• March 14, 2023

IDC Advances the Adaptive Customer Engagement Model

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In the modern business-to-business environment, the linear, funnel-like operating model used by marketing and sales professionals can no longer achieve the desired outcomes, says analyst firm IDC, which is touting a new model that focuses on adaptive customer engagement.

The new model comes in response to changing B2B dynamics in which the typical buyer is fully engaged across multiple digital channels and information sources with expectations of a more B2C-like experience. Meanwhile, B2B marketers face growing complexity as the number of personas they encounter grows.

“The current marketing and sales operating model fails in customer-centricity and perpetuates the challenge B2B marketing and sales leaders face in a digital-first era—to establish relevancy and nurture and build relationships among a growing number of influential individuals in a buying committee,” says Laurie Buczek, vice president of the CMO Advisory Service at IDC. “Marketers have struggled to meet the desired content and experience delivery for a better part of a decade. No longer can marketing and sales operate within a linear buyer decisioning model or continue to create disconnected acts of content and interpersonal dialogue. It is critical that marketing steps in to orchestrate and adaptively deliver the best content at the right time and right place.”

The adaptive customer engagement (ACE) model, in contrast, meets the needs of B2B buyers who are digital-first, influenced by their overall experience with a vendor, and expecting a high level of personalization, according to IDC. This model, the firm says, does not rely on procedural movement from one step to another in the buyer’s journey. Instead, the buyer—or buyers—can move in any direction, to any part of the model. Vendors must engage with customers on their terms wherever they are, and by accurately identifying buyers’ needs, vendors can position, even automate, the right digital or human resource to meet those needs, it says further.

The critical components of the ACE model are agility and adaptability, with a focus on the following four key areas of interaction:

  1. Buyer’s objectives. Buyers expect vendors to deliver contextually relevant information and experiences, when and how they need them, and want an ongoing and enriching relationship. To meet these expectations, marketers must build a practice that mentors buyers to solve business challenges, measure value, and achieve business outcomes. This requires a richer, more personalized, and orchestrated content strategy that smooths the path to purchase and, after the sale, builds loyalty to retain their business.
  2. Adaptive enablement. The key to the ACE model is highly personalized content and interactions connected across the whole journey. New technologies enable marketers to respond more precisely to ideal customer personas and buying cohorts within their life cycles. The combination of customer data, digital analytics, artificial intelligence, insights, and automation powers marketing to orchestrate the right content on the right channel at the right time.
  3. Adaptive engagement. Buyers draw information and resources from many sources at different points in time and have widely varying preferences for types of information and format. IDC research found that buyers want an always-on digital experience with a human touch appropriately weaved in throughout the entire journey. Harnessing the power of data, analytics, and automation in the adaptive enablement layer will allow marketers to truly orchestrate a personalized experience with content suited by persona and journey stage.
  4. Seller’s objectives. One of the most important shifts in the ACE model is how marketing and sales interact and operate together. Marketing teams can deploy their digital intelligence and understanding of customer behavior to signal to the sales team when buying cohort or individual activity changes, requiring interaction from a salesperson to accelerate the buying decision process.

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