b2b marketing

3 B2B Marketing Best Practices That Actually Work

B2B marketers have a love-hate relationship with “best marketing practices.” Add the words to any webinar or presentation title, and you’ll immediately double your attendance. We’ll sit on the edge of our chairs, pens eagerly poised over our Moleskine notebooks, ready to reap the gems of insight promising to catapult our marketing strategy into the stratosphere.

When we put that advice into practice and … well, what happens next is anybody’s guess.

That’s because there are two types of best marketing practices. There’s the type that one or two brands stumbled upon and found success with, then proudly proclaimed, “It worked for us, so it’s bound to work for you.” And then, there are the others. These are the practices that simply work for anybody, anywhere, and anytime.

We set out to determine the key trends around the latter type of best practices — the ones that work — and here are the three we recommend the most strongly.

B2B Sales #1Marketing Automation

One of the biggest challenges in B2B marketing practices is not necessarily generating leads — it’s what happens to those leads once they’re acquired. All too often, high-quality leads drop off, simply because they’re either (1) not nurtured at all, or (2) not nurtured strategically, in a manner which guides them through the marketing funnel.

Savvy marketers understand that nurturing leads comes down to engaging them with the right content, in the right format, at the right times, to attract them into the next phase of the buyer’s journey. When done manually, as is often the case when a lead goes directly to sales, all kinds of missteps can ensue. The lead can be mis-scored, and thus receive the wrong type of content. He or she could be scared off if the rep sends too much, too soon … or the lead could become cold if too much time passes between touchpoints.

Marketing automation solves this problem beautifully, providing a way of scoring, and then automatically nurturing leads with relevant content along the journey to purchase. Research shows that businesses are using this technology, but not businesses all are using it to its maximum potential.

As Dave Chaffey of Smart Insights pointed out in his insightful webinar on marketing automation (see the recap here), the key is to begin with a simple welcome email that (1) makes your online value proposition crystal-clear, and (2) gives the recipient a specific incentive to stay connected, such as discounts or unique offers. From there, you can move into a multi-step sequence aimed at deepening your relationship with the subscriber. Each of these communications can be populated with dynamic content which changes, based on the recipient’s known interests or past behaviors. For example, a lead who only downloaded a white paper might receive one message, while a lead who downloaded the white paper after attending a webinar might receive a different type of communication.

As an added bonus, when your marketing automation platform does the job of nurturing leads through your funnel, your sales team can focus their energy on the targets who are ready for a demo or consultation.

Action Item: If you haven’t yet added an automation platform to your marketing strategy, now is the time to get started. Your investment will have the potential to yield impressive returns in terms of saved time and higher conversion rates.

#2 B2B SalesReal-Time Personalization

The B2B marketing contacts you’re trying to reach are busy — way too busy to wade through generic, one-size-fits-all content and figure out how to retrofit your insights into their current operations. With real-time personalization, you deliver content that’s customized to their organizations, their challenges, and their specific interests.

Personalization technology is more accessible and cost-effective than ever before, even for small businesses, and many platforms also include “smart” automation features which recommend nurturing paths for specific targets.

It all starts with intent monitoring — identifying individuals within targeted accounts and observing their online interests and habits. When these users seek out specific content topics frequently, your platform can flag a potential active buying opportunity for that organization.

Intent monitoring not only helps you identify which accounts to focus on, but also lets you use the data you collect to tailor your content along the same lines as content the target has already sought out. On a higher level, you can look at aggregated data to identify surges of interest in particular topics that signal a specific need, then use this key trend as a trigger to begin engaging targeted contacts with product-specific messaging to address their needs.

Action Item: Seek out platforms that allow you to monitor intent, and use those insights to fine-tune your content to an advanced level of personalization.

#3 B2B SalesMobile Optimization

For years, it seemed that mobile was the “stepchild” of B2B marketing strategy. Sure, it was great for reaching the always-on-the-go sales rep, but most decision makers are constantly in front of their computers, so there’s no need to bother with mobile, right?

Wrong. According to a study co-sponsored by Google, 42 percent of researchers use a mobile device during the B2B purchasing process — and not just during the initial stages. Forward-thinking marketers are realizing that their marketing strategies are incomplete if they don’t encompass:

  • Mobile websites
  • Mobile apps
  • Mobile email
  • Mobile advertising
  • Mobile landing pages
  • It’s also important to recognize that mobile optimization requires much more than readable fonts and expandable menus. We need to consider deeper issues, including:

  • Page load speeds (Google reports 29 percent of mobile users will immediately jump to another site or app if yours is too slow)
  • Built-in GPS capabilities for automatic content localization
  • Giving calls-to-action high visibility
  • Including click-to-call buttons
  • Challenge: Build a task force encompassing members of your IT, marketing, and sales teams to design a strategy for improving your site’s mobile optimization.

    Putting the “Best” in “Best Practices”

    Few B2B marketing teams have the massive resources required to pursue every so-called “best practice” being touted at conferences, and on webinars. Companies must be strategic in their choices, focusing on marketing practices that work for their organizations, and address their specific needs. Our list is far from comprehensive, but it provides a great place to start. If you can build out your marketing strategy with marketing automation, real-time personalization, and mobile optimization, you’ll be well on your way to boosting your KPIs, and achieving your marketing goals.

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