The realm of audience engagement is rapidly evolving, with marketers assuming novel roles and strategies to foster meaningful customer interactions.
A recent discourse among marketing leaders, in partnership with webinar platform Hubilo, examined B2B marketing’s shifting dynamics, the conundrum of pipeline generation versus customer engagement, and the weightiness of omni-channel approaches.
This article delves into the insights proffered by these experts and the strategies they employ to deftly navigate this ever-fluctuating terrain.
The evolving role of marketers
Ankesh Sagar, marketing director APJ at Workato, succinctly articulated the metamorphosis undergone by marketers: “Gone are the days where people feel we are just event managers. Our role now is to educate the sales and customer success teams about our ideal customer profile, and understand our customer pain points and challenges.
“The strategy now is about value selling, so don’t bring your product in front of the customer at all. Just talk their language first, and then connect their challenges and pain points to your product to a value selling model.”
Balancing the pipeline and customer experience
Adeline Koh, head of marketing APAC at Automation Anywhere, highlighted the pivotal balance between pipeline generation and customer retention: “My calendar these days is filled with internal meetings and it’s so important to ensure internal alignment to optimise the power of each function within.
“Putting centricity into focus, I find myself leading topics on retention and making sure we deliver the right customer experience. The customer journey tailoring comes best with the feedback from users to attain breakthroughs. Look from the inside out to get knowledge from outside into within.
“It’s just so important that we balance between pipe gen and focusing on how we can service and deliver a better experience to our existing customers.”
Abhishek Thakur, marketing leader – Singapore, growth and emerging markets (SEA), Hewlett Packard Enterprise, concurred, further emphasising the focus on demand generation.
"While maintaining a strong relationship with existing customers remains a cornerstone, it's noteworthy that our internal efforts consistently emphasise the role of marketing in driving demand generation and proactively predicting future demands to guide management decisions,” he said.
“Our weekly performance evaluation involves the meticulous monitoring of the pipeline generation and the conversion rate of opportunities. As a result, novel metrics have come to the forefront, underscoring the evolving nature of our responsibilities. I am eager to delve deeper into the experiences of the group and strategies for effectively navigating this landscape."
Harmonising pipeline and engagement
Kenice Tay, head of Singapore marketing at NEC APAC, shed some light on the crucial balance: “I think it’s always a very fine balance. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether you’re a marketing person or sales person these days. I get that, but I think we need to take a step back and look at the customer’s needs, and how our role has evolved.
“B2B marketing has evolved beyond events, so how do we use data to be more informed and targeted towards engaging that top customer, or a new client acquisition? I think it also comes with the wealth of tools that are available to help us collect lots of anonymised data about certain personas.
“And so, whether it’s through platforms, like webinars or events or social media, for example, and then merging that together to allow us to build client segments. So, we do a lot of that these days, versus, you know, looking just at (the) pipeline. That’s how we’re able to balance that and pivot the conversation more towards what we should do with the pipeline, rather than just generating it.”
An omni-channel strategy for audience engagement
Nicholas Kontopoulos, vice president of marketing, APJ at Twilio, illuminated the notion of channel-agnostic content consumption: “I think of it like this; all of us are channel-less consumers of content, right? We don’t think in terms of channels. Of course, we all have our preferences, but ultimately, it’s about the content, not the channel.
“So, we have to cater to that, and it’s a key reason why we need to have an omni-channel strategy. And that’s where you can use the data. What’s your entry point or exit point; I find that first touch/last touch helpful in informing where I put some of my investments. But the reality is, yes, webinars are still very popular, and people are still engaged with them. So that’s got to be part of the mix for my audience.”
The power of webinars as part of the B2B marketing mix
Pamela Cheong, marketing field director, APJ at Aqua Security, underscored the enduring impact of webinars in nurturing customer relationships: “If you consistently do it, you will see a result. Most people who don’t fully understand the digital part of it, or how webinars work, they want a quick result.
“I’m sure most of you have had that experience when the sales team is saying, ‘oh yeah, only 15 people turned up for your webinar’. But this doesn’t always reflect its true value, right? It’s the right target audience, and many tend to overlook the repurposing potential of webinars. Record it, turn it into assets and multiple pieces of channel-specific content. Keep track of the data, and think about its longevity, because it takes a long time to put a live webinar together. So, make sure you’re getting the most out of it.”
Workato’s Ankesh reinforced the significance of webinars for a diversified audience: “Webinars will be there forever, because of the nurturing element you mentioned, and because not everyone can always attend physical events.
“If I want to target all of Southeast Asia, I can’t always do a large physical event for them in one hour. And that’s why webinars are very important. And now comes the content part of it. You have to align that content with what you want coming into the market, and what people want to listen to. And that’s why you have to do research; what is the competition talking about, what are the market analysts talking about, and then use that to pick the right topic.”
Devan Sehgal, enterprise account director at Hubilo, emphasised the holistic approach to webinars: “One more very important part about webinars, and this is what I have heard from all the round tables that we’ve been doing, is it’s not only about your content escape. It’s also about the pre-webinar set-up – the marketing and all the reach-outs – to during-webinar engagement, and then post-webinar, which is something Pamela mentioned.
“Sharing content, keeping that content alive on social media so that more and more people can join. I think it’s important to keep a 100% focus on all three of these areas.”
James Wong, marketing communications director at DC Alliance, has found renewed inspiration in webinars: “I stopped doing webinars about two years ago because the outcome wasn’t so good. But hearing what you guys are saying actually makes me want to start again, because it does give thought leadership and helps to keep the brand top-of-mind.”
The conversations shed light on the intricate balance required between pipeline generation and customer engagement in the realm of B2B marketing across Southeast Asia. The insights shared have illustrated the evolving landscape where strategies encompass education, retention, value selling, and omni-channel approaches.
Notably, the enduring efficacy of webinars has been reaffirmed, demonstrating their potential to provide thought leadership and maintain brand prominence. This discussion paints a vivid picture of the future of B2B marketing in the region, emphasising adaptability, customer-centricity, and the artful fusion of various engagement strategies as essential components of success.
This post was written in collaboration with Hubilo.
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