The past 18 months have forced organizations to meet the rapidly evolving needs of consumers and businesses in a digital environment; our prediction is the trend won’t be changing back. Technology will continue to play a central role in how businesses interact. It’s not a question of whether your technology budget should increase, but rather, by how much, and what it should be spent on. Let’s take a look at what our biggest takeaways were from the lessons of 2020.
For one, B2B companies across the board became more ROI-focused. Budgets became tighter, resulting in a more-critical look at what marketing components were delivering and which ones were not. Virtual events took center stage out of sheer necessity and hybrid events have now become an additional option in today’s business climate. Above all, what became apparent was a concentration on retention marketing efforts. Because maintaining business relationships always cost less than obtaining new customers, it’s no surprise that a 5% increase in customer retention translates to a 25-95 percent increase in profits, as Harvard Business Review indicates. From surveys and discounts to social media mentions and reposts, your B2B customers saw more engagement and attention over the past year. Once businesses held their footing, these are the B2B digital marketing practices that proved profitable:
Account-Based Marketing (ABM)
Targeting top prospects requires a solid partnership between your sales and marketing team. Together, they can identify the best target audience and drill down into the best prospects. With a solid account plan, your ABM team members can take on outlined responsibilities for client attraction and build support throughout each part of the strategy and sales process. Get in their faces! Engage in social media with your target clients, communicate via LinkedIn, build landing pages with personalized content, and share relevant blog articles. Invite colleagues to events, ask current contacts for referrals, and create personalized ad campaigns for the prospect, while carefully measuring and analyzing your results along the way. This type of lead-based marketing winds up being more cost effective, both by determining which accounts are the best fit for your business and by spending your money reaching them where they are most active.
If you’re not already using automation to maximize your marketing efforts, you’re losing leads. Get more efficiency with automation software that streamlines repetitive tasks like email marketing, social media postings, and ad campaigns. Identify what kind of user visits your site and deliver content that is relevant and timely via social media marketing, website navigation and email marketing. With valuable collected data, you can convert prospects into leads and turn leads into clients.
In-person events are making their way back slowly and many are eager to make in-person connections once again. However, virtual events are here to stay. The convenience and efficiency factors make virtual events more accessible and cheaper to execute. Ideally, a mix of in-person, virtual and hybrid events will prove effective by meeting the needs of every type of prospect.
Database & Direct Marketing
The key to success in database and direct marketing is personalization. With the help of some marketing software, personalized communications to your potential clients become streamlined and serve as an effective way to market your business. Gather data from industry reports, demos, webinar registrations and free trial offers to build your list and use the data you have to personalize direct mail and email campaigns. The more information you have on a user, the more you can use it to connect with them, converting leads to clients.
Client & Buyer Experience
Whether online or not, client experience has always been at the top of the B2B marketing strategy list. Personalized service and tailored account maintenance require ongoing client engagement and communication. Nothing quite replaces a person-to-person connection when it comes to a B2B relationship. Nonetheless, in a digital experience, users expect a seamless and easy process. The key is to identify what your potential clients value most along the way. Speed? Convenience? Product positioning? Up-to-date technology? Because most B2B buyers are the decision makers, knowledgeable service and an easy, friendly digital experience are not only valued but expected.
SEO & Local SEO
Algorithms are getting smarter. With the analysis of user data, consumer location, search intent, and context, it pays to notice the tricky codes and updates to stay at the top of the search rankings. Because 93% of users begin internet research with a search inquiry, investment in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is critical. SEO strategies include on-page (content) and off-page (brand mentions, commenting, forums, influencer outreach, guest authoring, social networking, social bookmarking, link building, and press releases). When it comes to AI, voice search means that SEO is even more important to get right. Conversational selling is undoubtedly sentence-based, so long-tail keywords must be part of your SEO strategy as well.
Google My Business should be a required component of any local business – it’s the way consumers learn about a local business, their location, and reviews. Local SEO uses Google Maps to attract local audiences. It doesn’t end there. Online directories like Yelp, BBB, BizJournals, Glassdoor, and of course LinkedIn need to include your Google My Business listing to produce results that make the effort worthwhile.
Interactive Content Marketing
Content marketing is still king. However, the more interactive, the better. Once a visitor arrives at your website, their length of stay can be increased with a multitude of tools including blogs, eBooks, webinars, surveys, polls, quizzes, infographics, interactive calculators, mobile apps/games, diagnostic tests/troubleshooting tools, and assessments. Interactive videos provide for a whopping 70% of buyers who watch videos as part of their research. That being said, it’s a no-brainer. Blog content in long and short form provides variety and requires deep keyword research to get the most out of your investment. Podcasts build deeper connections with their listeners, are more informal, and provide a peek at the personalities behind the brands. Google Trends is forecasting peak saturation soon, so the time is now to jump on that bandwagon.
Regardless of the content type, socially conscious, humane messaging keeps interest alive and in tune with the social climate.
LinkedIn is the clear winner with the best platform for B2B social media marketing. As the number one channel for B2B information distribution, you’ll get the most traffic from your activity here, so lots of time should be spent on how to engage readers via LinkedIn. Get to know your core business audience: other B2B buyers, business influencers, clients, and researchers. If you’re unfamiliar with how to begin, a paid marketing strategy would be a good place to start. Content should be prospect driven and target potential clients, and you can gather leads through their optional feature called Lead Collection. It pays to be active – join the groups where your prospects hang out and add your commentary to generate engagement.
Organic search has its place for defining reputation, trust, and brand commitment. Paid ads are a valuable and measurable tool that outperforms organic listings on Google Search Engine Results, and puts you ahead of your competitors, with the right budget. Search ads, on average, receive twice as many clicks as organic listings, so we KNOW they work. Paid ads get you exactly where you need to be seen, adding to lead generation. The right mix of SEO for organic searches and paid ads is crucial to build brand awareness, boost Google SERP visibility, and increase traffic.
An Agile Business is a Profitable Business
If it is not apparent already, a comprehensive B2B digital marketing strategy is a successful one. Make the most of all the channels available, digital and traditional. Your lead conversion process also needs to be efficient and consistent to remain successful.
The past year has shown how quickly businesses can adapt when they need to survive. To remain profitable, businesses must embrace change and take advantage of emerging trend opportunities for business growth. Marketers need to continually ask: What’s working? What can be changed to improve results? What are leaders in the industry doing right now?
Bottom line, staying agile is the secret to maintaining a connection with fellow businesses, and staying on top of emerging trends will always give you an edge over competitors. It’s everyone’s game. What can your strategy deliver? Contact us today and allow our expertise to bring your B2B digital marketing efforts to its maximum efficiency and increase your profitability.