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Nikki CanditoJune 21, 20235 min read

6 takeaways from the 2023 Forrester B2B Summit

We spent a whirlwind couple of days in Austin at the beginning of the month for the 2023 Forrester B2B SummitOur team gained incredible insight and had a lot of fun connecting with our B2B marketing peers in person. Now that I’ve had a moment to take a breath and revisit my event notes, here are 6 of my key takeaways from the Forrester B2B Summit: 

AI is everywhere and will change how we do our jobs (if it hasn’t already)

AI isn’t just the way of the future—it’s already taken over. At Forrester B2B Summit we heard phrases like “if you aren’t using AI, you’re behind” quite a few times.

AI is more accessible and easier to use than ever before. There are seemingly endless uses for the technology to help B2B marketers. But it also is shaking things up. Since AI tools are constantly being added, growing, and changing it can be a challenge to stay on top of everything.

For example, Google is changing its search engine to incorporate a generative AI search engine. This will without a doubt affect marketers’ web strategies and how they promote themselves online. The language the search engine will use is going to become more human-like. Instead of thinking in a string of keywords it will be able to process entire sentences to connect users with what they’re searching for. With that we need to keep the customer and what they might search in mind. Understanding their journey and needs and creating content that serves them will be the first and best way to make sure your content can reach them.

Intent data is vital across the customer journey

There are big advantages to using intent data throughout the customer’s lifetime. Many people use intent data to identify customers, but it’s important to use it throughout the entire customer journey to promote growth.

Intent data can be used to monitor your current customers for potential churn so you know you need to check in with them on their needs and how you can better support them. By using intent data throughout the customer lifetime, you can make sure you’re providing the best customer experience, reduce churn, and discover potential cross-sell/upsell opportunities.

Use the right tools to take the guesswork out of “the right message at the right time”

You’ve heard it before: it’s all about reaching the right people with the right message at the right time. Sure, it’s easier said than done, but there are many tools in your corner now to help you do just that. Two concepts discussed stuck out to help meet the right people at the right time: The buyer’s journey and technology.  

Knowing where someone is in the buyer’s journey can help you get your message in front of them at the right time. Intent data lets us see what prospects are looking for solutions like yours. Once you’ve identified the prospects that are in-market, you can work on targeting them with the right message. Using technology, like AI generative content and machine learning-powered programmatic advertising, you can create and deliver the right content for them.  

AI also changes how we create content. Using AI can help save hours of time brainstorming and creating content, but it’s important to remember that AI can’t do it all alone. While these are great tools, we still need to edit and add to the content to make it sound human and to provide the thought leadership element that AI simply can’t. 

Focus on buying groups 

The idea and usage of buying groups is top of mind—and growing in importance. This understanding that you can’t just market to one person (well you could, but it won’t be the most successful) is an important shift for many marketers. We know that the average buying decision falls not on one person but on a group of several people. Most B2B purchase decisions involve four or more people. Getting each member of the buying group on your side is key to driving real opportunities for your business. 

As marketers mature from passing MQLs to sales to passing opportunities instead, the buying group can be used to capture more information to share with sales. Being able to connect engagement and potential influence from each member of the buying group to an opportunity helps sales see the big picture and supports a smoother revenue generation process.

Be mindful with personalization

Personalization in marketing can be powerful – but when does it cross the line from thoughtful to creepy? Adding personalization to your campaigns can be a great tactic to get your target customers more engaged and connected with your brand. But only if it’s done just right. There is a fine line between personal and intrusive.  

For example, you don’t want to send a personalized piece of content to a contact who hasn’t ever engaged with (and possibly hasn’t even heard of) your brand. They’ll probably get caught up thinking about how you got their information and be put off by the interaction.  

Save personalization for your more engaged leads. As prospects move down the funnel, they’re more receptive to your messages and personalization will feel more natural. 

Before you add any personalization, you must make sure you have clean data. Create a data hygiene process to make sure all information is correct. If you don’t double-check it, you could end up sending a message that doesn’t make sense and just looks sloppy. It’s best practice to start a small pilot program before scaling up personalization efforts. This way you can make sure your data is correct and everything looks right on a smaller scale before you launch. 

Align your team to create a more cohesive experience

It’s important to get marketing, sales, and product teams to work together behind the customer. Starting with making sure that you’re creating a product that customers will enjoy and get the best use out of. We all want our customers to be obsessed with our products.  

We also need to understand that the customer journey doesn’t end with a closed deal. Having salespeople involved further in the customer’s lifetime to maintain the relationship, not just handing off abruptly to customer success can make a big difference regarding customer experience. 

Make sure your marketing team is aligned with the product and sales teams to support this.

Looking forward

Looking at the takeaways as a whole, there’s a common theme: it’s all about the customer journey. Focus on the tactics that will support your customer’s journey from the beginning of the awareness stage all the way through loyalty and hopefully growth. With the current economic uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to support the customer through their entire lifetime, not just to conversion.  


Nikki Candito

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