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“How are we going to produce that much content? We don’t have enough writers or designers to publish all that. There’s no freaking way.”
These represent the array of responses Launch Marketing has often heard over the years working with clients to develop marketing plans that feature a consistent cadence of content development and distribution.
When one looks at the details of a plan that calls for 70 blog posts, 8 unique webinars, 12 newsletters, 4 eBooks, 5 white papers plus a dizzying number of supportive emails, social media posts, PR elements and countless one-off content needs (phew!) it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
Now, we’re not going to tell you it’s easy to accomplish content marketing objectives like these. But we are going to tell you it’s not nearly as hard as many make it out to be. With planning, consistency and a pragmatic view of your in-house expertise and content development capabilities, there’s no reason you can’t deliver on a marketing plan that effectively supports a content marketing strategy.
Here are five things to think about throughout your content development efforts:
Know your strengths and gaps
If you want 700+ words on technology trends in 2019, for example, you wouldn’t reach out to your finance department for content ideas. Someone else on the team though – such as someone from IT or a developer – may be fully versed in that space and can help generate content for you with ease. In the same vein, if you want to develop content that resonates with your audience, you should be reaching out to your sales team to determine your customers’ pain points and interests.
If you identify knowledge gaps far enough in advance during the planning phase, these can serve as great development opportunities for individual team members to learn (and then write or speak) about the topics they learn about. The key is to understand your team’s relative strengths and weaknesses and the content development gaps you need to address.
Take a “one-to-many” production approach
An obvious but overlooked secret of delivering on content streams is that you don’t have to start from scratch for every piece of content. For example, use the slide deck or transcript from a recent webinar to get a head start on a similarly focused white paper or vice versa. Another idea to consider is expanding on one of the sections of a great eBook from last quarter to use as fuel for your next blog post.
Because audiences have different content consumption preferences, using existing assets to produce similar content in other formats – such as text, visuals and videos – can be a powerful lever for amplifying your content development capabilities.
Find the right medium
Few of us are equally as advanced in writing, speaking and related skills such as being compelling on camera. Let’s acknowledge that but not use “I’m just not a good writer” or “I freeze up when trying to speak to an audience” as an excuse for why we can’t support content development efforts.
For example, if you’re a solid speaker you can record your thoughts on the subject at hand via your phone and have another team member form that into a written narrative. Another option is to have a team member interview you or another subject matter expert on a topic.
Find whatever medium works for you and your content stakeholders and then leverage the strengths of others to get content over the finish line.
Leverage external help (intelligently)
Sometimes we simply don’t have every required content resource in-house and that’s okay. What’s not okay is accepting that as a reason for not supporting your content marketing strategy at all.
Determine the specific areas where you need assistance and set about securing it. It may be up front help in crafting an overall content marketing strategy and plan, assistance on the editorial side forming thought leaders’ ideas and insights into the content narratives you need or in distributing your content to the right audiences once its produced.
We hate to break it you, but in most cases your content may not be viewed in the same light as the next Pulitzer-winning novel. Yes, it still needs to be compelling, offer valuable information and presented in the proper voice and format, but obsessing over every word choice and grammatical detail can lead to paralysis by analysis.
Focus on delivering value-added content that resonates with your audience and you’ll be on your way to an effective content strategy.
We hope we’ve helped calm your content development nerves at least a little. Delivering on a comprehensive content marketing plan is something that be initially daunting for sure, but proactive planning and an honest assessment of your current capabilities will enable you to fill any gaps needed to succeed in your content marketing efforts.
In a survey recently conducted by Marketing Charts, B2B companies reported that events help generate more leads than any other strategy. Even with that reassurance, event investment can feel counterintuitive when measured against digital technologies that can reach thousands of target buyers with a single, often less expensive campaign.
Though modern digital marketing offers a multitude of ways to connect with buyers across channels and platforms, events allow you to engage with your prospects face-to-face in high quality interactions. Whether you’re speaking at a thought leadership conference or highlighting the features of your product or service at a trade show, events are a valuable way to personalize your company and establish a strong presence with your target audience.
However, realizing the full return on investment for your next event requires more than an in-depth presentation or an eye-catching booth. To fully leverage your attendance, it’s critical to develop a sound marketing strategy for before, during and after your next event.
Prior to attending any conference, trade show or summit, events should be scheduled and incorporated into your organization’s marketing plan. Doing so creates opportunities to make these events into more than just a one-day occurrence and enables engagement with those may not be able to attend in person. Rather than including only those shows you’ve gone to in the past, seek out new events worth attending as well. Planning well in advance ensures you’ll have the time and resources prepared to get the most out of each event, even unfamiliar ones.
Once you’ve crafted a viable event planning timeline, be sure to broadcast your attendance across multiple marketing channels. As each event approaches, take advantage of your website and social media channels to share that you will be exhibiting, attending, sponsoring or speaking at the event. Include your involvement in your company newsletter and consider leveraging existing online communities where prospects are already gathering and interacting. Additionally, encourage your sales team to mention event attendance when they’re interacting with prospects.
The engagement you drive beforehand is critical for attracting relevant leads to the event and ultimately, to your company booth. This is one of the pre-steps that expands your reach beyond just event attendees by leveraging your existing database of prospects and clients. Even if everyone you contact isn’t attending, it’s a great chance to showcase the creative elements and strategies you develop for the show to a wider audience and to offer other means of connecting outside of the event.
During the event
When attending the event, you should interact with both your in-person audience as well as your digital audience. This dual strategy allows you to broaden the reach of your attendance beyond just the prospects that stop by your booth. Use tactics such as live tweets and video highlights to create an immersive experience that your social followers can engage with. Share your involvement on LinkedIn and look for relevant LinkedIn Groups tied to the event that you can join. This is a perfect way to spark initial conversations with top-funnel leads and establish yourself as a knowledgeable thought leader in your industry.
To make the most out of your in-person attendance, talk to everyone and always exchange contact information. On average, 67% of all attendees represent a new prospect and potential customer for exhibiting companies. Be it a presenter or fellow exhibitor, you never know who you may want to stay in touch with after the show. Consider bringing subject matter experts from your team along in case attendees or media experts want to dive deeper into certain aspects of your business. Regardless of which team members you bring, ensure everyone has pre-planned talking points prior to the event so that key messages can be consistently reinforced.
Finally, events are a great opportunity to survey your industry and competitive landscape. Polish up your understanding of who your competitors are in the marketplace and look for new industry developments to capitalize on. As you engage with a variety of attendees, this is also a perfect time to hone your buyer personas and their individual needs. These findings will translate to key insight for your messaging strategy and can even be leveraged post-show for high-value thought leadership content.
After the event
After the event has passed, your immediate priority is to follow up with any leads captured from the event. Your follow-up approach can be as simple as sharing keynote speakers’ slides or articles relevant to the event via email. Connecting with prospects on LinkedIn is another simple yet effective strategy for sparking early-funnel conversations. Be sure to track any follow-ups as they progress through your sales cycle to glean further insight on your event ROI and the effectiveness of your lead conversion.
When following up, consider including thought leadership content from your company or industry updates from the event in your content marketing efforts. Craft a mix of sales collateral as well as high-value gated assets that drive traffic and downloads on your site. This approach simultaneously boosts your lead generation efforts and builds a reputable brand image for your company.
Lastly, invest in the time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Request feedback from any employees you took along, as well as from your sales team as they begin moving leads through the funnel. The important takeaway is that there are opportunities to capitalize on at every stage of the event process. Regardless of the individual tactics your company employs, they should ultimately support your lead generation goals and boost revenue for your business.
Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is a B2B strategy in which businesses target a clearly defined set of targeted accounts and create personalized campaigns focused on key decision makers within those accounts.
Instead of casting a wide net to capture an array of varying leads, the focus is placed on quality over quantity. Targets are generally high-yield accounts and are considered a good fit for the business’ products or services. Marketing efforts are thus more personalized to the individual prospects and can lead to higher conversion rates.
Through ABM, landing these target business accounts often means generating more revenue, penetrating new and desirable territories and positively influencing your market.
Initial Considerations for ABM Strategies
Your very first step to get started with account-based marketing will be to identify your target accounts based on your buyer personas. Additionally, there are several key factors to consider when developing your target account list.
Revenue opportunity is a huge consideration as one of your goals of an ABM strategy should be to identify new revenue-generating opportunities. Take some time to compare target account revenue opportunities to your average deal size. Focus on those accounts as well as consider tapping into verticals or markets that you have not reached out to.
Targeting large- (enterprise) and small-sized (startups) both come with their sets of pros and challenges. Big name companies can give a boost to your client portfolio and improve your brand’s trustworthiness, but may require more resources to get buy-in from the target account’s decision maker. Targeting smaller-sized companies will typically require less time to close in the sales cycle, but may result in lower revenue opportunities. Whichever organization size you approach is totally dependent on your company’s unique persona profile.
Matching Your Business Offerings to Target Accounts’ Pain Points
Target accounts’ needs should be a direct match to your offerings. Closely align AMB efforts to those prospects that will benefit from using your products or services. It is a waste of time, money and resources if you market to the wrong audience.
Understand your competition when targeting an account. If you are able to, research what companies the target already interacts with on a regular basis. If those companies are direct competitors, identify the unique value proposition from your products/services that would compel the target account to choose your business or solution over the competitor’s offerings. Those key benefits and value propositions are favorable messaging points to really capture your target’s attention.
When implementing ABM, another key consideration should be the geographic location of your target accounts. Do you want to focus on local businesses in your sales team’s territories or perhaps you have a cloud-based solution that can be utilized anywhere globally? Discuss what geographic boundaries to have based on supporting your organization’s sales goals.
If you are looking to expand your reach, targeting accounts in untapped regions is also a great way to broaden your market. Start by researching companies in a specific area that would be interested in your offerings and then narrow your list based on the other key considerations already mentioned.
Prioritize and Finalize ABM Lists
Once you have your list of target accounts, assign priority levels before finalizing. Priority levels will vary depending on what you set as important business goals.
When creating your priority levels, include variables such as the buyer’s journey. Accounts that will be easier to drive through a sales funnel should be of higher priority, as the resources it will take to gain them as clients may be much smaller, and thus your ROI much higher.
Readily-available content to use for your marketing efforts to specified accounts should also raise the priority of that target. Leveraging high quality content that aligns to the business needs of easy-to-reach accounts will often closely align to your business goals.
Segment your accounts with different priority levels into separate lists. It is easier to view your target accounts relevance from a more organized view. Do not create more than five lists, two to three is ideal and more manageable.
Set Goals & Monitor Engagement
Establish your goals and set up metrics to measure engagement from your ABM campaigns. Having the right metrics in place to measure and track your marketing efforts will make it easier to monitor the progress on achieving your ABM goals.
Sync with your marketing and sales teams to determine the best way to track target account activity and progress. Create a marketing dashboard to track performance and share with your team regularly to keep everyone on the same page. Track what responses you receive from ABM target accounts such as emails, social media interactions, content downloads and website engagement – being sure to have a defined lead scoring process in place for each of these interactions.
Identify high and low activity profiles and monitor their relative lead scores as you do. It is important to monitor lead scoring as you go through engagement process. High activity profiles should take precedence over low activity profiles, as they will likely be easier to advance though your sales funnel.
ABM Campaigns should be tailored to match where the target account is in your sales funnel. Not all accounts pass through at the same rate. At the top of the funnel, generate awareness and nurture the contacts you have already established with your retargeting efforts. As they move down the funnel, support interests exhibited and provide highly-focused content such as case studies, white papers or webinars.
Personalizing your ABM campaigns to match the buyer’s journey demonstrates interest in your target accounts and knowledge in their business.
Determine all of the distribution channels available to reach your target accounts and evaluate which channels are best fit for both your business and your target’s business.
Work with what you already have on deck. Save yourself the time and energy of creating entirely new campaigns for each profile. But remember to keep it personal. Personalized content, even as simple as their name in an email greeting, can generate higher engagement rates.
Keep diligent and detailed tracking of your generated revenue from your account-based marketing efforts.
This is the most important step to ensuring your sales and marketing teams are aligned. Check in with sales to see what content and messaging is resonating and what’s not. Pull data from teams and communicate regularly about what the data is saying about your effectiveness.
Revenue reaching or surpassing your goals is obviously an ideal outcome. Analyze what has worked well with those accounts. Replicate efforts that returned positive results on similar target accounts and other lists.
You may also notice that those same efforts don’t work on all accounts. It is good to remember your lead scoring and respond to the engagement the target account has already demonstrated. Account-based marketing is not about blanket targeting, but rather finding better fit targets for higher-quality leads.
“The most important thing we can do as marketers is focus on revenue generation versus lead generation.” – Christa Kleinhans Tuttle
Content marketing has become a fixture of B2B marketing strategy for leading companies, and for good reason- per dollar spent, content marketing generates approximately 3 times as many leads as traditional marketing. Beyond lead generation power, content marketing also allows you to communicate directly with your target buyer and explain how your product or service can address their unique pain points.
These benefits can prove especially valuable when it comes to launching a new product or service. Educating potential buyers early can promote awareness and begin to cultivate top-funnel leads that you can nurture. To maximize the impact and ROI of your launch content marketing strategy, taking a deliberate approach to the development and distribution of your content and resources is key. A piecemeal, rushed content strategy won’t necessarily add any benefit to your product launch—rather, it may just burden your team.
So, how do you do it right, reel in leads and grow your launch day audience? In this blog, we’ll cover specific content marketing and sharing tactics and assets that can boost the impact and reach of your launch.
Drive awareness with social media
2019 is expected to have approximately 2.77 billion social media users across the globe. For many, this makes social media an ideal first stop to connect with a large audience instantaneously. In order to make the most of your social media presence, take the time to investigate which platforms your target buyers are engaging on. This step informs a targeted social media strategy rather than a flurry of impersonal posts with little chance of catching your buyer’s eye.
Once you’ve determined the best mediums for your audience, find ways to distinguish your presence from competitors’. For instance, look for chat or hashtag threads to participate in. Not only is this tactic a great way to engage in friendly conversations with potential buyers, but these threads can multiply your reach by connecting to a broader community of users. You can even host your own chat to amplify anticipation for launch day.
To solidify your social media strategy’s impact, make sure you’re integrating posts with other marketing materials. Include clickable links to access each of your social handles on your website and at the bottom of company emails. Promote blogs or press releases across platforms. Also, consider social media management tools that allow you to pre-load posts and share them across multiple channels with ease. Integrating your strategy presents a unified and consistent brand during the critical awareness stage of your content marketing efforts.
Create engaging website content and experiences
Designing an informative and easy-to-navigate website is critical as you start funneling in potential leads. A smooth website experience can also differentiate you in the B2B tech space. As TrustRadius discovered from their recent survey, 74% of B2B buyers find it difficult to sift through jargon and “fluff” to unearth product capabilities, much less detect which of their problems it solves.
To combat this frustration on your own site, design messaging with your buyer personas in mind. What unique pain points are they grappling with? How does your product address their needs? After you’ve answered these questions, you can craft an informative and direct website that immediately gets to the heart of what they’re looking for.
After ensuring a positive website experience for users, you can now focus on turning your site into a lead generation engine for your new product or service. Take steps such as featuring highly relevant, gated content to assimilate an email list for launch day. Build out a press page so that more tactical, factual information can be found easily. An engaging website is not only a foundational component of your content marketing strategy, but it is key for proactively growing your launch day audience.
Inform your audience with blogs
Once you’ve built a substantial online presence, an important consideration is to share informative and relevant content with your users through blogs. In roughly 500-1,500 words, you can generate goodwill and thought leadership points by offering substantial “free” content. Not only do blog posts grow rapport with your readers prior to launch, they’re also ideal for demonstrating a firm understanding of your target’s pain points. Like your website messaging, blogs that resonate with your audience and support your product as a viable solution are invaluable assets to your content marketing arsenal.
Aside from informing potential buyers, blogs can also be leveraged to boost the strength of your online presence through link-building and guest posts. Linking to other internal assets can improve your SEO performance, as well as drive downloads or form submissions if the content is gated. Guest posts on third party sites can establish name recognition for your company well before launch day and grow exposure and website traffic in the process.
Close deals with effective sales collateral
Even with an impressive return on investment, a solid content marketing strategy can demand a lot of time and resources and feel especially overwhelming prior to launching a new product or service. However, a key function of much of the content you create early on is its ability to be repurposed for sales collateral immediately or down the road.
As your sales team begins to engage with prospective buyers, take note of common pain points they hear. With these commonalities in mind, you can tweak your website messaging to better reflect your buyers’ frustrations and needs. Additionally, consider revisiting existing blog posts to develop targeted pieces and use cases for particular issues your sales team comes across. Not only can you include these assets in your content repertoire, but sales members can immediately share them with prospects struggling with the same problem.
Looking for more ways to boost your pre-launch marketing efforts? You might enjoy these quick reads:
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.
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’s 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 helps successful marketers continuously improve their ROI and contribute to the company’s growth.
With each new year and sometimes each new meeting, ideas abound with initiatives that just might make the difference when it comes to one’s B2B marketing efforts. The trouble is, new ideas and wish list additions tend to flow much easier than do the tradeoffs or supplemental resources that are typically necessary to bring these items to fruition.
There are a myriad of reasons that you may want to hire a marketing firm to take on aspects of your B2B marketing efforts for your company or a new product or service. Maybe you need strategic guidance to ensure you’re effectively addressing the most opportunistic market segments, insight on how to get more quality leads into the funnel more quickly or branding expertise to make sure your collateral and messaging are properly conveying who you are as a company.
Regardless of your individual needs, executive leaders and heads of marketing often struggle with the question of how to get more from their marketing when they feel they can’t take anything off their plate or find new time to add to the day. It’s easy to rationalize further fragmenting the attention of already stretched thin resources.
Instead of piling more onto your already full plate, consider these benefits of using an external B2B marketing firm to generate value for the long haul. Your business—and your sanity—will thank you.
1. You and your team can focus on core objectives.
Putting the responsibility of select marketing initiatives onto an outside B2B marketing team allows you to focus on your critical few objectives rather than creating a fragmented many. By turning to a reliable team of experts who are familiar with and fluent in B2B marketing best practices, you protect the bandwidth you and your team need to tackle everything you’ve already been tasked with and advance new marketing opportunities simultaneously.
2. You overcome the biases and blocks of being so close to your company, product or service.
Have you talked about a marketing project for so long that it’s started to blur and left you bewildered as to what you are really trying to achieve or how you’d be able to accomplish it? Have you exclaimed “how did we not see that?” after moving in an obvious-after-the-fact wrong direction? The cognitive biases that naturally creep in when we get spend so much time with one focus and singular point of view can make for bad marketing decisions. Getting a fresh set of eyes from a B2B marketing firm can serve as a bias blocker and self-check for on-target mission execution and message alignment.
3. You gain the insights of work the firm has done for others in your shoes.
In the case of our B2B marketing firm, we’ve worked with nearly 200 B2B companies at different stages of growth on nearly every facet of B2B marketing. As a result, we’ve seen what works, what hasn’t and where organizations have gone astray from implementation or process perspectives. A solid B2B marketing firm will have a base of experience and best practices applications that will help you accelerate initiatives faster and avoid the pitfalls that befell others who have traversed similar paths before you.
4. You firm up the foundation of your marketing strategy.
Measure twice and cut once. While often applied to carpentry and construction, this adage applies to marketing strategy as well. Often leaders feel like or are convinced they have a clear vision of where they need to go from a marketing standpoint to accomplish their business objectives. But starting on the right path and being able to quickly get back to it if you veer off course is critical for success. Whether cementing your buyer personas or vetting your ideal client profile and total addressable market, getting honest assessment and advisement from external B2B marketing experts will strengthen your strategy and instill you with data-backed confidence that you’re headed in the right direction.
Don’t get guilted into “doing it all.”
Leaders need to remain steadfastly protective of their organization’s resources and budgets. But when it comes to accomplishing ambitious or mission-critical marketing objectives, the easier answer of solely adding incremental internal responsibilities is commonly not the right one. Amplifying the power of your team with focused external B2B marketing experts can be a positive difference maker for your organization. Try as we might, there comes a point where squeezing more out of ourselves, our teams or our days just isn’t practical or realistic.
Virtually all B2B marketers agree that it’s essential to develop buyer personas and apply them in all aspects of their marketing efforts. But despite this recognition, there is a great deal of variance and inconsistency in how buyer personas are developed and applied.
Before we get into the steps for developing personas for your organization, let’s get aligned on some of the basics and explore a few foundational questions surrounding B2B Buyer Personas.
What are Buyer Personas?
Buyer personas are composite, semi-fictional, general representations of your ideal customers. They’re composite in that they show or convey a range of important characteristics of these individuals. They’re semi-fictional because while real customer names should not be used, real customer data should be analyzed and applied in developing your buyer personas. And lastly, they’re general in that they are not an exact reflection of any one customer.
How many Buyer Personas do we need?
There isn’t a single magic number of personas that organizations should have. What is important is that your respective personas reflect your primary ideal customer types and that key secondary customer profiles are also considered.
For some, identifying and articulating “negative” personas – types of individuals that you don’t want as customers, may also be helpful. Negative personas might include those in certain industries or those with attributes that suggest a high likelihood of churn or poor fit.
How are Buyer Personas used in B2B marketing?
Fundamentally, buyer personas help us to personalize and refine our marketing outreach and messaging in a way that best fits the needs of the respective customer types. In other words, they provide a framework for delivering the right messages and offers… to the right customers and prospects… at the right time… and in the way each one wants to receive them.
As an example, different buyer personas may have different pain points that need to be reflected in your messaging. Some may have information intake preferences that suggest different approaches to your marketing mix to accommodate them. Other characteristics may help to inform the offer types that a specific persona is most likely to respond to.
Steps for Developing Great B2B Buyer Personas
With an understanding of the key questions above as a backdrop, let’s move into the steps for developing your B2B Buyer Personas.
Below we’ll explore the main steps you’ll want to cover in developing out the right buyer personas for your organization. Make sure you set aside as much time as is needed to get each step right and be sure to seek alignment and feedback from relevant stakeholders along the way. With that principle in mind, let’s get to the steps:
Gather the right data
Even though they’re fictional, buyer personas should always be based on a foundation of accurate and relevant quantitative and qualitative data. Get quantitative data from internal data sources (e.g. marketing database) and supplement it as needed with secondary data from external sources such as customer trends and state of the industry reports. Glean qualitative insights through conversations with key internal stakeholders, interviews with current or prospective customers or industry relationships. Here are a few examples of the types of data to consider:
Anecdotal / Behavioral (e.g. known interests, information sources, communication preferences)
Identify and articulate common characteristics, pain points and goals
If data serves as the foundation for developing buyer personas, think of this stage as building the framework of your different buyer personas. Here, you’ll begin mapping out and documenting the various features and attributes that define your respective personas. Questions to consider at this stage should include:
What are the clusters of each persona’s age, background, role?
In what sectors and geographies are the respective personas concentrated in?
What are the recurring pain points, objectives and goals of each persona?
Add behavioral detail to bring your personas to life
Now that we have a foundation and framework for our personas, it’s time to really bring them to life. Get beyond the bullets and overarching characteristics here by adding in behavioral details that spell out their unique preferences and depict what a “day in the life” looks like for each. The best buyer personas instill mental models into the minds of your marketing team and other stakeholder groups. Consider:
What meetings do they attend and what stakeholders do they most often interact with?
What mediums does each prefer for consuming data?
What are their favorite go-to sources for gathering information?
How do their work and personal lives intersect with their work lives?
Integrate your personas into your marketing efforts
This may seem like an obvious point, but organizations sometimes develop personas without ever effectively incorporating them into their overall marketing strategy and the marketing plans that support it. Others do a good job of incorporating personas early on, but don’t stick with it long enough to instill personas into their marketing culture for the long term. Questions to weigh include:
Has tailored messaging been developed for each persona type?
Have legacy assets been reviewed for alignment with your respective personas?
Has each stage of the buyer’s journey been addressed for each persona type?
Do you and your team regularly reference your buyer personas in marketing and business development conversations?
And there you have it, a model for developing buyer personas that you can apply throughout your B2B marketing efforts. Don’t forget, organizations change over time and people do too. Be sure to critically review and validate your personas from time to time (at least annually) to reflect any important shifts. Lastly, let us know how personas are working for you or if you have additional questions.
RealMassive is an Austin-based tech startup that connects tenants, investors, owners, properties and brokers in a modern, global commercial real estate (CRE) marketplace that is fueled by big data to provide an intuitive property list and search tools, digital marketing capabilities and real-time performance analytics. As the company continued to grow rapidly, they needed help understanding, building out and implementing their marketing automation solution to support demand gen needs and ensure sales and marketing alignment.
Launch met with the RealMassive team to get a clearer picture of their short- and long-term goals, discuss their target audience profiles and analyze segmentation options within the team’s Marketo instance. Launch then led the RealMassive team through an exercise to determine accurate lead status naming conventions, sales funnel segments, status definitions and lead scoring, as well as their analytical reporting needs.
Once these activities were complete, Launch took the insights and data from previous digital marketing efforts and built out the Marketo instance to include segmentation, lead scoring, updated progressive profiling forms and smooth, seamless Salesforce integration. Additionally, the Launch team developed nurture streams for the identified segments, along with content and landing pages to put leads through an automated, 5-touch campaign. Sales and marketing metrics were also established to help the RealMassive team stay on track and keep the two teams tightly focused on shared objectives and definitions. In-person training wrapped up these efforts, leaving sales and marketing well equipped to make the most out of their newly enhanced systems.
“Launch Marketing played a key role in helping us take full advantage of our marketing automation solution – including integrating it to salesforce.com, establishing the lead funnel components and conversion points, and developing and implementing segmentation, scoring and nurture streams. Their knowledge, responsiveness and helpful guidance was extremely valuable in setting us up for long term success.”
— Mike Westgate, VP of Marketing
A good marketing strategy is key to the success of your company’s marketing efforts – from the messaging on your brochure to your website’s user experience. Unfortunately, many small- and medium-sized businesses approach marketing projects from a tactical standpoint, taking a responsive approach rather than a proactive one, and tackling projects as they come.
In 2019, make a resolution to take steps towards a forward-thinking strategy that is aligned with your goals, not putting out last-minute fires. B2B marketers must focus their marketing strategy on what they’re trying to accomplish, who they’re trying to reach, when they’re to reach their audience and how they will achieve their desired results. Follow these five tips to help ensure your marketing strategy is set up for success across all of your marketing efforts in the new year:
Identify your target audience
Your business most likely exists because there was a void in customer needs that wasn’t being met by other solutions in the market. You know your product or service better than anyone – but do you know your ideal customer better than anyone? Taking time to evaluate who is buying your product or service, who is most successful in using it, and what their overall profile looks like – their age, job title, business size, and so on – can help you further understand where to look for new customers.
Set the kind of goals you need to achieve desired ROI
One of the greatest benefits of marketing in the digital age is the various options available – social media, email campaigns, online ads, webinars, events – but knowing your capability to execute on these endeavors is equally important. Remember, when considering your marketing goals it is important to make sure they are SMART goals – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.
Failure to set up goals can cause a loss of focus in your marketing efforts and can have you and your marketing team feeling unorganized. For example, if you decide to start a company blog but can’t regularly create posts, you may lose credibility – and if your prospective customers aren’t looking to your blog as a source of information and aren’t influenced to purchase, it may not be a wise use of your time and resources.
Setting goals that are in line with achieving the maximum amount of ROI is critical to a successful marketing strategy.
Establish a plan to achieve those goals
It may sound basic, but having a clear marketing timeline with key milestones, deadlines and associated tasks is the foundation of your marketing strategy. Sometimes it’s easy to identify ideas and goals, but if no one is owning it, or deliverable dates keep being pushed back for other “fires to put out” you won’t achieve much. Having a clear plan that identifies your goals, deadlines, owners and successes helps prevent things being lost in the shuffle.
Set your plan into action
Once you’ve created a marketing plan with clear dates and milestones, it’s time to get started. Holding a kickoff meeting with stakeholders can be a fun way to get everyone engaged and excited. Schedule weekly standing meetings with your team to check in on the progress of ongoing marketing campaigns and ensure the activities being working on and completed are aligned with your marketing plan.
If everyone understands what a successful marketing strategy looks like, you’ll keep everyone on the same page.
Monitor activity – successes AND failures
If you’re sending email campaigns and no one is opening them, but have attended an event that yielded more qualified leads than you ever dreamed of, you probably have a good idea of what is or isn’t working with your customers. It may also be an indication of needing to outsource some pieces of your marketing strategy – maybe your emails would be well received but the message just isn’t there yet.
Make sure you have the appropriate reporting systems in place to track and monitor the results of your various marketing campaigns and use the data you collect to make data-driven recommendations and improvements for your campaigns. Continuing to use marketing channels that aren’t working for you is a waste of time and resources, and can sometimes also damage your brand.
Establishing a marketing strategy is a fun, and sometimes different, way to look at your company and the customers you serve. By following these five tips, you can ensure marketing success for your business while maximizing your efforts and achieving the highest ROI.