don’t engage more often is they feel brands send too much irrelevant content. Clearly, B2B brands and customers aren’t always on the same page when it comes to the customer experience.

How can marketers start to better deliver on customer expectations? First and foremost, marketers need more context around who they’re trying to reach. The best way to do this is by collecting consumer behavior data. But marketers report trouble accessing this data.

Gap #2: Access to data is the number one barrier to effective content engagement

The key to effective engagement is data. Insights like which channels customers are using, when they’re using them, and what specifically they’re looking for in that moment. Although most marketers (91%) feel they’re providing a consistent experience across multiple channels, the average satisfaction with their current engagement tools ranges from 49%-57%. Marketers are craving richer and more coordinated metrics and information across their marketing technology (martech) stack.

Existing martech stacks aren’t cutting it. While each individual tool serves its purpose, they lack the ability to provide coordinated data sets across all touchpoints. These data “blind spots” are causing a major engagement gap, and customers are taking note.

What are the most successful marketers doing from a data perspective? According to the survey, marketers believe these 3 things are key to customer engagement mastery:

  • Leverage technology for omnichannel engagements
  • Use personalized content
  • Identify how to reach the right audience at the right moment

Gap #3: Marketers struggle to achieve c-suite buy-in

Even with a solid understanding of customer needs and the right martech stack, engagement strategies will fall flat without buy-in and alignment across the organization, specifically among the c-suite. Only 59% of marketers report that executive leadership is on board with their engagement strategy.

Marketing leaders are tasked with finding innovative ways to prove the ROI of their engagement strategies.  Marketo suggests “the key may be in moving beyond single-purpose tools to technologies, solutions, or platforms that facilitate the seamless flow of data and coordinate across elements in a marketing stack.”

It’s a domino effect: The right tools will encourage more engagement. More engagement will prove the ROI of the technology. And ROI is key to executive buy-in.

Methods of engagement need to evolve

To successfully close these Engagement Economy gaps, marketers need to consider more innovative ways to collect consumer data and prove the ROI of their efforts.

Today, social media and personalized messages are the most popular ways to engage audiences; however, advanced methods such as journey mapping, machine learning, behavior tracking, and adaptive campaigns will be adopted in the coming year. Staying informed on emerging technologies and continuing to adapt engagement strategies is the best way for marketers to stay relevant and competitive.

To view the entire executive summary:

state of engagement report