B2B marketing goals don't tend to change much. Marketers will always want to chase leads, sales and ROI. But the tactics used to achieve these goals change frequently and often rapidly, especially online. Today’s fast-changing marketing landscape has a profound impact on the way people buy and where, and has also affected the way brands interact with people. The challenges we face today are numerous and often tricky. But there are lots of ways to overcome them. Here are 10 of the best.
1. Personalise your content properly
Algorithms rule the web. Thanks to them we can tailor almost every online experience, whether it means taking a measure of control over the ads we see on Facebook or the series’ we watch on Amazon or Netflix. Personalisation works, and it's equally important for B2B as it is for B2C. If you believe the research that says almost 66% of business buyers claim they'd change brands if their existing supplier didn’t make an effort to personalize their communications, you can see how important it is.
Some still struggle with personalisation, mostly because they don't have the right technology or data. But there's actually no excuse. With a myriad of tools – many free – to help you, and the will to make it happen, every business should ultimately be able to personalize their comms properly and reap the marketing rewards.
2. Create webinars and podcasts to boost the impact of live events
B2B marketing and live events go hand in hand, and always have. But did you know you can boost the impact of an event via webinars? That way you can mop up non-attendees and give your event a much more powerful, broad impact. Webinars and podcasts are great for networking, for good quality face-to-face time with prospects, and the figures support the notion. Apparently 92% of B2B webinar attendees answering a survey claimed they downloaded documents or presentations, 81% asked a question, and 60% gladly took part in extra research, all of which works towards warming a relationship up nicely.
3. Learn how to recognise people's intentions
Analysing customer data lets you create better-qualified, warmer leads. In the B2B world data analysis is vital for Intent Signal Monitoring, ie. the ability to know which web pages a customer has visited and use the information to predict their buying intent.
Imagine the data you've examined shows you that B2B buyers search for information an average of 12 times before they visit a company’s website to buy. If your website is number 2 in their journey, are they less likely to buy than if your website was the 13th site they visited? Yes, probably. It isn't set in stone but it is a probability, and that's better than nothing when the prediction stakes are so high and the world so competitive.
Predictive data helps you identify intent signals, and almost three quarters of businesses want to become more data-driven. On the other hand only 29% say they’re any good at connecting analytics with action. What about your business?
4. Blog more frequently
Blogging remains one of the most effective ways to keep a website up to date, please Google's search algorithm, increase your keyword base, spread the good news about your business, keep visitors interested, and encourage sales. The more you know about your target audience, the better you can please them with relevant content.
HubSpot says B2B marketers who blog more than 11 times every month get almost three times as much traffic as those who don't blog at all or only write a post once a month. They also discovered increased blog traffic directly correlates with the number of leads generated. If you blog more than 4 times a week you might see as much as 4 times the visitor numbers compared to a non-blogging competitor, and that's worth having. Companies that blogged 11 or more times a month also saw a spike in leads from businesses with fewer than 200 employees, while the six times a month-ers saw a particularly good response from businesses with more than 200 staff.
As a rule the more often you blog, the more attention you pay to your keywords, the better your natural search positions and the more traffic - and ultimately leads - you get.
5. Give site visitor everything they could possibly need
The more information, insight, research, numbers, case studies, performance data, live chat facilities, feedback and so on that you can give people, the less likely they are to click away to find the information somewhere else. Because B2B buyers don’t solely rely on blogs for their pre-buy research, the content you provide has an effect on buying decisions. Just remember to make the information easy and intuitive to find and you're golden. Live chat, by the way, is becoming more and more popular, and plenty of people prefer its convenience and immediacy to waiting on hold to talk to a real human being.
6. See if you can make cold email campaigns work
Email costs next to nothing to send out and can deliver remarkable B2B lead generation results. It's also great for answering people's questions, promoting content and publicising products. But the cold email has died a death in recent years, partly because an overall good level of brand awareness out there in the digital world means very few B2B emails are genuinely cold.
Some claim cold emails are a very effective way to track down influencers. On the other hand, even if you are a direct response marketing guru, it isn't easy to make email marketing work these days, hot or cold. It takes significant marketing expertise, experience and creativity as well as reliable data to deliver personalisation and allow you to create relevant messaging. A good quality, properly-qualified UK business email database, for example, can be an incredibly helpful tool, giving you all the contact details you need as well as a collection of valuable commercial facts about the businesses themselves.
7. Answer Google Q&A, get busy on Quora
Quora is a popular user-based question and answer forum. It's a great place to answer relevant questions and publicise content. It's also an effective way to identify people who are already a long way down the buying funnel, actively looking for products or services like yours. When prospects are already using Quora to solve the problems that your service solves, giving answers creates valuable extra brand awareness.
Google Questions and Answers is another one, a feature which lets local business owners and the public answer consumer questions. Are there any questions on there for you to answer, thus engaging with your prospects? You can answer questions from prospects when you have Google Maps on Android, and you can give the thumbs up to questions and answers from other people and brands. Better still, when your answer is better than everyone else’s, Google might surface it on the SERPs page in response to user queries.
8. Make sure your site loads FAST... and displays perfectly on a small screen
It might not be an actual marketing tactic per se, but there's nothing quite so off-putting than a web page or entire site that takes ages to load. People just click away. Because a slow-loading site damages sales as well as reputation, you absolutely must optimise your website for speed as well as for mobile consumption, so it looks great and is easy to use on a small screen. It matters because Google's search algorithm surfaces sites with better load speeds and suppresses those with slow load speeds.
9. Incentivise people to 'recommend a friend'
Word-of-mouth referrals are marketing gold dust. A whopping 92% of B2B buyers trust the opinions of their friends and family more than any form of marketing, and 69% of companies that have set up referral programs say they close sales faster than those without. Take a look at your main competitors in the search space and the real world – what are they doing to attract referrals from loyal customers? Can you do a better job of it? Can you provide a more worthwhile incentive? Just bear in mind a healthy referral relationship is a long term thing, and ensure you don't short-change people on the journey.
10. Use social media more
Most B2B organisations use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or a combination of the three. Instagram is also getting more popular by the minute, as is Snapchat. At the same time more than 50% of B2B buyers use social networks to search for products and sellers. Can you pin down which channels they're using?
LinkedIn remains the number one lead generation channel for B2B, no surprise since it's a B2B network. Instagram started off majoring on B2C but is now a hugely powerful B2B tool thanks to its growing sales interaction rate, better than both Twitter and Facebooks’.
Consider Instagram if you want to make the most of content marketing, outreach and ROI. But bear in mind it majors on imagery. If your business isn't about imagery, and some are definitely not, it may not be the best place for your brand to market its wares.