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Study shows modern b-to-b marketers need content knowledge, digital aptitude and sales enablement skills

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What are characteristics of “the modern marketer”? According to a new study by BtoB, such a marketer embraces technology, digital channels and dynamic content, and has a commitment to sales enablement far beyond what was typical just a decade ago. The study, “Defining the Modern Marketer: From Ideal to Real,” was based on an online poll conducted in January among 556 digitally active marketers. Marketing automation company Eloqua Inc. sponsored the research. As a benchmark, the study assigned the hypothetically “ideal” modern marketer a perfect score of 10 in targeting customers and prospects—knowing who's involved in the buying process, defining the roles and responsibilities of those decision-makers and aligning customer profiles with changing market and business needs. Respondents, on average, gave themselves a score of 7.0. Among the other average ratings: ability to engage well with prospects, 6.5; collaborating with sales on leads, 6.1; use of marketing technologies, 5.6; and deployment of analytics, leveraging Big Data, understanding marketing ROI and measuring their own contribution to revenue, 5.5. “This survey was intended to find out what marketing is all about and what the concept of the modern marketer really means,” said Nick Bell, VP-corporate marketing at Eloqua. The ideal modern marketer, he said, should be “equally creative in the traditional sense of the word as well as tech and financially savvy.” Bell added: “Modern marketers have to know strategy combined with the right technology, allowing them to derive a strong return on marketing spend and to drive revenue. However, today's marketers are far from modern. They know they have to know technology, for example, but most aren't there. The majority thinks they're not measuring the right thing and even that what they are measuring isn't accurate.” Marketers do feel they're getting better at some things, according to the study. When asked at what stage their companies are in improving go-to-marketing effectiveness, 68% said they are “strongly” or “fully” committed to improvement, compared with 42% in a similar survey conducted in 2012 and 26% in 2011. When asked what changes have contributed the most to modern marketing, 60% said the ability to track marketing ROI with technology. Effective use of social media marketing was cited by 58%, followed by the shift in power from the brand to the customer (42%), the maturation of demand-generation and lead-nurturing techniques (42%), the emergence of mobile marketing (33%), media fragmentation (30%) and improvements in data cleansing (19%). “At one point it was all about advertising; but today, with so much focused on conversion, so much of marketing has become a quasi-sales function,” said Ginger Shimp, marketing director-professional services industry at SAP America. “But what modern marketers really have to understand is that their jobs these days are about relationship-building. I know this is a term that's bandied about excessively, but with the rise of content marketing and social, it's hard to ignore.” This is a point reinforced by the BtoB/Eloqua study: When asked to indicate the key drivers that inform modern marketing, 60% of respondents identified the need to achieve fast and relevant touch points in the market. Marketers also identified coping with reduced staff (55%), challenges of measuring ROI (48%), increasing difficulties in conveying timely offers and messages (35%) and a general decline in the awareness of brands (12%) as drivers—and challenges—that typify modern marketing today. Big Data is also a concern: 35% said they are working to overcome poor infrastructures in the collection and analysis of data, and 29% said they simply lack data to support their colleagues in sales. “There are any number of proof points showing the value that marketers can extract when they use a data-driven approach,” said Sandra Zoratti, VP-marketing at imaging and electronics company Ricoh Co. “But the adoption rate is incredibly low. Since no one can flip the switch and gain full insight into their data, I recommend they take small steps—limit the data they have, start with one campaign and test again and again.” Small-to-midsize companies, those with annual revenues less than $100 million, comprised 54% of respondents to the BtoB/Eloqua survey. Twenty percent came from companies with annual revenue of $1 billion or more. Marketers from technology companies (29% of the total); financial services companies (9%); agencies, consulting firms, publishing/media and manufacturing (8% each) predominated. A white paper based on the study can be downloaded at www.btobonline.com/modernmarketer.
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