The right marketing channel mix is a matter of constant investigation, trial, and measurement; each channel has its own tips and tricks. Let’s take a look at the wide variety of B2B marketing channels, both digital and offline, and at some ideas on how to optimize them.
You can laugh at email marketing all you want, but the stats are pretty clear in indicating that email marketing is here to stay, at least for the near future. 93% of B2B marketers use email marketing, and 59% say it is their most effective channel for eventually generating revenue. The key is to craft an email message that stands out despite the flood of them that we get every day. That means explaining how your product/service creates excellent ROI for the potential customer by reducing, for example, cost, time, and other resources for their business.
Writing a good B2B email depends on several rules: a catchy subject line, a single call to action, and different email messages that are segmented according to the type of prospect that is receiving it.
It’s also vital to track email response rates with your CRM so that you can improve your campaigns. One classic error is sending out emails that are not responsive – such messages get deleted in less than three seconds, on average.
In this case, people will judge a book by its cover – you have 15 seconds to capture the attention of a visitor. A poorly designed website is both confusing and gives off bad vibes about your brand in general.
Having a website is also not enough. In addition to engaging in off site marketing efforts, SEO is essential in driving traffic to the site, and there are actually three types of SEO to manage: on-page (content and HTML code), technical (crawling, indexing, rendering, and architecture), and off-page (social sharing and links). The first two are critical in creating a successful website.
For many B2B marketers, especially those who sell a defined SaaS product, Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords) is a must. The end user searching for the product or solution you have (in case you are triggering the right keywords) is specifically looking for a solution such as yours! You can’t get higher intent than that.
You should build your campaigns depending on your budget and sales cycle in a way that you are not spending too little to see results. Very often business tend to ‘try out’ a campaign with a minimal budget and then give up on it relatively quickly. Even with high intent visitors, the conversion rates are going to be a minor percentage of your campaign. You need to be able to set a realistic CPA and then make sure you build the campaign as detailed as possible and give it time to gather enough data to test out where to optimize and to check whether you are reaching your goals or not.
For those who use Google Ads properly, including using tracking, ads, extensions, targeting and keywords, the value is there.
What’s often better than using advertising to distribute product information? 80% of business decision makers prefer content as a research medium instead of ads. For B2B sales, it is a must to have a constantly updated selection of white papers, thought leadership articles, case studies, and industry reports, as well as a business blog.
It’s also interesting to note that more is better when it comes to the content pieces themselves. Long articles (1,000 + words) and long headlines (14+ words) get more engagement than shorter versions. In terms of structure, B2B readers seem to love lists and articles that are easy to navigate through the use of headers. Long and header-rich articles also attract linking from other sites, which is a bonus for driving traffic.
Social Media Marketing
The funny thing about social media marketing for B2B is that, relative to other channels, it does not have a great ROI. However, it plays an important role in building brand awareness that influences conversion rates. If your brand pops up here and there in the right social channels, it will have an effect on potential buyers.
Obviously, it’s important to put your social media campaign in the hands of people who are aware of all the trends, like “influencers” (Instagram revenue is projected to grow 30% this year). LinkedIn is also a great marketing driver if you know how to use it. But it’s even more important to get your employees, particularly low and mid level staffers, to share, like and comment on your content, because this will result in eight times more engagement than content that is shared by a brand’s channels. Creating a discussion around a post is what social media is all about, so the more your employees comment and generate authentic dialogue around your posts, the more viral it will become.
Conferences / Trade Shows
Conferences and trade shows are a “must-do” for many companies, but because they are expensive for presenters and exhibitors, usually take up many work days, and are often distant, marketers usually check out only a few each year, with about 50% of attendees going to only one show per year.
For this reason, it’s important to pick correctly and make the most of every event. Researching and consulting others about past experiences at potential events is a hard must. Begin with about 10 possible events that fit your industry and start eliminating until you get to the one or two you will be able to commit to.
Attending is usually not enough. To get in front of potential clients, you need to exhibit, and if possible, secure a speaking opportunity at the event. Most events charge a pretty penny to do so, while speakers are often selected based on their authority, knowledge of their industry, and the topic they wish to speak about.
When you do arrive at the event, make sure to come prepared to pitch a lot, network a lot, and hand out printed material. You should also make sure to carry actual business cards, NFC cards such as those provided by V1CE, and a way to capture and transfer lead gen data to your CRM with ease through software such as Cvent, iCapture, and EZappt.
Once upon a time, mail meant actual pieces of paper sent in something called an envelope, and, for B2B marketing, it is still a tool that can work. During the holidays, or after a trade show, sending a gift (wine, chocolate) or branded knickknack (logoed pens, calendars) to high value potential and actual clients can leave a positive impression, and make an opening for your next sales call.
Along with the gift (or independently), it is also possible to send personalized product offers and presents. To make this really work, keep track of your contacts’ personal details and idiosyncrasies.
Last but certainly not the least, public relations companies can make a huge difference in creating and maintaining product awareness and the quality of your brand. Choosing the right company can result in an effective, intimate relationship where it seems that you are continuously a VIP client. It does demand a lot of work and constant collaborative brainstorming on new ideas, but the reward is truly worth it. Having your brand come out in an industry specific publication, or on the front page of TechCrunch or BBC, for example, definitely helps in creating authority, traffic, and quality leads, as well as luring in investors.
Promoting top management is similarly part of PR and should be used; it is not enough for only the brand to get recognition, but also the team that is leading it.
PR software is also an option to consider. Programs like Brand24, Prezly, and the venerable PR Newswire (now Cision) provide functions to monitor “mentions”, analyze the reach of your PR efforts, distribute press releases, and track influencer campaigns.
Channel Choice is Only the Beginning
Once you start working within a selection of channels, an essential part of success is the message that you send across them. To achieve “mind share”, a marketer must communicate why their product or service is advantageous, and this depends on the value proposition. Once you decide on the most important benefits of your product, you must promote them constantly and in every message, and then back up these benefits with proof from customers, reviews, and news articles. Stated that your product or service is one of real value, a consistent and trustworthy message, broadcast across the right mix of channels will push your brand over the edge and make you a superhero.