5 Challenges Keeping B2B CMOs Up at Night

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Five things are keeping B2B CMOs up at night: developing and implementing totally new marketing strategies, dealing with new heights of competition, leading the charge on customer experience (CX), managing the stress and demands associated with economic uncertainty, and quantitatively proving marketing ROI. B2B CMOs spoke candidly about these challenges and the changing landscape within their roles during a recent online event.

Throughout the years, I’ve advised many marketing executives, and while their backgrounds, industries and resources may differ, their challenges tend to be similar. In this first article in a two-part series, I’ll share details on five challenges facing CMOs. In part two, I’ll share solutions aimed at overcoming these challenges and launching successfully into the second half of 2021 and into 2022.  

1. Developing and Implementing Totally New Marketing Strategies 

The development of new, innovative strategies that engage buyers and result in revenue, while also aligning with your martech stack provides both opportunities and challenges. Central to a solid marketing strategy are effective lead and demand generation initiatives. CMOs are revisiting these initiatives based on new expectations from their prospects and customers. I often heard the question, “How do I develop a strong, effective lead generation program to fit today’s environment?”

A financial services industry CMO said he “really needed guidance with all aspects of lead generation from prospect identification to striking the right engagement cadence to improve conversion rates.”

Account-based marketing (or Experience) continues to thrive in B2B. CMOs are leaning into ABM as a strategy for focusing on retention and expansion within their existing customer base. By properly segmenting companies and crafting personalized messaging, they can amplify their existing strategies. The challenge is finding the best ways to communicate (in both form and means) to successfully engage and convert.

Related Article: How to Attract and Engage, Not Alienate, B2B Buyers

2. Dealing With New Heights of Competition 

CMOs need to stay ahead within their competitive landscape. While many CMOs have been working to expand the scope of business within their existing customer bases, they must also work towards market expansion, market penetration and securing net-new clients. CMOs must position their brands as industry leaders by engaging with their audience in ways that ensure the business is seen and understood in the marketplace. This is where relevant, engaging content takes center stage. 

One CMO expressed to me that their internal content writers were not experienced enough with developing copy that resonated with CEOs. As they sought solutions they asked, ‘Do we look to hire additional team members or outsource?’ An education management CMO said his company was currently supporting growth through blog post writing, but they needed to better  “understand the benefits of leveraging that blog work with other innovative forms of engaging, interactive content.” 

3. Leading the Charge on Customer Experience 

Another challenge: “I’ve got the leads, and a full database, but how do I best nurture them through their journey, while creating an impactful customer experience?” 

It is important to remember that no matter what your industry, you are working to facilitate positive customer experiences (CX). Using insights for understanding  and creating a captivating experience can be your best brand differentiator. The way buyers are looking to be marketed to, and the experience that they are expecting, has changed. One CMO shared that they truly felt that “creating a seamless customer experience was paramount to future, continued success.” 

We fielded many questions on how to achieve this in today’s complex environment. Using the right platforms, managing data and developing great content will answer many of these questions. 

Related Article: When Did B2B Marketing Become So Complicated?

4. Managing the Stress and Demands of Economic Uncertainty

Even as companies see recovery at their doorstep, they are still acting with conservative optimism. CMOs will likely continue to see mandates on spending reductions and will be asked to do more with less when it comes to their marketing budgets. Now, more than ever, CMOs are going to have to account for the effectiveness of every dollar spent. For that reason, high on the list of challenges was marketing attribution. The CMOs I spoke with questioned: “Where is it best to allocate financial resources,” “How do I determine what touchpoints, channels and messages have the greatest impact on revenue?” and “How do I effectively track and report on leads my team is generating in relation to ROI?”

Related Article: 3 Questions Every B2B CMO Should Answer ‘Yes’ To

5. Quantitatively Proving Marketing ROI 

“Marketing ROI and prioritization of marketing spend against business metrics and goals has to be a top priority.” The sentiments of the CMOs I spoke with were clear: ROI is a must. Yet, many of them are at a loss as to where to begin and how to get trusted data. 

CMOs must find the through-line from their teams’ strategic efforts to conclusive revenue results. Every dollar spent needs to directly relate to quantifiable results. As marketing leaders assume stronger leadership roles and greater responsibility for generating revenue, this will become the top-most priority.

Understanding these challenges and how they impact your marketing and the business is the first step. Think about what it would take to turn the dial, and consider the opportunity cost of no action. In my next article, we’ll dive into solutions for coming out on top (and getting a good night’s sleep).  

Rhoan is the co-founder and CEO of DemandLab, an agency she launched in 2009 in response to the disruptive impact of technology in marketing. She is a leading authority on marketing-led customer experience and continues to explore next-generation technologies and analytics that accelerate revenue, prove marketing’s impact, support engaging customer journeys, and deliver valuable customer insights.

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