In the infinite digital cosmos, there exists a darkness where messages go to be lost forever.
The B2B Black Hole.
Like the very vacuum of space itself, this phenomenon absorbs every misplaced campaign, every forgotten ad, and every jettisoned content piece—threatening to push even the best marketing programs into the engagement-less void.
What is the B2B Black Hole?
In the B2B universe, the Black Hole is characterized by two things:
A lack of insight and a lack of action.
Lack of Insight
- Like a spaceship without its navigational computer, B2B marketers like to operate on gut feel rather than tangible buyer behaviors and measurable, first-party engagement data. Because of this, they’re flying blind, left to flail around in the dark hoping to luck into success.
Lack of Action
- Similar to Apollo 13 losing its thrusters, marketers operating without insight find themselves in liminal space without any ability to propel themselves forward, lacking the insights to truly understand what’s working, what’s not, and how to drive greater results. Therefore, even when they’re doing “stuff”, they’re not actually doing anything
Why Do Marketers End Up in the B2B Black Hole?
Fear makes us do a lot of things that are contrary to character.
The actions of B2B professionals across the universe, misguided by fragmented visions, half-truths, and fear, have led them straight into the Black Hole…
But without understanding why you’ve not been heard, marketers remain adrift, trapped in the Black Hole’s gravitational pull.
Like astronauts untethered from their spacecraft, they float, directionless.
In the B2B space, once you’re in the Black Hole, the silence is deafening.
Your calls, clicks, and campaigns—they all fade into oblivion.
The Black Hole is one of the most frightening places that each of us has ever encountered.
With the specter of Halloween upon us, we wanted to explore some of marketing’s darkest fears.
But be warned…they’re quite scary.
5 of Marketing’s Greatest Fears
Inside the Black Hole, no one can hear you.
That’s a fear in and of itself.
NetLine’s own research has found that B2B organizations only have transparency into 2% of their buyer’s journey.
This means that 98% of those prospects who would be interested have not seen your content.
You don’t know who these people are. And they most certainly don’t know you.
How can you expect to engage your buyers when you don’t even know who your buyers are?
Let’s further explore this fear and four others.
Fear #1: I Can’t Engage My Buyers!
Your buyers are out there…but you can’t see or reach all of them.
As we shared earlier, 98% of the buyer’s journey happens beyond your own content. This isn’t something you can control, but it certainly is something you can (and should) embrace.
First-party data is the core of what we use to understand buyer engagements.
But beyond leveraging first-party data from a platform like NetLine, how can sales and marketing teams action engagement data to create meaningful, personalized experiences for their buyers?
How to Escape
Actions speak louder than ICPs. And while you may have a profile of who your buyers are, being able to engage them is another challenge entirely.
While account-level insights can provide some guidance to help your teams build lists and develop campaigns, they fail to get to the heart of what individual buyers within those accounts actually care about.
Someone from marketing has different priorities than someone from sales, who has different priorities than someone from finance, operations, and so on.
And so, to truly engage your buyers and make meaningful progress within an account, you also need to have the first-party buyer-level insights to deliver the right content, with the right message, at the right time.
Fear #2: I Can’t Figure Out the Buyer’s Journey!
The buyer’s journey has become more fragmented and more complex than ever before.
Before we even get to that point, though, it’s taking between 25-27 touches per contact within an account just to book a meeting.
It can certainly get to be quite tricky navigating such a complex buying journey, especially when each is unique and requires specific answers to one-of-a-kind questions.
How to Escape
While there’s no silver bullet to “solve” the buyer’s journey, just like Shaggy and the gang, good things happen when we work together.
We’re not always going to have the perfect answer, but by aligning sales and marketing through data to select, prioritize, and action, your organization will have a much greater picture of how to navigate the evolving needs of the buyer
Take it from Calen Holbrooks, VP Integrated Marketing, ZoomInfo; she knows a thing or two about getting collaboration across departments.
“The ghost in your revenue machine? Misalignment between sales and marketing. Siloed teams face multiple problems, like inaccurate lead scoring and missed opportunities on target accounts. Strong intent signals that identify quality targets and generative AI that personalizes outreach will change the way you reach and convert customers.” –Calen Holbrooks
Fear #3: I’m Afraid I Won’t Be There When My Buyers Are Ready!
When your buyers are ready, it’s essential that your organization is there to answer the call.
Research from McKinsey reveals that the best omnichannel experiences are yielding annual returns of at least 10% annually
Add in the fact that 70% of the buying process is done before your buyer ever engages with sales, you better be darn sure you’re ready whenever your buyers are.
How to Escape
While you may not be able to truly be “Everything, Everywhere, All At Once,” embracing an omnichannel approach can at least get you close.
For starters, diversifying your marketing mix to incorporate owned, earned, and paid channels can help ensure you have the right coverage for your marketing efforts. And pairing that with a well-coordinated sales enablement plan can ensure your sales teams are continuing the buyer’s journey vs. forcing your buyers start from level zero each and every time they raise their hand.
Lastly, an account-based approach can help ensure that you’re making the most of your time in front of your buyers. Here’s what Jill Brock, Sr. Director, Revenue Marketing, RollWorks has to say about that
“Marketing and sales alignment is a core tenant of any ABM strategy and is crucial for targeting high-value accounts effectively, maximizing revenue opportunities. Streamlined operations lead to shorter sales cycles, improved lead quality, and better adaptation to changing trends, all contributing to measurable ROI and business scalability.’ – Jill Brock
Fear #4: We Don’t Know How to Action a Personalized Approach!
We don’t have the tools/data to know or action a personalized approach.
Personalization always feels tricky (and icky if it feels creepy).
While we as consumers crave and covet privacy, 71% of buyers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions.
To make it even more interesting, the same study found that 76% of buyers get frustrated when this doesn’t happen.
So… what do users want: Privacy or personalization
The answer is both, of course.
How to Escape
To create personalized experiences, you must lean on first-party intent and engagement data to truly understand your current customers’ needs. This should also allow you to better anticipate what your buyers are looking for too, giving you the insights to craft more meaningful engagement strategies, compose stronger messaging, and create more relevant content and experiences.
But while buyer-level intent and engagement data gives teams a valuable glimpse into a buyer’s journey, how you action that data is arguably even more important. Our friend Tessa Barron, ON24’s VP Marketing agrees.
“The key to actually using engagement data is to have a plan for sales and marketing action and a workflow in place to operationalize that follow-up well before it’s even collected.
For example, if you set a standard attendee survey question across experiences, for any prospect or customer that answers, it can trigger a sales alert, provide a templatized email to further personalize, and add that contact to a pre-defined marketing nurture segment.
Essentially, the key to personalizing experiences is to know which actions you want to happen after and work back from there. “- Tessa Barron
Fear #5: My Buyers Are Hungry, and I Can’t Keep Up!
Your buyers are hungrier than ever for quality content.
In fact, they’re insatiable.
As we highlighted in our 2023 Consumption Report, buyer demand for quality B2B content has increased 18.8% in 2022 and 55% since 2019.
By the end of 2023, we expect total demand to have risen by an additional 14%.
How to Escape
Content consumption is up, and we expect it to continue to rise in perpetuity. To keep up, your content cannot rely on “Us! Us! Us!”
Instead, it must add value, offering insights, best practices, and tips to solve the specific challenges of your buyers.
To do this, it’s essential that you leverage first-party engagement and intent data to truly get to the heart of what your buyers are researching and consuming. This will enable you to better understand the needs of your audiences while also allowing you to scale the impact of your content and your overall marketing effectiveness.
Escape the Marketing Black Hole
Just as every space odyssey has its heroes and every cosmic peril its escape routes, our horror tale of the B2B Black Hole is no different.
In the cinematic drama of marketing, even when ensnared by the Black Hole’s relentless gravity, there’s always a flicker of hope—a wormhole leading out.
Your voyage through the vast expanse of B2B marketing need not end in darkness.
With a purposeful plan for collecting, analyzing, actioning, and cycling through your data, you can break free from the gravitational pull of common fears and forge a path lit by stars.