No marketer wants to believe their marketing isn’t sophisticated. But there are definite signs to show just how capable some efforts are.

One is unimpressive B2B sales growth, as we discussed in the past. Another is a lack of alignment between customers and the organization. Marketers have to succeed in cultivating audience and customer insights and in using those insights to direct the organization.

There are an abundance of tech tools marketers can use to do this. Check out’s Marketing Technology Landscape, which this year charted out close to 7,000 marketing technology solutions.

With so many options, it can be hard to develop a focused and efficient game plan. An ideal place to start is the Digital Marketing Roadmap. This marketing blueprint comprises four stages of B2B marketing sophistication, where all B2B marketers fall into one of four categories.

By characterizing marketers according to their efforts, the roadmap provides an objective look at how well an organization’s sales and marketing strategies are aligned with customer needs.

Four Levels of Digital Marketing Sophistication

Each of the following four stages characterizes an organization’s marketing sophistication:

  1. The Uninformed Marketer. This marketer knows little about which customers are looking for which types of information, and may be unclear on who these customers are, what they’re worried about, or how they’ll respond to its tactics. With this lack of information, content tends to be inconsistent across a mixed bag of channels. These marketers have a hard time distinguishing which customers are ready to buy, and which ones are still building awareness.
  2. The Informed Marketer. The marketer is beginning to learn more about its target audiences, having collected demographic and psychographic information about customers. The marketer also is learning how its marketing performs in terms of website conversions, mobile downloads, or in-store visits. What’s missing is an understanding of the actions these customers took next. While content is consistent across channels, the marketer is not able to assign specific customer behaviors to specific customers, and so isn’t able to respond in the channels that will reach those customers.
  3. The Aligned Marketer. This marketer is informed enough about its customers’ behaviors to form a consistent content strategy using interdependent tactics deployed over a full range of channels. No matter where the customer is, the marketer can deliver a relevant message through an effective channel. The marketer may know for example, that the customer was in the store, but didn’t make a purchase, which leads them to send a promotional offer via email. While the organization has deep insights about its customers, it hasn’t realigned its sales and operations efforts to follow.
  4. The Connected Marketer. This marketer is in step with its customers, and has aligned the entire organization from content to e-commerce. Rich customer insights empower all marketing and sales efforts and shape the buying experience. The sales force benefits from customer relationship management (CRM) and account-based marketing tools, and the organization uses its predictions about customers to establish its budget and drive purchasing and production.

Using this roadmap, the majority of marketers may realize they’re not as sophisticated as they thought. As it turns out, most companies still are uninformed when it comes to collecting and integrating audience insights throughout marketing channels and allowing that information to permeate the organization.

Because organizations can only advance from one stage to the next by collecting customer and audience insights, and applying them across the organization, it’s important for marketers to choose the right martech tools for doing both. In next week’s post we’ll look more closely at what it takes to gain rich customer insights and build strategies for the entire organization to rally around.

For more observations on the digital roadmap and clarity on where your organization might be now, download the roadmap

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