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With a traditional office, you will often have clients that come in and leave without signing the contract. Knowing how important it is to stay fresh in your customer’s mind, you could theoretically place billboards advertising your business at every location from their office to where they live. However, while this is an almost impossible (not to mention expensive) exercise in real life, B2B digital marketing makes it easy.

Advanced Digital Marketing techniques allow your ads to ‘follow’ people who have visited your website around as they browse other websites, social media, and even when they are checking their emails. This is called remarketing.

What is Remarketing?

Remarketing is basically a second chance to connect with your website visitors who did not purchase or enquire first time around. This is done by showing them targeted ads as they browse other parts of the Internet.

How Remarketing Works

To set up remarketing, you simply put a piece of code on your website. Every time you get a new visitor, your site will drop an anonymous browser ‘cookie’. Visitors who have ‘cookies’ enabled are then tracked as they browse other sites, where your remarketing ads are delivered to them.

Why Use Remarketing? Stay Connected

Remarketing keeps you fresh in the mind of your audience, even when they are not on your website or searching for your services. This can improve brand awareness and recognition.

Get More Conversions

Including remarketing as part of your digital strategy is one of the best ways to ensure a higher conversion rate. By reminding your target audience of your products and services, your company is more likely to be at the front of the consumer’s mind when they decide to purchase.

Higher ROI

Remarketing ads are typically cheaper than other digital pay-per-click ads. This means that conversion costs for remarketing campaigns tend to be much lower than search campaigns. However, as a lot of your remarketing audience is likely to have come from search campaigns, it’s important to also take these costs into consideration.

Segmentation

You can split your remarketing campaign into specific user groups to create highly targeted campaigns. For example, different groups can be set up based on gender, age group, parental status or location.

Highly Targeted

As you are targeting people who have already visited your website, you can create highly relevant ad text or images to help drive them back to your website. Remarketing campaign targeting can get very specific and sophisticated campaigns will use different imagery and messaging based on the pages or products that the audience viewed.

 Different Types of Remarketing

There are a number of different ways that you can remarket to your audience. The most appropriate way for your business will depend on a number of factors, such as how your audience spends their time online and the type messaging that you are trying to communicate. Below are some of the most common remarketing methods.

  • Website Remarketing: This is one of the most popular forms of remarketing, where your business’ image ads are displayed to the audience on other websites as they browse the web.
  • Search Remarketing: Search remarketing is a clever type of remarketing that targets users who search for keywords that are related to your product or service. You can bid so that your text ads can appear at the top of their search results.
  • Social Media Remarketing: Social media remarketing displays remarketed ads to your website visitors on their social networks.
  • Email Remarketing: Remarketing to your website audience straight to their inbox. This can also refer to contextual ads based on your email content
How to Set Up Remarketing

There are a number of remarketing service providers that make it easy to set up and manage your campaign. A few of the most commonly used are below:

  • Google AdWords: We can’t talk about online ads without mentioning the biggest online advertiser out there. Google has a huge display ad network as well as products like Gmail. By logging into your Google Adwords account, you can easily create your first remarketing campaign.
  • AdRoll: AdRoll is a popular option for marketers because they have multiple advertising partners. With AdRoll, you can set up ads using Facebook Exchange, the Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft online ad platforms. This allows you to virtually reach every site on the Internet.
  • Perfect Audience: Perfect Audience is a strong option for small businesses because of its simplicity. You don’t need a huge budget to work with them and they’re compatible with eCommerce solutions like Wordpress, Magento, 3dcart, and Shopify.
Why Remarketing is Particularly Effective for B2B Businesses

Remarketing is particularly effective for B2B businesses as B2B businesses sell more complex products, often at a very high price point. They also often sell products that are used by multiple end users, who are affected by the purchase decision. This means that the buying decision is much more high involvement, and given much more consideration than a simpler B2C purchase.

As such, the B2B sales cycle is longer as decision makers often need to develop a relationship with a business before they commit to buying a product. As part of the sales cycle, B2B buyers will comparison shop. It’s therefore important to continuously show them messaging that reinforces how your business can solve a problem that they have and add value to their business.

B2B marketers know that website visitors are unlikely to convert the first time that they are in contact with the business, which is why remarketing is such an effective strategy in this industry.

At the Lead Agency, we’ve worked on a number of successful B2B Remarketing campaigns.

We have a proven track record of creating campaigns that get results; from research and design to testing and implementation. Find out more about our B2B Remarketing services here.

The post Hacking the Buyer Journey – Remarketing for B2B Digital Marketers appeared first on The Lead Agency.

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You’ve read all the articles and you’ve listened to all the experts. You know that social media marketing is a key component of the B2B sales process – then how come you aren’t seeing the results you were hoping for?

 

Well, all those social media advocates weren’t wrong – social media marketing (SMM) is a key marketing and lead-nurturing tool. Just look at the statistics below.

 

  1. 83% of B2B marketers use social media; making it the most common B2B marketing tactic (Source)
  2. More than 70% of all B2B marketers use at least one of the “Big 4” social media sites (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube) to distribute content (Source)
  3. 54% of B2B marketers said they’ve generated leads from social media (Source)

 

So what is your B2B company doing wrong? You’ve followed the guidelines, you’re on all the most popular platforms, and you are regularly sharing content; yet you still can’t gain any traction. Find out below some of the most common reasons why B2B companies fail at social media marketing.

 

Five Reasons Why Social Media Marketing May Not Be For You

 

Social media is only a little over a decade old. As a result, its ‘shiny and new’ status has captured the imaginations of millions of entrepreneurs and marketers around the world – spouting endless articles and discussions online, in universities, at business events, and in boardrooms.

 

Nowadays, it is blasphemous to say social media doesn’t work for your business. You could be labeled a ‘luddite’ or your views as ‘antiquated’. But, in reality, social media doesn’t work for 100% of businesses 100% of the time.

 

There are five questions you need to consider before investing heavily in social media.

 

1.     Does Your Target Audience Use Social Media?

 

Social media may not be as ubiquitous as you think. Only 24% of small businesses in 2017 found social media important in acquiring new customers; whilst over 51% said they saw little to no benefit to their bottom line according to Statistica.

 

The B2B buyer journey is a complex one, requiring different messaging to each of the different stakeholders that play a role in the decision-making process.

 

Although social media might engage a younger millennial workforce; it may do little to engage an older upper management demographic who have grown up without it.

 

Social media is limited by who is on it. In B2B SMM, you are relying on the social media users in a company to filter the information up to the decision makers.

 

 

                      2.     Will Your Messaging Work On Social Media?

 

Social media is transient – very little of your company messaging will stick with customers. You only have to look at YouTube, with its five-second ad windows, to see how difficult it is to get your message across.

 

Social media relies on a constant stream of content. Many marketers will advocate that you have up to six seconds to win over your prospect with your message – this isn’t much time.

 

Recent Nueromarketing research indicates your impulsive ‘reptilian brain’ takes precedence over your rational decision-making neocortex processes; even in B2B purchases. As a result, you may have less than a second to make a real impression on a viewer.

 

Given the complexity of B2B products and services and their delivery, it is hard to convey those types of messages using a channel like social media.

 

3.     Do You Have A Solid Online Sales Funnel?

 

Social media is a great way to drive engagement and awareness of your product; however, engagement and awareness aren’t good enough if they don’t lead to sales.

 

Having a well developed website, with clear and enticing calls to action, should be your first consideration.

 

Consider your online sales funnel like a body of freshwater thawing its way down a mountain into a freshwater lake. Your social media is the snowy peak; it is very early on in the process. Your funnel is the series of glaciers, rivers and wetlands that lead to your figurative ‘lake of sales’. The better you establish your funnel the more of that snow is going to find it’s way to you.

 

Understanding the sales funnel can be complex. There are many ways to measure and evaluate your marketing activities. In the past, many marketers traditionally attributed the success of a campaign to whatever activity led to a sale – this was known as ‘single-source attribution’. However, with the advent of analytics and advanced measurement tools, the value of the marketing mix as a whole has gained a lot of traction.

 

In team sports, such as basketball, the players that are assisting are just as valuable as those making the shots. The same is true of modern marketing. Today, marketers attribute success to many channels and activities – this form of marketing is known as ‘multi-touch attribution’.

 

For an overview of multi-touch attribution follow this link – B2B Marketing Attribution – How Single Source Attribution Is Hurting Your Business.

 

4.     Do You The Have Time and Resources For Social Media?

 

Depending on the size of your business you might find that managing several social media accounts can be time-consuming, especially if you are one of many people who see social media as a chore and not a pleasure.

 

Having some form of social media is important. Even if you aren’t constantly updating it, setting up a Facebook and/or LinkedIn account with as much information as possible can be highly valuable to your potential customers.

 

Depending on your industry, finding content can be difficult. Don’t use up all your best stuff straight away; be sure to spread it out.

 

Minimise your commitment till you have the time to work on it or the resources to have someone assist you with it.

 

5.     Is There A Better Way To Spend Your Marketing Dollars?

 

Social media and other online channels can seem like easy ways to spend your marketing dollars. At the click of a button you can get your message out to thousands or even millions of people.

 

However, depending on your product, brand and target audience, spending that money on an ad in your local newspaper could bring in a much greater ROI.

 

Eight Insights to Better Your Social Media Marketing Efforts

 

So, you are convinced social platforms is the right channel for your business; yet, your posts go unliked, your followers will not engage with you and you’ve sunk a lot of money on sponsored content with little return.

 

Below are six lessons to guide you in your B2B social efforts. Find out what you are doing wrong, and how you can make SMM more meaningful and beneficial to you.

 

1.     Perspective Is Key

 

Before you can begin marketing your business properly on social media, you might need to re-evaluate your expectations. What outcomes do you want from your social activities?

 

Let’s be clear that social media is a fickle thing. You might prepare a campaign and you might do everything right, but there is no guarantee anyone will engage.

 

Returns from social media aren’t a straightforward matter of investing and seeing an equivalent pay off. Marketing on social platforms is more of a gamble. You have to be ‘in it to win it’ as they say.

 

You might have grown up in a world where your Twitter following had no impact on your sales; but the world is changing and social media has come out on top.

 

Think of SMM as more of a necessary expense, like insurance or start-up costs, which you need to keep your head above water in a sea of competitive businesses.

 

2.     Have A Firm Strategy In Place

 

As novelist and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry once wrote, “A goal without a plan is a wish.”

 

Auditing your social media accounts and developing concrete goals for each is important. This planning process will also give you an idea about the type of content that your audience relates to.

 

Once you’ve established where you want to be and where you are now, you will be in a better position to discover the right tactics for your business

 

For more tips about to setting up your own strategy, try reading this article about B2B Social Media Marketing.

 

3.     Remember Your ‘ABC’ Rule – Always Be Consistent!

 

According to CMI research, one of the major challenges for B2B marketers is maintain consistency in their content.

 

Finding the right voice for your brand on social media, and consistently using it, will help distinguish your business amongst all the other vying businesses online.

 

As platforms like Facebook are beginning to deprioritize pushy sales content, giving your audience a genuine reason to follow you will be more and more important.

 

Deciding amongst your administrators what types of hash tags, emoticons, grammar and style to use will help make your audience feel like they are conversing with your brand on a more human level.

 

 

4.     Find The Right Channels

 

Just because Facebook has over two billion users doesn’t mean you should be using it as your primary social media channel. Find the right channel to suit your industry and audience.

 

If your business is involved in fashion and textile for example, sites like Instagram may serve your business much more.

 

Think outside of the box as well. You may not have heard of social media platforms like Untappd or Doximity, but these niche social sites have small but highly engaged users.

 

For example, Ravelry is a social media network for crocheters and knitters. If you really want to engage with your customers, meet them on the sites they are likely to be.

 

Niche social media platforms are becoming increasingly popular. Find out what is out there and see if you can reach your target audience on these platforms.

 

5.     Make Your Brand Exciting

 

You can spend several hours a week working on your business’ social media sites, but see barely any movement in followers or engagement. This can be very discouraging, you may find yourself questioning the point of it all.

 

You look to other competitors and see how popular they are and wonder how they are achieving all that success?

 

The reality could be that your brand needs a refresh.

 

The problem is that it’s very hard to gauge what will make your brand exciting to your target audience. After all, ‘exciting’ is a relative term. And, to be clear, we aren’t suggesting that you follow the ‘cool’ brands by loading your content with irreverent hash-tags and pointless click-bait.

 

The real way to find what works is to experiment. Be bold and try and new ideas often. For some hot tips, read this article on Marketing ‘Boring’ Brands On Social Media.

 

6.     Synergise With Your Sales Team

 

Marketing and sales don’t like to be confused for one another, but it is understandable why people tend to amalgamate these two professions. Sales and marketing feed off each other.

 

With metrics and analytics being increasingly common, using a mixed attribution system to measure the success of your marketing campaigns will help you understand what is and isn’t working much better.

 

Coordinate your marketing efforts and share data with your sales team. Find reliable ways to monitor you customers’ buyer journeys. This will give you an idea of what social media channels are going to work for you.

 

You may find that all that marketing on YouTube has had little effect and that you could be spending your money on advertising on Instagram for better results.

 

Summary

 

Hopefully, some of these tips have helped you reconsider your social strategy. Perhaps, you have been relying on social media at the expense of other channels, or maybe your content just hasn’t connected just yet.

 

Creating value for your consumers is the only real way to convert users on social media. Keep experimenting, be bold and don’t be afraid to play around with your social media sites.

 

For more expert tips on improving your B2B social media, have a look at this article on B2B Social Media Strategies and Best Practices. If you are in need of a professional B2B marketing agency to manage or provide advice in regards to your social media efforts, contact The Lead Agency today.

 

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The post Why B2B Companies Fail At Social Media – A Guide For The Perplexed appeared first on The Lead Agency.

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The Art of Influencer Marketing for B2B

Smart B2B marketers are picking up on the growing role of influencers in the digital marketing landscape. Find out how B2B Influencer Marketing can help you bolster your business’s credibility, reach new audiences and generate new leads.

Businesses have always actively sought celebrity endorsements to build trust and brand loyalty with their audiences. As early as 1903, famous American author, Mark Twain, endorsed everything from luxury fountain pens and shaving accessories to whisky and cigars. His stamp of approval still has clout to this day.

You don’t have to have Mark Twain as an influencer to make a mark either. Some of the best influencers are local experts with small niche followings.

As successful as Influencer Marketing has been for B2C businesses, it has rarely been adopted for B2B purposes. However, all that is changing as the digital marketing landscape continues to evolve.

2017 saw a significant increase in B2B businesses employing Influencer Marketing strategies according to Smart Insights. A recent survey indicated “84% of [B2B] marketers said they would launch at least one influencer campaign within the next twelve months.” (eMarketer)

Part of the reason for the rising interest in Influencer Marketing comes down to technology having a dramatic impact on where we source information and whom we trust. Many modern influencers have access to wide audiences through digital channels, such as blogs, webinars and social media.

What is a B2B Influencer?

The definition of what constitutes an Influencer is fairly broad. Ryan Adams from The Influencer Economy, ha said that influencers “create a movement around their idea through collaboration, community passion and a shared vision”, and “can change a small idea into a world-changing idea, seemingly overnight”.

Influencers have the ability to start trends, mobilise ideas, and bring your message to their audience.

B2B relationships are about trust and loyalty. Unlike B2C buyer journeys, it can take months or even years to acquire a client; and that relationship can last decades once it is established. When you build the right kind of rapport, influencers help make up the human face of your organisation.

Influencer marketing succeeds in building higher brand connection, by putting a human face to your organisation. According to eConsultancy, “potential B2B buyers who feel a ‘high brand connection’ are 60% more likely to consider, purchase and even pay a premium than ‘low brand connection’ competitors.”

Benefits of B2B Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing can be a time-consuming investment, requiring you to develop personalised relationships and build trust over time. As a result, many businesses want to know how influencers are going to help their business and relate to their bottom-line.

Influencer marketing is terrific at achieving brand awareness and loyalty, which become deciding factors for prospective clients further down the buyer journey. These activities can also tie in really well with your businesses’ other content marketing strategies. Some of these benefits include:

1.     Build credibility for your brand

Business decision-making teams are often faced with difficult purchasing choices. It can be hard for businesses to grasp the full complexity of B2B products and services, especially when there is the pressure to make quick informed decisions. Although you might offer a unique service or product that stands out from your competitors, it may be hard for prospective clients to grasp it over the course of their interactions with you.

However, as Jamie Turner from 60 Second Marketer says, “people buy for emotional reasons, and then rationalize purchases with logic.” We like to think that B2B purchases are more logic driven, and while this is true, business people are still people.

Having a credible source advocating your business and values could be the key to unlocking those closing sales and generating more favourable leads.

2.     Authenticity in your messaging

Consumers are savvier and more sophisticated in their purchasing decisions than ever before – this is especially true of businesses. A lot of your wonderful messaging can get lost in a plethora of hype.

Having an outside brand advocate corroborating your message and backing your businesses’ products or services gives your brand authenticity. In fact, Andrew Reid, writer of The Authenticity Handbook, says that ‘authenticity in business is now imperative.’

Authentic brands also get more of a share of high-value customers according to the Authentic Brand Index. Not only does authenticity affect buyer decision, but it can affect the quality of your buyers.

3.     Fresh content opportunities

Content can be hard to maintain. A lot of businesses find it difficult to identify and create content that is relevant to their industry. Finding an influencer who regularly shares content relevant to your business and its customers, can be a great resource for your content marketing activities.

By sharing articles or thoughts from your influencers, you are building a relationship with them as well as your larger target audience.

4.     Reach new relevant audiences

The most important advantage of Influencer Marketing is reaching a wide audience. This can be an excellent tactic for businesses’ whose primary marketing goal is acquiring new customers.

It can be hard to know where to generate new leads. Influencers allow you to throw out a broad net, with the hope that some of the people reached may take an interest and investigate your business.

B2B Influencer Marketing in 5 Steps

It can be hard to know where to start with Influencer Marketing – where do you find relevant influencers? How do you approach them? How do you measure the benefits of your campaign?

Having specific SMART goals in place before starting an Influencer Marketing campaign is crucial. Are you trying to raise brand awareness? You might say your objective is to ‘increase LinkedIn followers by 20% over a six month period’. Or maybe you’d like to see a direct spike in sales? Set a goal like ‘generate a measurable $4000 monthly increase in sales from influencer generated leads on average over an eighteen month timeframe’.

Measuring and evaluating is the first and last step of every Influencer Marketing campaign. We will mention more about how you monitor your Return On Investment (ROI) in step five.

But, firstly, you need to consider who your business is and what message you plan to send out.

1. Develop your brand’s storytelling

Influencer Marketing is primarily about storytelling. You have a story to tell and your influencer is the one that shares it. You can sow the seeds of success early, by taking time to develop a relevant and engaging story for your brand.

What is your value proposition? Where does your business come from and where is it heading? What makes your business and its products and services unique?

Once you have established who you are, you also have to be clear whom you are talking to and why. Ask yourself why other businesses should care what you have to say or sell, and then find the clearest way to express that.

2. Look for relevant influencers

Finding influencers can be difficult depending on your industry and your budget. Find the right influencer is more important than finding the most popular influencer. Influencers can range from business leaders and executives to local journalists and community figureheads or even your own employees. In fact, a lot of B2B marketers advocate building relationships with micro-influencers, as they are more relevant and able to tap into a more niche market.

Do not get blinded by impressions, clicks or likes. Find an expert in your field that you know has sway amongst your target demographic. Having millions of likes is not important; having relevant and engaged followers is the key.

One reliable resource for influencers and marketers to connect is Tribe. Tribe is a purpose built platform to help businesses find the right influencer for their industry and values. Watch the video below for a concise overview.

Tribe Overview: Marketplace Connecting Brands and Influencers - YouTube

3. Work on your content and making it relevant

Your business might have a lot of readily available content to use to approach influencers; however, have you targeted it towards them? Influencer Marketing is about personalising your message to individuals as opposed to large swathes of people.

After you have settled on an influencer, read up as much as possible about them and look through your existing content for things that will pique their interest.

One sure way to kill a relationship before it is even started is to be generic in your communication. Taking the time to tailor your messaging and content is the only way to get results.

4. Approach and build a relationship

Influencer Marketing doesn’t necessarily have to mean giving your influencers paying salaries or a $1 billion dollar lifetime deal like Nike and LeBron James. Influencer Marketing activities revolve around mutual relationship building. The types of activities you can involve them in are wide and only limited by the imagination. It could take the form of content-collaboration, social-media-sharing or hiring them for a creative business project like American Express did in 2015.

Start off small by commenting or sharing your influencer’s content. Ask questions and seek their advice. Once you have built an informal relationship you might consider formally introducing yourself through LinkedIn or email? If your influencer is local, or within your network, why not invite them to your business networking event?

As your correspondence deepens, offer resources and interesting articles you’ve found that might relate, or even contradict, what they write and speak about.

You might go into a relationship with an influencer with a project in mind to collaborate on – such as contributing to your business’s blog for example. Or you might just set up the groundwork for future collaborations. When the right project or opportunity appears, having that influencer at hand will be a great advantage.

5. Measure and evaluate

Influencer marketing is typically associated with the top of the sales and marketing funnel. Being so close to the start of the buyer journey, it is harder to relate these activities to tangible bottom line dollars and cents.

However, there are several forms of attribution you can employ to help measure your ROI. Below are some ideas.

  • Pixel tracking

Ask your influencer if they’d consider using tracking pixels. Pixel tracking is a useful way to find out how many people are coming to your website through your influencer’s content. It is particularly helpful for influencers involved in social media or who have their own blog.

  • Share across multiple channels

By asking your influencers to share content on different channels you have access to a wider array of analytics. This cross-promoting of content also gives each post a longer lifespan.

  • Coupon codes

Using coupon codes are an old tactic but still as useful as ever. If your influencer happens to mention some of your products or services, why not offer a discount to those business customers that you acquire through them?

Not only are you able to potentially drive more sales, you are also creating a very reliable metric you draw back on for further insight.

  • Linking codes

When supplying links to your influencer to generate traffic, use specifically designed UTM codes to measure where traffic is coming from.

UTM codes are a simple code you can attach to any custom URL to track a source, medium and campaign name.

Examples of B2B Influencer Marketing Best Practice

Influencer Marketing takes many guises. Below are some of our favourite examples of Influencer Marketing at work.

1.     American Express’s Love My Store Campaign

In 2015, American Express wanted to improve their storefronts to encourage storeowners to use their services. The company collaborate with Grace Bonney from popular blog site Design*Sponge to design six of their storefronts. This project was coupled with a video produced by media personality Emily Henderson showing how businesses could spruce up their storefronts.

Surprising Your Customers with Innovative Store Design: Touring Nickey Kehoe with Emily Henderson - YouTube

2.     IBM Internal Content Sharing Campaign

In July of 2015, IBM started included share links, promoting their software products, on their internal online hub. Since installing the new feature, over a thousand IBM staff have shared the posts on their personal pages.

“It’s not a requirement at all, but it’s something that, if they do it, they get recognized for it,” Amber Armstrong, program director at IBM Marketing Digital, said.

IBM ran a similar employee focused B2B campaign the year before called #NewWayToWork which resulted in 120 million impressions and 141,000 clicks to campaign content.

3.     HubSpot’s Guest Blogging

HubSpot is prolific content marketing resource. As part of the overall strategy, HubSpot began actively approaching popular bloggers and experts to provide guest blogs.

Guest blogging is a terrific way to engage influencers and bring traffic to your website. A lot of the writers they approached were micro-influencers with specific niche knowledge and a small but fervent set of followers.

4.     Microsoft and National Geographic’s ‘Make What’s Next’ Instagram Campaign

As part of International Women’s Day, Microsoft partnered with National Geographic to produce a series of 30 themed pictures across their Instagram channel. The campaign achieved over 3.5 million likes resulted in significant customer engagement with over 1000 people posting their own photos.

By leveraging the status of National Geographic and their photographers, Microsoft gained broader recognition and loyalty.

5.     Salesforce’s CEO as an Influencer

Sometimes it can be hard to find ways to engage influencers, other times it is as simple as having them already on your team. Salesforce’s CEO Marc Benioff is a major influencer with a large audience of engaged business owners and marketers.

CEOs are the public face of a company. Positioning them in front of the media is another positive form of Influencer Marketing.

Hopefully some of these B2B Influencer Marketing examples have ignited your imagination and got you thinking of some interesting influencer activities you can employ in your overall marketing strategies.

Do you employ B2B Influencer Marketing at your agency or business? What types of activities do you get involved in? Do you have any recommendations for best or worse practise?

Let us know below in the comments. If you would like to find out more about related activities such as content marketing or blogging check out our website for more interesting articles.

The post The Art of Influencer Marketing for B2B appeared first on The Lead Agency.

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Every business owner today knows how important it is to have a website, and attract visitors to it. However, once you get them there, what are they doing? Is your website acting as a tool to help move them down the sales funnel and convert them into customers?

According to Econsultancy, only about 22% of businesses are satisfied with their conversion rates[1].

Increasing your conversion rate means a better return on investment (ROI). It is much more cost-effective to convert more of the visitors you already have than to attract new visitors.

This is known as Conversion Rate Optimisation.

What is CRO?

For every $92 spent acquiring customers, only $1 is spent converting them [Econsultancy, 2016)][2]

Conversion Rate Optimisation, or CRO, is the process of increasing the percentage of visitors to a website that convert into customers, or perform a desired action on the webpage.

In the B2B space, CRO is even more important due to the longer sales cycle. B2B purchases are typically high involvement decisions, as the product is at a much higher price point, and there are multiple end users that the purchase decision will affect. As such, B2B customers make much more considered purchases, and require more persuasion and nurturing to move them through the sales funnel.

Why Your B2B Organisation Should Consider CRO

It’s important to remember that while enquiries or sales may be your ultimate goal, B2B buyers may not be ready to contact you straight away. As such, a ‘Conversion’ on your website may not necessarily be an enquiry, it may be when a visitor views a certain piece of content on your website or downloads an eBook. Simply put, any action that moves your visitor through the sales funnel and closer to purchase can, and should, be counted as a conversion.

By making changes to your website to increase your conversion rate, you are capitalizing on the traffic you already have, which lowers your customer acquisition costs. These saved acquisition costs can be reinvested in other advertising and brand awareness strategies.

CRO Strategies You Can Implement Immediately

When it’s done right, CRO gives your visitors what they are looking for sooner, before they go looking somewhere else. In order to do this, you have to take a structured and systematic approach to improving the performance of your website. Any changes that you make should be informed by insights, such as website analytic data and user feedback.

The first step of CRO is to identify any barriers in your conversion funnel and take steps to fix these. This can be done by looking at your website from the point of view of the visitor. Look specifically at the actions you want users to take on your website, and the steps that they have to go through to get there. By doing this, you can identify any complications that are potentially blocking the path to conversion.

A few areas to start with include:

  • Calls to Action: Are all Calls to Action on the website clear and easy for the visitor to find? Do they stand out? Do they accurately define the action that you want the user to take?
  • Graphics: Do the images on your website add to the user experience? Are they relevant and well positioned? Are they clear, without unnecessary text?
  • Usability: Can users easily find what they are looking for on your site? Consider the actions that you want your user to take, and how many steps it takes them to get there. For example, how many pages do they have to view before they get to what they are looking for?
  • Navigation: Is it easy for users to navigate your site? Can they find what they are looking for?
  • Mobile Optimisation: Almost 60% of all searches are conducted on a mobile device[3]. It is vital to check whether your site is mobile friendly, as this can cause a massive drop off in visitors and conversions.
  • Trust: Is your site trustworthy? Do you display testimonials from satisfied customers? If a visitor doesn’t trust your site, they are unlikely to enquire about your services.

The key with Conversion Rate Optimisation is to start slowly. Don’t make too many changes all at once, or you won’t know which ones are working for you. For example, try changing the calls to action on your website (the button positioning, size, colour), while leaving everything else the same. Monitor this for a few weeks to see if it is making a difference to your conversion rate, and then move on to testing another area.

Conversion Rate Optimisation doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does involve a lot of testing, monitoring and analyzing. At The Lead Agency, we have experience in Conversion Rate Optimisation and have worked on creating top performing landing pages for a number of clients across a range of industries.

Contact us for more information on how we can help your business convert more prospects into customers.

[1] Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics

[2] Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics

[3] https://searchengineland.com/report-nearly-60-percent-searches-now-mobile-devices-255025

The post A Beginners Guide to CRO for B2B Businesses appeared first on The Lead Agency.

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Social media can be a powerful B2B marketing tool. By maintaining the right image online you can instil confidence in your business, discover more about your stakeholders and position yourself better in your market. So, after doing our research, we’ve decided to share with you our top six B2B social media strategies to benefit your business.

  1. Show off your employees

Your employees are important to you. After all, they are what keeps the cogs of your business turning. So why not share the love?

Introduce your online audience to your employers. This can be as simple as a few regular posts with photos featuring your employees. As an example, ask them to share a little about what they do, what they love and what inspires them when they come into work.

Not only does this humanise your business, but it demonstrates the value your employees have within the organisation. This one of our top B2B business social media strategies.

  1. Research your Competition

B2B social media isn’t just about putting your brand out there, it can be a powerful research tool as well.

Find your competitors online and start monitoring their social media channels. Using social media monitoring tools like Salesforce can reveal useful information to help optimise your posts.

Look at what types of posts yield the highest engagement – factors might include post length, hashtags, and sharing times. Take their successes and failures and use them to your advantage.

  1. Find out more about your customers

In Marketing and Communication it’s important to know your audience. Use social media to paint a picture of your ideal customers by creating Buyer Personas.

You can build a Buyer Persona by simply opening up a spreadsheet and starting a sample database of social media users. By each user add their age, gender, position, industry and other relevant information.

In the process of researching your customers, you might also uncover some feedback that can strengthen your business. Inevitably this kind of activity can only help you understand your customers better!

  1. Invest in your B2B social media content

Another of our key B2B social media strategies is investing in your content.

As social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have become more commercialised, organic posts have increasingly less reach. If you want to be heard you need to be willing to allocate money to boost your top performing posts.

Advertising on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram gets more sophisticated with each year. Not only can you boost posts, but you can target specific markets and locations with increasing accuracy.

Relate it back to the bottom line and find out how much is the right amount for your business to invest.

  1. Optimise your Call to Actions

A strong call to action (CTA) is the key to generating higher CTRs. Social media scientist and author, Dan Zarrella, conducted research on Twitter in 2012 and discovered that adverbs and verbs make more impact than nouns or adjectives.

This is backed up by several content writers from the last few decades, from author Marina Calderone to educator and speaker Patti Digh.

In order to optimise your engagement, avoid posting weak CTAs with passive verbs. After all, it’s doubtful Nike would have gotten far with a slogan like, “Make sure it gets done.”

  1. Join a group or start one

Groups and communities on Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn provide an excellent opportunity to reach users interested in your industry.

Answering questions and posting useful content on these pages is great for networking and building a reputation. You are an expert it in your field so why not share some of that knowledge – you never know what kind of friends you might make!

Try these tactics out for yourself and let us know what worked (and what didn’t work) for you. We love to hear from you.

If you want to find out more about how you can improve your B2B Marketing, keep reading some of our other blog posts, give us a call 1300 146 375 or using the form below to find out how we can help your business.

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The post B2B Social Media Strategies and Best Practices appeared first on The Lead Agency.

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Find out how attribution can align your B2B sales and marketing activities to generate more revenue and lower acquisition costs.

The B2B customer journey has changed considerably over the past twenty years. There are an abundance of channels and devices – making the process of tracking a customer journey more complex than ever.

Business to business marketers are facing the challenge that Single-source attribution is limiting their business potential.

Measuring the success of your campaigns by revenue, sales statistics or engagement metrics alone is no longer a relevant way to evaluate your marketing activities. This is especially relevant in classic B2B markets where buyer journeys are long, meandering and potentially require input from multiple contacts.

Marketing attribution is a holistic solution that connects marketing and sales data by tracking and storing customer information – from their first click on a PPC ad to the final purchase. The theory is that marketing attribution can help determine what campaigns are effective in generating quality leads for the business.

How to connect your marketing and sales data

One of the biggest challenge Marketing data is typically measured in engagement metrics. Some examples of these metrics include views, clicks, likes, comments, shares and click-through-rates (CTRs). These metrics measure success at the top and middle of the sales funnel.

Sales data is typically more defined, as it is generally measured through revenue and the number of leads. These are bottom of the sales funnel measurements.

Individually the sales and marketing teams have an incomplete picture of the whole sales/marketing funnel. The 2015 State of Pipeline Marketing Report found, “marketers who reported ROIs greater than 1.5x were more likely to perceive alignment with Sales to be ‘tightly aligned’.”

In order to bring both sides of the puzzle together, you need to be able to measure how traffic translates into leads. There are three primary ways to do this.

1.     UTM parameters

Tracking traffic from your marketing channels is the first step. UTM parameters are tags attached to the end of URLs that allow you to track the source of traffic to your website. With these tags you can find out all sorts of unique information about your potential customers.

For information on setting up UTM parameters, you can find out more by reading this informative article by Kristi Hines from Kissmetrics.

2.     On-site JavaScript

Snippets of JavaScript code allow web analytics software – such as Google Analytics – to track on-site behaviour. Web analytics can be used to answer relevant questions, such as whether visitors bounce or click on a further to an eBook download link.

3.     CRM integration

The last step in integrating your sales and marketing data is to connect your metrics to your customer resource management (CRM) software. The data on CRM software contains insights into what turns leads into sales.

Once you have collated all your data you will need to find a way to manage it. Rather than constructing several Excel sheets and trying to collate all your data yourself, attribution software – such as Google Attribution and Bizible – does all of this for you.

Attribution software is not only less of a hassle; it can also prevent embarrassing mistakes like the one above. SOURCE: Bizible.com

What types of marketing attribution models are there?

There are a variety of attribution models to suit different campaigns, business types and objectives. For example, some models work better for digital campaigns, others for integrated campaigns. Similarly, there are models that work better for B2B and others for B2C. We’ve listed some of the major ones below.

Single Touch Attribution Models

Although we dismissed single source attribution models earlier at the start of this article, it is crucial to understand them in order to talk further about Multi-Touch Attribution models.

1.     First Click

First click attribution is when the first click that leads to a website is given credit for the sale or conversion. Marketers typically employ this model as it pertains to the top of the sales/ marketing funnel.

2.     Lead Click

Lead click refers to the last click that led to the user becoming a lead. This type of attribution gives credit purely to the middle of the sales funnel – discarding the initial interaction and the final close.

3.     Last Click

Last-click attribution gives 100% credit to the activity that finally led to a sale or conversion. This is bottom of the sales funnel measurement and usually coincides with revenue.

Single source attribution worked in the past, as the customer journey was fairly linear. Nowadays, your typical customer will visit multiple sources on multiple devices through multiple channels before reaching the conclusion to purchase or opt-in.

Multi-Touch Attribution Models

Multi-Touch Attribution takes a combination of single source attribution metrics and organises them to gain a more holistic view of the sales and marketing process.

Depending on the model you use, the significance assigned to each touch-point will make a difference to how you interpret the data. Below are some common models and examples of when, and when not, to use them.

1.     Linear

A linear attribution model gives equal weight to every touch-point. This is a convenient model to interpret your data, however, it does run the risk of oversimplifying your marketing.

2.     Descending

A descending, or time decay, attribution model tries to balance out some of the drawbacks of a linear model by placing greater significance on metrics associated with the bottom of the sales funnel.

3.     U-Shaped

A U-shaped attribution model simply applies to the top part of the funnel. It measures everything in detail between the first interaction and the conversion to a lead. Marketing departments may find this model particularly useful, as it gives them greater insight into lead generation.

4.     W-Shaped

The W-shaped attribution model is similar to the U-shaped model but adds the data that can give you more insight into how to improve lead nurturing. This model is useful if you are looking for a more general overview of how your lead generation and lead nurturing is functioning.

5.     Full-Path

Full-path attribution provides the most general overview; as it incorporates marketing activities, lead generation, lead nurturing and the final closing sales figures.

You can use any one of these models in combination to gain insights into your marketing and sales funnel. Often the best practice is to set each of the different models side by side to draw your insights. Each has their strengths and weaknesses – together they present a rounded view of your sales and marketing activities

Omni-channel Attribution

Simpler forms of attribution only measure online interactions using web analytics and online tracking. However, when you are running an integrated campaign involving both online and offline marketing, you are limited to only seeing one half of the puzzle.

Omni-channel Attribution is the solution to this problem – allowing you to interpret not only digital data, but offline marketing data as well. These activities can range from television to radio to print advertising.

Most quality attribution software will be able to host data from a variety of offline resources. Google Attribution, for example, has a specifically designed feature to measure TV attribution.

 

Account Based Attribution

Account-based Attribution is used primarily in the B2B sector, where you are dealing with longer lead times and multiple representatives from one organisation.

In other marketing measurement tools different individuals are treated as separate accounts. However, in B2B marketing all these individuals are treated as a single account. Allowing you to get a better understanding of the customer journey from the initial click to the close of sale.

Benefits of Multi-Touch Attribution

The primary benefit of Multi-Touch Attribution is that it provides you with a holistic and nuanced understanding of your sales funnel. By bringing sales and marketing together, you are able to relate everything back to the bottom line. Some of the other benefits include:

  • Channel Mix Allocation – Instead of relying on engagement metrics, with proper attribution you are able to find out which specific campaigns lead to more revenue. As a result, you can alter your campaigns with much more insight on a granular level.

 

  • Transparency – Marketing is typically criticised as being ‘vague’ and ‘unmeasurable’. With attribution you are accountable, as business owners can see how every action relates directly to the bottom line.

 

  • Better Budget Use – There may be pockets of advertising in your marketing mixes that are severely underperforming. Attribution allows you to see the full picture and eliminate ads that only sink profits.

 

  • Lowering Acquisition Costs – By streamlining your sales funnel you are optimising your acquisition costs and avoid wasting money on irrelevant campaigns.

 

  • Sustainable Long Term Growth – Set up your attribution tracking today. The sooner you start the more data you will have in future. More data can mean more accuracy – aiding your business’s long-term growth.

Do you already apply Multi-Touch Attribution in your marketing? Let us know about your experiences below.

If you enjoyed reading about marketing attribution and want find out more about how to optimise your marketing/sales funnel, try reading this article – Shortening the B2B Marketing/ Sales Funnel.

The post B2B Marketing Attribution – How Single Source Attribution Is Hurting Your Business appeared first on The Lead Agency.

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The most significant thing that differentiates B2B marketing from its B2C counterpart, is the length of the Buyer Journey.

B2C decisions are typically simpler and can even be made instantaneously, for example grabbing a chocolate bar at checkout. Obviously, there are other B2C decisions that require much more consideration, such as the purchase of a new car, which will involve a significant amount of research and evaluation of the different alternatives.

The amount of consideration here, however, pales in comparison to the B2B buying decision.

B2B purchase decisions often involve the consideration of a number of parties, as the end user of the product or service is typically not the person who is actually buying.

For example a large accounting firm requires software that is used by admin staff, accountants, management staff and other people throughout the business, however, the decision on the actual software will be made by one or two members of top-level management. Convincing them to choose your product or service over others can be an uphill struggle.

The fact that the key decision makers are not always the end user of the product or service makes the B2B Buyer Journey even more complex.

In some cases, the decision maker, or procurement team, may be unaware that a problem exists with the current products or services, or they may not realise that there are products and services available that can help bridge gaps in the current processes. As such, they are often not directly looking for what you are selling.

Through working with a number of B2B businesses across a range of industries, we created the Digital Marketing Mountain to help explain the varying stages of B2B Buyer Awareness.

By applying this, B2B marketers can better understand their audiences and the marketing messages and channels that can be most effectively used in order to move the prospect towards the peak, where they are directly looking for your services.

THE DIFFERENT STAGES OF BUYER AWARENESS

Each of the first four categories, from ‘Directly Looking’ through to ‘Unaware Prospects’ can be relevantly targeted through B2B marketing campaigns.

These categories sit at different stages of the buyer journey, with each requiring different communications, promotions, offers and digital channels.

DIRECTLY LOOKING

Prospects who are in the buying process and are actively looking for the products or services that your business provides.

These prospects will be using search engines to research and evaluate their options before finally deciding on a solution. Communications to this group should be direct and prescriptive, detailing how your solution is better suited to their needs than your competitors.

81 percent of B2B purchase cycles start with a web search

As this audience is actively researching your products and services, targeting should be primarily search engine based on paid ads and Search Engine Optimisation. The most effective keywords to use should be associated with buying intent and evaluation of alternatives.

OPEN TO IT

The ‘Open to It’ group is made up of prospects who are aware they have a need for your products or service and are passively considering their options.

These prospects still have to go through the evaluation process, but require a direct communication approach to drive action.

As they are not actively considering your product or service, you need to spark this group’s attention. Communications should focus on the benefits of your product or service and how it can add value to their business.

This group will be made up of your ‘Target Customers’ and you will have a good idea of their characteristics, job role, business size and industry.

As such, with its unrivalled targeting options based on behaviours, demographics, and geolocation, Facebook or LinkedIn advertising is an excellent platform to reach this group as they are browsing online.

NOT THINKING ABOUT IT

‘Not Thinking About It’ prospects have a problem that your products or services can solve, but have not yet looked into solutions.

This group requires broader communication options to influence the motivations, overcome their objections and convert them into ‘consideration’ mode.

For this group, communications should focus on demonstrating how your products or services can help their business. T

he best way to do this is through Content Marketing, by creating eBooks, white papers, blogs, articles and other resources that educate the audience on your industry as a whole and show them how your brand can add value to them.

This information is only useful to the audience however if they can find it, so it is just as important to consider how to distribute the content, for example through Social Media and Paid Advertising placements.

DON’T THINK THEY ARE INTERESTED

These prospects are unaware of the problems that your products or services can solve, and as such it is much more difficult to engage them.

As above, the group requires broad communication that introduces them to your products or services and highlights how they can be of benefit to them.

This group are ‘cold prospects’, who are well qualified but that have little or no awareness of your company.

They can be reached through a range of advertising methods such as public relations, cold calling and networking to showcase your unique selling proposition.

The more you can interact with and engage these prospects, the quicker you can change their behaviour along the buyer journey from ‘awareness’ to ‘interest’.

KNOW THEY ARE NOT INTERESTED

This group is made of people who do not have the need for your products or services, who are not relevant to your business and should not be a focus of marketing efforts.

Identifying this audience will help reduce effort and waste of marketing resources.

At The Lead Agency, we love databases (such as email lists). But in what may be considered counterintuitive, we also want to reduce these databases and remove the unnecessary contacts that will never use your product or service.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR B2B MARKETERS

Your marketing budget is not exhaustive, and it’s important to focus your resources (both time and financial) on the segments that are most likely to give you results.

Targeting the ‘Directly Looking’ segment only will give you some quick wins, however, you are likely to run out of prospects very quickly. By targeting segments further down the mountain, you are effectively quadrupling your opportunities to introduce your brand to prospects.

You can then tailor your communications to start pushing prospects upwards and further towards purchase.

For more information on increasing awareness of your services in your target audience, don’t hesitate to get in touch with The Lead Agency.

The post The B2B Digital Marketing Mountain appeared first on The Lead Agency.

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In business you constantly search for your panacea. You are well-versed with what your pain points are – from lack of customer insight, to a lack of time – but the solutions that are sought do not always yield the results that are needed.

In business you constantly search for your panacea. You are well-versed with what your pain points are – from lack of customer insight, to a lack of time – but the solutions that are sought do not always yield the results that are needed.

But then came marketing automation. Perhaps it’s far from a panacea per se, but marketing automation has wedged itself within many B2B companies, assisting and addressing many marketers’ pain points.

Here we’ll discuss some of the most common problems with traditional B2B marketing, and how marketing automation addresses those, reaffirming why marketing automation is indeed, the future of B2B marketing.

Selarketing

One of the biggest problems with B2B marketing is that there can be a lack of market focus – businesses, especially start-ups, can try to be all things to different markets.

They refuse to focus on just one key segment. This can be a contributing factor to the rift between sales and marketing – they’re just not aligned. Marketing automation can help tear down those silos.

Since most marketing automation solutions can integrate into CRM packages like Microsoft Dynamics, and both can be dynamically updated simultaneously, creating new sales alerts within the marketing automation solution is possible.

Communication between the two teams is can be maintained more effectively with one central location for all information. Visitor reports are also a great way for sales to get a better idea of the engagement that is happening on the sites.

Better campaign control

Marketing automation solutions simplify otherwise technical campaign components such as creating web-pages and HTML emails, forms and automated lead-nurturing programs.

You no longer need to rely solely on IT professionals to assist with creation and execution of these elements. Marketing automation software such as Act-on, Pardot and Marketo, have simplified tooling with which users can easily create these components. Then, within the same system, you can continue to tweak, manage, track and set goals.

For instance, Marketing Matters points out that, “Marketing automation generates a record of the first time a visitor views a product on your web-site, and then follows-up with further data when their interest is converted into purchase.”

Furthermore, you can also connect the system with other tools such as Google Analytics, Adwords and social media channels and pull the data from all these diverse sources to get a truly integrated and 360 view of customers.

Marketing automation has the ability to remove silos so that campaigns can be managed and measured as part of one cohesive campaign.

Personalisation, not generalisation

In a recent survey about the current challenges that B2B marketers face, it was unearthed that 45% of marketers don’t produce enough of the content that really engages.

The missing element here is extensive knowledge about your customers. Without intimate knowledge about your customers, your content efforts are going to attract the wrong audience or be far too generalised.

Marketing automation can assist in this instance, too.

For example, Darin Brown, ExactTarget Marketing Cloud Vice President of eXcelerate, shared an example where marketing automation is expert at personalisation. He explains that a major retail brand personalised their support calls and scripts with marketing automation.

This was possible because the company aggregated all of their interaction data so when a customer called the support centre, the company is able to identify exactly where the individual falls in the customer journey and trigger a relevant phone script for the operator.”

Marketing automation empowers marketers in many aspects.

Why is it the future of B2B marketing? It’s because it pushes the message that the concepts behind B2B or B2C are irrelevant, at the end of it all, it’s H2H – Human to Human.

Customers want to engage with your business. Marketing automation and its available tooling is paving the path for B2B marketing to a destination which puts the customer in-front of all else, effectively engaging with them.

The post Marketing Automation, B2B Marketing & the Future appeared first on The Lead Agency.

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The most significant thing that differentiates B2B marketing from its B2C counterpart, is the length of the Buyer Journey. B2C decisions are typically simpler and can even be made instantaneously, for example grabbing a chocolate bar at checkout. Obviously, there are other B2C decisions that require much more consideration, such as the purchase of a new car, which will involve a significant amount of research and evaluation of the different alternatives. The amount of consideration here, however, pales in comparison to the B2B buying decision.

B2B purchase decisions often involve the consideration of a number of parties, as the end user of the product or service is typically not the person who is actually buying. For example a large accounting firm requires software that is used by admin staff, accountants, management staff and other people throughout the business, however, the decision on the actual software will be made by one or two members of top-level management. Convincing them to choose your product or service over others can be an uphill struggle.

The fact that the key decision makers are not always the end user of the product or service makes the B2B Buyer Journey even more complex. In some cases, the decision maker, or procurement team, may be unaware that a problem exists with the current products or services, or they may not realise that there are products and services available that can help bridge gaps in the current processes. As such, they are often not directly looking for what you are selling.

Through working with a number of B2B businesses across a range of industries, we created the Digital Marketing Mountain to help explain the varying stages of B2B Buyer Awareness. By applying this, B2B marketers can better understand their audiences and the marketing messages and channels that can be most effectively used in order to move the prospect towards the peak, where they are directly looking for your services.

The Different Stages of Buyer Awareness

Each of the first four categories, from ‘Directly Looking’ through to ‘Unaware Prospects’ can be relevantly targeted through B2B marketing campaigns. These categories sit at different stages of the buyer journey, with each requiring different communications, promotions, offers and digital channels.

Directly Looking

Prospects who are in the buying process and are actively looking for the products or services that your business provides. These prospects will be using search engines to research and evaluate their options before finally deciding on a solution. Communications to this group should be direct and prescriptive, detailing how your solution is better suited to their needs than your competitors.

81 percent of B2B purchase cycles start with a web search

As this audience is actively researching your products and services, targeting should be primarily search engine based on paid ads and Search Engine Optimisation. The most effective keywords to use should be associated with buying intent and evaluation of alternatives.

Open to It

The ‘Open to It’ group is made up of prospects who are aware they have a need for your products or service and are passively considering their options. These prospects still have to go through the evaluation process, but require a direct communication approach to drive action.

As they are not actively considering your product or service, you need to spark this group’s attention. Communications should focus on the benefits of your product or service and how it can add value to their business. This group will be made up of your ‘Target Customers’ and you will have a good idea of their characteristics, job role, business size and industry. As such, with its unrivalled targeting options based on behaviours, demographics, and geolocation, Facebook or LinkedIn advertising is an excellent platform to reach this group as they are browsing online.

Not Thinking About It

‘Not Thinking About It’ prospects have a problem that your products or services can solve, but have not yet looked into solutions. This group requires broader communication options to influence the motivations, overcome their objections and convert them into ‘consideration’ mode.

For this group, communications should focus on demonstrating how your products or services can help their business. The best way to do this is through Content Marketing, by creating eBooks, white papers, blogs, articles and other resources that educate the audience on your industry as a whole and show them how your brand can add value to them. This information is only useful to the audience however if they can find it, so it is just as important to consider how to distribute the content, for example through Social Media and Paid Advertising placements.

Don’t Think They are Interested

These prospects are unaware of the problems that your products or services can solve, and as such it is much more difficult to engage them. As above, the group requires broad communication that introduces them to your products or services and highlights how they can be of benefit to them.

This group are ‘cold prospects’, who are well qualified but that have little or no awareness of your company. They can be reached through a range of advertising methods such as public relations, cold calling and networking to showcase your unique selling proposition. The more you can interact with and engage these prospects, the quicker you can change their behaviour along the buyer journey from ‘awareness’ to ‘interest’.

Know They are not Interested

This group is made of people who do not have the need for your products or services, who are not relevant to your business and should not be a focus of marketing efforts.

Identifying this audience will help reduce effort and waste of marketing resources. At The Lead Agency, we love databases (such as email lists). But in what may be considered counterintuitive, we also want to reduce these databases and remove the unnecessary contacts that will never use your product or service.

 

What this Means for B2B Marketers

Your marketing budget is not exhaustive, and it’s important to focus your resources (both time and financial) on the segments that are most likely to give you results. Targeting the ‘Directly Looking’ segment only will give you some quick wins, however, you are likely to run out of prospects very quickly. By targeting segments further down the mountain, you are effectively quadrupling your opportunities to introduce your brand to prospects. You can then tailor your communications to start pushing prospects upwards and further towards purchase.

For more information on increasing awareness of your services in your target audience, don’t hesitate to get in touch with The Lead Agency.

The post The B2B Digital Marketing Mountain appeared first on The Lead Agency.

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Machine learning is the future of marketing, but what can you do today to apply it and get an edge over your competitors?

There is a lot of buzz around machine learning and artificial intelligence. It seems everyday writers and experts are publishing articles and talking on the radio about how artificial intelligence and machine learning are going to change the world. Likewise, trending topics – such as self-driving cars and big data– have our piqued our collective interest in the potential of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The truth is, however, that we are in the early inception stages of machine learning and artificial intelligence. We have yet to fully realize how these technologies will affect our daily lives. According to researchers at RMIT, the future of work will be radically disrupted by ubiquitous automation. Imagine having an army of intelligent assistants doing all your menial tasks – freeing up your time to think creatively and strategically.

This future might sound far off, but this scale of automation might only be a decade away according to Forbes magazine. Similarly, a joint study conducted by WARC and Deloitte Digital, has shown that 58% of CMOs believe that artificial intelligence will be a competitive factor for most businesses within the next four years.

Machine learning is being used by a variety of organisations to achieve innovative and exciting things. IBM and Sesame Workshop have teamed together to create toys for early childhood that adapt to learning styles and change according to each child’s aptitude. The Imperial College of London is studying the applications of deep learning to analyse and predict crime. And, universities, such as the University of Southampton, are now teaching cognitive computing modules in various disciplines such as chemistry, medicine, arts and business.

Before we find out how marketers are applying machine learning in 2017, let us, first of all, dispel some myths and misunderstandings regarding artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning.

What is machine learning? How does it differ from artificial intelligence?

‘Machine learning’ and ‘artificial intelligence’ are used interchangeably, often leading to confusion. Let us refer very briefly to business and technology expert Bernard Marr to get our terminology right before we go on.

Artificial Intelligence is the broader concept of machines being able to carry out tasks in a way that we would consider “smart”.

Machine Learning is a current application of artificial intelligence based around the idea that we should really just be able to give machines access to data and let them learn for themselves.

Deep Learning focuses even more narrowly on a subset of machine learning tools and techniques and applies them to solving just about any problem, which requires “thought” – human or artificial.

Given each of these concepts are inter-related we will briefly touch upon artificial intelligence and deep learning throughout the article. Howwever, we will mainly be discussing the impact of machine learning on marketing.

Why is machine learning important to marketers?

In the near future, a lot of day-to-day marketing activities, such as keyword research, Ad Words campaign management, copywriting and online monitoring, could be delegated to smart machine learning software.

This type of automation is the early stages of programmatic marketing – the algorithmic purchase and sale of advertising space in real time. According to research and advisory firm Forrester , programmatic marketing is expected to account for 50% of all advertising by 2019.

By 2027 all you might have to do is instruct your interface whom your client is, what type of campaign you are running, and the purpose of the campaign and the rest will be done for you. Assuming Ad Words is still around in a decade, your computer could find optimised keywords, generate content, monitor the campaign in real-time and then send you updates and strategic suggestions.

Similar to how trading software has become an indispensable tool for stockbrokers, machine-learning-driven marketing technology has the potential to become universal in the workplace.

All this speculation is fine and dandy, but what you probably want to know is – how available is this technology today?

Well, machine learning is everywhere. If you have used a search engine or social media today, you have probably already used it. There are also plenty of third-party software developers utilising the power of IBM’s Watson super-computer to create next level analytic and marketing automation software.

In the next section, we are going to uncover some examples of how marketers are using machine learning powered technology to gain an edge over their competitors.

How are marketers applying machine learning in 2017?

In the world of machine learning, there are four major organisations pushing the technology into the future. They are Google, Facebook, IBM and Amazon. In addition to these four businesses, there are hundreds of third party software developers competing to make ever more powerful and accurate marketing tools.

Below are four ways that machine learning technology is being implemented to aid marketers. With each topic, we have included some case studies and examples.

1.     Sentiment analysis and client monitoring

Online monitoring is nothing new. Marketers have been using change detection and notification services like Google Alerts and Mention since 2003. However, the advent of machine-based learning has led to more advanced analytics and monitoring.

The most advantageous of these, especially for public relations coordinators, is the growing development of sentiment analysis. By applying natural language processingtext analysiscomputational linguistics, and biometrics, marketers are able to determine whether content is positive, negative or neutral.

This new form of metric is helpful for public relations practitioners looking for quantitative ways to measure and evaluate campaigns and general public perception. There are a variety of free and paid online tools available you can use today; follow this link to find out more about them.

Example 1: Crenshaw Communications’ smart client monitoring

Crenshaw Communications are a New York-based PR agency that use AI sentiment analysis tools – such as Hootsuite Insights and Google Alerts regularly. As director Chris Harihar says, “You increasingly need AI for both the tracking and analysis, especially for larger clients with high coverage volume. Although there is still progress to be made in terms of accuracy, Sentiment analysis is the holy grail of analytics.”

2.     Natural Language Processing and Speech Recognition

Speech recognition and voice-to-text technology has sprouted in the last few years due to the power of machine-based learning. Natural language processing tools such as IBM Watson Speech to Text and Google Cloud Speech API are being used to unlock searchable audio content.

Example 2: Shift Communication’s utilisation of natural language processing

As Chris Penn of Shift Communications says in conversation with digital marketing magazine Digiday, “Think of everything we listen to in marketing: Conference calls, speeches and presentations, et cetera, and how much of that knowledge is locked away from search. We use speech recognition to turn client calls into transcripts, speeches into blog posts and so much more.”

Natural language processing also helps marketers distil immense amounts of content into bite-size pieces depending on what information you are looking for.

Yet again Chris Penn illustrates how he applies the technology at work, “So much media is created every day, and we humans can’t read it all, but the machine can. For instance, I was analysing content for a client’s trade show this morning, and there were around 2,000 pieces of content around the show. I couldn’t read every article on my own, but I ran natural language processing on those articles in 15 minutes.”

3.     Predictive analysis and lead generation

Analytics is everywhere – from Google to SEMRUSH, marketers use analytics to inform everything they do. Machine learning is pushing the boundaries, allowing analytic software to compile smart observations from large data sets at lightning speed and in real time.

One of the most powerful and commercially available analytics engines employing machine learning is IBM Watson. Watson is the AI supercomputer behind a lot of groundbreaking software being developed by marketers. Depending what you need Watson for, you can have access to this powerful data analysis and visualization software for a small monthly subscription fee.

Below are some examples of companies using IBM Watson to inform their marketing decisions.

Example 3: Condé Nast using IBM Watson to find brand ambassadors

In 2016, Condé Nast, an American mass media company that owns brands ranging from Vanity Fair and to GQ, partnered with IBM Watson. The intent was to make ‘data-first influencer platform’ software that could give insights about who to target their campaigns towards and what celebrities to approach as a brand ambassador.

Say they were looking for an ‘empathetic’ brand ambassador, this machine learning powered software could be used to analyse the content of potential ‘influencers’ to find the right fit.

Example 4: Rocket Fuel using deep learning to check for appropriate ad placement

Rocket Fuel is an AI-powered marketing business founded by ex-Yahoo employees in California in 2008. They are currently working with IBM Watson to use machine learning to find ways to prevent inappropriate ad placement.

If you recall, earlier this year Google’s Display Network skirted controversy when high-profile brands were inadvertently linked to extremist content. Some of the brands that were affected included Audi, L’Oreal and Marks & Spencer’s.

Rocket Fuel’s new software could be the solution to this problem. Allowing your business to mitigate the risks of inadvertent ad placement.

4.     Improving customer service touch points

Many companies nowadays are strengthening their customer service by integrating chatbots on their mobile and digital platforms. According to data from the 2016 Aspect Consumer Experience Index, 44% of U.S. consumers prefer chatbots to human consultants, and that number is growing as the technology improves.

Companies like Digital Genius (above) are using natural language processing (NLP), a branch of AI, to augment existing customer support.

NLP combined with deep learning is also being used to analyse conversations in real time. Potentially, in the near future, you could be sitting at a computer talking over the phone with a client about insurance, and instead of having to bring up individual policies, your system will automatically overhear and put the information in front of you.

Example 5: Macy’s 24/7 customer service hotline

In 2016 Macy’s announced they were testing a new mobile service where shoppers can ask questions about their products, services and facilities. This new service was provided by Satisfi, a software company that accesses Watson from the cloud to provide shopping assistance in multiple languages.

Since 2016, other shopping centres such as the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota have implemented similar chatbots to provide 24/7 customer service to great success.

Example 6: GlaxoSmithKline’s ‘smart ads’

Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is producing ‘smart ads’ that respond when asked questions via text or voice.

Senior brand manager of the Cough and Cold division at GSL, Jason Andree told Computerworld, “Watson provides a very personalized experience. If you’re sick, through Watson, you can ask a question and it will provide a personalized response.”

5.     Automated design and content generation

Machine learning has the potential to revolutionise content and design by automating the process completely. Adobe has already announced plans to develop AI software that can automate web design.

As well as automated design, machine learning has developed to the point where AI software can automate content. Idio is one of many platforms that allow you to monitor customer behaviour, predict their interests and automate appropriate content.

Example 7: The Grid’s artificially intelligent website design platform

The Grid is using AI technology to make websites that design themselves based on the type of content you feed it. The Grid is available commercially and uses intelligent image recognition and cropping and algorithmic palette and typography selection to create beautiful looking automated web designs that match your content.

Example 8: Word AI’s automated content spinner

Spinning content is nothing new. In the world of SEO, content is like oxygen. However, it requires a tremendous amount of resources to develop new content. With AI-powered spinners like Word AI, you can take existing content and scramble it into unique content.

IBM Watson’s powerful natural language processor allows Word AI to create much more reliable automated content than ever before. The technology is still not perfect; spun content will still need a human eye to check for logic and grammar.

Example 9: Wordsmith Financial PR News Releases

Wordsmith is an AI product developed by tech-company Automated Insights. At the moment the software is capable of turning large amounts of financial data into easily readable press releases.

Over the next few years, it is expected that the technology will be able to automatically generate general press releases. However, as it is still early days, generating that level of personalised content is still out of grasp.

As Chris Penn of Shift Communications says, ““If an agency is claiming to have created some sort of a press release stack that automates release writing, I would call it bullshit.”

6.     Automate your marketing and improve customer relationship management

Machine learning and AI solutions offer an opportunity to automate a variety of simple and repetitive marketing tasks. This gives marketers more time to focus on creative ideas.

Third party platforms such as Marketo are already using predictive analytics to cater content to users, as well as sales forecasting to identify potential clients and predict user behaviour.

Example 10: Salesforce Einstein uses artificial intelligence to make customer relationship management smarter

Salesforce’s Einstein is an artificially intelligent platform that adds a smart layer of to the entire Salesforce platform.

Salesforce has compiled a team of 175 data scientists to build their own smart platform.  Using machine learning and data mining, they are able to make predictions about customer behaviour and identify key customers within the sales pipeline.

Summary and key points

Machine learning and artificial intelligence have the potential to revolutionise your work life. You potentially have the power of a marketing team at your fingertips.

Here are our key points to take away with you:

  1. Machine learning is a field of artificial intelligence where algorithms use data to optimize their predictions and performance over time.
  2. Machine learning and artificial intelligence are being used today to automate the workflow of marketers.
  3. There are hundreds of third-party AI platforms available today to optimise your workflow through predictive analysis and automation.

Hopefully, this article has dispelled some myths and clarified your understanding of how machine learning relates to marketing in 2017.

Do you use machine learning optimised tools in your workplace? Let us know about your experiences below. If you enjoyed reading about machine learning and want to find out more about how you can utilise automation, try reading this article – 7 Things You Should Know About Marketing Automation.

The post The Definitive Guide to Machine Learning for Marketers in 2017 appeared first on The Lead..

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