Credit to All-Bound Marketing

Published 21/02/2024 / B2B SPOTLIGHT SERIES

Zsuzsanna Blau, Global Head of Digital Demand and Campaigns at Nokia 

We recently sat down with Zsuzsanna Blau, Global Head of Digital Demand and Campaign Management at Nokia’s €3.3 billion Cloud and Network Services software business. Responsible for a global demand generation function, Zsuzsanna’s remit includes campaign management, content marketing, lead gen, and digital channels. 

We asked her to identify the key trends in digital marketing for 2024; the growing shift away from attrition marketing and its impact on measurement and evaluation. We also discussed the growing trend towards All-bound Marketing, and its implications for organisational structure. 

What trends will define marketing in 2024? 

We live in an experience and knowledge economy, so brands need to double down on selling those. After all, we all want to be able to create better experiences for our audiences. There are various trends that I expect to grow in presence across digital and content marketing in 2024 – and not all of them are new concepts.   

One standout for me is zero-click marketing. It’s specifically created around on-platform engagement, and it actually represents quite a big change… B2B marketers are not used to creating content like this – most are obsessed with measuring everything – and zero-click marketing won’t really allow you to do that. <more on this in part 2> 

What’s the priority – retention or acquisition?  

I expect retention to become more prominent in 2024. Building and nurturing strong customer relationships is a good approach in general, but especially great in downturns. For example: it costs about 50% more to acquire a new customer now than it did five years ago. Paid activity is becoming more expensive as the digital space is getting more crowded. So, companies need to be really good at laser targeting their audiences.  

Comparatively, too, it’s 5 to 25 times cheaper to keep an existing customer than acquire a new one. So, if your budgets are slashed, it makes absolute sense to double down on churn prevention, loyalty programmes, and upsell initiatives to increase customer lifetime values.  

It’s also believed that a 5% increase in retention can increase your profits from anything between 25-95%. So, a pretty compelling argument to focus a good chunk of your budget on retention rather than acquisition programmes alone! 

There’s a lot of buzz about all-bound marketing. What’s your take? 

All-bound is a new strategy that shifts the focus from giving credit to departments, such as sales, marketing, or indirect partners, where pipeline or revenue operate in silos. Instead, success is measured in shared metrics, like team-sourced pipe or revenue, across all departments. 

The reason for this new approach is because complex modern buying journeys really complicate attribution. Up until a few years ago, it was much easier to link marketing spend to revenue directly. 

In this environment, some companies are focusing on first-touch attribution; others on last-touch; and some are trying to implement multi-touch – which is not as easy as it sounds. For example, you could have a new contact who looked at your demo at an event or tradeshow. That lead is then shared with sales. Then, three-to-six months down the line, sales will close the conversation, generating revenue, and say it’s because of their outbound activities.  

Whose lead it is shouldn’t matter. We should really avoid fighting for ROI because that pushes us to use tactics where it’s a lot easier to prove return. Those are the performance type metrics that only generate very short-term results. It’s like SEO versus PPC. Marketers need to focus on the long-term strategy, and much of that activity you can’t even see, let alone measure.  

How are modern customers changing the expectations on marketers? 

I always say that building demand nowadays is much like sowing seeds: there may be no visible activities above the ground for a long while! 

Buyers do a lot of their research ‘in the dark’. They tend to stay anonymous for about 70-80% of their journey. They interact with us across multiple channels without us even knowing – investigating and having conversations that can’t be measured.  

For example, a lot of people – myself included – look at content on social but don’t ‘like’ or comment on anything. You might forward something to a friend, listen to a podcast, look at review sites, or read an analyst’s report. You might even walk past someone’s booth at an event… but you don’t get your badge scanned! 

That’s why I believe that B2B Inflation is very real. It takes more to win now. There are more channels, more touchpoints, more ad fatigue, more audience targeting, and more demanding customers. They bring their consumer experiences to the B2B buyer journey and expect the same experiences from you that they get from a Netflix or Spotify or Amazon.  

It’s leading to an ever-increasing amount of content, that needs to be produced faster and cheaper than ever before. So B2B marketers really have their work cut out for them. 

You mention content. What are your tips for keeping up in 2024? 

I see a move towards B2B brands properly owning their content, their media brand, and their identity with owned digital real estate. It’s a shift that is happening, with vendor platforms popping up around it.  

I’m hoping there will be less dependence on rented digital real estate, like social channels, where your content is not really yours and you could lose it at any time.  

Brands are building their own media empires. And quite a few are doing it really well. Salesforce has Salesforce+, for example. But smaller B2B companies are creating content communities too, like HockeyStack with The Flow, Lavender with LavenderLand, or Vidyard with Sales Feed.  

The most important aspect is that it’s authentic, super-high-value content, which is purpose based and speaks to their audience.  

How else can B2B marketers nurture authenticity? 

My last point is to embrace short-form video. It’s like I said at the top of the interview, about living in an experience economy, and thinking about how buyers actually buy.  

We all have to go back to the basics as marketers. It might sound obvious, but people buy from brands that they know, love, and trust. The question is how to get there – especially if you’re a new brand.  

Memorable content experiences are what our audience wants. People are very picky about who they give their attention to. You want to know in the first couple of seconds if this is something you want to spend time on. 

I believe one of the most underrated marketing strategies is showing up consistently with free content that informs, educates, or entertains, and which actually creates value for your buyers.  

B2B brands often don’t know how to create entertaining or edutaining content that leaves a lasting impression and creates brand recall. We’re really good at storytelling from an educational perspective to build trust. And we’re really good at factual product content to inform our audiences. But this is the bit that we need to get better at. And one of the easiest ways to do that is with short, snackable snippets of content. So, it’s not creating a 60-minute-long webinar or talking head videos. Instead, it’s creating videos of three minutes or shorter – grabbing audience attention quickly and entertaining them. 

For more information on Zero Click marketing, stay tuned for Part 2 of Zsuzsanna’s interview… 

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