Crafting a Successful B2B Marketing Strategy

For many B2B marketers, the traditional marketing funnel that motivates prospects to self-identify and then move to a sales funnel, is ingrained in our minds. However, in the Age of the Customer, Forrester Research’s phrase for a customer-driven marketing landscape, the funnel has evolved to reflect a new customer expectation requiring sales and marketing to work in tandem.

With this in mind, B2B marketers must evaluate how their current B2B marketing strategy is aligned with the psychology of their buyer journey. In other words, B2B marketers must know how to craft a marketing strategy based on the predominance of the customer.

So, we have outlined a series of steps to follow when crafting a customer-centric B2B marketing strategy. Ask yourself and your team, “have we checked the following boxes when crafting our B2B marketing strategy?”

IDENTIFY TARGET PERSONAS IN YOUR B2B MARKETING STRATEGY

Going through the exercise to develop personas based on market and customer research is fundamental to understanding not only who is your audience but how to engage them in the buyer journey. Incorporating marketing personas makes websites two to five times more effective and easier to use by targeted users. However, only 44% of B2B marketers use buyer personas. So, ensure your B2B marketing strategy includes persona-based experiences that moves buyers forward in their journey with your brand.

MAP A PERSONA-BASED CUSTOMER JOURNEY TO DRIVE YOUR B2B MARKETING STRATEGY

Building out your influencer and decision personas to understand your target audience is only part of the process of laying a customer-centric foundation for your strategy. Next is to map the touch points of your buyer journey through all buyer stages. In order to close the loop from awareness to revenue it’s critical to know the touch points along the journey that are motivators and detractors in order to influence all parts of the customer experience. When developing your B2B marketing strategy answer the following, “How do I craft a strategy with the framework that aligns with your customer’s journey to gain clarity and define priority?”

DEFINE AND MEASURE B2B MARKETING STRATEGY GOALS & METRICS

Perhaps a no-brainer for a data-driven B2B marketer is clearly-defined metrics for success. With a heightened emphasis on personalization and customer experience (CX), B2B marketing goals and metrics must be established to measure the success of the marketing efforts supporting a customer’s progression through the buyer journey. Your B2B marketing strategy must outline how it will create direct contribution to revenue with a return and fuel high growth.

A recent case study example from one of our technology platform and services clients is Viewpointe, a leading private cloud managed services provider. Viewpointe was challenged with continuing to engage customers over the course of a 6+ month sales cycle. After clearly defining their B2B marketing goals, they aligned their content marketing plan with their persona-based customer journey. As a result, Viewpointe stayed engaged with their customers throughout the buyer journey and closed more deals. One way Viewpointe measured customer engagement lift was a 52% increase in persona aligned website content and 164% increase in blog content engagement from organic search referrals.

YOUR B2B MARKETING STRATEGY INCORPORATES ACTIONABLE INSIGHTS WITH SALES

Referring back to our earlier customer funnel illustration, the traditional hand-off from marketing to sales, with no feedback loop when a lead is “flipped over the fence to sales”, causing misalignment between B2B marketing and sales teams. In fact, 25% of B2B marketers have no idea what is their customer conversion rate. In the Age of the Customer, your marketing strategy should outline how to rip out the proverbial fence and instead encourage inter-team collaboration. Ensuring this marketing and sales alignment is crucial to creating a consistent customer experience along a buyer’s journey. Being intentional about sharing insights between teams is one way to encourage broad acceptance of a successful B2B marketing strategy execution.

YOUR NEXT STEP

With only 45% of B2B marketers confident that they have decent, if not high, levels of customer centricity, the time to is now to author your new B2B marketing strategy that elevates you above your competition.

The Art of the Business Web Marketing Email List

As a business owner marketing your business, brand, product and/or service, you know that you need to reach out to targeted individuals on the web. This means that you must seek out and target your business web marketing materials towards those people who might find an interest in what you do. If yours is a company that manufactures wheelchairs, you will obviously want to market your materials to people who require the use of such equipment, or the families of people who do. What if you could gather an entire group of targeted individuals into one area so that you could market to them over and over? That is exactly that business web marketing list building is all about. If you can gather your own list of highly-targeted prospects and customers, your job becomes ten times easier. You no longer have to seek out like-minded individuals, you’ll have them right where you want them: on your subscriber list. Let’s take a look at the art of building a business web marketing email list and how to leverage that list for maximum return.

Email Platforms

You could manage a business web marketing list all on your own, but why when there are many platforms available to you that make the task easy? A few examples of email marketing platforms that are popular with the business to consumer and business to business Internet marketing crowd like include:

  • AWeber
  • GetResponse
  • Constant Contact
  • Mail Chimp

Each platform comes with its own features, price points and extras, but it really doesn’t matter which platform you choose. Each one, regardless if it’s paid or free, will allow you to:

  • Create an opt-in form that you can place on your website or blog
  • Import email addresses that you gather from other means
  • Pre-program email messages (autoresponders) to go out at specific times, such as a Thank You autoresponder that goes out the moment someone opts into your list
  • Test emails that will give you the data you need to improve your campaigns and conversions

These are just some of the features you will receive with most business web marketing email platforms. The more advanced the platform and the higher the cost of packages, the more features you’ll earn.

Email Marketing on the Web for Any Small Business

Once you have selected the ideal business web marketing email platform, you next need to set it up. Most platforms will allow you to tailor your emails so that they can look and feel anyway you wish. For right now, we will focus on plain text emails.

Opting-In

Find the area on the platform you chose that dedicated to form creation. Your opt-in form will go on your website or blog and will allow your subscribers to enter their personal information, usually a name and email address. Some marketers also like to gather phone numbers, especially if they are simultaneously running a mobile or SMS business web marketing campaign.

At any rate, you will want to create your opt-in form so that it matches your website exactly. The closer you get the colors and design of your site to match your opt-in form, the higher your conversions will be.

Free Offer

Most people hate to receive tons of emails. For that reason, most people are very apprehensive to give out their personal information, including their email address. Your job as a business web marketing expert is to entice the click.

Write a short report or get someone to write it for you explaining to your audience how to complete a task, solve one of their goals or anything else they might find useful. If your site provides tips for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners, for instance, you might write a report titled, “Ten Ways to Avoid Submission that All BJJ Practitioners Should Know,” or something to that effect. Make sure your audience will be interested in the information and make sure the information found inside can’t be found elsewhere online.

If you do have to rehash information found online, put your own spin on it and make it as unique and as valuable as possible for your audience.

Get Creative with Your Business Web Marketing

Once your opt-in form is completed, start sending targeted traffic to the page that is hosting the form, or to multiple pages if you happen to be testing your form. Write articles, spread the news on social networks, blog about your subject and toss in a call-to-action mentioning your free offer, and engage in any traffic-building that will help you build your list with targeted prospects.

Don’t just gather email addresses and contact information from your opt-in list, however. The business of marketing requires you to think outside of the box. Every time you do business with a customer, ask for an email address. Host a local event and place a fish bowl near the entrance where participants can drop in their business cards or come up with your own ideas.

You Have a Business Web Marketing List: Now What?

Once you start building a list, you will want to populate your business web marketing email platform with autoresponders to go out at specific times.

The Business of Marketing With Email: Crafting the Autoresponder

Your first autoresponder should go out when your subscribers opt-in. Most platforms have pre-programmed messages that go out when the subscriber first hits submit after entering their info and then again when they finally confirm their email thanking them for subscribing. You can customize these if you want to and it is recommended that you do.

When crafting business web marketing autoresponders, try to be conversational, edgy, catchy and informative. The rule of autoresponders is no fluff or boring material. People are too busy and their attention spans far too short to put up with lengthy autoresponders that don’t say anything.

The following autoresponder schedule should work for any business to customer or business to business Internet marketing campaign.

  • Autoresponder 1: Please confirm your email address.
  • Autoresponder 2: Thank you for subscribing. You will also want to explain to your subscribers that you will never spam them, trade or sell their personal information or abuse their info in any way. You will also want to explain to your subscribers that you will be sending emails daily, weekly, monthly or whatever schedule you plan to keep. Let your subscribers know what to expect and they’ll remain your subscribers for far longer.
  • Autoresponder 3-8: Take your subscribers through a five-part e-course. Really, you’re just pre-programming five tips, one in each email. Let your subscribers know that they are getting something special and that your tips cannot be found anywhere else. Do not sell during the five part e-course. This is merely for information, to help your subscribers reach their goals and it also positions you as the expert in your field.
  • Autoresponder 9-10: This is when you will want to recommend that product you’ve been dying to sell. It could be your own or an affiliate product. Now that you’ve positioned yourself as the go-to person in your field, let them know that the product or service is one-of-a-kind and it will help them reach their goals. Obviously the product or service had better be good and worth the money if you hope to retain your business web marketing list subscribers.

From then on, you should alternate between selling and tip-giving. Always give more advice, help, tips, updates, news and other relevant information more than you sell. Do not annoy your list subscribers or they will unsubscribe and bail on you.

The business of marketing with email lists isn’t difficult, but it does take patience and know-how. Once you establish yourself as the leader in your niche, your subscribers will be proud to be subscribed and they’ll follow any links you provide as they strive to reach their goals.

If you are selling your own product or service or you’re an affiliate marketer selling someone else’s products or services, an email list is always the way to go.

B2B Content Marketing – It Takes A Village

This year Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs published their 7th B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America study. While there are many studies that are published every year, this is one that I truly analyze and review as it is full of insights and shows a very clear picture of where B2B marketers are on their path to maturity.

The study was a bit different this year with some new questions and sections, but overall, comparing this year to previous studies provides insight into how B2B marketing organizations are succeeding and in many cases, continuing to be challenged with the discipline of content marketing.

It Takes a Village-

It was surprising to me to see that 55% of organizations have small teams (some only one person) that are responsible for serving the entire organization with content. Less than 40% of those surveyed said they have a dedicated organization and/or people throughout the organization.

Good content that engages buyers and aligns to the buyers purchase process is not easy to create. It takes time to understand your buyer, their pain points and challenges and their buyers journey. According to CEB, in a typical B2B buying cycle there are on average 6.8 people involved in the buyers committee all of whom want specific content that is relevant to their role.

With this being the case, how is it expected that only a handful or only one person will be able to create compelling content? In order for content to be done properly and produce value, there must be a team dedicated to it.

Measurement Must Be a Priority-

When asked, “Is it clear what an effective or successful content marketing program looks like?” only 41% responded yes. The other with 59% responded with an unsure or a no. While this may be while only 28% are mature or sophisticated, the need for measurement has never been more apparent.

According to the study the following are true:

  • 29% of a B2B marketing budget is spent on content marketing
  • 39% of organizations will increase their content marketing spend
  • 45% will spend the same amount next year as they did this year

That is quite an investment to make without an understanding of the results. While producing relevant and engaging content is crucial, it is just as, if not more important to know the impact these investments are making on an organization.

The Metrics Do Not Align to Goals-

Respondents to the study listed lead generation as the number one goal for their marketing efforts. Yet when asked “Which metrics does your organization use to determine how well its content marketing is producing results?” only 57% stated they were measuring sales lead quality.

If the goal of content is to generate demand, simply measuring web traffic (78% do as the leading metric) will not give any indication on success or failure. If B2B marketers are going to improve on measuring value, they must measure that which aligns to their goals.

  • How would you characterize the success of your organizations current overall content marketing approach? 22% stating very or extremely successful and 53% stating moderately successful (I am not sure the goal of organizations is to be marginal)
  • How does the success of your organizations current overall content marketing approach compare with one year ago? 62% saying either somewhat more or much more successful

There is Improvement, But Still a Long Way To Go

While 72% of organizations reported more effectiveness with their content (with web visits are the leading metric this is questionable), the telling statistics that tell the true story of how organizations are faring with content marketing were the following:

  • Only 37% of B2B organizations have a documented content strategy (sorry but if you say you have one but it is documented, YOU DO NOT HAVE A STRATEGY!!)
  • Only 22% say their organizations approach to content marketing is very or extremely successful
  • Only 28% of respondents stated their organizations are either sophisticated or mature with content marketing
  • Only 34% state their organizations are extremely or very effective at meeting their content marketing goals

With all of the attention given, money invested and time spent on content, one would think we would be much further along. What is more perplexing with these low numbers is that 63% of respondents stated that their organizations were either extremely or very committed to content marketing.

I believe it is time (I have said this many times before) for marketing leaders to truly take a look at this commitment to content and rather than invest in more content production, invest in understanding buyers at a deeper level so that their content can be better informed. Simultaneously, invest in better enabling and equipping content marketers with the needed skills so they can perform their roles at the highest levels.

Content marketing is not going anywhere anytime soon and is necessary to engage, nurture and convert buyers and build customer relationships, but year over year the numbers either stay flat or decline indicating we have a problem. Hopefully 2017 (I said this about 2016) is the year marketing leaders take the time to address it.

Enshrine Your Business With Direct Marketing Advertising

Any company would always need a proper advertising and marketing for it to market its products effectively. This certainly calls for proven marketing methods and techniques, which would help one to make use of standard processes of marketing a product in a seamless way. To facilitate this in a more proper way, the concept of direct marketing advertising has emerged into the world, which can help the business making companies to easily deal with the customers without the need for specific team of members to concentrate on marketing.

The direct marketing advertising is a typical concept, which makes use of precise concepts that have been already devised and designed by proven methodologies that have already been successful in the past. This makes people to rely on it blindly and make use of it for their business needs. The basic advantage of direct marketing advertising is that, you completely speak the truth about the product and that too directly to the customer. This enables better customer-company interaction to happen rather than creating doubts and assumptions in the minds of the customer about the product. The concept of direct marketing advertising has paved a large way to make the customers easily believe the company and makes the job of the company people very simple and smooth. Most of the companies shave not still incorporated this concept of direct marketing advertising mainly because of the fear of violating the currently prevailing concepts so that it would affect their business.

Another most important advantage of direct marketing advertising is that it would help the company to save a lot of money that it would spend on the ads and other advertisement related stuffs. A company spends the most of its money on the ads which when avoided can fetch a lot of money. Anyhow, this would work out well only if a proper alternative is been chosen for marketing the products more effectively. This is where the direct marketing advertising comes into picture, which makes it possible for the companies to directly meet the people and make the business deal without creating any sort of unreachable difficulties for the customers.

Yet another important advantage of direct marketing advertising is that it helps people to easily find all the details about the product very easily without any need to come up to the showroom every time and enquire about the product. This will also automatically increase the reliability and dependability that the people would develop on the company and make the company recognizable.

All that is to be done is that, you need to devise precise strategies that would make your business management and marketing better than the best. You can also make use of certain pre defined soft wares, which can easily help you to standardize and implement the business marketing strategies. You just need to make sure that you find the best in class marketing software, which would be able to supply you with high quality strategies for better direct marketing advertising.