The basics of marketing - for businesses new to B2B marketing
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Like most industries in the modern day and age, companies that rely on just those traditional sales and marketing techniques to attract leads, such as trade show attendance, advertising and cold calling, will be rapidly falling behind if their competition is adapting to modern digital inbound techniques.
Push tactics are no longer the most effective strategy for B2B marketing. Instead customers are increasingly turning to their own research to find what they are looking for, and in most cases across most industries, this will start with the internet whether it be social media, search engines or review platforms and forums.
Lead Quality vs Quantity
The age-old question of ‘but how many leads did you get?’, that most business development executives, whether it be as a sales or marketing professional, hear time and time again from their boss post sales visit, conference or otherwise, is quickly becoming redundant as industries recognise the importance of relying on the quality of fewer superior leads over large numbers. This is especially relevant within industries such as manufacturing as the sales and marketing budget may often be minimal, so being able to use resource effectively is imperative!
For a start, how is a small team of sales supposed to reach out to a large number of unqualified leads with limited information about who they are or what they want – where would they even start?
So why not give this huge unqualified list to marketing so they can mass email them and ‘see what sticks’?
The method of reaching out to large numbers of leads via email marketing is rapidly losing its effectiveness. With the growth of artificial intelligence and automation, customers are getting used to receiving only content that is relevant to them, whether that be as a consumer themselves, or whether being approached by other businesses. Good in-house marketers should be building up personas of their potential customers anyway – we all know that – but with AI being so effective at doing this for us, it’s becoming increasingly recognised as the only way to get on the radar of that customer. Furthermore, a blanket, untargeted message will not have a chance of standing out in an already busy inbox!
If trade shows and conferences are a major part of your budget, ensure you qualify your lead before adding them to the pool, establish at what level your customer is at and let that be a decider as to whether to hand over to marketing for some further nurturing. If you have the ability to implement automation and AI, then do!
The inbound strategy – pull vs push
So, what is inbound marketing?
To put it simply inbound marketing is about using many forms of ‘pull’ tactics that earn the attention of potential customers by maximising the visibility of the company. This revolves around content which can be rolled out through various channels, maximising visibility and therefore building brand awareness.
It all begins with your website
As already mentioned, the majority of research in today’s age starts with the internet. And to be able to be found via the many search engines (not just Google!) you of course need a website. Your website is the window to your business and as such should reflect everything about your company and what you can offer. It needs to be easy to navigate and should give the right first impression to the researcher. This might sound obvious, but it is surprising to see how many companies, especially in industries such as construction, manufacturing and science, clearly put their website development and design at the bottom of their list of priorities.
But it’s not all about just having a slick website. You also need to be on the radar of the search engines and ensure they are able to find your website to present to the potential customer looking for a solution. In case you haven’t heard there is a popular quote, ‘The best place to hide a dead body is page 2 of Google’! This is why it is so important to focus on search engine optimisation (SEO).
What is SEO?
In basic terms, when a customer types their specific words or question into the search bar, the search engine will use a series of complex algorithms including keyword search to find the best possible website to present. One of the largest drivers for Google et al is crawling content to find the keywords on your site that your customer is looking for. So of course, content that contains the correct keywords is one of the most beneficial ways of increasing traffic to your site.
This is why having relevant content that contains the keywords that your clients are searching for is so important.
Of course, it isn’t just about having the right keywords and there are many more technical aspects of SEO that we won’t cover in this blog, but content is a great start. In general search engines will prioritise visibility of websites that provide the user with the best experience; so get that website looking slick!
Content is king
As mentioned already, content sits at the heart of an inbound marketing strategy. eBooks, whitepapers, blogs, video that provide informative and helpful information to the customer, and that are aimed at solving their problem, not only help recognition in the organic searching of potential customers, but also help build the perception of you as the expert in your field.
Identifying your customers’ issues and needs, alongside defining their personas and developing informative content, is crucial to helping you to be identified via the correct platforms and placing you on the radar within your industry.
Furthermore, if the content is of great value to the user, it can be an excellent lead generation tool. Potential customers will willingly provide their contact details in exchange for a piece of content deemed valuable enough, so offering up your latest white paper is a great way to generate inbound leads. In addition, the contact will already be part qualified as you know they are interested in that specific topic associated with your business offering.
Videos are another great way of summarising what your company does and how it solves a problem. Wyzowl’s 5th annual The State of Video Marketing report from December 2018 found that more marketers are using video than ever before and that consumers are more than ever turning to video as their learning tool. 87% of businesses are now using video in their marketing strategy compared to 63% in 2017, and 83% of marketers said that using video provides them with a good ROI.
The use and consumption of video is set to increase even more throughout 2019 so this is definitely not a channel to overlook.
Finally, coming back to the earlier point of customer research, people want to make sure that they aren’t the first to spend their precious budget on your services. The value of ensuring visibility of reviews and testimonials from other similar customers within the field is enormous! The results of a 2018 Benchmark report by G2 Crowd and Heinz Marketing on the Impact of Reviews on Buyers and Sellers', a report that focuses solely on B2B purchases, found that 92.4% of respondents answered that they would be more likely to purchase a product or service if they’d read a trusted review about it. Despite this, only 1 out of 5 businesses are using reviews of their business in their marketing strategy, so now’s the time to get ahead of the competition and capture the value of your offering to your current clients!
‘So now I have a weekly blog, lots of gated solution driven white papers and eGuides, a smashing user friendly website that is ranking well on Google (and other search engines!), how can I be more proactive with helping people find my content?’
In case you haven’t noticed, the world is connected via social media – whether it be for personal or professional reasons. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (and the many, many more out there) are important platforms for your potential customer to turn to for their research and to find the solution to their problem.
Let's say you’ve just posted the greatest blog about how your new manufacturing process is changing the game for your customers: not only does it save them money, but it fits in with their forward-thinking sustainability ethos. This is great for those customers that know to search for this content. But why not get ahead of the game? If you can put that innovative idea in front of audiences that don’t yet know they need it, you’re going to be seen as the experts and thought leaders in the industry, pushing you ahead of the competition. In addition, if that potential customer sees other customers engaging, it is more likely to grab their attention and trust.
Social media is a free resource to get that content in front of the right people, but the right platform should be considered for your key audience and resource directed as appropriate.
Building your mailing list with high quality, consenting leads is a great way to get your content out. Make sure your segmentation is accurate though. As mentioned already, the content in your emails needs to stand out to that specific lead so tailor your message by persona.
Although often seen as a push strategy, the world of digital marketing is enabling companies to place their message and content directly under the nose of the perfect candidate. This is especially true when it comes to social media and search engine advertising which use large sets of data to establish key traits that you can select in your audience targeting, ensuring that you won’t waste budget on advertising to the masses.
And don’t forget to look at the stats!
Not every platform/channel will work for every business so try them out and look at the data. Data driven marketing is the most effective approach for every business in the world, yet many companies will not analyse the information that is freely available to them from the efforts they have put in. For example, if you see that LinkedIn is driving higher engagement with those specific customers that drive the most revenue for your business, then put more effort into that channel specifically. It might even be time to spend some more money on LinkedIn advertising to drive even better results. It might sound obvious but many businesses put inadequate time and effort into analysing their marketing data.
Account based marketing
Account based marketing is becoming increasingly popular as a term in B2B marketing. This approach defines targeting individuals within a particular company with a specific message aimed at that specific organisation. This approach does require in-depth analysis of your potential client and their needs, but if done correctly is an excellent way to build trust and loyalty and to win that potential customer or obtain more business out of an existing client.
Key take aways
A lot of the above is already well established in many organisations within the manufacturing and similar industries, but as a marketeer I was shocked to see how many organisations are falling way behind in their processes. For those organisations, changing their business development strategy to include these simple steps is paramount to ensure they keep up with the rapidly changing digital environment. To summarise:
When it comes to lead generation and qualification, quality over quantity. Nurture the few and establish great connections.
Your website is the window to your brand – ensuring your organisation has a UX friendly and professional website will establish a great first impression and put you on the map for those potential customers researching their solution.
Content is king – putting time and effort into great content is key to establishing your business as experts and professionals, generating leads and putting you on the map for online researchers.
Approach your loyal customers for their feedback and reviews of your work together and make it visible on your site and other channels.
Establish which channels work for your business by analysing the data! You might need to do some testing if new to that platform, but the data will quickly tell you what is effective and how to spend your budget effectively.
Interested to learn more or want some help getting started with your marketing strategy? SWW Marketing provide a range of services from social media strategy and management to website design and SEO. If you’re struggling to implement the above tactics in-house, get in touch. We use data driven approaches to our marketing so will work with you to establish a full view of your company, your customers and your challenges.