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Top Insights from 10 Leading CMOs to Boost Your Marketing Strategy

We know it’s been a rough year for marketers. Acquisition costs are rising, budgets are tighter, and competitors are fighting for a shrinking market. To help with your marketing strategy for the next year, we had the privilege to speak with ten CMOs and gain their exclusive insights. This was their best advice.

Tear down the gatesIlana Shabtay, Fullpath  

In 2023, we ungated everything and the truth is, it helps with a few different things. It helps with just creating value and making sure that you’re the resource for the shopper. Because if they can get that somewhere else, they will. Also, it really helps with our SEO.

Since MQLs are commonly used as a KPI, marketers are reluctant to ungate content. How will you get leads if you don’t collect email addresses?

Fullpath is a customer data and experience platform for the automotive industry, and it stands out as a thought leader in the category, offering valuable data that can’t be found elsewhere. However, Shabtay’s team found that putting high-value content behind gates limited their audience. Many were unwilling to give their email address to download an asset and didn’t even take the time to consider its value.

The Fullpath team took the bold move to ungate everything on their website, and they are committed to keeping it that way. They’ve already begun to see amazing results: “[After we ungated everything] there was a month where everything dropped, which we were prepared for. And then we actually saw MQLs start to go up significantly, which was really exciting.” 

Ungating content is a risk initially, but it pays off in reaching a wider audience.

Focus on high-level goals – Michael Freeman, Airbase 

We don’t start with our goals in marketing. We start with the executive level, company-wide goals, and then continue to cascade down to how we can contribute to those things. And so that really helps simplify the prioritization process in the first place. Because no matter what else we do, if we don’t hit those objectives, then it’s hard to claim that we had a success.

Traditional marketing methods aren’t working like they used to, so the old targets, e.g., number of MQLs, also may not translate into revenue like they did in the past. Overarching company goals, like bringing in revenue, however, won’t change. Freeman recommends focusing on those overall goals and adapting marketing programs to meet those objectives most efficiently.

Airbase is a procurement platform with a long sales cycle. Companies don’t change their software that often, and many potential buyers are not currently in the market. Freeman notes the distinction between urgent and important, and drawing a balance between those. Urgent short-term goals must have resources allocated to them, but long-term investments like demand creation are also important to continue growing pipeline for the future.

Pinpoint the most urgent painKen Chow, Qrvey   

You really have to get them to elicit what their pain specifically is. We used to call it the 8am inbox problem. They come in Monday, at 8am, the first thing they do is check their inbox and their email. What is the thing that they’d just go, ‘Oh, I’ve got to deal with this again this week.’ 

Many potential buyers aren’t in the market for a solution because they don’t know they have a problem. Their most frustrating pain point is often something they just accept they have to live with.

Chow emphasizes the importance of understanding human behavior and engaging on a personal level. People who aren’t looking for a solution are unlikely to read a long white paper on a high-level topic, so he recommends using short, attention-grabbing content to draw them in.

Showing empathy and using humor help build personal connections among audiences who are unaware. That human connection makes an impact that other B2B companies aren’t making.

Build awareness among new audiencesMatt Amundson, Census 

There’s starting to be a shift more towards the top of the funnel content, much more so than what we’ve seen in the past and focus on creating brand identity and brand experience more so than what I’ve seen in the past.

The current market is saturated, especially for SaaS products. So, rather than competing in this overcrowded market, it makes sense to reach further, to those who aren’t in the market.

Matt Amundson of Census, a data activation platform, puts extensive resources into building a community around the brand and providing educational thought leadership content: “What’s important to us is not just the fact that we’re closing every deal imaginable, but that we’re actually driving the category forward from a thought leadership perspective.”

Becoming known as a trusted source of advice and information keeps a company top of mind for those who aren’t yet in the market. Then, when they gain awareness of their problem and are ready for a solution, they’ll go for the one that they know.

Think long term in your strategyMarla Malkin, Attivo 

The importance of a sale is not just in that momentary sale, it’s in the long-term, residual value of a customer.

Retention and adding value is just as important as acquiring new customers. With higher acquisition costs, you want to make sure that each customer you gain is a good fit and stays with your solution. In addition, customers can be one of your best assets for building trust and expanding your reach by word of mouth, testimonials, and case studies.

Since Attivo ERP is subscription-based, they rely on customers staying for the long-term. Many potential buyers are already using other software and are reluctant to switch, so they’re not in the market. However, Attivo targets those who may be dissatisfied with their current software and offers them temporary solutions to use with it. This starts a relationship, so when they’re ready to switch, Attivo is their first choice.

Building trust with potential buyers before they’re in the market begins a valuable relationship that needs to be nurtured. Continuing to offer resources keeps them interested until they eventually become customers who are likely to stay for the long term. 

Cut through the noiseThi Thumasathit, Gleen 

Cutting above the noise is always a challenge.

With a new product in a competitive industry, standing out above the rest is a challenge. Buyers are bombarded with messages from all sides. 

In a new startup in the chatbot industry, it’s tough to be heard among larger competitors. Thumasathit is aiming to grow the company’s audience with large volumes of targeted content created with the company’s own AI generator. 

Another way to cut through the noise is to take a challenger positioning strategy, one that can’t be ignored. This approach enables smaller brands to emerge as leaders with a strong message appeal.

Prioritize positive brand associationStefanie Di Trocchio, Smartease  

Being present in the minds of those end customers, and having positive brand associations with us, is becoming more and more important as our audiences get bigger.

A study from the Ehrenberg-Bass institute shows that mental availability is a key factor for buyers. If they’re aware of the brand, they’ll prioritize it when they are looking for a solution.

Smartease is an Australian payment solutions provider for energy-efficiency and smart tech companies. As it sells mainly through channel partners, marketing to a wider audience hasn’t been as much of a priority, but now, that’s changing. As they’re expanding into the UK, it’s necessary to build brand awareness, which they’re doing through PR and media efforts. 

Insightful data and newsworthy projects attract the attention of the media and get a brand’s name out there. Even for companies working with channel partners, having a positive association with end customers gives the business an edge.

Do thorough audience researchAllie Collins, Centime 

You need to be constantly researching and polling the market, really good at strategizing around what content would resonate with that group (the 95% of your audience who aren’t currently in the market for a solution).

Knowing your audience thoroughly, what motivates them and what signals show they might be about to enter the market is a huge advantage. 

Centime is a cash flow management platform, and Collins’s team has been working to grow demand for the solution with targeted content. Collins looks for signals that a company may be about to go into buying mode, for example, a change in roles or possibly cuts that mean a need for efficiency, and creating content that speaks to those needs and offers timely advice for adapting to those changes.

Research informs strategy to create successful campaigns that reach those audiences who aren’t in the market yet. Developing buystander personas can help you organize that research and make a case for campaigns.

Don’t just target “buyers” Katie Hollar, Clutch 

When you’re only interested in talking to prospective buyers, who have all of this figured out up front, you’re really missing out on the majority of potential leads that you could be generating for your business.

Focusing on buyers currently in the market is a losing battle. It’s best to look further out to the wider potential field available. 

Clutch is a platform that matches businesses with service providers, but they’ve found that many business leaders are uncertain of the kind of services they need. They’re not looking for a specific service, but rather for advice. To reach them, Hollar’s team develops educational content and tools to help businesses better understand their problems and requirements. 

The majority of potential buyers for any business are not in the market. Once you understand that, you’re on the way to gaining a competitive edge.

Find new ways to measure effectivenessSarah Bugeja, Mavrck 

Data and attribution are tough. There’s a lot of limitations based on browsers and cookies and what we can and cannot do as advertisers. It makes measuring effectiveness that much more difficult. It also presents an interesting opportunity to be creative.

Marketers are often measured on the ROI of their campaigns, but with attribution challenges, ROI is difficult to prove. This requires more creative strategies.

Bugeja says that for Mavrck, an influencer marketing platform, she’s had to find new ways to measure the success of campaigns. She focuses on the big-picture outcomes, evaluates in terms of revenue and works backward to determine what’s affecting those outcomes. While it may not be possible to pinpoint the exact actions buyers took, marketers can measure behavior in other ways like share of voice and how the business is growing compared to competitors.

The nature of demand creation makes it more challenging to attribute, but it’s measurable when you look at long-term success.

Apply insights to your 2024 marketing campaigns

We’re grateful to the marketing leaders who shared their advice and experiences. They’re boldly making changes to adapt to this volatile environment and succeed in reaching new audiences and meeting revenue goals.

Applying these principles to your marketing strategies will put your business on the path to success. If you need help implementing them, contact us for a free consultation today.

The Author

Susan Swier

Susan spent most of her writing and editing career in educational publishing. She’s a voracious reader who can quickly grasp complex subjects, a useful skill when transitioning into the B2B field.

Susan Swier