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.
People are relying on voice search more and more these days, and it is essential that local businesses are set up so they get included voice search. It’s believed that two out of five adults use voice search daily and it is expected that half of most searches will move from the keyboard to voice. Voice speakers like Google and Alexa are most frequently used and 62% of people using these voice-activated speakers expect to buy something through them within the next month. This means that businesses that are optimized for local search have a better chance for ranking at the top of the search results page. This is why it is important for your business to be prepared for voice search. Let’s dive a little deeper.
What is Google 3-Pack and Why Does it Matter to Voice Search?
Local Pack is a section of Google’s search results that shows the local businesses related to your search query. Whenever your query has a local intent, Google will show three local businesses that might answer it. Why is it important to be among the 3-Pack? It shows in the #1 position 93% of the time. Also, the “near me” search query has increased 34x since 2011. So, it is important that your local business is on Google My Business and other local directories like Yelp. If you are not set up yet, here is how to do it. Voice search can help a small local business beat larger chains, and it makes Google happy because they want their search queries to be accurate.
How Do I Set Up and Rank for Local Pack?
First, it is important to note how essential to make sure all your business information is consistent. Small errors like “Ste” or “Suite” can make a difference to Google. Streamlining this process is easier with directory assistance. We use “Smartlist” which ensures all information on all directories is the same. Second, Google wants to make sure they answer their search queries as accurately by using the best results with results such as key factors such as proximity, category and keyword.
How Does Local Pack and Reviews Improve Voice Search?
Voice Search is increasing every year. 20% of the online population already uses voice search and 58% of mobile users use it for a local business search. Many of these users consider it as their first choice. Making sure your business information is online is crucial, but so are reviews. Reviews are extremely important to ranking in the Local Pack and essentially voice search. By having many reviews from Google and Yelp, especially five-star ones, it is likely Google will rank your business. Reviews can also determine if you get into the 3-Pack or not. This is why it is important to have a reputation management program. We use “SmartRep” to manage our reviews and reputation. Ask your satisfied customers for a Google review because it has a positive impact not only for voice search, but also for web traffic and search engine optimization (SEO).
Where Do Voice Devices Get Their Data?
Not all voice search devices are alike. Each one obtains data from different sources. Siri and Google Assistant obtain information from the 3-Pack Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and from Yelp. Alexa obtains data from Bing, Yelp and Yext data. To get the most out of voice search, you want to optimize your business for all devices.
We’re Here to Help
Strategic Marketing is a full-service advertising agency that can assist you with local SEO, reputation management and many additional services. Please contact us with any questions or let us know how we can assist you with voice search.
The age-old debate of using in-house marketing vs. an agency is still being discussed because marketing is ever evolving. Take a look at how COVID-19 has changed the way businesses are marketing now. Brick and mortar businesses are finding the value of online marketing and are ramping up their marketing efforts to improve traffic to their business. There are many pros and cons to both that may be helpful in scaling or growing your business. Listed below are just a few things to think about before making that difficult decision.
#1 – Resources
Your customers need to know that you are available and are still providing the services or products they need to maintain their business. While businesses may not be functioning as usual, many are working remotely and are focusing more on their online communications. Let your customers know how to reach you and advise them of the services or products that may have changed due to the complications of the pandemic.
#2 – Mastered Skillset
It is possible to find well-rounded marketing employees when developing an in-house marketing team, but it does indeed take a team to have mastered skillsets. Not all start-up businesses have a marketing budget or enough revenue to hire a full-service team so it makes sense to outsource certain pieces, or all of their marketing to an agency. An in-house marketing team in a large-scale business may have the resources for a mastered team but it must be determined if the ROI outweighs the costs.
#3 – Maintaining A Competitive Edge
Marketing is ever evolving and it is important to keep abreast of the trends and technology that keep you ahead of your competition. It is possible to do this with in-house marketing if the company invests in marketing education, new technology and resources. However, most of the time, unless you have a large enough marketing team, this investment outweighs the Return on Investment (ROI) and it is more cost-effective to outsource the marketing to an agency.
#4 – Growing or Scaling Your Business
When you have an in-house marketing team, if you want to grow or scale your business you will need to either hire or let go of employees. The hiring of new employees is a rather lengthy process, between interviewing and training. For example, say your competitor decides to launch a new product or a new feature to enhance their existing product. How quickly would you need to ramp up your marketing efforts? Rather quickly. With an in-house marketing team, it may not be quick enough to get you to where you need to be in time to beat your competition. However, an agency already has the staff in place to take on new work or scale it without you losing an employee. In-house marketing may make more sense when your business is in a place to maintain a dedicated marketing team. There are many pros and cons to in-house marketing vs. agency.
#5 – Communication and Networking
Communication and networking are extremely important in marketing, whether you have an in-house marketing team or if your company confers with an agency. An in-house marketing team, depending on the size, may have some limitations brainstorming with other peers in their field. However, when a business has partnered with an agency, that business would have both employees who are knowledgeable about business operations and an outsourced marketing team that has the ability to brainstorm marketing ideas. Communication with an agency is essential to understanding the company mission, branding and goals.
#6 – Cost
Cost is a major factor when hiring an in-house marketing team or outsourcing it. The pro for a small start-up is that they can manage and closely monitor their own marketing content and brand. However, as that small business grows, it will need to hire more employees or think about outsourcing. When considering an in-house team, a business needs to think about employee turnover, factor in the costs of replacing that employee, the additional training and the effect it has on other staff members, all which can cost thousands of dollars. When everything is outsourced, that cost goes away and you just pay your retainer or monthly fee.
There are several situations to consider when planning an in-house team or choosing an agency. Both can work well depending on your business’s challenges and goals. Some businesses choose both so that they have control over content, branding and other marketing deliverables while others choose to outsource everything and keep a very open communication flow with an agency. Strategic Marketing is a full-service agency that will help you with your marketing planning or what will work best for your budget and your overall company mission. Let us help you decide. Contact us at https://thinkstrategic.com/contact/ or at 561-688-8155.