B2B marketing has undergone a transformative shift. Gone are the days when sales teams would solely rely on face-to-face meetings and printed brochures to make a pitch. Those methods still have their place, but the current paradigm is now heavily influenced by digital touchpoints. The role of marketing technology, commonly referred to as martech, has grown rapidly as a result.
Martech enables marketers to plan, execute, and measure their campaigns more efficiently. That’s why MarketsandMarkets estimates that over the next nine years, the global marketing automation market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of over 12%.
As such, a comprehensive martech stack — the collection of tools and platforms used for these tasks — is a critical asset for any B2B company aiming for success in the digital age.
Why is Martech So Important for B2B Marketing?
Martech amplifies B2B marketing efforts by enhancing targeting precision, crucial for focusing on specific decision-makers rather than a broad audience. It also enables segmentation and lead prioritization via advanced CRM platforms, minimizing resources expended on less promising prospects.
Additionally, martech bridges sales and marketing efforts, offering tools that ensure aligned objectives through real-time insights into lead quality and campaign effectiveness, thereby elevating conversion rates. And it bolsters customer experience optimization for relationship and trust-building in B2B interactions.
Given the clear value of building out a B2B-focused martech stack, the next question is what are the right components to choose? In short, B2B brands need technologies that intelligently manage content streams, customer relationships, marketing automaton, social media interactions, analytics, email marketing, campaign administration, and SEO.
Content Management Systems (CMS)
Across industries, content is a powerful marketing tool. The Content Marketing Institute’s 2023 B2B Content report found that 71% of B2B content marketers said content marketing was more important this year than last.
Managing content is streamlined with a CMS, which simplifies the creation, organization, and publication of varied content types like blogs and white papers through features like templates and drag-and-drop interfaces, without necessitating extensive coding skills. The top CMS offerings include WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, and Drupal, with WordPress being the most popular by a large margin thanks to its huge library of available plugins and endless customizability. For B2B marketers, a CMS enables consistent publication of high-quality, data-driven content, positioning a company as an industry authority, which is key for attracting partnerships.
A CMS can also assist in sales enablement by providing an easily accessible and updatable repository of resources like case studies, and it supports multi-channel publishing, ensuring consistent messaging and branding across platforms. For B2B companies in regulated industries, many CMS platforms offer features like versioning and audit trails, which make it simpler to track changes, maintain a history of content modifications, and meet their compliance obligations.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
CRM systems serve as centralized databases that consolidate customer information, sales data, and interaction history. They support various functionalities including lead tracking, customer segmentation, and sales forecasting. An optimized and integrated CRM system allows B2B operations to manage interactions with current and potential clients more efficiently. That accelerates a normally slow sales cycle and improves customer relations.
Salesmate reported that 73% of B2B leads are not ready to make a purchase the first time they interact with a brand. It takes proper lead nurturing to move them down a conversion funnel, which a CRM can aid significantly in. The most popular platforms for CRM today include the market leader Salesforce, as well as HubSpot CRM, Pipedrive, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
These platforms also tie directly into B2B retention strategies. Maintaining existing relationships is always more cost-effective than acquiring new clients. CRM systems help in identifying at-risk accounts and opportunities for upselling or cross-selling, aiding in customer retention efforts.
73% of B2B leads are not ready to make a purchase the first time they interact with a brand.
Marketing automation simplifies repetitive tasks like regular email blasts and social media postings, integrating with various data sources to offer a comprehensive customer view. It saves time and reduces costs, allowing marketing teams to concentrate on strategic, creative work.
The leading options include ActiveCampaign, SharpSpring (part of Constant Contact), and Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud Account Engagement (formerly called Pardot). These platforms usually feature lead scoring and automated drip campaigns, nurturing leads efficiently through the sales funnel. Integrations with CRM systems ensure a unified customer journey and consistent brand message across touchpoints, enhancing customer experience and brand perception.
It’s a part of the B2B martech stack that is powered by and growing in lockstep with recent advancements in machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). Gartner predicts that 75% of B2B sales organizations will use AI-enhanced sales and marketing tools by 2025. Just a few years back, that figure was estimated at only 30%, showing the rapid rise in adoption.
Consumer-facing brands may have been the first to embrace social media as a key venue for brand outreach, but B2B organizations are now also meaningfully investing in a diverse array of social channels like LinkedIn, X (formerly Twitter), and Facebook. In fact, the Content Marketing Institute was reporting as early as 2017 that 83% of B2B content marketers use B2B social media ads and promoted posts.
Social media management tools facilitate tasks like content scheduling, audience targeting, and performance analytics. Common features include competitive analysis, sentiment tracking, and influencer identification. More advanced targeting features enable businesses to reach their ideal audience. LinkedIn, for example, allows hyper-specific targeting based on industry, job function, and company size, making it an effective platform for B2B lead generation. Leading tools include Meta Business Suite, Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and Buffer.
Gartner predicts that 75% of B2B sales organizations will use AI-enhanced sales and marketing tools by 2025.
While creativity and innovation in marketing are important, data-driven decision-making often sets the stage for long-term success. Comprehensive analytics platforms like Microsoft Power BI help firms pull meaningful insights from their data to transform sales and marketing efforts.
By tailoring dashboards, organizations can focus on KPIs relevant to their operations, making data more accessible and understandable for decision-makers. For example, Power BI’s customizations allow for a visually engaging presentation of data, enhancing the interpretability and ease of analysis, and a well-structured dashboard enables real-time monitoring of business performance, aiding in proactive decision-making.
Web analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, measure, collect, and report data on web traffic and user behavior. They help marketers understand how visitors engage with a website, from which sources they arrive, and how effectively the site converts these visitors into leads or customers. Customer analytics tools like Mixpanel and Amplitude consolidate customer interactions across various touchpoints to identify customer segments, predict customer churn, and aid in customer lifetime value calculations.
Platforms like Hootsuite and Sprout Social offer social media analytics features that track engagement, reach, and the effectiveness of social media campaigns. SEO analytics tools like Moz and SEMrush help businesses understand how they are performing in search engine rankings, and provide insights into organic traffic and keyword performance.
When it comes to return on marketing investment, email is the once and future king. It provides a direct line of communication with prospects and clients at among the lowest costs of any marketing channel. Given the ubiquity of email, it is hardly surprising that a multitude of tools have emerged to facilitate better email marketing campaigns.
Platforms like Mailchimp and HubSpot offer comprehensive campaign management features, including list segmentation, A/B testing, and analytics. Email automation tools like Drip and ActiveCampaign help marketers send time or action triggered emails. SendGrid and Mailgun specialize in transactional emails (the notifications, confirmations, and other function-based messages that businesses send to users).
Most email marketing tools come with analytics to measure open rates, click-through rates, and conversion metrics. Some also offer more advanced features to promote good list hygiene by pruning inactive or unresponsive addresses.
By 2017, 83% of B2B marketers were using social media ads and promoted posts.
Managing marketing campaigns involves a host of interconnected activities, from content creation and distribution to tracking performance metrics. Campaign management tools can simplify these complex workflows, especially in the B2B sphere where the sales cycle is longer and customer relationships more intricate.
All-in-one platforms like the Salesforce Marketing Cloud offer a suite of functionalities — including email marketing, social media management, and analytics — integrated into a single dashboard. Open-source platforms like Mautic allow businesses to customize the platform according to their unique needs, although this often requires substantial in-house technical expertise.
Though its dominance has been challenged in recent years by new AI tools like ChatGPT, Google’s search engine is still the primary way businesses get found by customers and partners. For B2B companies, where the customer journey is more complex than in B2C markets, ranking highly in search results becomes especially relevant.
There are a variety of SEO applications that a B2B martech stack can benefit from. For example, keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner and Ahrefs assist in identifying the right keywords to target. They offer insights into search volume and competition. On-page SEO tools like Screaming Frog help in optimizing individual web pages for search engines by analyzing meta descriptions, headings, and keyword density.
Backlink analyzers like Majestic provide detailed insights into a website’s backlink profile, a critical factor for domain authority and search ranking. Lumar and Sitebulb specialize in crawling commercial websites to identify technical issues that might be affecting SEO performance.
Finding the Right Tech Stack for Your Brand
A brand’s tech stack provides the architecture that allows marketing teams to operate with greater efficiency, higher levels of data-driven decision-making, and an enhanced customer focus.
But, it’s not just about the tools themselves but how they fit into an overarching business strategy. A disjointed or poorly implemented stack can drain resources and impede performance. Conversely, a well-chosen and seamlessly integrated array of tools can empower a company to not only meet but exceed its marketing objectives.
Integration can be a challenging ongoing endeavor, but the potential benefits outweigh the initial costs and complexities, particularly when considering long-term gains like improved lead quality, customer engagement, and overall operational efficiency.
Hanlon works at the cutting edge of design, technology, and modern marketing. Connect with us to learn more about how we can help your B2B brand efficiently leverage today’s most powerful marketing tools.