B2B Marketers See the Importance of Deepening Customer Relationships

Marketing’s priorities are more balanced across the three Rs now, with customer relationships coming in second and building brand, third.

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by Momentum ITSMA Staff

April 20, 2022


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At our 2021 Marketing Vision Conference, Ann Boza Lobo, Vice President of Demand Generation and Growth Marketing at Kyndryl, explained what it took to launch a new brand for Kyndryl, a spin-off of IBM.

A moment that has stuck with me is when Ann described her area of demand generation and growth, and why they are doing things differently:

“This is performance marketing where we want to surround our customer, but it is not a volume business. The goal for us is to foster strong relationships, build trust and confidence, and show up in places where our customers are. A campaign strategy team within my team builds an automated customer journey, but we want the customer experience to be a people-based experience wherever possible. There is a clear understanding that we value the quality of the experience over the quantity of leads generated.”

Ann put into words what we’ve been preaching for years: measuring B2B solutions marketing programs across three priorities that matter most to business: Revenue, Reputation, and Relationships.

When selling complex, high-consideration solutions, all three areas are critical to driving sustained, strategic growth.

Fortunately, B2B marketers appear to be getting the message. ITSMA’s 2022 B2B Marketing Trends Survey shows a much stronger balance among the three Rs, which points to mature marketing organizations that are driving strategic growth.

In 2022, marketing’s top business objective is growing pipeline and revenue, which is no surprise; companies are in business to make money. However, the data also showed that marketing’s priorities are far more balanced across the three Rs than they have been historically, with relationship marketing coming in second and building brand, a very close third. This represents a shift from short-term, tactical marketing activities to longer-term, strategic programs.

The actual priorities are:

  • Growing pipeline and revenue – 67%
  • Broadening and deepening customer relationships and advocacy (customer/retention marketing) – 52%
  • Building the brand – 50%

The next closest response was “differentiating the company and/or offerings” with 35% of respondents indicating this is a top priority; however, this response reinforces the emphasis on brand/reputation.

A recently published ITSMA Update, Beyond Revenue: Marketing Metrics that Matter Most, gives the details behind marketing’s increased focus on relationship metrics. If we employ the advice of “follow the money” to determine what’s important to marketers, it’s clear that they want to strengthen relationships. The fastest growing budget category for 2022 is “Engagement & Advocacy,” an area where 63% of respondents are increasing spend.

But what constitutes engagement and advocacy? How does it impact a customer relationship? Respondents indicated that budgets will increase in all five of these relationship-focused areas in 2022:

  • Customer experience management
  • Customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Customer success
  • Executive programs
  • Reference development management

While marketing programs have historically focused heavily on top of the funnel activities such as brand awareness and lead generation; today, marketers are spending time and resources in a more balanced way to deepen relationships and achieve consistent and enduring growth with existing customers. We applaud the effort.

To see the other ways marketers are taking a more balanced approach to measuring their effectiveness, download the ITSMA Update: Beyond Revenue: Marketing Metrics that Matter Most.

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