B2B Marketing Should Focus on Revenue Life Cycles

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Seismic shifts in buying group behavior and business dynamics are causing havoc for frontline B2B marketing teams, which would now benefit greatly from a new strategy called revenue life cycle marketing, according to a report from Forrester Research.

These buying habit shifts took hold during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic but have persisted even as businesses have reopened and trade shows and in-person meetings have resumed. That is something that John Arnold, Forrester principal analysts and lead author of the report, says was a little surprising.

In light of these shifts, revenue life cycle marketing becomes all that much more essential for B2B professionals today, according to Arnold. “The fact that buyers are changing their behavior is really causing marketers to rethink the way that they’re engaging buyers in B2B.”

This type of marketing addresses the entire revenue life cycle, or the series of activities customers go through from the first engagement to the final purchase and beyond.

Improvements in technology, data, and advertising solutions are enabling better transactional processes, Arnold adds. He further notes that content monitoring, conversation automation, and digital audience management also continue to evolve, but none of these are solving the difficulties businesses face in dealing with the changes in buyer habits.

“Marketers don’t have a strategy that’s allowing them to reach those buyers and meet them where they are,” Arnold says.

The first step to address this should be a strategy change toward customer obsession.

“You need to put the customer in the center of the whole thing,” Arnold says. “When you do that, you’re really talking about the entire life cycle. It’s not just about acquisition. It’s not just about buyers, recognizing active demand and capturing it. It’s really thinking about the entire journey, from the early stage all the way through acquisition, to upsell, cross-sell, and retention. That entire customer journey needs to be more seamless.”

Silos and coordinating efforts among several different marketing service providers are also challenging marketers and their campaigns, Arnold says.

“These silos are ruining marketing’s ability to implement marketing programs that stitch together the buyer experience, all the way through the customer life cycle,” he states.

The ability to create a single view of the customer is another challenge, one that has increased in the past year, according to Arnold. “Marketers are struggling with anonymous audiences, pseudo-anonymous audiences, and known audiences. In traditional B2B marketing, you have contacts in your database, you email them, you capture them through form fills, and everything is in the known world. Buyers are much more elusive now. They’re more independent; they care more about their privacy; they’re not as willing to talk to sales early in the process.”

Additionally, B2B customers have largely moved to self-service, with 51 percent of interactions now self-guided, according to Arnold.

“Getting that single view of the customer with all of those touchpoints is a challenge,” Arnold says.

Life cycle revenue marketing is an embryonic concept, according to Arnold, who says that it is only “happening in pockets” with “more progressive” B2B companies practicing it on some level.

Arnold recommends the following strategies for B2B companies starting to use life cycle revenue marketing:

  • Frontline marketers stuck with a sales pipeline culture should start a working group or cross-functional roundtable to discuss the impact that changing buyer behaviors are having on the organization and to start brainstorming a vision for the future.
  • B2B organizations that are already forming an outside-in vision and strategy should put together a charter and start working on a road map to change the vision, the focus, the work, and ultimately the culture.
  • B2B organizations that are ready to solidify or advance existing life cycle revenue marketing cultures should assess their maturity to start working on the most impactful areas, then reassess their success or lack thereof in a year.

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