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‘The B2B agency of the future’: inside Merkle B2B, large B2B Agency of the Year

Merkle B2B has been purpose-built to meet the needs of the rapidly growing, but under-served, B2B market

Merkle B2B won ‘B2B Agency of the Year (Large)’ at The Drum Awards for B2B in 2021. Consolidating Dentsu’s business marketing expertise, it has been delivering precise, data-driven, end-to-end B2B marketing since it launched last Autumn. Get behind the scenes of this award-winning agency.

B2B is undergoing a fundamental transformation. The 50-year old sales playbook won’t work anymore. The Covid-19 pandemic only accelerated industry trend lines that were already underway. Rising customer expectations and changing audience dynamics have created the need to address the entire customer journey, not a sales funnel.

As B2B buyers take more control of the customer journey than ever before, we believe there has never been a better time to help transform our clients’ collective B2B marketing efforts and architect the ultimate B2B customer experiences.

At Dentsu, we’ve created the B2B agency of the future: Merkle B2B.

Precise, data-driven, end-to-end B2B marketing is a reality through the integration of our collective B2B brands: Merkle/DWA, Digital Pi, gyro, and B2B International. Merkle B2B is the first fully-integrated global B2B agency network that’s been purpose-built to meet the needs of the rapidly growing, but under-served, B2B market:

  • Driven by data

  • Enabled by technology

  • Powered by creativity

The Merkle B2B vision

We envision a future where B2B marketing is working seamlessly to enable the “self-serve” client. A future unfettered by confusion, a lack of control, and outdated tactics. This is B2B like you’ve never seen it before.

Since launching last Autumn, we have been working hard to deepen collaboration amongst our internal teams, allowing us to deliver leading-edge data-driven, tech-enabled, and idea-led B2B solutions globally.

Each of our operating companies made strong progress in 2020, despite the unprecedented challenges, and we have striven to accelerate our pace in delivering a more integrated operation in 2021 and beyond.

What makes us different?

What makes us different is our ability to bring together our fully integrated services, combining both data-driven intelligence and capability to allow us to scale alongside our clients, whether that be regionally or globally. Coupled with our innovative products and operating models, which bring together world-leading agency brands, this allows our clients to be fast to market and built for the future.

Our unique understanding of this engagement behavior makes the proprietary research we create to understand the buyer of significant benefit to our clients. When coupled with the tools we have created or developed with third-party partners and the creative messaging we serve the prospect, our clients experience tangible improvements in their return on paid marketing investment. With higher engagement rates, shorter nurture lifecycles and higher close rates, our clients see measurable revenue uplift, customer retention and ultimately loyalty.

Clients

Our clients value and rely upon the growth objectives we mutually agree and deliver to. Our 85% client retention rate over a three-year period demonstrates the success of these relationships. Furthermore, building on already record scores, over the past year we have achieved our highest-ever client NPS scores. All clients cited our agility in supporting them during difficult times, delivering great work because our people always go above and beyond.

Whether clients need video or innovative content formats, overall content strategy, digital sales tools, or want someone with whom they can partner for content co-creation, brands can use our content expertise to build deeper, lasting relationships with their customers — both old and new.

This is something that is incredibly special about Merkle B2B: by being built for our clients and evolving based on their need, the fluidity with which we can approach challenges and offer different services allows us to continually deliver over and above expectations.

The success of this approach is demonstrated in our revenue growth. Many clients now use our integrated services – enabling our dedicated client teams to give them one point of contact. Consequently, clients navigate our business more easily and we are more aligned with their strategy.

In 2021, we have secured new partnerships with the likes of JP Morgan, Sky Connect and Facebook Workday.

We have also launched some of the biggest UK B2B activity in the past 12 months, most notably in promoting Sky’s business program ‘Sky Connect’ (a proposition supporting small businesses), which far exceeded expectations - achieving over 360 million impressions and 35 million video views, performing 35% over benchmark.

We also supported Cisco through a high impact campaign, introducing addressable tv and digital radio to drive reach, aiming to outsmart rather than outshine their competition. This campaign significantly increased their focus on their collaboration platform Cisco Webex – as Cisco sought to help industries such as healthcare and education work in the new world.

The client was delighted: “Working with Merkle B2B, we were able to pull together an integrated campaign which included high impact placements on connected TV and radio, with strong direct partnerships. The results we achieved were outstanding; in search we saw a 20% click through rate, which I have never experienced previously in my career.” (Helen Gillbe – Head of Paid Media & Social, Cisco EMEAR)

Irwin Mitchell Campaign smashes barriers

Inclusivity is at the heart of Merkle B2B - shown most recently through our latest work with Irwin Mitchell. Receiving the brief from Irwin Mitchell to ensure inclusivity was at the heart of their next campaign, we saw an opportunity not just to reflect inclusion on screen but to use as fully inclusive as possible a production team. The television ads featured real Irwin Mitchell clients sharing personal stories, highlighting the impact of case outcomes.

Our campaign included TV, photography and a suite of film, spotlighting behind the camera talent.

The full production team was made up of 30% differently abled people with a much larger percentage taking up senior roles, a stark contrast to the 9% that make up the creative industry.

Jason Fletcher, executive creative director, Merkle B2B, commented: “What we are really hoping for is that this inspires other creative agencies and production companies to use more differently-abled talent, an area that the industry has been lagging behind on for many years.”

Victoria Brackett, chief commercial officer at Irwin Mitchell, added “We took an inclusive approach to producing this campaign that will change public perceptions within the broadcast industry. It’s about giving opportunities to talented individuals who don’t always receive the opportunities they deserve.”

Campaign Magazine has written how the campaign “deserves to be applauded”, concluding that this may just be the most inclusive team ever.

Recognition for our work with clients

In less than a year, Merkle B2B has amassed 25+ global marketing and creative awards, including nods from The Drum, ACE Awards, ANA B2s, AAF, MARKies, Elevation Awards, and Chief Marketer (CM200).

Key highlights include:

  • B2B Marketing’s #1 US B2B Marcomms agency of 2021 (Merkle B2B)

  • B2B Marketing’s #1 Fastest Growing US Agency of 2021 (Merkle B2B)

  • Chief Marketer’s 200 Top Marketing Agencies of 2021 (gyro)

Our employees are paramount

We couldn’t deliver for our clients without also delivering for our employees. Our belief and investment in our employees is exemplified by the importance we place on DEI. Making sure that each person feels included, supported and in touch with the agency’s culture, ethos and purpose, is what makes Merkle, Merkle.

We understand that ideas worth spreading have the power to transform company culture. In June, we kicked off internal "Innovation Days". The goal was to create a forum dedicated to innovation that gives our people the tools and techniques to think beyond the expected in B2B. Innovation Days are held monthly and feature a client or new business challenge that needs a fresh approach. The best ideas are proactively shared with clients after the event takes place, with the goal of building a repository of ground-breaking thinking that can be leveraged across clients and new business opportunities.

In July, we unveiled the B2B Certification program for all employees, globally. Offered exclusively through Dentsu university, the intensive online program is designed to train all global staff on our business and services and introduce key areas of growth.

In summary…

To sum up, 2021 has been an exceptional year for Merkle B2B – whether considering our growth in revenue, our 25+ awards, or our 85% three-year client retention rate. We are excited for what the future holds – building on our industry-leading position as the best integrated data-driven, tech-enabled, and idea-led B2B solutions agency globally.

This campaign was a winner at The Drum Awards for B2B. To find out more, including which competitions are currently open for entry, visit The Drum Awards website.

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