B2B Marketing teams will be tasked with creating in-market opportunities that result in booked revenue and a significant return on investment (ROI) for their 2024 marketing demand generation budgets.
It begins with smart demand generation strategies that embrace market trends for the coming year, when slow economic growth and extended purchase decision cycles will make driving engagement with active buyers more competitive. But even with the best strategies in place, successful campaigns will come down to execution. It always does.
And that means establishing, refining and following best practices at every key step in the coming year.
How to Optimize B2B Marketing with Six Smart Practices
So, what demand generation best practices should your team adopt in 2024? Nothing on our list will strike you as revolutionary – marketing teams have been tackling the demand gen equation for decades now, and we have a pretty good idea of what works.
For the next 12 months, you’ll should build on these tried-and-true approaches for:
- Identifying opportunities that will end in a closed won deal
- Driving engagement with the right message for their purchase journey stage
- Ensuring full buy-in from Sales
This will require research, updating a few models, monitoring your progress, and honing your demand generation strategies with what you’ve learned.
So, here’s our list of six best practices that will help your marketing team succeed in 2024.
1: Update Your Purchase Journey Models
In times of economic uncertainty, buyers take longer to make decisions, and often expand the buying group to include additional subject matter experts. Review your Marketing Length and Close Rate per Channel KPIs (if you aren’t tracking these, see Best Practice 3) to verify that your typical customer is, in fact, taking longer to buy.
If possible, ask for some face time with your best customers to learn more about how their purchase decision process is changing. What new job roles are involved? How are they weighing risk/reward for the next 12 months? What kinds of content are driving engagement at key inflection points? And what new challenges do stakeholders face in making the final purchase decision?
Based on what you learn, update your purchase journey models and focus your efforts on touchpoints that are most likely to lead to revenue in the next 3-6 months.
2: Refine Your Ideal Customer Profiles Based on Behavior
As with your purchase journey models, the profiles of your best customers are also always changing. In 2024, you may need to add a few job titles to the mix, or look to new, untapped verticals if the competition in your core market is intense.
Most importantly, lean heavily on intent data to discover prospects who are ready to buy, regardless of their job title. You’ll find real advantages here working with a marketing demand generation partner that owns their own behavioral data, and can act on key signals in near real-time – not weeks after the prospect has asked a pivotal question. A partner’s first-person intent data is also essential for finding opportunities in adjacent markets that your own team doesn’t talk to regularly.
Remember, the best opportunities don’t look like your customers – they act like your customers.
3: Set and Monitor Meaningful KPIs
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are essential for evaluating the ultimate success of your demand gen campaigns within your overall revenue operation. B2B marketing teams often fall into the trap of simply reviewing raw click or conversion rates – these stats are important, of course, but they don’t give you deeper insight into which campaigns are actually leading to revenue, either near- or short-term.
Here are a few KPIs that you should track to evaluate the impact of demand gen efforts across your entire revenue funnel:
- Close rate per channels: This is essential for managing your budget to “do more with less” while also providing coverage in your multi- and omni-channel programs.
- Marketing Cycle Length: The essential companion to Close Rates per Channel, to prioritize your campaigns for the most immediate revenue impact.
- Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): This is simply the marketing costs divided by the number of new customers they create. This metric provides a nice balance to simple ROI, since new customers can be expected to generate revenue beyond their initial conversion.
- LTV-to-CAC Ratio: Customer lifetime gross profit divided by CAC. Again, this is a long-range KPI, but you can never lose sight of the bigger picture, even when you are focused on the next two to three quarters.
- Annual Churn: This is the counterpart to LTV-to-CAC Ratio. Even if you are onboarding customers at a cost-effective rate, a high churn may indicate that you are sacrificing long-term growth for near-term revenue. In 2024, that may be the call your business needs to make, but the decision needs to be based on an informed 360° view of your revenue ops.
- Contribution to Total Revenue: A niche campaign may have incredible response rates and campaign-level ROI, but it may not scale past its highly targeted audience. If a strategy is a little less effective by simple ROI calculations, but can predictably scale out to grow the company’s overall revenue, that may be your best bet for 2024.
As you already know, these KPIs are not entirely within the control of Marketing – Sales has to pick up the ball and run with it. But that’s the reality. Marketing teams must work with Sales to ensure they are on the same page and are investing resources to drive these KPIs. (See Best Practice 6 for a little more insight.)
4. Document Your Goals and Marketing Demand Strategies for the Year
This seems like an odd best practice to spell out, but many B2B marketing teams don’t formalize their plans for the year, or do so only in terms of budget and conversion goals. The pressure for demand generation programs to adapt in “real-time” causes marketers to question why they should plan ahead when they will have to change the plan anyway?
Answer: Setting baseline goals will help you react smartly, while maintaining a clear view of the big picture. You want to adapt your strategies, not derail them.
Create a simple but clear document that outlines your:
- Market research and position
- Ideal customer profiles
- Key KPI benchmarks
- Audience and channel goals per quarter
If you need to make a change in Q2, revise this overall plan. This exercise will make you consider the long-term impacts of short-term course corrections. You may well still make the call to shift resources and priorities, but you’ll be doing so in a strategic context.
Keeping your eye on the long game is essential in a year when the premium will be on the near-term revenue.
5. Do a 360-degree Review after Each Campaign
Take a deep-dive after your campaign wraps up to determine what tactics worked and which ones need to be adjusted.
A collaborative relationship with a trusted marketing demand generation partner can be invaluable here. Several analysts, including Forrester, suggest that 2024 will be a year for developing external “centers of excellence” around key B2B marketing functions, and demand gen is a prime candidate.
You’ll be getting feedback from experienced professionals who have a broad universe of data and tactics to draw on and see what ‘s really driving engagement with your best customers. And when near-term revenue is at a premium, it’s always a good idea to have a variable resource you can scale up or down to meet the next quarter’s demands.
6. Be Sure to Get TOTAL Buy-in from Sales
Everybody knows it: Misalignment is the bane of B2B sales and marketing. Survey after survey shows that it’s the primary culprit for failed revenue ops, with a recent LinkedIn whitepaper saying 90 percent of sales and marketing teams are not on the same page when it comes to strategy or execution. It doesn’t matter how many KPIs you agree to – if Sales doesn’t sell, you don’t book revenue.
In addition to running through the hard numbers, be sure to gauge how Sales feels about the opportunities your team is delivering. Think of it as low-fi sentiment analysis. Even if they don’t have a quantifiable reason, if Sales just doesn’t like the opportunities you are delivering, revenue (and your marketing ROI) will suffer.
You can gather sentiment through simple surveys or through informal focus groups with Sales team members at your quarterly meetings. (And you should definitely be having quarterly meetings. This post at LinkedIn offers some good advice about how to herd cats and get the most out of that facetime.)
2024: A Year for Data-Driven B2B Marketing Best Practices
When the pressure is on to book revenue for next quarter, having a strong foundation of best practices that guide and support your decisions is invaluable. In 2024, measure your success, find the tactics that are delivering results, and prioritize your demand generation strategies based on the practices you already have in place.