By Eboni Ryan, Global Head of Marketing at Digitalzone

The B2B market has evolved over the past few years. As marketers, we’re expected to make every dollar work harder and provide reporting that proves the impact of every decision. Data privacy regulations are making it tougher to ensure regulatory compliance as you collect and activate data.

Meanwhile, the B2B buyer has changed significantly. Today, 64% of B2B buyers are millennials or younger, leading to a fundamental shift. A Gartner study revealed that sales reps only account for 17% of the B2B purchase journey, and 44% of millennial buyers prefer to avoid them altogether.

Furthermore, an Edelman-LinkedIn report reveals 64% of C-suite executives face a tougher procurement process, while 44% of decision-makers expect reduced receptivity to sales and marketing during economic downturns. Breaking through and winning business is increasingly difficult.

At the same time, digital experiences are expected to be flawless and personalized. With larger and more diverse buying committees, it’s important to focus on creating amazing brand experiences that meet the new B2B buyer across every digital touch point.

As such, we’ve identified at Digitalzone four areas to evolve demand generation through a shift in perspective that we’ll highlight here:

  • Connected storytelling
  • Data forward
  • Advanced nurture
  • Strategic intent

Connected Storytelling

Silos within organizations, including in marketing departments, have a significant negative impact on performance. In fact, 83% of companies report silos. To overcome these challenges, collaboration is crucial, particularly in demand generation. By fostering collaboration across brand, product/content and demand gen teams, organizations can implement connected storytelling — a cohesive and data-driven content strategy developed through a collaborative process.

Separately, these teams tackle huge parts of the marketing plan:

  • Brand team: Articulates audience drivers, identifies and prioritizes buyer personas, and aligns the organizational value proposition and narrative to address their pain points.
  • Product/content team: Serves as the link between subject matter experts and the target audience, creating engaging content that brings products to life or showcases industry expertise.
  • Demand gen team: Activates content in market, targeting the right people at the right time, assessing lead quality and determining next steps before engagement with sales.

When these teams collaborate seamlessly, they create connected content for exceptional demand generation campaigns. Start collaboration early, and place the ideal customer profile (ICP) at the center of campaigns. By leading with inspiring storytelling content, brands can create memorable brand experiences that resonate with their buyers beyond utility alone.

Data Forward

Data remains the reigning force in digital marketing, and demand generation serves to collect valuable data. However, privacy regulations demand that marketers extract the utmost value from each data point to optimize their investment. With B2B data spending projected to reach $3.91 billion by 2024, it’s crucial to make the most of this investment.

Reject Data Discrimination

In traditional lead gen campaigns, the focus is often on individuals who engage or provide the correct responses. It’s equally important to recognize those who didn’t engage, answered incorrectly or dropped off. Such data holds significant value and should be acted upon.

Every Data Point Counts

Similarly, a lack of interaction or qualification doesn’t necessarily mean a lead isn’t qualified. It could suggest a need for different nurturing or signal that the content didn’t align with their preferences. Considering various touch points is essential. For example:

  • Single-touch: Analyze non-engaged brands on your targeted account list.
  • Double-touch: Examine leads who interacted with only one piece of content.
  • HQL: Evaluate leads who engaged but didn’t meet the criteria for high-quality leads.
  • BANT: Consider leads who qualified on only a subset of the “budget, authority, need and timing” questions.

Advanced Nurture

Getting leads is only half the battle, as B2B brands consistently underperform in creating positive initial interactions. A recent survey revealed that just 36% of B2B buyers have a positive experience during the purchase journey’s initial stages with a B2B brand.

Data-Driven Email Nurturing

While most brands have a nurture program for leads, it’s essential to align it with the expectations of modern B2B buyers. Segmentation plays a vital role in developing advanced nurture programs. Consider these favorite segmentation approaches:

  • Job function/levels: Address specific concerns based on job function and level.
  • Content interactions: Continuously build on the story begun by lead generation by providing hyper-relevant information that aligns with previous content engagement.
  • Sub-industry: Segment larger B2B industries into sub-industries for targeted nurtures with content specific to each sub-industry.
  • Mindful segmentation: Prioritize the most important segments, and adjust how you highlight the value for each while using the same content.

Value Creation Over Noise

Strike a balance between guiding buyers to find what they need and manipulating funnel progression. Instead of pursuing frequent interactions, focus on delivering fewer but more meaningful engagements.

Strategic Intent

Intent data is a popular topic in the B2B industry, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. It works best for a niche group of brands with specific objectives.

Is intent targeting right for you? Yes, if your brand falls into these three categories:

  1. Long buying cycles: Your product or service has a buying cycle of six-plus months. Early intent signals allow you to capture demand within a reasonable timeframe.
  2. Brand recognition: Your brand is well-known in the industry. Thus, leveraging intent data can increase the likelihood of conversion.
  3. Expansive target account lists: You have a broader reach with extensive target account lists. However, it’s important not to overly narrow your focus with intent data, as it may limit your chances of capturing demand.

Evolve Your B2B Demand Generation

Successful B2B marketing requires a holistic approach that encompasses collaboration, data utilization, nurturing and intent targeting. Breaking down silos and fostering collaboration among teams is crucial for connected storytelling and creating meaningful brand experiences.

While data remains a powerful tool, marketers need to adapt to privacy regulations and make the most of every data point to optimize their investments. Embracing these strategies will help brands navigate the challenges of the B2B landscape and create meaningful connections with their customers.