Rethinking Customer Engagement

Peter Ross

VP, Corporate Marketing

Customer EngagementIn today’s world of B2B marketing, the seesaw of power and influence has shifted noticeably from the seller to the buyer. Long gone are the days when customers solely depended on their vendors to educate them on the value and features of their specific product offerings. The enormous amount of content available has empowered customers to self-educate and make decisions well in advance of any interaction with a company’s front line marketing or sales efforts. There is NO reason to be alarmed by this shift, but it is imperative for marketers to bring an increased focus to customer engagement.

Reading the digital body language of your customers

As marketers, the great news is that we no longer have to guess what customers and prospects are interested in. If we look closely and analyze explicit signals our customers and prospects are sending via their content consumption, social interactions and online research behavior, we can accurately detect their digital body language. This is the first step in better understanding where your customers might be in their buy cycle, and more importantly what some of their key challenges are and how your solutions can help them address these pain points. There are lots of industry terms and buzz words that try to capture the idea of better understanding your customer’s behaviors but the most important principle is that customer behavior should serve as the backbone for informing your sales and marketing strategies.

In a recent interview feature with Customer Engagement Magazine, my colleague Courtney Kay shares a comprehensive framework that illustrates this shift from just managing your customers to engaging your customers. At TechTarget, we define this  approach as “Intelligence Driven Marketing”  which involves painting a complete picture of intelligence about your customers and prospects that is actionable for your sales teams and enables them to better follow-up with any opportunities.

3 ways to use Intelligence Driven Marketing for next-level customer engagement

1. Pass intelligence not leads

Sales and marketing alignment is predicated on the quality of opportunities that are being developed and passed along.  Having information about one contact is fruitless. In particular, buying technology is a team sport so it is a requirement to have insight on the entire account team. Providing intelligence about the entire buying team along with their key challenges, other vendors they are considering, what types of content they are researching are all essential to a productive sales engagement.

2. Use real-time not point-in-time data

Many existing CRM systems and sales tools are great for managing customer contact information, buying history and pipeline. These historical records serve a purpose as point-in-time snapshots about the status of the customer relationship but do not adequately highlight the customer’s real-time buying interests, research patterns, pain points and content consumption. Real-time insight allows you to better anticipate and deliver exactly the type of information your customer is looking for and eliminates any guesswork from your sales and marketing teams.

3. Marketing has to take the lead

Marketing is seeing a great return on content marketing and nurturing investments which is playing an even more critical role in establishing a foothold with customers and prospects. Sales is relying on marketing now more than ever to deliver increased value through deeper customer engagement and ongoing account nurturing. Use this opportunity to not only drive stronger customer engagement but to step up and advance the role of marketing in your organization.

On the quest to becoming a more Intelligence Driven Marketer, I’m always interested to learn how other B2B marketers are leveraging data to drive stronger customer engagement. You can contact me here if you have any suggestions. If you have any specific examples or first-hand insight to share with our audience I also encourage you to provide a comment. My colleague Chris Rudnick recently posted a follow-up blog about some more recent developments around B2B customer engagement.

Feel free to reach out to  me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Courtney Kay, Customer Engagement, Customer Engagement Magazine, customer intelligence, Intelligence Driven Marketing, marketing intelligence, real-time intelligence, sales intelligence, technology marketing

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