April B2B Round-up: Automation, Intent Data & Smart Investments
At True Influence, April showers (or in some parts, some very unwelcome snow) also brought with them more information on how the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation will impact your business’s data gathering abilities, along with plenty of advice on how the value of listening to your customer, through a variety of channels but also through your own marketing techniques, will help strengthen your relationship.
Listening to what your current customers and potential clients want is the most important part of making your business work, and that is primarily where we’ve focused our attention this month.
Here are some of our month’s best blogs:
While on the surface it may seem a little disheartening, B2B marketing that is just getting you by really isn’t good enough.
But isn’t that how it goes with everything? If you’re not doing your very best, if you’re not finding original, unique-to-you ways to get your message to your audience, you’re going to be lost among your competition.
No matter what you do, you should always aim high, and when the best technologies can make you better, you should invest in the ones you can afford.
Marketing automation, as we talk about in this April 2 blog, is the best way to not only build better relationships with existing clients, but also to establish new relationships by understanding the wants and needs of potential clients. If it is done right. Just have a marketing automation system in place may not be enough to collection the best data. One that gathers information based on digital footprints, such as downloading a whitepaper, visiting a webpage or opening an email, can add depth to a system that may simply guide you down the maze corridor that has no opening, a waste of precious time and money.
By teaming intent data and marketing automation, you not only generate quality leads, but also give your company a solid basis for a successful account-based marketing strategy that won’t miss the best prospects because your marketing automation system isn’t providing you with the right information.
With new B2B marketing, the right tools are everything, and can better send you soaring past your competition.
According to information from the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Data Center for Excellent, 80 percent of companies are planning to invest more in data tech this year, up 20 percent from last year, wrote RK Maniyani, CTO of True Influence, in this April 4 blog.
When it comes to account-based marketing, data is everything, because it allows companies to use the information they gather to target the companies interested in their pitch, without investing funds in companies that are not.
The most important question to ask is if the system your company may be considering will gather data that’s going to be right for your company. You can throw as many dollars as you want at martech, but the wrong technology will not help advance your company and may end up damaging your budget.
Quality user data “including third-party sources such as those available through True Influence’s InsightBASE service,” Maniyani wrote, will give your marketing team a more complete picture of your prospects’ buying journeys, so that sales will better understand when and how to make the pitch, which is when your prospect intends to buy.
Before making purchases, however, CMOs need to understand their needs and research which system will give them the best bang for their buck. Knowing how much a system can improve sales, whether it is first-party or third-party data, is the most important information to have in hand before making a purchase.
Maniyani offers plenty of tips as well as sources for more information to make it easier to determine what is right for your business.
Isn’t the cold call dead? If you think this standard method of sales has gone the way of the dinosaur, you’d be wrong, says True Influence COO Craig Weiss in this April 11 post.
According to Weiss, experts say between 4 and 9 percent of prospects still respond positively to a cold call, suggesting that you might be missing almost 10 percent of your audience. Because here’s the thing: Those that aren’t averse to cold calls tend to ignore more contemporary marketing methods such as email, online ads and social media. The traditional method works best for those who are, well, traditional, and for those who prefer contemporary marketing strategies, you could never cold call you way into their hearts.
Still, account-based marketing, which goes against traditional strategies, is the best way to determine who will respond to cold calls best. Those digital footprints you follow? Those who are ignoring whitepapers, emails and other techniques are the ones you should reach out to by phone.
While making an outright sale is unlikely, a call can spark involvement with your company, especially if it includes an invite to a webinar or some other useful offering that can create a synergy between your two companies.
While cold calls are still acceptable business strategy, most business is conducted in a virtual world, writes True Influence CRO Ken Stout in the April 18 blog post.
That makes organizing a staff meeting challenging enough, let alone setting up a face-to-face sales meeting with a prospective client.
Because B2B relationships can last a long time – and can take months to reach a point where a client makes a commitment to purchase – building up to the virtual meeting is the most important part of the journey.
“In this reality, the big win for an in-person sales call is making a lasting impression and developing trust,” writes Stout.
By establishing a relationship built on trust, setting up a face-to-face meeting with the person who may make a purchase will be easier, even more so if you don’t make a sales pitch, but instead – as mentioned in the post from April 11 – offer something of value first, a whitepaper or information on a webinar that will be helpful to your potential client, and will put you more securely in that company’s radar.
If the call is more of a pitch, then have at the ready a presentation designed for those who are knowledgeable about your product or service, because anyone interested in making a big-ticket purchase (and most B2B business products are) will have done their homework and will be ready for you.
Getting it right the first time is important, because there likely won’t be a second chance if you aren’t prepared.
Tech presents plenty of challenges, but it doesn’t change the fact that credibility is everything when it comes to making certain your business is a success.
Content marketing and other strategies have significantly shifted the dynamic between business and consumer, giving the power to the buyer, making it imperative that your product or service successfully meets their needs, according to this April 20 blog post.
That requires genuine listening as well as learning as much about them as possible through that engagement.
Some ways to listen and determine what your audience wants include:
– Audience surveys. Using surveys – especially in exchange for premium content – can give you information about potential clients that can help you better tailor your marketing to meet their needs.
– Analytics. By tracking the numbers – email opens, website traffic, clickthrough rates, etc. – you are able to create a clear portrait of your audience, especially when you focus on where the highest engagement is, which tells you your audience’s interests and concerns.
– Blog comments. Online, people are honest, and blog comments are an important mode of communication between you and your audience.
– Intent Data. Intent data offers a wealth of insight that also serves as active listening. Monitoring the right data tells you more about your potential clients than an actual conversation might, because they will approach their online activity in a less guarded way.
– Crowdsourcing. By giving your audience a vested interest in what your company might do in the future, you can learn about what they hope to experience from your business or businesses or services like yours.
– Social Listening. Monitor your social network activity to find out what your target audience is saying. If it is good or bad, it opens the door to improvements, and also allows for a new way to communicate.
– Your Sales Team. Find out what your sales team learns when they talk to prospective customers. They will know what is working and what is not, plus working together is a smart way to help make the alignment between the two departments more effective.
– Support team and account reps. As your connection to prospective clients, account reps can let you know what your current clients want and need, allowing you to modify marketing strategies or recommend product modifications based on those interactions.
– One-on-one research. Get on the phone or schedule a video chat to do a one-on-one survey that will help you gauge what is working and what is not. Choose a mix of clients and ask questions similar to those you might include in a survey.
Active listening is an important way to help build better relationships with your clients – and may help you learn things about your business than you never imagined.
Thanks to technology, B2B marketing is very little like it used to be, aside from the pamphlets and content that’s handed out at conferences to help prospective clients learn more about your business.
But beyond business cards, almost everything else has changed considerably, which not only helps unearth unexpected clients, but also presents challenges that were not part of marketing decades ago, writes True Influence CMO Janet Rubio in this April 25 post.
Technology to help make many tasks that once were arduous occur in a snap has made everything much easier and has also allowed many businesses to grow and prosper.
“I can tell you that without these capabilities, there’s simply no way a growing company like True Influence could have successfully built the brand awareness and reach we now enjoy, particularly in a hot market like Account-Based Marketing and demand-generation services,” Rubio writes.
But with technology comes challenges. While many companies are using state-of-the-art products, others are struggling to keep up.
Still, perhaps the biggest challenges come with the loss of what was old. When B2B marketing involved sending marketing materials by mail, those materials were delivered. Today, however, those we are marketing to may not be as receptive to content, emails and other online information, and they can delete it with a press of a single button – and remove themselves from your email list, something that was much more difficult when all the marketing was by mail.
What that means is that every piece of content you send has to hit it out of the park, every time. But that’s what we want for ourselves, isn’t it? Just as we said in our first post of the month, back on April 2, being out best is something we should always strive for, especially because mediocre or average is not going to help you stand out from your peer, or make you feel worthy of the success you do have.