B2B marketing is an ever-evolving field. Marketers need to constantly upgrade their marketing strategies & can’t really settle for stagnant ones. As soon as, the marketing teams find themselves mastering one particular technic, they might feel overwhelmed to know that the expectations of the buyer personas have evolved. Furthermore, competition is fierce & competitive benchmarking makes one realize that one might not have mastered all the skills required for survival in the master place.
Isn’t B2B marketing tough? Well, it is. If your business sales to other businesses you might get sleepless nights thinking over the best practices to amalgamate into your marketing strategies. Moreover, if you are a start-up, it’s understandable that you have numerous questions about the best marketing practices; particularly at a time when Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Machine Learning have revolutionized the realm of B2B marketing.
So, do you need to succumb under pressure or feel threatened? Definitely not. You need to identify your strengths & leverage on that. Not everyone needs to do everything but focus on their own strengths. Doing it right, doing it effectively & timely should be the mantra for modern B2B marketing.
According to Gerri Detweiler, Head of Market Education for Nav, the importance of marketers keeping themselves abreast with the latest industrial practices is quoted as follows:
“Running a business is often about setting goals and putting in the long hours and hard work to achieve them. Regardless of what type of business you run, it’s likely that “selling more” has a frequent, if not long-term, place on your to-do list. It’s a goal that requires staying up-to-date on new techniques, honing strategies, and being in touch with the latest industry news.”
We have simplified the task for you and below the some of the most important ways to improve & get out the maximum of your B2B marketing skills in 2019:
1. Identify your Buyer Persona & Focus On Targeting a Niche-Specific Market:
According to Jennifer, Marketing Manager at Alexa, targeting is an indispensable part of marketing & she quotes its imperativeness as under:
“In marketing, if you are trying to talk to everybody, you’re not reaching anybody.”
It’s true, vague & generic messages are seldom likely to resonate with the interests of your persona. After identifying their buyer persona, the marketers need to create targeted campaigns that need to be specifically based on the interests of their buyer persona. The targeting technics in marketing are broadly divided based on those meant for aiming demographics, psychographic & behavioral insights, firmographics, technographics, and past-buying habits of the customers as well as the research methodologies employed by them. Furthermore, niche-specific targeting is also done by segmenting prospects based on their geographical location or the primarily targeted geographies of the prospects.
Businesses also need to attract, engage & convert the prospects using the pieces of content which resonate with their specific research stages or their positions in the conventional sales funnel – whether top, middle or low funnel leads.
Oftentimes, brands might also leverage business segmentation, taking into consideration factors like industry, company size or annual revenue. Using brand segmentation, brands get more specific about their target market. They can focus on small groups of customers who will be most likely to get converted. This helps brands in expediting conversions. Targeting is a part of a comprehensive marketing strategy & impacts advertising, customer experience, branding & business operations. It has the following main advantages:
- It allows marketers to speak directly to a well-defined audience-base
- It attracts & engages a higher quantity of customers & helps in creating quality leads which expedite the conversions
- Establishes brand equity & a brand resonance which differentiates the brands from their competitors
- Builds grander customer loyalty
- Allows marketers to establish what the customers expect from their products or services
- Focus towards marketing strategies, initiatives & direction of the brand, which ultimately helps in improving product development & operations
2. Focus on invigorating the Account-Based Marketing Strategy:
According to a report published by business2community.com, the total number of account-based programs is expected to upsurge by at least 150% in the year 2019.
ABM-ers should make sure that they have the right tools & technics in place to optimize their ABM strategy; not only to mold it to generate higher number of leads but also to have an integrated system in place to measure the efforts of account-based marketing programs & to align it with the major Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of the organizations at large & with the KPIs of marketing & sales teams as & when needed.
ABM-ers should also give special impetus to rebuilding their account lists as well as leveraging account ID software to identify, segment & convert high-value accounts, more likely to buy. KickFire recently incorporated all-new IP for the segment-specific firmographic & intent data targeting of the key accounts.
If the budget permits companies should invest in lead management & marketing automation technics & software such as Terminus or Engagio.
Special focus should always be on segmenting the accounts & on segment-specific-personalized-ads. To curate a high-quality ABM strategy in 2019, ABM-ers should remember that it’s easier & cheaper to generate meetings when users are targeting current & previous accounts than the budget spent on targeting the entirely new ones. Therefore, building-on existing accounts is a must.
AI over the past five years has evolved as an indispensable tool to complement B2B marketing endeavors. Tech-savvy organizations have already assimilated AI in their marketing strategies. AI & machine learning platforms such as Genesys Altocloud are already being used by marketers to drive sales by intent-based segmentation of the personas & audiences into refined clusters. Generating hyper-targeted campaigns to expedite conversions, once the prospects have been segmented, helps the organizations in their achieving their bottom-line goal of optimized Return on Investment (ROI). Machine Learning Algorithms (ML) such as k-means clustering help in pattern analysis of data generated over a while, for helping organizations make data-driven business decisions, as well as help in the intent-based targeting of the prospects in real-time.
As the buyer-persona for B2B marketing endeavors have evolved, so have their researching habits, and vice-versa. The conventional sales funnel is now no longer strictly a funnel-like structure, where the research was confined only to the initial stages of awareness & engagement.
Modern buyers research an innumerable number of times & specifically about their separate areas of concern, at each stage of their buying cycles before they make a final buying decision. The sales funnel now functions more like a loop with recurrent research going on back & forth until a purchase has been made & even afterward for after-sales services & in the process of buyers having looking for complementary or additional products.
Tomas Gorny, CEO of Nextiva, decodes the importance of assimilating AI (artificial intelligence) in B2B marketing in the following statement:
“To be successful in today’s environment, businesses need to focus less on how customers contact them and more on how the information those consumers provide at every touch point is collected and used. The value for modern businesses lies in providing real-time and actionable information to everyone in their organizations, from front-line employees all the way up to the CEO.”
Undoubtedly, Gorny realizes & believes that companies must think to derive data-driven insights & employ the insights from the omnichannel intent-data for precognitive marketing to expedite their sales conversions & optimize their sales revenue.
B2B companies were comparatively late to embrace influencer marketing.
According to a study by influencermarketinghub.com, Google searches for influencer marketing grew by over 1500% percent over the past three years, starting the year 2019.
With this astounding rate of progress in the use of Influencer Marketing as an effective tool in the marketing arsenal of B2B companies, the outlook for influencer marketing is extremely positive.
To create highly effective marketing campaigns using influencers, the B2B marketers should focus on the following strategies:
- The marketers should explore working with the micro- and nano- influencers
- They must emphasize on impactful storytelling to reflect on brand resonance
- Cautiously participate with the authentic & no-spammy influencers on Instagram, particularly after the algorithm update in the last week of July 2019
- Focus on employing Employee Engagement Programs for attracting influencers as well as the audiences & keep abreast with social listening trends; if possible ask influencers to be a part of a podcast with your marketing team, participate with them in real-time webinars or invite them to write bogs or press releases for your brand that involve latest trends from the industry resonating with the pain points of the buyer-persona.
5. Employ Word-of-Mouth Marketing:
According to a report by Nielsen 92% of the customers prefer recommendations from friends & family over any form of advertising.
This is where positive Word-of-Mouth Marketing steps in. Several academic pieces of research advocate the proven effectiveness of WOMM in driving sales conversions & in managing brands’ reputations through omnichannel marketing endeavors.
M. Nick Hajili wrote in the International Journal of Market Research:
“Trust, encouraged by social media, significantly affects intention to buy. Therefore, trust has a significant role in ecommerce by directly influencing intention to buy and indirectly influencing perceived usefulness.”
In the hyper-targeted realm of modern advertising, a single recommendation can at times have a significant impact in instigating leads to convert. Word of mouth advertising strategies have evolved from its traditional form (when it was sporadically spread from a person to another based on recommendation) to its modern form (wherein both targeted efforts & naturally occurring instances are shared for optimizing customers’ experiences (CXO) all across the omnichannel).
According to a study published in B2xpartners.com, 89% of the B2B buyers use the internet during their research processes & hence being able to be discovered by the search engines if a top priority for marketers to gain the reach that they desire.
SEO has evolved as a strategy beyond search engine optimization to incorporate all the latest trends of digitization, with which it now has inter-disciplinary connotation and so remains the case with content marketing & other important sub-sets of advertising.
Below are the few tips to abide by for improving SEO:
a. Optimize for Local SEO:
This ensures that the primary domain of the website is optimized for local searches. When searchers land directly on the primary domain of a website, this reflects that the reputation of the brand is pretty good & it is convincingly being remembered by the buying prospects for their research purposes who use the website for research before making a potential buying decision. Good discoverability by the local prospects also ensures a good number of repeat visits on the website & is often directly associated with a strong brand reputation on review websites such as Google, Yelp & Facebook.
b. Optimize the Mobile Site:
According to a report by smartinsights.com, 70% of the B2B buyers are using mobile at work, and more than 60% report that mobile plays a significant role in driving purchases.
While Google prioritizes mobile-first websites in their search results, mobile also forms the cornerstone of an impactful So-Lo-Mo (Social, Local, and Mobile) strategy for marketing. Having a mobile-first website also helps in improving the average time being spent by the buyers on the website pages, in decreasing the bounce-rates & in reducing the website loading time.
c. Focus on the Long-tail keywords:
According to a study published by Apruve.com, more than 70% of all the search traffic originates from long-tail-keywords & audiences who use long-tail-keywords to research often have a greater buying intent.
Optimizing for long-tail-keywords is a practice that never really went out-of SEO directory.
d. Don’t Forget the Latent Semantic Keywords (LSI):
This provides Google with the context for accurately understanding the content & improving the quality of search results.
According to a study by HubSpot, 80% of the marketers use visual assets in their social media marketing. Videos are used by 63% of the marketers as marketing assets for social channels & have surpassed blogging, used by only 60% of them.
Visual pieces of content increase engagement improve the average time spent by the prospects on the website & encourage sharing, which in turn, boost the websites’ SEO.
A study by Apruve.com predicts that Videos will represent 82% of the total web traffic by the year 2021.
7. Focus on Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO):
The marketers should focus on creating highly-engaging multichannel marketing strategies for optimizing conversions. The focus should be on optimizing for the users’ experiences by strengthening & test-running the call-to-action button & by adopting strategies for Landing Page Optimization (LPO). Heat maps can be used to emotionally analyze users’ experiences throughout their buying cycles.
While SEO helps in gaining visibility across the search engines, CRO gets customers in the funnel, which is an essential pre-requisite to optimize sales conversions.
8. Get the most out of LinkedIn’s Surge:
This vitality by LinkedIn in B2B marketing is impeccably unmatchable. While having a well-strategized LinkedIn is a thing that the B2B marketers can’t afford to miss, the website recently also integrated with Google Marketing Platform. This facilitated attribution for all LinkedIn ads in one place.
After the recent algorithmic tweaks, LinkedIn also altered the way customers view sponsored content, which has helped in improving users’ engagement by improving the Click-Through-Rates (CTRs).
The marketers need to update their brands’ profile page, stick to relevant connections & post more regular (& relevant) updates, to make the most of the LinkedIn’s Surge platform.
9. Be prepared to Optimize for Voice Searches:
Jim Yu, CEO of the enterprise content performance platform at BrightEdge, quoted the importance of voice searches as follows:
“In the age of assistance, it seems voice will be the preferred mode of access to AI-driven devices,” … “Brands need to think about how they want to sound, rather than just look. Voice search naturally opens up conversations, and it is certainly possible to foresee a future where digital assistants relay messages directly from brands, rather than just reading the text.”
According to a report by Google, 55% of the teens & 41% of the adults use voice searches more than once a day.
Be it Alexa by Amazon or Apple’s Siri, the voice recognition searches have improved. Optimizing for the voice search functionality of the pieces of content involves the creation of conversational content, answering the frequently searched for queries of the prospects, improving the local SEO for the primary as well as the subsidiary targeted geographies & improving the website loading time (which ideally shouldn’t be more than 2 seconds).
Evergreen content has longer viability. Even if the marketing campaigns being designed are seasonal, creating evergreen pieces of content helps. Such type of content needs minor repurposing at times, often with updated statistics & emerging trends which weren’t in existence at the time of the creation of the content.
Content, time and again, also needs to be repurposed in alternative & interchangeable forms which include: webinars, videos, Q&As on Quora, creation of slideshares, reviews on third-party & primary domain & in the form of guest blogs.
11. Perform self SWOT & optimize marketing strategies to best suit your Budget – Needn’t be a Mr. Do-It-All:
Marketers need to understand & introspect about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities & threats aligned with their marketing strategies and need to figure out which technics are feasible with their permissible marketing budget.
As, startups several B2B companies might first need to master the basics & optimize their Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI) before they eventually are resourceful enough to spend over & above their annually permissible marketing budget.
And that’s all about it
The above tips can be put to use straight away. While implementing the aptest of the first 9, don’t forget to read the last one which says it’s entirely fine even if you’re not doing it all. Highly personalized users’ experiences can be delivered if the marketers are informed of the latest B2B trends. The “end-game” of B2B marketing focuses on optimizing for leads & sales revenue. Therefore, B2B marketing should always be customer-centric, relevant, contextual, helpful, streamlined & highly-personalized.
We, at Valasys Media, employ our wealth of knowledge to create hyper-targeted campaigns for our B2B clients. Our services such as content syndication, lead generation, lead nurturing, account-based marketing, list-building services & business intelligence services have all been designed to help our clients achieve their bottom-line goals such as optimized customers’ experiences (CRO), optimized sales revenue & a higher Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI).For deciphering the above tips to your marketing cores, to get the maximum revenue from your sales pipelines, feel free to contact us.