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Top 10 trends from the Tech CMO Roundtable

B2B marketers love to talk, listen and exchange ideas. After all, communicating is something we’re all skilled at, right?

Arketi Group recently hosted our 15th Annual Tech CMO Roundtable – live and in-person for the first time in two years (yay!) – and as usual, the room was abuzz with collegial conversations, informative insights, and plenty to ponder.

From these morning sessions, we’ve distilled the top trending topics that our 50+ B2B marketing execs shared with us, and each other – and as befits the season, we in turn are sharing them with you!

So here, in no particular order, are ten trends to watch for in 2022…

Data is a big deal. But who owns it? Marketing and Sales are both responsible for capturing data, but the discussion over who owns it is ongoing. As marketers, our Roundtable attendees may be biased, but the consensus was that Marketing is increasingly taking over the role of data custodian from the BI team.

Not all data is created equal. Data quality is always a concern, and data is only as good as the person who inputs and/or interprets it – which in turn requires domain knowledge that isn’t always present. The group agreed one should avoid the “data for data’s sake” mentality. And a few complained that some of their colleagues in Sales, set in their ways, succumb to the temptation to input data only as it fits their need. Not cool!

Hampering the ability to capture data are the increased regulations around privacy, including GDPR, CCPA and other data privacy laws at national and state levels. Many marketers are already feeling the impact in how they send out content and track behavior. The imminent demise of the cookie, we are told, will only complicate matters further.

Speaking of which, we heard an interesting anecdote about those increasingly common “accept cookies” banners. One marketer said they’d A/B tested and found that placing the banner at the top of the page, rather than the bottom, significantly increased opt-ins. Who’d of thought?

That’s just another facet of the new buying reality – which is no longer that new, but continues to grow in importance. B2B prospects research vendors and products online well before they engage with a salesperson, completing as much as three-quarters of their buying journey before they make themselves known. One implication of this is there are more touchpoints in the sales cycle – many of them anonymous – which makes a rich variety of content all the more crucial.

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Expanding that thought, as the line between Marketing and Sales continues to blur, the former (i.e. we) can help the latter be more strategic about how content can be used to guide a prospect through their journey. For instance, early in the process, prospects are seeking to understand the product’s capabilities, and how it fits their needs. Then, as they narrow their search, references and case studies become more relevant.

Like everything else, traditional Sales activities have been upended by having to work in a virtual world, where it’s harder to “read the room.” As a result, some of our seasoned execs observed, many up-and-coming salespeople lack experience selling in the real world and struggle to close deals.

Speaking of the pandemic, many marketers noted its effect in accelerating behavior changes that were already underway. (And, no, we’re not talking about wearing workout gear as office attire.)

First, customer loyalty has taken a hit, as pandemic-related supply chain issues have caused even the most loyal consumer to switch brands when their vendor of choice can’t deliver. In B2B as much as in B2C, shopping around is undergoing a resurgence.

Second: convenience is king. People will pay for convenience. They did so before 2020, and the pandemic has only poured fuel on the fire. From groceries and clothes to computers and copiers, the pandemic economy is the “bring it to me – now” economy.

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One bright side of the pandemic is that, with so many folks working from home, CMOs can bolster their teams by hiring a global marketing workforce. But they’re sure to tell you that it’s a double-edged sword. Employees from different countries provide more diverse insights, but can be harder to manage. Seemingly trivial cultural differences can become pitfalls – for instance, many countries celebrate different (and frequently more) public holidays, and have more paid vacation than in the United States. And that’s before the legal and compliance requirements.

So there you have it: the top ten topics that were the talk of our Tech CMO Roundtable. But wait – there’s more! Outside of the Roundtable sessions, we eavesdropped on many a candid CMO-to-CMO conversation – including a couple of eyebrow-raising observations. These we offer here, without further commentary, for your own interpretation:

“CRM is dead. ABM is where it’s at.”

“The QR code is back, baby.”

“Social media is the new smoking.”

“No more annual plans! Who can look that far ahead?”

“In-person events might be back, but virtual (and hybrid) is where the action is.”

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