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Email marketing remains one of the most effective B2B marketing methods. According to WordStream, email is the ‘third most influential source of information for B2B audiences, behind only colleague recommendations and industry-specific thought leaders.’

However, there are many strategies that are often overlooked; strategies that could help to optimise your open and click-through rates. Whether it is segmenting your audience or using A/B testing for keyword research, you will find strategies in this article to help boost engagement with your audience.

Why Email Marketing?

When it comes to business, email is overwhelmingly the platform of choice. According to research at HubSpot, ‘86% of business professionals prefer to use email when communicating for business purposes.’

Email marketing is also one of the most cost-effective and efficient ways to deliver campaign messaging. It is estimated by Experian that ‘for every $1 spent, $44.25 is the average return on email marketing investment.’

Which strategies can I employ to improve the quality of my email marketing?

Below we have highlighted six strategies we employ at The Lead Agency to make sure we get the most out of our email marketing campaigns. Each of these strategies can be employed as often as you need, and translate to most campaigns.

1. Personalise your email marketing in a meaningful way.

Personalisation has a demonstrable benefit to email marketing. According to market intelligence company Aberdeen, ‘Personalized email messages improve click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%.’

However, there is a big difference between simply slipping in a ‘Hi [INSERT NAME HERE]’ and genuine personalisation. According to a study conducted by the Temple University Fox School of Business, poor personalisation can have a detrimental effect on audience engagement. The results of the study, which drew from over 10 million marketing emails sent out to over 600,000 subscribers, showed that, ‘Customers who were unfamiliar with the firm were very likely to click off or unsubscribe from emails with personalized greetings.’

The team discovered the four key strategies for improving email marketing effectiveness through personalisation were:

  1. Even though customers agree to terms and conditions, it is better to ask them directly if you plan to use their personal information for marketing purposes;
  2. Avoid using personalised greetings with new customers. If greeting past purchasers, however, personalisation can be very effective;
  3. Send frequent emails to established customers to nurture them into purchasing. However, limit emails to newer customers;
  4. Send new customers ads for products they are predicted to like; likewise, expose existing customers to products they’ve never bought before.

In summary, when personalising, don’t pretend to be too friendly with new customers. Set up measuring tools to find out more about your customers and offer them genuine personalisation once you’ve built up a relationship with them.

2. Segment your audiences.

Segmentation of your audience allows you to better target your customers and provide more personalised and relevant messaging for your campaign. According to email marketing specialists Email Monday, ‘marketers have found a 760% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns.’

The above image is a visual representation of research conducted by Optimove. They found that by being specific and segmenting their customers, they were able to get an average return of $42, up from $28.

When beginning your campaign, consider how you can better segment your audience. The more you segment, the more relevant your messaging can be. However, avoid segmenting too much or it can make the campaign unnecessarily complex and difficult to manage. Somewhere between 6-8 segments is ideal depending on the size of your target audience and the type of campaign you are working on.

3. Resend emails to subscribers who didn’t open their first email.

This strategy is one of the simplest on this list, but often marketers forget to revisit their email campaigns. Although open rates drop by 44% and click through rates by 46%, resending emails to subscribers that didn’t open their first email still gets results.

There is some controversy over the practice, as some marketers are worried about spamming their audience. According to an article by Forbes contributed by Neal Taparia, resending emails can boost email receivership by 54.7%. However, in the same article, Neal warned that drops in open rates and click rates can have long-term negative effects on deliverability; this is because ISPs punish users who continually send emails to unengaged users.

In summary, the benefits do outweigh the risks when it comes to resending emails. If you are a B2B business trying to optimise your email marketing campaign, we recommend this strategy, as it is easy to employ and has a dramatic impact on engagement.

4. A/B test your email marketing campaigns to improve them.

Marketers always try to improve their campaigns over time.  To do this requires experimentation. In the world of email marketing, there is no easier way to improve your campaign results than A/B testing.

A/B testing simply means sending out two similar campaigns with one key difference and measuring which campaign outperforms the other. This can be as simple as testing the subject line, or you could try sending out two completely different email templates – the choice is yours. The more you test your campaign material, the more effective your email marketing campaigns get.

The two most commonly used email marketing platforms, Campaign Monitor and MailChimp, both offer A/B testing tools.

5. Use email as a tool for keyword research.

In the previous strategy suggestion we talked about A/B testing for optimising your campaigns, however, email marketing campaigns are also great opportunities for conducting keyword research on your target market.

Using the same principles of A/B testing, you can test out certain keywords to see what statistically has greater impact. The results of this research can then be used to help optimise your content marketing, SEO and paid advertising.

B2B marketers should always be using the results of campaigns to inform their upcoming strategies, A/B testing keywords is only one way of doing this. In the same way email marketing campaigns can inform your other marketing activities, you should be using the results of your other campaigns to improve your email marketing. An example of this might be using keywords that have performed well on AdWords, or choosing landing page layouts that have good click through rates for your email templates.

When it comes to experimentation within B2B marketing, the opportunities are endless.

6. Automate your email marketing campaigns.

Marketing automation has become synonymous with email marketing, with many email marketing platforms offering automation as part of their services. According to Epsilon, automated emails get 119% higher click rates than broadcast emails.

Marketing automation is successful as it allows you to target the right people, at the right time, with the right message – it can also save you a lot of time. The process works by setting up content that is triggered when certain actions are made by users.

A simple example of this might be a welcome message whenever a new subscriber joins your mailing list. Just to demonstrate how popular automation has become, in 2008 40% of businesses sent automated welcome messages, that number doubled to 80% in 2013 according to research conducted by Return Path.

Needless to say, in 2018 marketing automation has become nearly universal. Mapping out a marketing automation strategy is not too difficult, especially with the tools provided by Martech companies like Marketo and HubSpot. However, most email marketing platforms, such as MailChimp and Campaign Monitor both offer automation tools as well.

Summary

Email marketing remains one of the most important channels for nurturing and generating B2B leads. By employing some of these strategies in your next campaign, you can significantly optimise your email marketing.

If you are looking for advice on your B2B email marketing campaign, The Lead Agency can help you generate more leads and better quality leads. Click here to find out more about our email marketing services.

If you enjoyed this article, why not read our article on Optimising Your B2B Email Marketing Click Through And Open Rates.

The post 6 B2B Email Marketing Strategies to Boost Engagement appeared first on The Lead Agency.

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Software as a service (SaaS) businesses have their work cut out for them. SaaS marketing is unlike any other type of marketing. After all, how do you market something that has no physical presence and is constantly changing? Or, reach an audience which might only consist of two dozen B2B companies? Or, explain your brilliant service to a public who might have a hard time understanding exactly what you offer?

There are several challenges that are unique to the SaaS sector. In this article we will outline what makes SaaS marketing so unique, and how you can choose the right strategy to bolster your marketing efforts!

What Makes SaaS Marketing Unique?

At the start of this article we outlined a few of the reasons that SaaS businesses have a harder time than most in marketing their products. Software as a service (SaaS) sales have grown markedly over the past decade; and it is now expected, according to Finance Online, that 73% of all businesses will rely solely on SaaS for their apps as of 2020.

SaaS is any software licensing or delivery model in which is licensed on a subscription basis to its customers. Some of the unique considerations involved in SaaS marketing are:

  • SaaS software exists on the cloud, and is has no physical presence;
  • SaaS is constantly adapting and changing to the needs of its clientele;
  • SaaS is typically offering an innovative service, trying to get audiences to understand its value can be difficult.

For all the reasons above and more, SaaS can be very difficult to market. Trying to get your audience to understand the value your software represents can be hard to manage. Below are five ways a SaaS strategy may differ from that of other regular B2B businesses.

1. Giving Away Your Product For Free

For most businesses, free giveaways might be a small part of their overall marketing plan; for SaaS it should be at the heart of your strategy. Whatever form you wish to give away your product – whether it will be a free trial period, or a limited free version – offering your product with no strings attached is what will bring in dedicated users.

If your product is useful, your customers will become accustomed to the convenience and will soon forget how they ever lived without it.

2. Potentially Shorter Sales Cycles

SaaS is primarily designed for other businesses. However, unlike B2B marketing, which is defined by long sales cycles – SaaS marketing cycles are remarkably short. Whereas a year may be short period of time in B2B, in SaaS that same amount of time may seem like an eternity.

As Neil Patel said recently in a guest blog for Kissmetrics, “You won’t find schmoozing, expensive sports events, fancy wine tastings, or teeing off at an expensive golf club. The process of buying SaaS is quick, transactional, and done.”

This is largely due to SaaS businesses relying on a lower average-selling price, and therefore relying on higher volume and a shorter sales cycle to meet their revenue goals.

If you are one of these SaaS businesses, don’t be afraid to lose customers who aren’t ready to purchase. There will always be more customers who are ready to purchase and make that quick decision.

3. Positioning Yourself As A Thought Leader

Adopting a strong content marketing based strategy will help position your business and brand as a thought leader. Given how complex SaaS products can be, informing your audience is crucial.

By positioning your brand as a thought leader, companies are more likely to look to your business for solutions to their problems. As Neil Patel says, “the main job of the SaaS marketer should be to provide information that leads to the source of greater information — the SaaS product.”

4. Focus On Customer Service And Retention

According to the American research and advisory firm Gartner, 80% of your future revenue is likely to come from 20% of your existing customer base. By investing only an extra 5% in customer retention, you can expect a 75% increase in your business’ profitability over the customer lifetime cycle.

You must also think of your SaaS business as more than code. Often SaaS businesses bow down to their developers; and, although they are undoubtedly important to your company, so too are your service providers (help desk, support, sales, marketing, bloggers etc.).

5. Offer a Quality Product with Exceptional Customer Support

We are sure you are sick of hearing the old saying, ‘let the product speak for itself’. Of course, when it comes to software, you need to make your product shine. After all, marketing will do little in the long run if your product doesn’t end up doing the talking for you.

However, the truth of the matter is that there are only two things that will truly lift your SaaS business, and that is having a quality product with exceptional customer support.

As Garrett Moon, founder of Todaymade, says, “Great products, with a strong team behind them, sell themselves. It’s the only SaaS sales strategy you really need.”

Choosing the Right Strategy for Your SaaS Enterprise

So far we have discussed how SaaS is potentially unique in many ways from that of other B2B businesses. However, even within the SaaS sector, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy. As Jeff Kaplan of THINKStrategies says, ‘the SaaS and cloud computing industry is rapidly evolving to offer a broad array of solutions targeting everyone from end-users to executives.’

Although the five suggestions made earlier in the article are great general strategies to employ within SaaS, if you really want to grow, you need to know what kind of SaaS business you are.

What Kind of Business Are You?

Within the SaaS sector, your sales model depends on the type of product you have and the average selling price (ASP) of that product. ASP is is the average price at which your product or service is sold across channels or markets. Before deciding on a strategy you first determine the following questions:

  • Does your product have a high or low ASP across your markets?
  • How complex is your product to understand, explain or use?

If you have a low ASP, you will need to compensate in your strategy by targeting a larger market, developing your pipeline, and focusing on improving your conversion rates. Low ASP often requires a high volume of sales to reach your revenue goals. High volume often means a focus on automation, customer self-service, and encouraging a shorter sales cycle.

If your product is complex you will have a harder time closing sales, keeping costs low and increasing sales velocity. As a general rule, reducing complexity in your product and your marketing will give you more options as to what sales strategies you can employ; and facilitate a healthy sales pipeline.

According to Joel York of Chaotic Flow, your SaaS business can fall into one of three categories of business depending on pricing and the complexity of your service.

Low ASP High ASP
Low Complexity Customer Self-Service Model Transactional Model
High Complexity Enterprise Model

You might be wondering why we have avoided a low complexity high ASP business, and that it is because it is the trap that many SaaS businesses fall into. Their product is too difficult to understand, and there simply not enough demand for it, for people to bother learning about it. Joel York refers to this colloquially as the ‘SaaS Graveyard’.

The key to developing your SaaS marketing strategy is to identify what kind of business you are, and therefore what kind of model to choose and therefore what course of action to take. Below we have outlined what each model entails.

Customer Self-Service Model (Low ASP/ Low Complexity)

If you have a low priced product, and are lucky enough to be able to explain your product easily to your customer base. You are going to rely heavily on automation, and customer self-service to drive sales.

The key within a customer self-service model is to focus on automated tools to provide customer support and educational information to users. There will likely be very little opportunity or need for engaging customers through sales. Instead, you are focusing on an automated pipeline. The key to this sales model is focusing on content marketing initiatives to drive awareness and interest in your product or service.

Transactional Model (High ASP/ Low Complexity)

This is the best of both worlds. Having a simple product with a high price tag that people are willing to pay for, means you can increase sales velocity and still maintain high revenue. Businesses like Google AdWords are an excellent example of this, as buyers are willing to pay hundreds of thousands directly using the online system.

However, the caveat of a transactional sales model is that, although users can do everything themselves, they will expect a degree of support if necessary given the price they are paying.

This type of model requires significant lead nurturing, and well trained sales and support reps. Direct contact with customers will be less intensive, than say an Enterprise model which we are about to discuss, so you should be investing significantly in educational resources and automated support tools.

Enterprise Model (High ASP/ High Complexity)

If you have a premium product that is marketable to a select audience who are willing to pay big for what you are offering, then you are likely an Enterprise based business. The complexity of your product (given how niche it is), comes with many challenges – however, the rewards can be big!

Focusing on a highly personalised, account-based marketing approach is likely to be best for your business. Investing heavily in your sales team. Your support team will also need to be highly trained and have several resources available to them to ensure that the customer’s experience is as good as possible.

What to do if you are stuck in the SaaS Graveyard (Low ASP/ High Complexity)?

If you are caught in what Joel York terms the ‘SaaS Graveyard’ (Low ASP/ High Complexity) you should decide on a strategy to shift yourself into either a customer self-service, transactional or enterprise sales model.

  • Increase velocity – Find ways to lower the price and complexity of the service you are offering. This will likely shorten your sales cycle and require significant investment in automation and educational tools. By increasing sales velocity, you are shifting towards a customer self-service model.
  • Increase profit – Find ways to optimise efficiency and focus on your more profitable market segments. This allows you to lower operating costs and also reach an audience who are willing to pay more for your service. Focussing on increasing profit will assist in shifting towards a transactional model.
  • Increase value – Focus on product innovation and restricting your target market to those who already recognise value in your services. This will allow you to reach out to customers who are willing to take the time to understand your service and spend the money to invest in it. By focussing on increasing value you are facilitating an enterprise model.

Of course, you don’t have to choose just one strategy, however, if you are a small business looking to grow, may wish to focus on one over the other.

How Your Marketing Strategy Will Adapt As You Grow

Most SaaS businesses naturally start out offering a simple product to a wide target audience; however, if you wish to grow, your business will need to either provide new products or services or reach new audiences.

As a business grows and innovates, they are likely to meet the challenge of introducing more complex products and purchase processes in near proximity to their original simple, self-service product. This will require careful planning so as not to disrupt your existing customer-base and lose customers.

We recommend you read this article on Writing Valuable B2B Value Propositions. A value proposition is one of the key tools you can use to simplify your customer’s understanding of your products and services.

Summary

SaaS marketing can be very different to many other forms of B2B marketing, given the typically shorter sales cycles and the other unique challenges associated with these often complex services.

SaaS businesses have blossomed over the past decade, and what works today may not be relevant two years from now. We recommend you read this article on the Changing Face of B2B Marketing, if you would like to learn more about the changes faced by B2B businesses as we all approach the next decade.

The Lead Agency is a dedicated B2B Marketing Agency. Our clients choose us because we solve their complex B2B marketing problems. We focus on the B2B buying journey by addressing digital, data, content, communications, technology, lead generation/nurturing to create more leads and better quality leads.

If you are interested in advice for your B2B business please contact The Lead Agency. Our speciality is generating leads and prospects for your business and building strong, resilient ties with them.

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The post How to Choose the Right Marketing Strategy for Your SaaS Business appeared first on The Lead Agency.

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In B2B marketing, building and maintaining relationships with your customers is key to nurturing leads. Whether you are at a local business networking event, or attending a conference as a representative of your organisation, being able to ‘work the room’ is a very useful skill to acquire.

Unfortunately, networking does not come easily to everyone. Some people, like yours truly, prefer to hide behind a MacBook computer screen, rather than have to deal with people. However, this is only more of a reason to get out and try implementing some of the strategies we are going to cover in this article.

It’s time to learn some simple hacks that will empower you in social situations and allow you to build up your B2B networking skills.

1. Remember names

“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language” (Dale Carnegie)

The fastest way to build a connection with somebody is to remember their name. They have likely been called their name since they were infant. It arouses in people something deeply personal and allows you to engage with people on a private level.

Of course, the hardest part is remembering names, especially when dealing with large groups of people. According to modern neuroscience, people are only capable of handling up to seven pieces of information in their working memory. According to British anthropologist Robert Dunbar, people are only able to have meaningful relationships with up to 150 people at a time.

Below are three tips we recommend for remembering names at an event:

  • Mnemonics – Use mnemonics to remember names and chunks of information.
  • Association – Remember a positive attribute about the person you met, or a physical attribute. Maybe you could recall their gender, age and their favourite color? Dale Carnegie recommend remembering birthdays.
  • Journal – Keep a ‘People Journal’ of everyone you have met in the day. Writing down information improves retention. Recall an interesting thing you found out about them.
  • Take a moment – Every so often, while you are canvassing the room, look around and play a game. See how many people you can remember. If you do not remember somebody’s name, approach them, strike a discussion and at some point apologise for being forgetful and take note.

Never underestimate this first tip. Use a person’s name as often as you can. If you take any piece of advice from this article, this is the simplest and quickest way to build up your professional network.

2. Encourage people to talk about themselves

There is a popular story of a botanist and a mathematician at a party. The mathematician was very quiet but very interested in what the botanist had to say. For three hours, the botanist chewed off the ears of the mathematician.

At the end of the party, the mathematician was feeling quite awkward. He was worried he had made a poor impression, as he had barely said a word all night. However, when the botanist and mathematician were leaving and saying goodbye, the botanist paid the mathematician a compliment in front of their host, “Your mathematician friend is extraordinarily interesting! Quite the conversationalist!”

What does this story tell us? People like the sound of their own voice. The best conversationalists, as Lao Tze might say, are those that are almost invisible. Counterintuitively, shine the spotlight on everyone else and you will be the centre of attention.

One tip that psychologists and counsellors employ to open patients up to communicating is to leave a bit of silence after someone has finished talking. If they have left a thought half-finished, leave a bit of quiet before speaking, they will feel the social pressure to keep talking.

Of course, just listening to other people speak all evening can be quite draining, so don’t be afraid to speak up either!

3. Open body language and a smile

A smile is a contagious way to open people up and get past their possibly guarded nature. Open body language (such as pulled back shoulders, and open palms) are also signs that you pose no threat to those you are speaking to.

On a very basic instinctual level, your posture and positioning are doing 93% of the communication. This may feel uncomfortable at first, especially is you are a misanthrope like me. However, if you ‘fake it till you make it’ you will find that what’s inside begins to reflect what is on the surface. This due to a well-documented psychophysiological response.

Not only will smiling and opening yourself up make you feel better, it will make other people more comfortable around you.

One ‘handy’ tip from Psychology Today, is to keep an eye on the feet of the people you are talking to. If they are pointed away from you, they are likely disengaged. If they are pointed towards you, they are likely interested in what you are saying.

Another good observation to make is to keep notice of people’s eye movements. In 1975 Eckhard Hess discovered that pupils dilate the more interested they are in a subject. Also, Blinking more than ten times per minute is also another sign of interest.

According to modern psychology, someone looking to your right is a sign someone is remembering something. If they look to your left, it is a sign they are devising something. Looking up indicates visualisation, looking directly sideways indicates auditory thinking, and looking down is kinaesthetic (often involving feelings or internal dialogue). Try playing with the chart above to get familiar with these saccade eye movements (try not to be distracted by the handsome face of Hugh Laurie!).

4.  Avoid criticising, condemning or complaining

We’ve all dealt with people we rather wouldn’t. We might have even said things we regretted later. As Bilbo Baggins would put it, “I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”

However, business is about relationships, and sometimes we need to learn how to work together to achieve outcomes.

The first thing to remember is that no-one ever thinks they are wrong. Even Al Capone saw himself as an upstanding citizen. What can we learn from this? If you try to tell someone they are wrong, they will only hold it against you.

‘A drop of honey gathers more bees than a gallon of gall.’ Avoid criticizing (or correcting) others, unless absolutely necessary, and if you do have to, go about it in a respectful way that first acknowledges their importance and the truth in their statement.

Likewise, don’t talk ill of people who are not present. Whenever somebody says something cruel behind someone’s back, the person they are speaking to might agree, but secretly they are thinking, “I wonder what this person says about me when I’m not here?”

5. Give honest and sincere appreciation

Make a habit of noticing positive attributes about people that you meet. You may like their hair, or admire the way that they talk confidently. Then, get into the practice of articulating your appreciation for others.

Compliments will get you anywhere. Conversely, an insincere compliment will immediately make people dislike and distrust you. People will know whether you are being sincere or not.

Finding opportunities to appreciate people is an art form in of itself. One tip we recommend is to ask small favours of people. Surprisingly, according to research, people are more likely to like those that they have done a favour for. This could be as simple as asking someone to pass you the salt. It is not the scale of the action, it is the gesture that matters. Don’t forget to thank them though!

Also, while we are on the subject of etiquette. Avoid saying sorry, instead thank people. People say sorry the smallest of inconveniences. Sorry subconsciously shifts blame onto yourself, thank you makes the other person feel appreciated.

6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely

Everybody wants to feel important. From the perspective of other people, you are only a secondary character in their narrative. Don’t take this personally, everyone is like this. Instead, use it to your advantage.

Firstly, it is one less thing to worry about. Now that you know you are of little importance to most people, you don’t have to worry as much about living up to the responsibilities and expectations you may have built up in your mind.

Secondly, make others feel appreciated is a great skill! Anybody that can make someone feel important has tapped into humanity’s most fundamental psychological needs. The need to be appreciated is almost as fundamental as food or sleep!

Finding out what motivates people, and what makes them feel valued is the key to unlocking social success.

7. Memorable introductions, and end on high notes

First impressions matter; the human mind is quick to cast judgement. According to Business Insider, you only have seven seconds to make a first impression. This is where it pays to always be prepared, and to project the image you want to the world to see.

For example, a world-class musician once busked on the street in normal clothes with a $3.5 million dollar violin, and only earned less than $40. They typically would have made $100 per seat in an auditorium. This demonstrates the importance image.

In fact, according to the well-documented ‘Halo Effect’, people are more likely to perceive those who are talented or attractive as both kinder and smarter!

It is also important to work on your entrances and exits. According to the ‘Serial Positioning Effect’, people best remember the first and last parts of a sequence of events. This means that you want to start strong and finish strong when engaging in conversation. Introduce yourself with a smile, and be vocal. Don’t forget to leave with high energy and repeat their name back to them!

8. Give yourself something to do

If you are like me, you can get a bit nervous about social interactions. One tip is to focus your attention on what you are doing to calm the nerves. This is why dinner is a very common social activity, why chewing gum (according studies) gives off the impression of confidence, and why ‘social smoking’ is such a phenomenon.

If you are organising a meet and greet, consider a physical activity that will give your guests an adrenaline rush. According to psychologist Ryan Anderson, “Evidence suggests that people are more likely to enjoy themselves with you if they experience some kind of adrenaline rush while in your presence.”

9. Pump yourself up

If you really want to make a good impression on somebody, take some time before hand to pump yourself up. If you go into a social situation in a positive energised state, you are likely to elicit a similar response. People are naturals at reciprocating behaviour.

People will also associate you with the emotions that you elicit in them. If you are bored by people and bring nothing to a conversation, they will naturally dread seeing you. If you are positive and upbeat, they will have a similar impression of you.

10. Mirroring and repetition

According to Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP), one of the best ways to get people to trust and open up to you is to mirror their body language and speech.

If they are leaning slightly to their left, subtly mirror their body language. They will begin to start associating with you and see you as someone they trust.

Mirror their language as well as their posture and movements. Most people think dominantly in one of three ways – visually, auditorily, or kinaesthetically. Our language often reflects this. For example, you may notice that you say phrases such as ‘the way I look at it’, ‘I’m hearing you’’, or the ‘this is how I feel about it.’ Each of these betrays the way we prefer to think.

By mirroring the language of the person you are speaking to you are able to better facilitate communication and build trust.

11. Don’t Be Boring

This is the least difficult step in this article. You are incredibly interesting without even having to try. The real trick is not ‘being interesting’ but developing interest in other people.

As we mentioned earlier, allow other people to lead the conversation. Find things about them that you find genuinely interesting and probe them about it. The minute you notice you are speaking too much, and they are switching off, check yourself and ask them something.

According to Edward DeBono, the originator of ‘lateral thinking’, “being interesting is nothing to do with intelligence, beauty or confidence. It is actually a state of mind.”

Humour, insight and surprises are the skills you need to use to stimulate conversation. The state of mind DeBono refers to, is that of a creative and imaginative mindset. Get used to speculating. Objective facts are boring. Subjective questions are interesting.

Also, don’t restrict conversation, by talking about topics others are unfamiliar, or uninterested in. Instead, make it an even playing field. Talk in terms of emotions, and invite people to visualise and imagine.

Summary

In this article we owed a lot of these tips to Dale Carnegie’s ‘How To Win Friends And Influence People’, Edward DeBono’s ‘How To Be More Interesting’ and various articles from Psychology Today. We recommend these resources for anyone interested in the subject of networking.

If you enjoyed this article and are interested in learning more about business networking, read this article/ infographic on Business Networking Etiquette 101.

The Lead Agency is a dedicated B2B Marketing Agency. Our clients choose us because we solve their complex B2B marketing problems. We focus on the B2B buying journey by addressing digital, data, content, communications, technology, lead generation/nurturing to create more leads and better quality leads.

If you are interested in advice for your B2B business please contact The Lead Agency using the form below. Our speciality is generating leads and prospects for your business and building strong, resilient ties with them.

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The post 11 Social Hacks To Improve Your B2B Networking Skills appeared first on The Lead Agency.

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One of the keys to doing content marketing properly is using a diverse range of platforms to spread your brand and messaging. According to the Australian Podcast Consumer Report 2017, podcast listeners make up around 30% of the Australian population.

The benefits of podcasts are that you are able to reach out to an audience who may not be interested in reading blogs or viewing your video content. Not everyone fits the same mould. By creating content people can listen to on their commute, for example, you are not only able to reach out to new audiences but may be giving existing followers another way to connect with you.

Podcasting is a great way to engage with influencers and thought leaders in your industry. The interviews or segments you create can also be repurposed as articles and even animations (depending on how your far your imagination and resources can take you).

Before we start explaining the best way to begin podcasting for B2B, we should stress that podcasting requires a long-term commitment. However, if you are willing to persevere, let’s begin outlining the steps it takes to get your podcast off the ground.

Step 1: Know your niche

You know your business and your industry like nobody else. Podcasting is the opportunity to share that knowledge and experience. Do not get caught up podcasting about random topics that take your interest. The best performing podcasts with plenty of subscribers are the ones that can dissect one topic at length.

Remember that you will be doing this for a long time, so make sure the topic is broad enough, to maintain the interest of both yourself and your audience. Luckily, B2B podcasting is still underutilised and there is not much competition on the airwaves, depending on your topic of interest.

Step 2: Get the right equipment

Getting good quality sound is the most important part of producing a good quality podcast. There is nothing more grating than sitting through a poor recording with plenty of background noise.

You can use your smartphone to record audio. The quality of a microphone in an iPhone X rivals that of the industry standard ZOOM. However, if you want to get the best quality sound, we recommend a condenser microphone connected through an audio interface straight into your computer.

As well as having a proper microphone, you will want to invest in a pop filter. Pop filters are placed directly in front of the microphone and soften plosive sounds such as p’s and b’s.

Downloading a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) is the last step. Garageband is the basic entry level software for Mac, but there are much better options in the form of Logic Pro, Ableton and ProTools. However, for a simple broadcast, all you will need is a free open source option like Audacity.

XLR condenser microphones are the best option, and allow you to record using multiple mics as opposed to one ambient microphone.

Step 3: The recording or interview

Depending on the format of your podcast, you may wish to read a script, or you may invite guest speakers onto your show. Either way you will want to be prepared before you press record.

Although it goes without saying that you should be prepared with all the notes and information you will need for the show in front of you, you may also want to do some simple vocal and improvisational exercises to loosen up beforehand. This can be as simple as running through some tongue twisters and centering your breathing.

If you are relaxed in yourself and confident in your understanding of the topic, you will find that the interview will flow well. Remember that your guest speakers may be nervous too. Do your best to make them feel comfortable before the interview or discussion.

It is also possible to arrange interviews through Skype or other platforms. This a great alternative, but beware that you may have compromised sound quality as a result.

Also, remember to find a quiet space. There is nothing worse than having to cut several minutes of good quality conversation because a lawn mower begins playing in the background.

Step 4: The editing process

Editing using a DAW may not be your cup of tea, however the basics are not hard to learn. There are several plugins available on most DAWs that will do the more technical work for you. You will want to compress the file, add filters to reduce background noise and finally use a simple master to make sure that the levels are appropriate for platforms like iTunes and Spotify.

You may want to hire a sound designer to produce an introduction, or invent one yourself. It is also helpful to have ambient tracks to play underneath your podcast where required.

If all this sounds a bit daunting there are freelancers on Upwork and Fiverr who are inexpensive and can turn your raw files into masterpieces.

Step 5: Distribute, share and repurpose

Now comes the important part of distributing your podcast. You can easily upload podcasts online through a plugin on your website or register with an existing service. From there you will be able to register with other platforms like iTunes and Spotify.

The key to developing your podcast audience is to bring your podcast to new audiences, and build a subscriber base over time. Below are a few strategies we recommend to get your podcast in front of new audiences:

1. Share on social media

Share your content as much as possible on all your platforms. If you have fans on existing platforms, a percentage of those will be willing to see what else you are doing on other platforms. Also, find different platforms to share your podcast on, don’t just stick to Apple.

2. Write a transcript

Write a transcript and then share that alongside. This is particularly helpful for garnering SEO, and allowing Google to identify your podcast in their search queries. Google’s crawlers will not be able to identify you in searches without one.

3. Be a guest on another podcast

Trying to get your existing fans of social media to migrate to another platform or medium may prove difficult. However, podcast fans are eager for new content. By reaching out to similar B2B podcasts, you can help cross-promote and share audiences. The best thing is that competition is hardly an issue in podcasting, as there such a high demand for content.

Summary

Podcasting is not the most obvious choice for B2B marketers, given it is still growing as a channel, and can be fairly resource intensive. However, if you are looking for new ways to engage prospects, it is definitely an option worth considering.

For more information on optimising your content marketing, read the following article to find out the Single Most Effective Content Marketing Strategy for B2B.

The Lead Agency is a specialist B2B digital marketing agency with expertise in B2B digital marketing strategy, content marketing, digital lead generation, lead nurturing and marketing automation.If you are interested in developing your B2B content marketing, please contact The Lead Agency. Our speciality is in generating leads and prospects for your business and building strong, resilient ties with them.

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One of the keys to doing content marketing properly is using a diverse range of platforms to spread your brand and messaging. According to the Australian Podcast Consumer Report 2017, podcast listeners make up around 30% of the Australian population.

The benefits of podcasts are that you are able to reach out to an audience who may not be interested in reading blogs or viewing your video content. Not everyone fits the same mould. By creating content people can listen to on their commute, for example, you are not only able to reach out to new audiences but may be giving existing followers another way to connect with you.

Podcasting is a great way to engage with influencers and thought leaders in your industry. The interviews or segments you create can also be repurposed as articles and even animations (depending on how your far your imagination and resources can take you).

Before we start explaining the best way to begin podcasting for B2B, we should stress that podcasting requires a long-term commitment. However, if you are willing to persevere, let’s begin outlining the steps it takes to get your podcast off the ground.

Step 1: Know your niche

You know your business and your industry like nobody else. Podcasting is the opportunity to share that knowledge and experience. Do not get caught up podcasting about random topics that take your interest. The best performing podcasts with plenty of subscribers are the ones that can dissect one topic at length.

Remember that you will be doing this for a long time, so make sure the topic is broad enough, to maintain the interest of both yourself and your audience. Luckily, B2B podcasting is still underutilised and there is not much competition on the airwaves, depending on your topic of interest.

Step 2: Get the right equipment

Getting good quality sound is the most important part of producing a good quality podcast. There is nothing more grating than sitting through a poor recording with plenty of background noise.

You can use your smartphone to record audio. The quality of a microphone in an iPhone X rivals that of the industry standard ZOOM. However, if you want to get the best quality sound, we recommend a condenser microphone connected through an audio interface straight into your computer.

As well as having a proper microphone, you will want to invest in a pop filter. Pop filters are placed directly in front of the microphone and soften plosive sounds such as p’s and b’s.

Downloading a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) is the last step. Garageband is the basic entry level software for Mac, but there are much better options in the form of Logic Pro, Ableton and ProTools. However, for a simple broadcast, all you will need is a free open source option like Audacity.

XLR condenser microphones are the best option, and allow you to record using multiple mics as opposed to one ambient microphone.

Step 3: The recording or interview

Depending on the format of your podcast, you may wish to read a script, or you may invite guest speakers onto your show. Either way you will want to be prepared before you press record.

Although it goes without saying that you should be prepared with all the notes and information you will need for the show in front of you, you may also want to do some simple vocal and improvisational exercises to loosen up beforehand. This can be as simple as running through some tongue twisters and centering your breathing.

If you are relaxed in yourself and confident in your understanding of the topic, you will find that the interview will flow well. Remember that your guest speakers may be nervous too. Do your best to make them feel comfortable before the interview or discussion.

It is also possible to arrange interviews through Skype or other platforms. This a great alternative, but beware that you may have compromised sound quality as a result.

Also, remember to find a quiet space. There is nothing worse than having to cut several minutes of good quality conversation because a lawn mower begins playing in the background.

Step 4: The editing process

Editing using a DAW may not be your cup of tea, however the basics are not hard to learn. There are several plugins available on most DAWs that will do the more technical work for you. You will want to compress the file, add filters to reduce background noise and finally use a simple master to make sure that the levels are appropriate for platforms like iTunes and Spotify.

You may want to hire a sound designer to produce an introduction, or invent one yourself. It is also helpful to have ambient tracks to play underneath your podcast where required.

If all this sounds a bit daunting there are freelancers on Upwork and Fiverr who are inexpensive and can turn your raw files into masterpieces.

Step 5: Distribute, share and repurpose

Now comes the important part of distributing your podcast. You can easily upload podcasts online through a plugin on your website or register with an existing service. From there you will be able to register with other platforms like iTunes and Spotify.

The key to developing your podcast audience is to bring your podcast to new audiences, and build a subscriber base over time. Below are a few strategies we recommend to get your podcast in front of new audiences:

1. Share on social media

Share your content as much as possible on all your platforms. If you have fans on existing platforms, a percentage of those will be willing to see what else you are doing on other platforms. Also, find different platforms to share your podcast on, don’t just stick to Apple.

2. Write a transcript

Write a transcript and then share that alongside. This is particularly helpful for garnering SEO, and allowing Google to identify your podcast in their search queries. Google’s crawlers will not be able to identify you in searches without one.

3. Be a guest on another podcast

Trying to get your existing fans of social media to migrate to another platform or medium may prove difficult. However, podcast fans are eager for new content. By reaching out to similar B2B podcasts, you can help cross-promote and share audiences. The best thing is that competition is hardly an issue in podcasting, as there such a high demand for content.

Summary

Podcasting is not the most obvious choice for B2B marketers, given it is still growing as a channel, and can be fairly resource intensive. However, if you are looking for new ways to engage prospects, it is definitely an option worth considering.

For more information on optimising your content marketing, read the following article to find out the Single Most Effective Content Marketing Strategy for B2B.

The Lead Agency is a specialist B2B digital marketing agency with expertise in B2B digital marketing strategy, content marketing, digital lead generation, lead nurturing and marketing automation.If you are interested in developing your B2B content marketing, please contact The Lead Agency. Our speciality is in generating leads and prospects for your business and building strong, resilient ties with them.

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Since the rise of social media, the concept of ‘going viral’ has captured the imaginations of digital marketers across the globe. Over the past decade, advertisers have developed theories of ‘viral’ marketing, that, to quote Time Magazine, “assumes that a great idea is self-distributing, and word of mouth can take a little thing and turn it into a phenomenon.”

Implicit in this concept is the idea that the Internet is a perfect democracy, where all content is equal; and ideas are disseminated in a cascading fashion.

However, how realistic are these expectations? In the following article we will look to current research on viral content and look at what it really takes to make an impression in a digital world.

What Do We Mean By ‘Going Viral’?

In the same way pop songs are ‘infectious’, and products can be ‘contagious’, content can ‘go viral’. When epidemiologists talk about things going ’viral’, they refer to a disease that infects more than one person before it (or the host) dies.

Similarly, when we say that a piece of online media content has ‘gone viral’ it is generally understood that it has not only become popular rapidly, but has attained it’s popularity through a process of peer-to-peer contagion analogous to the spread of a biological virus.

Why ‘Going Viral’ Is Harder Than You Think

Many authors and marketing gurus would have you believe that by following their guidance, you can generate instant influence. Robert Wynne, of Forbes Magazine, puts it best,

“Most of this advice follows the ‘Grand Slam Home Run’ theory preaching the tricks and tactics to make your post, tweet, photo or video go viral so you can quit work early and watch your bank deposits between pilates class, an afternoon nap and a vanilla latte with almond milk.”

First of all, let’s put some things into context:

  • 5 billion items of content are posted each day on Facebook;
  • 500+ million Tweets go out daily
  • 500 million users are on LinkedIn

That’s a lot of content to compete with, and, according to Tony Halle of Chartbeat, “most people who click don’t read [articles]” and, “a stunning 55 percent spent fewer than 15 seconds actively on a page.”

While it is certainly true that a small number of videos, posts, or articles may experience rapid unexpected popularity, recent collaborative studies from Stanford University, Microsoft Research and Yahoo! Research tell a very different story to that of what most ‘viral marketers’ propound.

How ‘Viral Media’ Spreads

Studies conducted by Sharad Goel and Ashton Anderson of Stanford University and Jake Hofman and Duncan Watts of Microsoft Research, have debunked much of what we thought we knew about ‘viral media’.

The researchers studied the spread of millions of messages on Twitter. What they found was that less than 10 percent of all messages were shared at all, and less than 1 percent were diffused seven times.

What they concluded from their studies was that popularity on the Internet is not derived from one-to-one shares as commonly believed, but by a few one-to-one-million blasts. Oftentimes, when it seems that a post has gone viral out of nowhere, there are unrecognised but influential ‘dark broadcasters’ within the information cascade, who are responsible for sharing content to many people at once.

“We find that structural vitality is typically low, and remains so independent of size, suggesting that popularity is largely driven by the size of the largest broadcast,” says Shared Goel.

“The spread of information is more similar to a broadcast of the Super-Bowl than a fast-moving virus. The difference is that in broadcasting, a message is sent to people directly – whereas a viral spread relies on spreading via word of mouth.”

An Example of ‘Going Viral’

To demonstrate the findings in the study above, Microsoft Research observed a video published on April 24th 2012, World Malaria Day, by media relations executive Tracy Zamot. The original malaria video was tweeted just once, but generated over 16,000 retweets.

Of the 96 comments under the video, over sixty percent made mention or thanked Justin Bieber, Greyson Chance, or Ashton Kutcher. All three celebrities has shared the video to more than a million followers each.

Popularity on the Internet, it seems, is still defined by broadcasts from influencers, publishers and broadcasters. What has changed since the 20th century, is that the Internet has facilitated far more broadcasting channels with the power to reach millions. Oftentimes, there are hidden influencers within a network.

What Can Digital Marketers Do To Build Their Popularity?

Identifying the myth of ‘going viral’ allows marketers and their clients to moderate their expectations. Popular content doesn’t just happen overnight, it requires building an engaged audience over a long period of time.

While you may never ‘go viral’ and reach millions of people with your content, there are certain things that you can do to make your content more shareable. Below we have listed seven strategies you can employ to build up an engaged audience.

1. Be consistent

Consistency is key to building a brand. With your content marketing, you should make sure that the quality of the content you produce is always of a high standard. You also want to make sure the design of your content is coherent with your overall body of work.

2. Use visuals

Visuals are easily digestible. At The Lead Agency, we believe that visuals can be used to inspire, help and humanise your brand and messaging. If you want some more tips as to how to improve the quality of your visuals, refer to our 3 Ways To Create More Visually Appealing Content.

3. Use less words

People have short attention spans, especially online. Most online users will not take more than a few seconds to digest information. As a result, you have to tell most of your story using imagery and design. If you want your content to be shared, focus on cutting down the copy.

4. Identify trending topics

Trending topics are able to hook audiences easily. Not only will your audience be familiar with the topic, but they will likely be curious to find out more about what everyone else is so interested in. If you are going to deal with a trending topic in your content marketing, make sure to attack the topic from a unique perspective.

5. Target influencers

If there is anything that can be learnt from the studies above, it is that the sharing of content hinges on influencers. Getting influential brands and people to broadcast your content is the best way of building an audience.

Summary

Although the Internet has brought us a long way away from the centralised models of communication of the 20th century, communication is still largely localised. Ideas don’t tend to spread too far unless they are broadcasted directly from influencers.

Given this, digital marketers should focus their attention on building engagement with their existing network, and growing gradually over time by sharing consistently high quality content.

If you are interested in reading the studies referenced in this article you can access the study conducted by Microsoft Research and Stanford University here, and the study conducted by Yahoo! Research here.

If you are interested in learning more about B2B influencer marketing for your business, click the following link to read The Art of Influencer Marketing For B2B.

The Lead Agency is a dedicated B2B Marketing Agency. Our clients choose us because we solve their complex B2B marketing problems. We focus on the B2B buying journey by addressing digital, data, content, communications, technology, lead generation/nurturing to create more leads and better quality leads.

If you are interested in advice for your B2B business please contact The Lead Agency using the form below. Our speciality is generating leads and prospects for your business and building strong, resilient ties with them.

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When it comes to marketing your B2B business online, your greatest asset is a well-designed website. Every piece of content you create, every ad you pay for, and every social network you manage, should ideally redirect your audience there.

However, luring audiences to your website is only half the job; the other half is converting the visitors to your page into verified leads. To do this requires several elements: a strong call-to-action, practical value propositions, compelling UX design and quality SEO. But, these are just some of the things that your B2B website needs.

In this article we are going to give you eight pragmatic strategies to optimise your website, and turn it into a premium lead generation tool.

1. Display Your Value Propositions

Making sure that your value propositions are clearly visible and displayed on your home page, will help you communicate to visitors exactly what your business can offer them. Value propositions are clearly defined statements that tell your audience three things:

  • What you will deliver (whether it’s a product, service, or solution);
  • Why it is valuable, and;
  • Your promise that you can deliver what you state.

A good value proposition is targeted, relevant, quantifiable and unique. For more tips as to how to shape your own value proposition, we recommend you read How to Write a Valuable B2B Value Proposition.

2. Setup Lead Acquisition and Lead Capture Tools

Your B2B website should have forms for capturing leads on every page, accompanied by strong Calls-To-Action (CTAs). Lead magnets are another great way to entice visitors to leave their contact details in exchange for useful content.

Consider downloading exit-intent pop up plugins to capture visitors before they leave your site. You may also wish to offer ‘free’ consultations or other value-added services through your website.

Remember, keep your forms short. The longer they are, the less likely you are going to convert visitors. Focus on creating a streamlined design, and user-friendly experience.

3. Generate Top-of-the-Funnel Gated Content

‘Gated content’, sometimes referred to as ‘lead magnets’, requires users to provide contact details before they can access it. In terms of the sales funnel, this content is used at the start of the buyer journey to capture the awareness and engagement of potential leads.

Regularly creating top quality content will boost your search ranking, increase the quality of inbound leads, generate more organic traffic and aid the general effectiveness of your other marketing campaigns.

Some ideas for creating top-of-the-funnel gated content may include: eBooks, instructional videos, webinars, research, blog articles or downloadable guides.

According to JustUno, you can increase your opt in form conversions by up to 300% by offering gated content on your website.

4. Employ the UX Design to Optimise your ROI

Good design facilitates more and better quality leads through your sales funnel. If your website is too difficult to read, or navigate, you will unnecessarily lose leads.

UX stands for ‘User Experience’ design. This philosophy has swept the marketing world, with many web and graphic designers putting their customer’s experience first.

There are seven factors that influence the quality of the design of your website: usability, usefulness, desirability, findability, accessibility, credibility and value.

For more tips on improving the quality of your web design read this article on Improving Lead Generation on Your Website.

5. Mobile Responsive Web Design

Most B2B buyers will expect you to have a mobile ready website. According to a study by Google:

  • 74% of users are less likely to return a company’s site in future if it is not mobile friendly;
  • 48% are frustrated and annoyed by companies that don’t have mobile friendly sites;
  • 52% are less likely to engage with a company with no mobile website.

Making sure that your website is fully responsive (able to be viewed on multiple devices) is key to not losing out on potential leads. Many platforms, such as WordPress, offer built in mobile responsive design. If you want more tips on how to make sure your site is up to scratch, try reading our article on Mobile Marketing.

6. Focus on Improving the Overall Performance of Site

Slow websites are not just irritating for users, they will also be overlooked by Google’s crawlers and rank lower on search engines. Having a streamlined website requires going through the backend of your website and making sure that you don’t have any clutter.

We recommend that you do the following, in order to improve the speed and efficiency of your website;

  • Make sure that your media library does not contain any unnecessary content, and that all your content is sized appropriately for web use;
  • Find a good quality host. 90% of the time it is the host that is letting down the performance of your website;
  • Remove any unnecessary plugins, and possibly install a user plugin such as ‘WP Rocket’ to improve the speed and performance of your site, and;
  • Install the AMP (Accelerated Mobile Page) plugin to improve the speed of mobile pages.

Remember that it only takes three seconds of delay to lose a fifth of your visitors (according to a study by Aberdeen Group).

  1. Create Specific Landing Pages for AdWords Campaigns

When you redirect your audience to your website, the content of the page they land on must reflect what was offered in your campaign. For example, if you run an AdWords campaign that offers a specific product, your landing page should be tailored to that product.

If you allow your audiences to simply be redirected to a home page you will find that you will suffer a significant bounce rate.

Quality landing pages consist of a value proposition, a strong call-to-action and are very simple. You want to guide your visitors by offering them an irresistible offer that relates specifically to what they were searching for.

For more information on developing effective landing pages, read our article on Five Tips for Great Lead Generation Campaign Websites.

8. Invest in Quality SEO

Your website is only a very tiny part of the Internet. The key to drawing traffic to your site is through networks. But, how do you build the authority of your website? Specifically in terms of search engine rankings?

The solution is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). SEO involves a series of strategies used to improve your site’s search engine ranking. The higher your ranking for certain keywords that relate to your business, the more likely your customers are going to find you.

SEO can be broken up into external and internal strategies. Internal SEO involves rewriting content, to favour specific keywords that you know your audience are searching for, as well as optimising your metadata and adding internal linking. External SEO involves backlinks from other high authority websites. To generalise crudely, the more authoritative websites that link to your website, the more authority your site has.

SEO can be a fairly in-depth topic, we recommend you look at our article on 9 Steps to Perfect Small Business SEO.

Summary

In this article we discussed several strategies you can employ to optimise the quality of your website, and generate more and better quality leads.

Many companies will spend thousands on advertising and outbound marketing without first making sure that their website is up to scratch. Follow the eight tips above to make sure that your website is going to generate the leads you want.

For more information on optimising your website for lead generation, why not try reading our article on Five Tips for Great lead Generation Marketing Websites.

The Lead Agency is a specialist B2B digital marketing agency with expertise in B2B digital marketing strategy, content marketing, digital lead generation, lead nurturing and marketing automation.

If you are interested in developing your B2B website, please contact The Lead Agency using the form below. Our speciality is in generating leads and prospects for your business and building strong, resilient ties with them.

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“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits them and sells itself.” (Peter F. Drucker, ‘The Power of Really Knowing Your Target Market’)

Understanding your audience is the first step in a successful B2B marketing campaign. If you don’t know who you are directing your messaging to it is unlikely to grip anybody. Likewise, if you try to be all things to all people, you will find your message will mean nothing and reach no-one.

Whilst it is common for marketers to establish a target audience, oftentimes these demographics and numbers seem too impersonal to inspire any proper communication. As an exercise, creating buyer personas gives you a tangible person to present to.

In the following article, we are going to evaluate the benefits of adopting buyer personas in your strategic planning, and the way to create a thorough representation of your target audience.

What are Buyer Personas?

Buyer personas are fictional character portraits that are specifically made to represent different segments of your audience. Each fictional persona is personalised and fleshed out until they seem like a real person to you.

A buyer persona allows you to solidify in your mind what motivates your customers. It is much simpler to tailor targeted messages through buyer personas than just working off generalised observations of your target audience.

Creating a Buyer Persona

Creating buyer personas is not difficult to do, however, it can be hard to know where to start. Below we have broken down the process of creating buyer personas into easy to follow bite-size chunks.

Step 1: Research

Good buyer personas are founded on quality research gathered from information about your existing customer base. Don’t allow yourself to get too bogged down in the details; likewise, don’t start creating a persona without having a thorough set of data to work from.

Segment your target audience accordingly and decide who you are looking to target in your campaign. For example, you may find that your customer base is divided into two separate demographics. Gather what information you can on both of these two groups, as this will inform what you come up with in the next step.

Below are some tactics you can employ to gather the research you need.

Interview Customers

Talking to your customers is one of the best ways to gather ideas for your buyer personas. Not only will you get invaluable insights from them, you will also have the opportunity to draw inspiration from them later in the second phase of developing a buyer persona.

Conduct a Survey

Surveys can be conducted via email or through online survey sites. This data will give you an insight into what it is that motivates your target audience.

Use Analytics and Social Media

Google Analytics and insights from your social media channels are very valuable resources in deciding your target audience and developing your buyer personas. LinkedIn’s Analytics will allow you to determine who your customers are with great accuracy.

Talk to your Sales and Support Teams

Your sales and support teams will know the most out of anybody in your organisation about your customer base. By taking time to talk with them, you likely find out things you never would have known from a survey or analytics.

Step 2: Imagine

Here comes the fun part; identifying your buyer persona’s traits! Get out all of your data and resources in front of you and start writing down ideas for the following questions.

What is their name? Do you have a picture in your mind?

The first step to personalising your buyer persona is to give them a name and face. One good way to come up with a name is to ask your sales manager for the first name that pops up in their head. Then do a Google image search to identify a person that can play the role of avatar.

Example: We are looking to sell insurance to small business owners. After asking our sales department manager, the first name they came up with was ‘Liz McGregor’. With a quick Google search we found a picture of what we imagined Liz might look like.

What is the their character background and history?

Now we get into the details of the character. Yet again, use the data you have collected to identify the following key points: age, gender, job, education, location, family situation and archetypal personality type.

Example: After consulting the data, we have decided that Liz McGregor is a 35 year old, female, small business owner running a restaurant in Prahran, Victoria. Liz has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Melbourne University, but was born in Aberdeen, Scotland. Liz McGregor is single and a passionate entrepreneurial business person.

What quote summarises their personality?

Coming up with a statement that summarises who this person is, is a great way to articulate the perspective of your audience. This statement can be anything, it doesn’t have to be a famous quote.

Example: “My business is my life. I’ve invested years managing other people’s businesses. I am determined to see my business succeed, and run it my way. I don’t like people who waste my time. I am a pragmatic person.”

Why are they interested in your businesses’ products or services?

There are different things that motivate the purchase of products and services. Some want to get a promotion, whilst others are looking for tools to streamline their business. In B2B marketing there are various key decision makers, each with different motivations that need to be accounted for.

Example: “I need a basic insurance plan that will cover my business at an affordable rate. I want a quick and easy solution.”

What are the biggest problems in their life?

Understanding what fears and day-to-day problems your fictional character has to contend with gives you deeper insight into their motivations. By identifying the issues that concern them, you will be able to better target your messaging to address those concerns.

Example: As a small business owner, Liz’s business is very stressful and although the business is stable at the moment, it has suffered recently. She spends many hours per week working overtime to make sure that the business is running smoothly.

What values do they align with?

What values does your character hold dear? Do they have any strong political or religious beliefs? What do they value most in their life?

Example: Liz is open-minded and values hard work and pragmatism. She values friendship and family most of all.

How do they go about making a buying decision for their business?

Different people go about purchasing products in different ways. Some like to read journals and others appreciate advice from close friends. Who influences your character’s buying decisions? What motivates them? Price? Quality? Also, do they adopt new ideas readily or are they more conservative in their choices?

Example: Liz McGregor does not like any risk, and believes in being well prepared. She researches all her purchases online and will phone up several businesses for quotes.

Summary

Buyer personas a useful way to develop the right strategies and messaging for your campaigns. These one-page documents can be distributed across your company and help everyone in your organisation adopt a clearer understanding of who they are targeting.

According to marketer and strategist Mark Schaefer, “3 to 4 Buyer Personas usually account for 90%+ of a company’s sales”. In our experience, this is fairly accurate.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn more about targeting, read this article on Targeting Your Marketing Messages To Your Audience.

If you are interested in Buyer Personas and looking for assistance employing it for your B2B business, please contact The Lead Agency using the form below. Our speciality is in generating leads and prospects for your business and building strong, resilient ties with them.

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The post Creating Buyer Personas for Better B2B Marketing appeared first on The Lead Agency.

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Businesses who endorse and practice ethical marketing create a strong reputation of social responsibility and cultural sensitivity. This is often looked upon favourably by clients and prospective clients, and may even be the deciding factor in their decision to buy from one business over another.

As such, ethical marketing isn’t just a moral and legal necessity; it also makes good business sense.

What is Ethical Marketing?

Ethical marketing is simply the process of applying ethics to your marketing campaigns and strategies.

Ethical marketing practices should be engrained into business processes and campaign strategies. They should not be employed by companies in a way that is overly promotional in an attempt to make the company seem responsible, as this makes consumers less trusting and more suspicious of ethical claims. Many top brands have suffered consumer boycotts due to this behaviour.

The following are some examples of behaviour and conduct that should be considered from an ethical standpoint.

  • Misleading & Deceptive Conduct: When promoting your products or services, you need to ensure that any branding, statement or quote is not false or misleading.
  • Competitions: Competitions, lotteries and promotions that offer a prize over a certain amount are regulated by each state and territory. Depending on the competition and the prize you offer, you may require a permit.
  • Direct Marketing: Most direct marketing activities are regulated by federal or state laws, so it is vital to ensure you comply with privacy legislation and spam regulations before proceeding with any campaign.
  • Email Marketing: Before you send out any email marketing material, you must ensure you comply with the Spam Act 2003, which states that it is illegal to send unsolicited commercial electronic messages without consent.
  • Privacy: Extreme care must be taken when you collect, use, secure and disclose a customer’s personal information to ensure you comply with the Privacy Act.
  • Pricing: When you price your products or services, you need to comply with pricing regulations and display the price clearly and accurately.
  • Personal Ethics: Everyone has different ethics, which affect how a company is run. Certain companies may not want to use tactics to sell to children or promote gambling and many people will not work for a that they deem to be unethical. While B2B marketing may not make us feel like we’re positively contributing to society, we can still stand by our personal ethics.
The Challenges of Monitoring Ethics in B2B Marketing

The B2B sales process is vastly different from B2C. In general, B2B sales processes have fewer controls than B2C, which makes ethical practices more difficult to monitor. This is due to a number of reasons:

  • B2B sales tend to be more personal and relationship based, and often the seller will adapt sales processes in order to suit the specifics of the business, or individual they are selling to.
  • B2B sales are typically more expensive and more complex, so the entire marketing mix is often tailored to suit the individual buyer.
  • With B2B purchases, pricing is most often not set, but rather negotiated between the buyer and seller.
  • Communication about the product and pricing is mostly verbal, taking place mainly through informal or formal presentations and discussions.

While the B2B sales process is more difficult to monitor and control, there are certain steps that B2B businesses can take in order to ensure their practices remain ethical across every employee and division.

Developing an Ethical B2B Marketing Plan

The foundation of any successful business is based on three principal elements – commitment, trust and integrity. This is particularly prevalent for businesses in the B2B sector, where decisions are highly considered and often relationship driven.

In order to maintain commitment, trust and integrity, ethical business practices should be applied at all times, and in every touch point between businesses.

  • Consider Stakeholders: B2B organisations should always consider each & every stakeholder and supplier in their dealings. It is vital to involve these parties in any decisions that may affect the relationship or the generation of profit for either party.
  • Be Honest: Every employee in the business should be honest at all times when it comes to the business dealings that they are involved in. Any promises that are made should always be kept.
  • Remain Transparent: Businesses should maintain transparency with clients in order to increase their credibility. This applies to the documentation of work as well as monetary transactions.
  • Open Communication: It is important to communicate all aspects of business dealings in advance before making a work agreement. The work agreement, can then be put in place with the input and consent of all involved companies.

If your business is perceived to lack of business ethics, you are likely to lose credibility, which can result in lost clients. As such, ethical marketing is a vital part of the overall strategy of any B2B business, in order to maintain brand image and reputation, as well as a strong client base. Talk to the Lead Agency for more information.

The post Ethical Marketing & Your B2B Business appeared first on The Lead Agency.

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There is only one week left before the GDPR becomes enforceable within the European Union (EU). MarTech companies across the globe are scrambling to make sure they are compliant with the new regulation requirements before May 25th. The question now is how this new regulation will affect MarTech companies and the marketing industry at large?

In the following article we will dissect what the GDPR entails, how MarTech companies are seeking to comply with the changes, the general impact on marketing practice across the globe and how your company can prepare itself.

What is the GDPR?

The GDPR is a regulation in EU law relating to data protection and privacy for individuals within the European Union. The regulation also covers the export of personal data outside of the EU. The consequence of these changes are that citizens of the EU will have greater personal control over their own data. These changes will also hopefully simplify the current international regulatory environment.

After four years of debate, the GDPR was approved by EU parliament on April 14th 2016. Heavy fines may be enforced if organisations are not compliant by May 25th 2018.

The GDPR will be replacing the existing 1995 Data Protection Directive. Unlike the previous directive, the upcoming regulation does not require any legislation by national governments in order to be binding or applicable.

The EU has officially stated that, “personal data is any information relating to an individual, whether it relates to his or her private, professional or public life. It can be anything from a name, a home address, a photo, an email address, bank details, posts on social networking websites, medical information, or a computer’s IP address.”

Breaking Down The GDPR

The GDPR is not a toothless regulation, it has the power to bankrupt organisations by hitting companies with fines as steep as 4% of all global revenue. Even if you are a smaller company that doesn’t deal with European consumers, data can travel quite easily. Whilst you may block EU users altogether, many companies are instead looking to make sure they are compliant.

In brief, there are three ways that organisations can comply with the new requirements: pseudonymization, encryption and anonymization.

  • Pseudonymization – Reorganising the components of data so that they are indecipherable unless put back together.
  • Encryption – Converting data into a code so as to prevent unauthorised access.
  • Anonymization – Removing any personal identifiable information so that data cannot be traced back to individuals.

Users must also have access and control over their data if being stored by a company. Any time data is generated, procured or collected there must also be very clear affirmations of consent. Users must know at all times when and where their data is being used.

These protections are specifically important in relation to protecting the personal information of children under the age of 16. The GDPR makes specific mention of parental consent where the storage of a child’s personal information is involved.

What are MarTech companies doing to comply?

The GDPR broadens the definition of personal data to include cookies, hashed email addresses and pseudonymous data. These types of data are oxygen to MarTech companies, and other marketing cloud and data software companies.

As a result, many MarTech companies have been preparing for these changes by mapping out the way data is collected and disseminated throughout their organisation.

Software as a Service (SaaS) marketing automation companies, like Marketo and ActiveCampaign, are being required to audit their data practices. The GDPR also stipulates that these software companies must assist businesses to be compliant.

Account-based marketing companies, such as Demandbase, are developing their software services to handle personal data requests. Demandbase’s first Chief Privacy Officer, Fatima Khan, has said, “we’re in the process of finalising an API build that will allow us to get data on an individual and return it to that individual if requested.”

Salesforce’s B2B marketing automation tool, Pardot, now comes with the option for customers to delete their own personal data. These changes are being employed across all of Salesforce’s services.

Despite the efforts being made by the MarTech industry, we will have to wait till May 25th to see if these steps are adequate. As Mr Khan has said in an interview with the AdExchanger, “What is clear is that the industry is woke. But is what they’re doing sufficient? I’m not sure anybody has the definitive answer on that just yet.”

How will the GDPR affect the MarTech industry?

Many are theorising that the costs associated with complying with the GDPR may shut out many smaller MarTech businesses from the market. Marketing technology consultant and analyst, David Raab has predicted that ‘the GDPR will have a more direct impact on AdTech than MarTech.’

He also theorised that the introduction of the GDPR could trigger a global change in privacy and data protection law.

“It looks like most firms are planning to apply GDPR standards worldwide, if only because that’s so much easier than applying different rules to EU vs non-EU persons,” says Mr. Raab.

Popular Myths and Misconceptions

New changes being introduced by the GDPR have raised several concerns amongst marketers and those within the MarTech industry. As with any new regulation, there are plenty of misconceptions being floated around. Below we have mentioned a few of the more popular, and problematic, ones:

Myth #1: The GDPR only applies to companies within the EU, it does not affect Australian businesses.

The GDPR protects the personal data of all EU citizens. The geographic location of the company extracting that data does not matter. If you are an Australian business exporting data from EU users, you will need to comply.

Myth #2: If you are small business the GDPR does not apply.

The GDPR applies to all organisations no matter how big or small.

Myth #3: Personal data is only data that has been provided by users.

Any data collected or generated relating to a user within the EU must be handled in accordance with the GDPR to avoid facing fines.

Myth #4: ‘Legitimate interest’ can be used as an excuse to use personal data without consent.

The term ‘legitimate interest’ is used within the GDPR document to specify a case where data could be used to protect a vital interest (such as human rights). Companies are unlikely to be able to justify their actions using ‘legitimate interest’ if their users have simply agreed to receiving marketing information.

Five Ways Marketers Should Prepare for the GDPR

Given the gravity of the GDPR, it is important that businesses that handle data should take appropriate steps to ensure that they are complying with the changes. Below are five steps we would recommend companies employ in order to be on the right side of data privacy compliance:

1. Get your Marketing and IT departments working closely together.

Any Marketing department or agency using MarTech software will want to work closely with their IT departments to make sure that they are on the proper side of compliance and avoid any cyber-security threats. Securing personal data within organisations will be a high priority for businesses over the next decade.

2. Make sure staff are aware of the GDPR.

The best way to avoid issues within your company is to inform your staff of the changes to handling personal data. Any staff that interact with customers, engage in data entry or use CRM software, will need to be informed of the limitations of personal data storage and usage.

3. Assign somebody to overlook Data Protection within your organisation.

Protecting data from cyber-threats and maintaining compliance of the handling of personal data will become an important part of any business within the next decade. By assigning these duties to someone within your organisation, or hiring an officer to make sure data compliance is adhered to, you are well-positioned to avoid fines or prosecution.

4. Do an audit of all your current data systems.

Checking the security of personal data stored in your current data systems is crucial. Know what data you have and how it is being protected. This is a task that can be directed to a Data Protection Officer.

5. Avoid third-parties that are not complying with the GDPR.

Whether this is your email provider, CRM software system, or even other outsourced agencies, you will want to make sure that you don’t get embroiled in other companies conducting poor practice. If the companies you work with are compliant with the GDPR, you are in a safe position.

Summary

In this article, we have covered many of the ways that the GDPR is looking to affect MarTech companies, and the ways marketers can prepare themselves for the changes. The introduction of the GDPR could mark a new era of the digital age, whereby privacy and protection of data are paramount.

For the moment the regulations introduced by the GDPR only affect EU citizens. Could we see the same changes being employed in other countries, most notably here in Australia? The answer is probably yes, it is only a matter of time.

Preparing for these changes today will secure your business into the future. More importantly, giving your users control over their data will build trust. Gaining the trust of your stakeholders is invaluable.

For more information about handling data within your organisation, and developing effective and compliant marketing strategies, please feel free to contact The Lead Agency today by calling 1300 146 375 or filling out the contact form below.

The post How Will The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Affect MarTech Companies in 2018? appeared first on The Lead Agency.

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