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B2B buyers can get lots of information from provider websites but will typically need more to reach a level of trust that compels them to commit to one as a partner. Getting buyers to that desired point requires more from B2B marketers than providing facts and figures about your solutions. It requires a relationship.
One great way to advance relationships and begin earning trust with your audience is by creating a dialogue through webinars. B2B webinars are effective, multi-purpose marketing tools that can deliver valued thought leadership content, generate quality leads and further engage prospects already in the sales cycle.
So, if you’ve been ignoring webinars as a component of your B2B marketing strategy, read on to learn more about how they can help your organization.
Position your company as an industry thought leader
In an ever-growing sea of marketing emails, ads, mailers and more, getting your brand to stand out is a big challenge. Providing compelling, authoritative and innovative content that addresses B2B buyer challenges can help to elevate your organization above the crowd and showcase your thought leadership.
Webinars are an excellent tool to achieve this goal as they offer an opportunity for your audience to learn from and engage with your subject matter experts from virtually anywhere and at no cost to them. This provides a great way of adding context to your value proposition via conversation that facts and figures alone cannot.
Add new leads to the top of your sales funnel
Webinars are especially appealing to new prospects in the early research and education phases of the buyer journey. All that’s required on their part is a bit of time and attention. And even if they don’t ultimately attend your webinar, the information they provide when registering demonstrates interest that enables you to share subsequent relevant content and offers. For example, a security webinar attendee or registrant may also benefit from your whitepaper on “cybersecurity best practices” or be interested in a free assessment. You can also test the inclusion of additional registration questions such as “do you use any of the following cybersecurity tools” for even more insight.
Teaming up with other organizations to co-deliver webinars is another excellent way to add to your credibility and introduce your company and expertise to new audiences. When both organizations respectively promote the webinar, the outcomes (including your ability to capture new leads) are amplified. Each organization has already built some level of trust with their respective bases and serves as a signal to those customers that they can trust you too.
Move existing leads further down your sales funnel
Webinars are also a powerful way to keep active leads engaged and move them further down the funnel. The B2B buyer’s journey typically requires multiple touchpoints before a lead becomes a genuine opportunity for business, so webinars allow an efficient way to keep the conversation going and reach those later phases.
To gauge interest and elicit insights from your audience, consider including polling questions at a few points during your webinar. This will also help you adapt the direction of your presentation, keep participants engaged and provide points for an end-of-webinar Q&A session. In fact, Clickmeeting found that half of webinar attendees engage through chat, polls or Q&A.
Unless explicitly touted as a product or service overview, the focus of your webinar should be on delivering relevant content that centers on your personas’ needs and pain points, and solutions to address them. That doesn’t mean you can’t leverage this opportunity to convey how your company can help, but be careful to position it in the proper context.
Not only can you expect the audience to ask specific questions about your company and products during the Q&A session, this is also a great time for a short live demo about your capability, which can be so much more powerful than a datasheet or simple ad.
Lastly, B2B webinars are a great way to qualify your leads. Spending the time to attend a live webinar or download the on-demand version shows a certain level of interest and perhaps need for your company and solution.
Deepen engagement with your existing customers
Customer retention is always a goal for B2B companies. Beyond the obvious reason of protecting existing revenue, providing your customers with an avenue of additional value-added content via webinars keeps them engaged, deepens their advocacy for your brand and fosters referrals.
Webinars can also open or advance paths for wider business opportunities with your existing customers. Continually educating them on topics of interest renews their trust in you and exposes them to other aspects of your business they might not have been aware of before. Furthermore, webinars provide a convenient training tool for new members of a customer’s team and can easily be used to share best practices and tips so more value can be derived from your offerings.
Bonus benefit! B2B Webinars are an affordable gift that keeps on giving
The technology used to broadcast webinars is very affordable and you can even take advantage of free trial offers if you are not yet convinced of the long-term value. All you really need is to have an enthusiastic presenter in-house who can deliver a unique perspective in an engaging manner on a topic your audience will want to hear about.
Audiences across the globe can access your webinar without the cost of travel or need for in-person attendance at an event or conference. And because you can record your webinar, you can continue to benefit from it after the live presentation. Prospects and customers who registered but didn’t attend can access the on-demand recording and content via your website or YouTube channel. And wider prospects may learn about it from your social channels or email marketing efforts.
Putting webinars to work for you
With a better idea of the benefits that webinars can bring to your marketing strategy and business, the next step is up to you. If you want to strengthen brand awareness, boost lead generation, advance existing leads and deepen customer relationships, get started now on planning your first (or next) webinar. And to get you going, here’s a helpful checklist on how to produce a successful webinar.
Website performance is something that most B2B executives, frankly, don’t pay proper attention to. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of unintentional neglect, where competing demands for time push website performance farther down the priority pole. In other instances, leaders may consistently devote time to assessing their website and its performance but spend that time looking at the wrong things.
So how do B2B leaders balance their many responsibilities and still include time to effectively assess and improve their website’s performance? Below, we outline four principles for ensuring your website delivers everything your business needs.
Articulate your website’s objectives
In most cases, one doesn’t begin a journey without having a destination in mind. For B2B websites, that means you first need to clearly define what it is that you want your website to do. Your website’s objectives might include:
Position our company and our people as thought leaders in our market
Serve as a digital brochure of our organization’s services and solutions
Increase the awareness of our brand(s) and our value proposition
Provide a portal for existing clients to support their business needs
Generate new leads for our business
Support and enable online purchase of our products and solutions
It may be tempting to say “yes,” to all these objectives and even more. However, your website objectives will most likely comprise a smaller subset of these items and/or others. Whatever combination of objectives you set for your organization’s website, be sure that all your website’s stakeholders are aligned on them and share a common understanding of what each means.
Enable and define performance measurement
With your website’s objectives now in place, you’ll need to be sure that the data needed for proper measurement is being collected. This will include the proper stakeholder(s) overseeing the setup of tools like Google Analytics and/or similar website analytics platforms and, for advanced measurement, may also include the integration of your CRM, marketing automation or other marketing technology applications.
Once you’ve enabled measurement via the tools above, you’ll have access to a dizzying array of data about the interactions taking place on your website. The challenge is then to determine the right data to look at for each of the objectives you set.
Leaders often focus only on high-level metrics such as overall traffic, unique users, average time spent on site, bounce rate and average number of page views. While these metrics are important from a macro perspective, they only tell part of the web performance story and do not give specific insight into progress on each objective. Let’s look at an example.
If “promote our organization and our people as thought leaders in our market” is an objective, data that answers questions such as those below will help to illuminate whether your efforts are paying off.
Are interactions (e.g. traffic, page views) with our blog, white papers and similar pages geared towards thought leadership content trending upwards?
Which content and authors are resonating most across different regions or time periods?
How are we ranking compared to competitors on search keywords and phrases that we’re targeting?
Remember, it’s important to understand the specific data and views you’ll need to measure performance on each of your objectives. Also, if you don’t have the right historical data to compare your current performance against, use your first month’s data as a starting point and compare against industry benchmarks where available.
Focus on your audience, not on yourself
Every aspect of your website should be built or written with a focus on the needs and goals of your customers and prospects. To be clear, executives cannot, and typically should not, invest the amount of time that it would take for them personally to assess this for every element of their website. They can and should, however, set that as an expectation and principle for their organization to follow.
One common manifestation of this issue is B2B website verbiage and focal points that are framed in a “look at me and my features” manner instead of a “these are your needs as we understand them and here’s how we can help” approach. It’s fine to dive into fine details about your products and services on your website but do so in the context of your customers.
A great organization that exemplifies this principle is Moz (www.moz.com), a provider of search engine optimization software. Their website’s primary homepage (at present) leads with a succinct and impactful fact and needs statement, “5 billion searches are performed every day. Be found.” Followed by a succinct goal/benefit statement, “Drive customers to your website,” before adding, “with the all-in-one SEO tracking and research toolset build by industry experts.”
Metrics such as “bounce rate” (the percentage of those who leave your site after only viewing a single page), “average time spent on site” and “average page views” can be helpful indicators of whether your website’s content is resonating with your audience.
Invest the right energy and resources in your B2B website’s performance
As noted above, executives are not afforded an abundance of time to attend to all the details of their website’s performance, but that doesn’t mean they can fully abdicate responsibility for its success. Leaders must be disciplined in routinely reviewing progress on each of the website objectives they’ve set forth. To put it another way, if leaders don’t demonstrate that website performance is a priority, it won’t be a priority for others either.
Implementing a dashboard for recurring review is one effective and efficient way that leaders can get a clear picture of performance trends. When properly constructed, dashboards provide an almost instantaneous understanding of what’s happening and surface constructive questions that foster further improvements and opportunities.
Beyond their investment of time, leaders also need to understand the level of resources they’ll need to invest in from a human and financial standpoint to ensure website performance sustainability. The pace of digital change is lightning fast and those who don’t embrace it with action limit improvement and set a stage for performance declines. Consistently ask your website leadership – what’s next? What are we doing or not doing today on the web that’s keeping us from getting to the next level?
Adopting the four principles for B2B website performance outlined above will help executives maximize returns on investment in their organization’s website and the impact of the time they devote to ensuring that their digital objectives are met. Being disciplined in demonstrating and championing these principles will also support the right expectations of detail and discipline from those who contribute to and manage your website daily.
Wondering about your website’s effectiveness? Contact us with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 512-495-9900 and let us learn more about where you want your website to go.
Alert Logic was in fast growth mode and wanted to implement marketing automation to support the scaling of their business. They wanted a partner to lead the strategy and implementation of an Enterprise-class marketing automation solution, and with that in mind engaged Launch Marketing to lead the effort.
Alert Logic had been working with Launch Marketing on a number of other projects and in 2015 made the decision to invest in marketing automation. In addition to implementing Marketo, Launch worked with them to roll out new branding updates across the US and EMEA when the company went through a major re-brand.
Launch partnered closely with key sales and marketing stakeholders to outline the lead funnel, including naming and definitions at each stage. From there, Launch created and implemented a comprehensive lead scoring model along with setting up Revenue Cycle Modeler for ongoing tracking and analysis.
With a clear understanding of the various verticals Alert Logic was targeting, Launch jumped in to plan and build out a wide-array of targeted engagement streams to help move prospects through the funnel. This included customized templates, robust content, corresponding emails and integration with third party vendors like BrightTalk.
One of the very first promotions on the new platform resulted in 350 registrants for their webinar, which well surpassed expectations. Additionally, the lead nurture campaigns developed by Launch contributed significantly to the sales pipeline and provided a large set of reports that had a breadth and depth of analytics by which Alert Logic could use to make highly informed decisions and understand where their efforts were most effective.
Acting as a valued partner and resource for the team, Launch also worked closely on the day to day management of Marketo. Based on initial engagement in the nurture streams and the results of A/B testing, Launch provided strategy and guidance to further segment campaign efforts by audience and personas resulting in even better engagement across segments.
Moving to a comprehensive solution like Marketo allowed Alert Logic to be more efficient with their time and helped to streamline their efforts by leveraging the various demand generation and nurture campaigns created.
“Launch Marketing’s team has everything you hope for in a long-term partner: agility, commitment to excellence, and an honest investment in your organization’s values and goals. Alert Logic engaged Launch’s experts to assist with marketing automation campaign creation and delivery, template design, and social media. They were instrumental in helping us transition our assets during a re-branding stage and their strategic recommendations have allowed us to generate more leads with better content. Ultimately, we trust them with our brand.”
— John Whiteside, Vice President Global Marketing Programs, Alert Logic
About Alert Logic
Alert Logic has more than a decade of experience pioneering and refining cloud solutions that are secure, flexible and designed to work with hosting and cloud service providers. As one of the nation’s leading managed security providers, we have the tools and experience that set us apart from other cloud security companies. We focus on delivering a complete solution that lives in the cloud, but is rooted in real expertise.
Developing and nurturing B2B sales and marketing alignment is an ongoing challenge that organizations are aware of but, surprisingly, fail to properly address. One explanation might be that it’s easier to ignore problems for which the impact is difficult to assess and measure or the benefits of making changes are considered “nice-to-have” rather than “must-have”.
This mindset is shifting, however, as more and more studies show the concrete and measurable negative impacts that disconnected sales and marketing teams have on company success and, conversely, that organizations tackling this challenge are seeing real and tangible benefits.
Below are four of the reasons why more B2B organizations are finally making sales and marketing alignment a priority.
Turn revenue losses into gains
Studies now clearly show that significant costs are incurred by companies that let sales and marketing misalignment linger. In fact, according to Kapost, companies with poor sales and marketing alignment have a 4% revenue decline.
On the other hand, what are B2B companies with strong sales and marketing alignment experiencing?
These jaw-dropping statistics should alone be enough to get any B2B leader to consider tackling the elephant in the room, but let’s dig deeper to further emphasize why unifying your sales and marketing teams is beneficial to your company’s success.
Improve marketing and sales efficiency
According to HubSpot, 73% of leads that get passed on to sales are not contacted and 79% of leads don’t convert. Many of these issues could be alleviated simply by opening the communication lines between sales and marketing teams.
In truth, it’s about time both sales professionals and marketers admit that they need each other. Setting aside what makes marketing and sales people good at their jobs (creativity vs. social skills for example), each team views a different side of the same customer and market coin and owns a different set of information which, when put together, creates a stronger whole.
Marketing generally has a more macro view of customers and prospects via insight into market research and campaign data while sales holds an equally important micro view of customers and prospects because of their direct relationships and the qualitative feedback that comes out of them.
Instead of creating siloed campaigns independently, marketing can benefit from getting the sales team’s input at the beginning of the campaign planning process by way of qualitative insight about how past marketing initiatives resonated with the prospects and customers they interfaced with.
Marketing teams can better support sales through consistent calibration on questions such as:
What does the sales cycle look like for you today? Are you sensing shifts?
Are there recurring questions from prospects that we can address with marketing content?
What new marketing assets do you need to help move the sales needle forward?
On the other hand, the sales team can be more effective by checking in with marketing on:
Shifts in pain points experienced or solutions sought by prospects & customers
Where the most effective leads are originating from in their view
Whether the lead qualification process is working as desired
What messages are resonating most with the individuals they engage
Committing time for regular check ins between sales and marketing on points like those above goes a long way towards achievement a high degree of alignment.
Turn competitors into collaborators
Marketing and sales are typically measured against different goals which can create a divide and an “agree to disagree” status quo.
Consider the following scenario. When a company’s revenue numbers are not looking good, the sales team is asked why they have not reached their quota. Sales may argue that they are not getting enough qualified leads from marketing. Conversely, marketing reaches their lead generation goal and argues that sales has not been following up on the leads that they have worked so hard to provide.
Unifying sales and marketing teams can sometimes be as simple as ensuring that everyone is speaking the same language. For example, agreeing on a common, criteria-based definition of what constitutes a qualified lead, what the hand-off process requires and how leads will be followed up on are components that often get interpreted differently by different team members. This is especially true as time goes by and new members join the team.
It’s important to note too that while the general idea of opening communication lines and speaking the same language seems straightforward, it needs to be done in a thoughtful and structured way to ensure that the information being shared stays consistent and constructive over time.
Designating a cross-functional collaboration team and leveraging technologies such as CRM to bring data to the discussions can help to mitigate emotion and bring focus to what really matters.
Build a culture of trust
While the primary motivation to unify your B2B sales and marketing teams might be financial gain, another undeniable benefit and a requirement for true success is building a culture of trust.
Trust is something that is earned over time. Consistent application of the principles identified so far (e.g. improving communication streams, aligning and revisiting common goals, etc.) paves the way to a more positive and productive work environment. Most all of us like it when others listen and follow through on what they’ve said they will do.
Trust also fosters “professional empathy.” When people fully understand the challenges and opportunities of the other team they are far more likely to accept them. While not everything is feasible, acknowledging the other teams needs and communicating about what can be done and why it needs to be done in a certain way increases the view that we’re one team pursuing common goals.
If the scenarios that we’re describing constitute a drastic culture change from your current state, leaders are going to need to dedicate themselves to being drivers of this change. Organizational climate can be changed quickly, but truly changing an organization’s culture takes much more time and sustained energy.
Last but not least, celebrate wins together!
Now that we have established “why” unifying sales and marketing is a MUST, your next step is to dive into how to bring them together once and for all. Your business is depending on it.
Alert Logic, one of the nation’s leading managed security providers, needed a partner to support their social media management efforts to grow their follower base and increase their social media engagement metrics. Additionally, Alert Logic needed guidance and best practices to create a Social Media Employee Advocacy and Influencer Marketing Program to support their digital marketing efforts.
Alert Logic first came to Launch Marketing in 2014, because they needed support with various marketing activities. Then, in April 2016, Launch partnered with Alert Logic to manage their organic social media marketing efforts with the goal of increasing their engagement metrics (shares, clicks, likes) on LinkedIn and Twitter as well as support each platform’s follower growth.
As a result, Alert Logic’s Twitter activity saw an average of 160+ retweets and an average of 230+ shares on LinkedIn per month. Additionally, Alert Logic experienced an increase in followers by 37% on Twitter and 52% on LinkedIn in 2016.
Launch Marketing managed Alert Logic’s organic social efforts by leveraging social media management tools, and provided comprehensive monthly dashboards to track engagement metrics and understand performance to help make informed decisions. Launch Marketing also delivered key insights and recommendations based on industry trends and best practices and provided additional value by delivering data-driven summaries of industry social media marketing reports for B2B technology companies.
“What has been so great about working with the Launch team is seeing and knowing how far we’ve taken and can continue to take our social efforts. Launch helped us increase our engagement, expand content, and identified opportunities like advocacy programs and influencer campaigns that we are excited about including in our long-term social media roadmap.”
– Lisa Ochoa, Marketing Manager, Global Programs
About Alert Logic
Alert Logic has more than a decade of experience pioneering and refining cloud solutions that are secure, flexible and designed to work with hosting and cloud service providers. As one of the nation’s leading managed security providers, we have the tools and experience that set us apart from other cloud security companies. We focus on delivering a complete solution that lives in the cloud, but is rooted in real expertise.
Too many B2B organizations believe they can get by without having a marketing strategy. Whether it’s because they work in a niche market, their growth is based on referrals or they only see marketing as an expense with an uncertain Return on Investment (ROI). These assumptions are moving farther and farther away from being true as B2B buyers, individuals or organizations, require much more information and product education before making a purchase.
The buying process has evolved
Before jumping into the main benefits B2B organizations can get from having a marketing presence, let’s look for a second at the complexity of the buying decision. B2B organizations are very pragmatic in their decision making due to the high stakes of their purchase. The overall decision process can take a long time and it usually requires a deep level of information. Often, a company will have to convince a panel of experts with different levels of expertise, different objectives or interests and who are sensitive to different communication methods.
Furthermore, the demographics of B2B buyers is shifting. Over 80% of working individuals between the ages of 18 and 34 already have some sort of influence in the buying process of their organization. This new category of buyers spends a large portion of the buying process researching what they are looking for on their own using various channels, they are more sensitive to the experience your brand delivers and are heavily influenced by other buyers’ opinions in their decision process. By the time the RFP is out or before they ever talk to your sales team, their decision will likely already be made.
If the evolving buying process is not enough to convince you, here are some key reasons why your organization should have and grow a marketing presence:
Increases your brand visibility and market recognition
With this generational shift in mind, it goes without saying that your brand needs to be visible and recognized in the market, and information about your solution should be easily searchable and accessible online. As pragmatic as the buying decision might be, it still comes down to building trust. Building a consistent and continuous brand in the market to position your company as the trusted partner goes a long way in the B2B industry.
This is where having a marketing presence really comes in handy. Marketing can help your organization build your brand as a thought leader in your industry by positioning the company as key player who understands current trends, anticipates future trends and recognizes prospective customers’ pain points and how to best address them. In fact, 96% of B2B buyers want content with more input from industry thought leaders.
Differentiates you from your competition and helps you stand out from the crowd
How does your company stand out against its competitors? Even if you operate in a niche market where all the stakeholders are known, how do you differentiate yourself? Or more importantly, how do you prepare for market disruptions that are prone to leverage a strong marketing presence and divert your target audience’s attention to them?
The answer is simple: by having a marketing presence, your team can create a strategic marketing plan tailored to your organization’s needs that includes succinct messaging and branding that focuses on your unique value proposition and resonates with your audience.
If your business is based on referrals, that’s great too, but for how long? And why not leverage those referrals as strong brand advocates in your marketing plan to further your business and generate more qualified leads?
This brings us to our third benefit for B2B organizations to develop a smart marketing presence.
Generates qualified leads to boost your revenue
While your sales team is busy maintaining existing customer relationships and focusing their efforts on moving leads through the sales funnel, how much time do they actually spend on growing the business? Relying solely on the sales organization to grow the business is bound to clog up your funnel sooner or later.
A marketing presence can help B2B companies generate new qualified leads which marketing can nurture and warm up until they are ready to talk to your sales team. Hence optimizing the sales process and making the best use of your sales team’s time and efforts. According to Hubspot, in 2014, 67% of B2B marketers say they see at least a 10% increase in sales opportunities through lead nurturing, with 15% seeing opportunities increase by 30% or more.
Marketing for B2B organizations is a crucial component of the company’s health and growth and its ROI is not just an abstract notion as the data in this blog suggests. With more and more sophisticated marketing tools, companies have been able to analyze the results of their marketing efforts and outline clear benefits.
Akamai is the global leader in Content Delivery Network (CDN) services, making the Internet fast, reliable and secure for its customers. The company’s advanced web performance, mobile performance, cloud security and media delivery solutions are also offered through channel partnerships with other world class technology brands. Recognizing a need to amplify the marketing activity and support for one of their key channel partners, Akamai looked to Launch Marketing to bolster their efforts.
Launch partnered with Akamai to develop numerous partner branded marketing assets to support their key channel marketing activities through each stage of the buyer journey. Launch also created integrated campaigns to leverage these new content pieces in communications to prospective customers. This resulted in more than 250 new contacts that demonstrated multiple points of engagement. Additionally, the creation of a digital marketing technology stack and adjoining processes ensured prompt delivery of these engaged contacts for immediate follow up.
Launch procured a brand-focused web domain and developed an on-brand microsite to serve as a sales enablement hub for the 17 newly developed marketing assets. To support lead generation, the digital campaign leveraging these assets also featured Launch-developed email templates and corresponding landing pages that aligned with brand identity guidelines. Launch also provided a wide range of strategic and technical feedback throughout the engagement including brand strategy, digital marketing best practices and database development. As Akamai continues to advance its programs with this channel partner, they will be able to effectively and efficiently build upon this innovative marketing foundation.
“Unanimously, the partners in our Quarterly Business Review said these new assets are great and that they want to make the microsite and its related components the de facto hub for field reps to use. It’s almost unheard of for them to back sending reps away from their own digital properties, so I think that’s a real testament to the work done here.”
– Harris Sussman, Global Alliance & Partner Marketing Manager
Are you hitting your lead generation targets but your conversion into sales opportunities is not meeting your expectations? Not only does a weak lead conversion rate increase the sales team’s lack of interest and faith in marketing qualified leads, but more importantly it is hurting the company’s bottom line.
After spending money and efforts into generating leads, how can you ensure they are moving down the funnel and generating more revenue?
Here are 5 best practices that will help you improve your B2B lead conversion efforts.
Strengthen sales and marketing alignment
It is no secret that marketing and sales can be quite disconnected from each other. Marketing is working on a new product launch, while sales might be focused on growing a different side of the business which often results in marketing efforts not being properly followed up on and sales complaining about not getting the right support. Bringing these teams together is a key success factor to increase conversions.
Align your goals: Sales and marketing goals should always be supporting each other, whether it be which market(s) to focus on or how many qualified leads are needed for the sales team to hit their target. As obvious as this may sound, having a regular check in will ensure that both teams remain on the same page.
Set a higher standard for lead quality: As part of aligning sales and marketing goals, also ensure that your definition of a marketing qualified lead and sales qualified lead meets both teams’ expectations. If you are struggling with conversion, it might be time to revise these definitions and set a higher standard for lead quality. By keeping them longer in the hands of marketing, leads are better qualified and therefore more likely to convert when they get in the hands of the sales team.
Empower the sales team: Marketing has a personal interest in seeing the leads they generate convert into not only sales opportunities but also revenue. To optimize conversions, the marketing team needs to support the sales team by educating them on their initiatives and providing them with the right tools, (such as additional resources and messaging), to help them cross the finish line.
Refine your targeting
One of the first rules in marketing is to understand your audience well. However, to what level of complexity you choose to segment your audience is up to you. If your organization is suffering from a low lead conversion rate, refining your targeting strategy is a must!
Identify specific buyer personas: While segmentation is not a new concept in marketing, building buyer personas is too often ignored by B2B marketers because of its complexity. And yet 58% of b2b content marketers consider “Audience Relevance” to be the most important factor in determining content marketing effectiveness according to the 2014 B2B Content Marketing Spotlight Report.
Understand your buyer’s journey: Spend some time understanding your buyer’ journey by reviewing all of the steps your buyer is taking, from the time he/she first becomes a lead to the close of the deal. Consider what information they need before they are ready to buy, how long the cycle is, what communication channel they like, and so on.
Create tailored campaigns and messaging: Once step one and two are established you can start crafting targeted and personalized campaigns for each persona which will help move your leads down the funnel and yield a much higher return on investment.
Engage and nurture your leads
You have spent time and money on generating new leads, but they are not ready to buy and are stuck in pipeline limbo. The good news is that someone who has already raised their hand is much more likely to convert than a new lead. In other words, you are sitting on great untapped potential that just needs to be warmed up a little longer until you have either gained their trust or the time is right for them to buy from you. Leverage the work done from defining buyer personas to build strong and tailored nurture streams and provide engaging and relevant content until they are mature enough to be handed over to your sales team.
Here is an example of a nurture stream:
1st email – Start with an educational thought leadership asset on a specific topic
2nd email – Follow with a third-party analyst report explaining why this topic is relevant and how to choose the right solution (ideally ranking you very well of course)
3rd email – Provide a customer case study or video praising your solution
4th email – End on a more salesy messaging explaining why you are the right solution provider for them to partner with.
By the end of this nurture stream, if the time is right for them, you have their attention and the sales team will be happy to take over.
Test, test, test
The beauty of digital marketing is that you can make fast changes to your campaigns and try out different strategies with little or no additional investment. This is particularly true with email marketing but is also applicable throughout your entire digital presence.
Here are a few things you can easily test out and tweak along the way with very little effort:
Try different delivery channels, days and times. One of your targeted persona might be more responsive to social media while the other will respond better to an email. Some people read their emails first thing Monday morning while others catch up Friday afternoon after a full week of traveling…
Try out engaging headlines, offers and hooks. Take advantage of free online tools to help you craft attention-grabbing headlines and email subjects to get your audience to pay attention as well as great hooks to keep their attention.
Try various Call to Actions (CTA). Always keep CTAs clear and simple (i.e. click here to download the report, click here to contact us, etc.) to get your audience to take the next step right away.
Trying out different strategies can help you understand what works best for your audience and optimize their nurture streams to efficiently move them down the pipeline. To optimize and speed up this process, you can decide to do some A/B testing to test two different versions at once.
Learn and optimize
One pitfall that any organization can fall into is to be focused on what’s coming next without taking the time to reflect on recent achievements, particularly if the ROI target wasn’t met. Nonetheless, there is a lot to learn from mistakes and testing out new strategies and tactics. With the vast amount of marketing tools available to execute, optimize and analyze campaigns, marketers have the opportunity not only to show the organization how they are contributing to the company’s growth but also the ability to constantly fine tune their marketing strategy and activities in order to optimize its results.
Set clear goals to measure results against and draw clear learnings from (i.e. number of new leads, number of meetings, number of downloads, etc.).
Have consistent and clear reporting methods to make the most sense of marketing accomplishments and compare different campaign results against each other.
Apply learnings to on-going or future campaigns to optimize results. Don’t be afraid to scratch off certain strategies that didn’t pay off as much as anticipated and spend more effort on the ones that did.
These five steps to improve your B2B lead conversion rate are not a one-time thing but rather an on-going strategy that help successful marketers continuously improve their ROI and contribute to the company’s growth.
Content marketing is a must for any business now in today’s digital age. In a recent blog post, we discussed how the B2B buying process is generationally shifting with consumers doing more research on their own before connecting with a company sales representative. With this shift in the sales cycle, content marketing has evolved strategically and is now focused more on ‘quality over quantity.’
How can your marketing team keep up with the demands of producing high-quality and valuable content, and what should you start doing now to improve the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts?
Document Your Content Strategy
Before a sports team goes out onto the field for a game, there is always a strategic plan in place. Likewise, your content marketing efforts should have a plan in place by developing a comprehensive content strategy. A content strategy is defined as the thoughtful distribution of content through digital channels in order to position your organization as a thought leader in your space.
When developing your content strategy, consider the following key questions to help guide you in the right direction:
Have you created buyer personas?
Are you aligned with your company’s business goals?
Do you have a process in place to test content performance?
Is your content scalable and repurposable to maximize your efforts?
A content strategy will make planning and organizing new content types and topics easier and more streamlined.
Create a Mix of Gated and Ungated Content
There are clear benefits of both gating and not gating content, the sweet spot is finding the right mix for your target audience to meet your lead generation goals.
Gated content is a great tactic to use by providing highly-valuable assets (i.e. an eBook or whitepaper) and ‘gating’ it behind a web form that requires visitors to provide key pieces of contact information.
To give you an idea on what content types you should consider offering behind gated landing pages, a recent study from Curata reported the content types that B2B buyers would be most willing to provide their contact information for:
Third-party/analyst reports (66%).
Industry research and benchmark reports are powerful ways to position your company as an industry thought leader. And webinars are a great way to create personal connection with select prospects, as well as demonstrate your knowledge and niche expertise. As with all other aspects of your marketing efforts, consider what has worked best in the past when developing new content.
The other big secret about gated content – it makes your content seem more important and exclusive. Asking for something in return for a report, whitepaper or case study sends the unconscious message that this document, and the content inside of it are worth more than say blogs or articles.
Ungated content is also beneficial for your website, as you want to also provide value to potential customers. . Using only gated assets in your content marketing strategy will hinder your web visitors’ ability to easily browse your site and more ‘free’ content will keep them coming back.
Ungated content should include items such as:
It is important to have a variety of ungated content in your strategy to show the value of your organization and present yourself as a thought leader in your industry. This type of content will also encourage visitors to spend more time reading about your various offerings and grasp a better understanding of your company, without the pressure of having to provide their contact information.
Appeal to Your Audiences’ Content Consumption Habits
It’s one thing to push out eBooks, blogs, case studies and other content, but creating material that visitors are willing to spend some time and engage with is another challenge.
Visual and video content formats have held the top spot in highest ranked assets in content marketing. Most consumers want content that is easy to digest and doesn’t require too much time, so they turn to short videos, between 1-3 minutes, and visuals such as infographics.
Eye tracking studies show internet readers pay close attention to information-carrying- images. In fact, when the images are relevant, readers spend more time looking at the images than they do reading text on the page. This study backs the many notions and predictions that visual content will soon begin to dominate written content and become more prevalent within content marketing.
If you are going to focus your efforts on blogs and articles, consider the following questions to learn more about your audience first:
What content is your audience interacting with most frequently?
About how much time do they spend on a page or article?
What links do visitors click on?
How do visitors find your blog posts and articles?
These answers will help you tailor not only your individual content pieces, but also your overall content marketing strategy to match the wants and interests of those visiting your site.
Don’t Neglect Your Brand
Your organization’s brand is the pulse of your company, and should be apparent in everything that is published. Your brand perception can be enhanced by your content marketing efforts through voice, stylistic choices and visual publications.
You can insert your brand into your content marketing effort by developing a documented corporate style guide. This will provide clear guidelines on communication, design and voice/tone for your organization to follow and ensure brand consistency when developing all of the types of content pieces we’ve discussed.
When multiple organizations come together via merger or acquisition, each entity brings with it different levels of brand equity, awareness, recognition and attachment. The challenges that arise in enabling success in these instances are numerous, and many are deeply personal to the companies’ employees and customers. A taxing challenge for marketing leaders is then knowing how to effectively evolve their messaging and branding in a way that reflects a positively changed and stronger whole.
The pitfalls of brand and message evolution are plenty. Examples include the creation of customer and market confusion, heightened employee anxiety and increased adoption hesitancy. The right approach, however, will minimize your likelihood of falling into these traps. So, if you’re anticipating a merger or acquisition, or you’re already in the thick of one, consider the following to unify your B2B messaging and branding.
Be Driven by Data
Our work with organizations that are changing as part of a merger or acquisition or those simply recalibrating their go-to-market messaging always begins with focused research. The goal of this research is to identify stakeholder and market perceptions, needs, challenges and expectations and use the findings from this work to shape the brand and message evolution. Our primary means of capturing this information lies in creating engaging surveys that elicit candid and authentic responses.
There are three groups that you should typically reach out to – current customers, prospective customers and individuals attached to recently lost deals. All possess an unbiased outside-in perspective of your company that your internal teams wouldn’t be able to provide.
Current customers generally have well-formed thoughts of what they do/don’t like about various aspects of your organization and where they’d like to see you go next. Prospects (or leads in the early stages of your sales pipeline) illuminate the criteria they apply in evaluating service or solution providers. Stakeholders that were part of recently lost deals shed light on the tipping points that made them go in another direction. IMPORTANT: To avoid bias and ensure objectivity, this research should be conducted by an outside party or company.
Questions to ask your survey participants might include:
What attributes of a brand do you look when evaluating a service/solution/product provider?
What do you like most about the current approach and offerings of XYZ company?
What major or minor improvements would you like to see from XYZ company?
What wants or needs do you think XYZ company aims to addresses?
The findings that come from this data will help you identify themes to both emphasize and embody as well as areas that you should avoid.
Engage and Involve Employees
Employee anxieties and hesitancy in adopting brand shifts are natural. Questions of “what does this mean for me” and “how will this affect our company” are always going to arise. Leaders must address these points head on and not just hope that there going to subside over time. That means proactive and thorough communication and engagement with every department and individual within your company.
A formal communication plan as part of a broader change management strategy is an integral part of any brand and messaging evolution. Employees want to be heard and to share in the belief that this new organizational entity is a positive step.
As changes to messaging and branding are implemented or discussed, avoid making employees feel that they are not part of the process or that they’re not being given enough information on what’s changing and why.
Form a Firm Foundation
Many leaders mistakenly reduce branding to the “visuals” of the company – the logo, color scheme, font choice and the “way we say what we do.” Those elements are indeed important, but one’s brand is projected in every single interaction with customers, prospects, employees, markets and communities. It extends beyond what people see to what they experience, and ultimately feel, when it comes to your organization.
While visuals and the “way we say what we do” are commonly cited as important brand elements, these elements are not often given the level of attention and care they require. If you haven’t done so already, create and formalize a corporate style guide to articulate your B2B messaging and describe what your company’s “because” is. Items it should contain include:
Visual and written content elements (e.g. icons, boilerplate messaging, etc.)
Logo usage (e.g. positioning, variations allowed/prohibited, sizing)
Color usage (e.g. color values, spectrums, combinations)
Rules associated with brand items (e.g. how taglines are to be used, co-logo policy)
Process steps for resolving branding questions
Your corporate style guide should also echo and reflect key brand promises. These are the core values that your organization strives to uphold in all interactions. Core values should be discussed, reviewed and agreed upon by everyone at the executive level of your company and evangelized and embodied in every interaction. Your best brand ambassadors are already employed within your organization, but they must be enabled and empowered for success.
Proceed at the Right Pace
There are many aspects of brand and message evolution that go unnoticed (or undecided) in the calamity that’s common with mergers and acquisitions. Addressing these ‘unnoticed’ details head on can distinguish a successful merger from merely a completed one.
Refrain from moving fast for the sake of moving fast. Hasty decisions based on feelings and not wedded with objective data and aligned decision making can have lasting and dire effects. It’s wise to move deliberately and to find quick wins to elicit engagement and positivity, but don’t become beholden to arbitrary or self-induced timelines or milestones that can ultimately create unneeded chaos.
Questions executives should ask themselves before, during and after a merger or acquisition:
What is our shared vision for our customers and market space?
What are our key brand promises? Are we enabling and empowering their delivery?
Does our brand identity (colors, messaging, feel) reflect who we are and want to be?
Are our leaders and employees embodying and effectively adopting our brand?
Expect and Own Mistakes
Remember that brands are built by humans and that hiccups are bound to happen along the way. That’s okay so long as you remain committed to addressing the issues as they arise and embrace them as opportunities to improve. Your brand should always be evolving and may need to shift if the needs of your customers demand it.
It’s also important not to wait for mistakes or undesired perceptions to present themselves. Actively seek feedback from your teams and employees to get their thoughts on how your new brand and messaging is being perceived both internally and externally. Engage with customers directly to determine whether they are experiencing the changes in a positive way or if they have concerns. In short, continue to communicate.
Get Back to Business
While the items above are by no means ALL the pain points you’ll need to identify and address when part of a merger or acquisition, they do provide you a solid place to start. And as always, the best medicine for curing branding confusion is continuing to steadfastly concentrate on solving challenges and delivering value for your customers.