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econsultancyadobe-improving-the-customer-experience-nov2016Optimizing the customer experience is the single most exciting opportunity for B2B marketers this year, and will remain one of the most exciting opportunities in five years’ time, according to the B2B Digital Trends 2016-2017 report [download page] from Econsultancy and Adobe. Strategy is the most important element to success, per the survey’s respondents, though well-designed user journeys are also considered critical by many.

As a result, virtually all B2B marketers surveyed (primarily based in Europe) recognize the importance of optimizing the customer journey across multiple touchpoints, with two-thirds (67%) finding this very important and another 30% quite important to their digital marketing over the next few years. Ensuring consistency of message across channels is just as much of a priority to respondents, 97% of whom consider this very or quite important.

While B2B marketers place the most emphasis on making their experiences as valuable as possible, they’re also focused on making these experiences as personalized and relevant as possible. While personalization isn’t quite as central to B2B as B2C respondents, targeting and personalization is the second-largest digital priority for B2B organizations, per the report. The analysts note that content optimization, which is B2B marketers’ top digital priority, occupied that space for B2C marketers in 2014. This suggests that “B2B marketing is poised further back on the innovation wave than their customer-focused peers.”

In order to reach their goals of improving the customer experience and enhancing personalization, B2B marketers will need to improve their data collection and processing abilities. Just 39% agreed that they have a good infrastructure in place to collect the data they need, and even fewer (35%) agreed that they have the analysts needed to make sense of their data.

Currently, almost half (49%) find it highly or very difficult to master their data, in terms of having access and control over customer and marketing application data. More than 4 in 10 likewise are finding that degree of difficulty mastering the tools to use data to create compelling, personalized, real-time experiences.

Looking ahead, B2B marketers’ internal priorities reflect their focus on providing a consistent message across channels. Indeed, More than 9 in 10 say that it will be important for them to optimize creative workflows to facilitate the rapid creation and deployment of content across multiple platforms. This will involve optimizing internal collaboration between creative and marketing teams, which is also considered important by the vast majority of B2B marketers.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 1,141 B2B marketing, digital and e-commerce professionals that was carried out in December 2015. Some 59% are based in Europe, and another 26% in North America. Almost half (46%) come from companies with at least $75 million in annual revenues.

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