Stats, Facts & Research

What Top B2B Marketers Know That You Don’t

What Top Marketers KnowTop performers seem like an elusive bunch. They appear to always have the best creative ideas. Can come up with social media campaigns that easily go viral. And can get customers and prospects to take them up on their marketing offers. It’s like there’s a secret sauce behind their success.

But if you dive in deeper to what makes top performing marketers special, you’ll see that their success is no secret. In fact, a study conducted by integrated marketing firm Act-On in conjunction with Gleanstar Research found that there are four distinct, noteworthy differences that set top marketers apart from everyone else.

In the Forbes article “What Top B2B Marketers Know That You Don’t,” author Christine Crandell takes a look at these four areas of distinction so you can elevate your marketing from average to top notch.

1. Focus On Customer Retention And Expansion

Did you know that it costs six to seven times more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one, according to Bain & Company? Top producing marketers know this, so they spend 23% of their time on retention and 25% on expansion, according to the study Rethinking The Role Of Marketing In B2B Customer Engagement. Average marketers, on the other hand, spend only 18% of their time on retention and 15% on expansion.

Top performing marketers back this up with budget allocation, spending 30% of their budget on expansion whereas average marketers spend only 20%. It pays dividends to focus on keeping customers happy and loyal so you can dive even deeper into their purchasing needs so they only consider you and not your competition.

Did you know promotional products can play a key role in thanking and rewarding customers for their business? And they can easily be implemented into just about any marketing or branding campaign without breaking the bank.

Whether you send the traditional holiday gifts, show some love at Valentine’s Day or have Christmas in July, pick a time of year to annually thank your clients. There are so many ways—and budget levels—to show your appreciation. Gourmet chocolate chip cookies. A leather-bound desk calendar. A pen set individually personalized with recipients’ names. These are just a few of the ways you can let customers know you care.

2. Proactively Manage The Entire Customer Lifecycle

The study results show that top marketers make it a point to be the central conduit for customer lifecycle engagement. “They see their role as managing the relationship between their company and the customer and consider their function effective at managing the end-to-end customer lifecycle,” writes Crandell. “The result is that best-in-class marketers have happier customers. Average marketers believe sales and support own the customer experience and that marketing has a peripheral role. While average marketers would like to own their end-to-end customer experience, they don’t know how to go about it.”

Part of effectively managing the customer lifecycle is incorporating promotional products into each stage. Begin by creating a prospect narrative and develop promotions that appeal to your target audience. Keep customers engaged with a loyalty program. Look for ways to give customers an experience with your brand so you can build brand advocates.

3. Manage To Metrics Is A Core Competency

Results from the study indicate that top marketers are twice as likely as average firms to tie objectives to the entire customer lifecycle, and they use technology to execute and measure their sophisticated marketing strategies. In fact, their use of personalization and behavioral targeting and segmentation is 30% to 75% higher than average firms. “In other words, top marketers know how to leverage technology to more effectively engage prospects and customers,” Crandell says. “And they manage metrics like response rates and satisfaction scores instead of traditional measures like number of leads.”

4. Know Their Teams Can Make Or Break Them

Top marketers know that they’re only as good as the team supporting them, so the amount of energy spent on defining, recruiting and keeping the right set of skills is much higher than average companies. In fact, more than 92% of top performers consider having the right skilled resources a big challenge compared to only 50% of average companies, according to the survey.

“When top performers have the right skills in place that understand emerging B2B marketing trends, practices and technologies, they invest in keeping those teams aligned to objectives and external and internal customers,” Crandell explains. “Average marketers, by comparison lack accountability for process improvement and do not place enough value on understanding emerging B2B tactics.”

Employees are the backbone of any organization, and ones that have high levels of psychological well-being and job satisfaction perform better and are less likely to leave their job, according to this research study by Kansas State University. The results show that happiness is a valuable tool for maximizing organizational outcomes.

While much goes into having happy employees—from salary and benefits to corporate culture and leadership—promotional products can play a role in supporting the overall happiness quotient.

Hold a sales incentive contest with tablets customized with branded cases as the prize. Create an awards program that recognizes employees on performance and give a high-end watch with a company-branded face as the reward for meeting objectives. You can even have inexpensive peer-to-peer thank-you’s of branded coffee mugs filled with hot chocolate mix, allowing team members to recognize the good work of others. However you decide to recognize and retain employees, you can do it without breaking the bank.


Crandall concludes that the bottom-line is a small percentage of all marketers actually own the end-to-end customer lifecycle—and these are the top performers. To boost your effectiveness, make someone accountable for optimizing processes to manage and measure customer experience. Otherwise, it never happens. And, learn how and where to use technology to effectively engage the customer across the entire lifecycle.

Want to learn more? Read the article in its entirety here and get the full study results here.

And if you’d like to incorporate branded merchandise into your marketing programs to further support your efforts, book an appointment by clicking here or call us at 248-538-4700. We can help! And if you mention the blog, we’ll send you some SMART Swag to get the conversation started!