It’s safe to say that the past eighteen months have forced many companies to take a hard look at the way they do business. And while no area of the business has been immune to the changes the pandemic has accelerated, marketing has had a particularly difficult time.
A new study by Integrate and Heinz Marketing – The State of Marketing Maturity: The Future of Marketing – shines a light on the struggles of marketing managers and what they need to do to be successful in a buyer-driven world.
Very few have reached full marketing maturity
Marketers are feeling the challenges of working with increasingly digitally savvy consumers and trying to create a marketing operation that creates better customer experiences through collaboration and communication within the organization.
The Integrate report identifies three key pillars of marketing maturity:
- Organizational structure – the structure of marketing teams, roles and responsibilities, goals, communications and alignment.
- Martech – what technology is used, how the battery is integrated, how efficient it is and the impact of technological functions.
- Strategy – what kind of strategy is deployed (marketing driven, sales driven, buyer driven), how effective are these strategies.
Together, these three pillars help you map the level of marketing maturity:
- Ad hoc – siled teams, little or no technology and a responsive strategy.
- Defined and Coordinated – Defined teams with transparent goals across functions, standard martech with manual integration and defined strategy with some coordinated and sales driven programs.
- Managed and Intentional – cross-functionally synchronized with company-aligned goals, managed technology that supports reporting and ROI attribution, and a multi-channel strategy that includes a combination of direct and indirect channels.
- Buyer-Centric and Omnichannel – Optimized teams with other functions, aligned around the buyer, a fully integrated MarTech stack to support an omnichannel strategy and an optimized omnichannel approach.
The study asked respondents a series of questions about the three pillars that mapped their stage of maturity. Some marketers may watch the results and breathe a little sigh of relief, but not everyone gets it. In fact, of the 223 senior marketers who responded to the survey, only 23% reached the highest level of maturity; the rest was almost evenly distributed among the other three stages (Ad hoc – 24%, Defined and coordinated – 31%, Managed and intentional – 22%).
Deb Wolf, Integrate’s Marketing Director, shared her thoughts on some of the main findings of the study. She told me that she was excited to do this research because she wanted to understand where the marketing teams were in their ability to support changing buyer demands. Knowing the landscape today, Wolf was surprised that the maturity levels were so evenly distributed across the four stages.
She said that even some of Integrate’s clients whom they would consider to be at the higher end of marketing maturity had behavior that seemed more ad hoc, especially as in-person events were gone and teams were starting to fall apart. wondering where they would get leads to give to sales.
I think there is this recognition that the world has changed, but there is not necessarily behavior associated with it.
Account Based Marketing and Revenue Marketing Needs Work
The other thing we both agreed was interesting is that both account-based marketing (ABM) and revenue marketing indicated low confidence in achieving their goals.
In the study, 56% of those surveyed were not convinced that their strategy, technology, and organizational structure could effectively support their goals. This figure is even worse for ABM and revenue marketing teams: 87% of ABM teams and 73% of revenue marketing teams said their current strategy was not meeting their goals.
With all the hype around ABM (and now account-based experiences – ABX) over the past couple of years, you’d expect these teams to do well. However, the truth is that many still struggle to activate programs to reach buying groups, Wolf said.
One of the problems may be that the account lists are coming from sales and marketing is not sure if they are the right accounts. Another challenge is that many ABM teams use cold emails to raise awareness, and it just doesn’t work. Wolf said marketing needs to think beyond a single channel and instead think of the whole omnichannel journey.
There is another consideration here. B2B purchases are made by group decision. ABM strategies do not always take all of the target account’s contacts into their programs, but instead focus on key decision makers. It’s not that they can’t create programs to support the whole buying team, but it’s a lot of work to define all the characters, what the buying journey looks like for each one. , create content and programs, and deliver to each successfully. Wolf suggested:
That’s why, when we talk about precision demand, we like to talk about all channels. How are you going to use all your channels, activate all the potential buyers within this decision-making unit? I don’t know yet if people really think of it that way.
Silos are a constant problem
We like to talk about bridging silos across the organization – sales, marketing, operations, customer service and support – but we forget that there is always the challenge of silos within the marketing team itself, said Wolf:
To achieve that highest buyer-driven omnichannel level of precision for a CMO, it’s a change of mind for their marketing team. Some consulting firms, like Deloitte or someone else, should grab that and think about how they can really get involved and reorganize and strategically restructure these marketing teams so that the social person, the event person and the requesting person are seated. one piece together, with the buyer in mind, not just their individual silo challenge.
There is still a lot of work to be done for a marketing team to move from a silo-riddled ad hoc maturity stage to a buyer-driven, omnichannel stage. Even teams between this spectrum will have their work cut out for them. So I asked Wolf where would she start? Many would say to start with the strategy, but she had a different idea.
As a Marketing Director, Wolf thinks about change first from the perspective of people and roles. She said you have to break these silos, or your technology and strategy will be siled as well. This means that you have to think about the structure first, define your strategy, and then apply the technology to that strategy.
According to the study, this makes sense. The first two stages of maturity focus on effective communications throughout the organization, ensuring that goals are aligned, that there is synergy, and better data quality and management.
The report offers some guidelines for improving marketing maturity, including:
- Eliminate silos within marketing and across the organization, providing more transparency and collaboration. Connect your customer channels one by one and link marketing goals to business goals.
- Put the buyer at the center of your strategy. Connecting with shoppers at relevant points is essential, delivering personalized and targeted experiences where you can (and it makes sense). This includes all buyers of the purchasing unit.
I found the results of this study refreshing in some ways. Many businesses are struggling to adjust to this new world where B2B buyers aren’t attending conferences, doing even more online research, ignoring emails and content that doesn’t match their current needs. and try to do more with less.
A change must occur in all three pillars to reach this optimal stage where everything is buyer-centric. But I also think that one can reach maturity in one pillar before reaching it in others. So, for example, you can set up your organization and then work on your strategy. You can even start and properly integrate your MarTech stack before your team is ready to work cross-functionally.