February B2B Round-up: Marketing Trends and Challenges
While the shortest month of the year is also often one of the coldest, things have been heating up at True Influence as we’ve worked to become compliant with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which goes into effect in May.
We covered the complex topic in two posts, but also looked at which marketing trends are expected to be the best options to help B2Bs expand conversion rates and boost revenue.
Most B2B businesses are most effective when marketing and sales are working in unison, and some new marketing strategies can bring both sides together to help elevate your game and draw attention to your company, especially so video, which is a fantastic way to introduce your company and its mission to your customer base.
We’ve also addressed goal setting, challenges and ways to ensure that you are using fresh, viable and effective intent signal data – one of the most critical aspects of establishing effective marketing campaigns, especially so account-based campaigns – so your marketing efforts don’t go to waste.
Here’s a closer look at what we were talking about in February:
Marketing is an ever-changing industry, and 2018 is looking to be no different. In this post from February 12, we take a look at 10 trends that are expected to transform B2B marketing over the next new months. Knowing what’s hot will help you devise sizzling campaigns of your own.
- Advanced personalization. From the ability to personalize an email greeting, personalization has grown to include a prospect’s likes and dislikes, interests and pain points, all thanks to the expanding ability to use data to inform marketing campaigns. Taking advantage is a good way to build lasting relationships with your prospects.
- Live video. Experts say video is the most effective way to reach busy consumers. “Any brand trying to increase their trust and awareness with their customer can and should go live on video,” wrote digital marketing strategist Adam Buchman in a recent blog post on the site Convince and Convert. Video not only helps your prospects understand the personality of your business, they will also be able to interact with you in real time when you go live, a move that can help develop stronger relationships and build trust. Video can include business introductions, product launches, panel presentations, Q&A sessions and more.
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning. Marketing automation is developing a larger reach than ever before, making marking campaigns of any sort more effective and targeted. That matters, because buyers will soon expect companies to anticipate their needs based on data, and if those companies fail to understand what their core consumer is looking for, those consumers will turn to a competitor that does.
- Incorporating social messaging apps. Because changes to social media platforms are making it more difficult for businesses to reach their prime audience, many are turning to apps in order to continue taking advantage of social media to connect.
- Voice search. Marketers will have to rethink the current simplicity of keywords with the rise in voice search, thanks to the popularity of devices like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home.
- Customer re-engagement with content marketing. Targeting both old and new customers with content will expand sales and your customer base by ensuring that both target audiences are engaged.
- Intent data marketing. Businesses will take a harder look at the value of digital footprints, which paint a dynamic portrait of their prospects. By following consumers in real time, marketers and sales departments will be able to work together to formulate effective marketing strategies.
- Predictive lead scoring. Data has refreshed scoring, so it’s easier to determine how likely you will be able to convert leads to customers. Thanks to AI, it will be less of a guessing game where to invest your marketing dollars.
- Account-based marketing. ABM continues to grow as B2B marketers realize that focusing their attention on a smaller number of consumers rather than casting a wide, aimless net yields bigger, better results.
- Virtual and augmented reality. Creating an immersive experience for your customers will help them better understand how you can meet their needs, which is an invaluable marketing strategy.
In May, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), an effort to protect the personal information of residents throughout Europe, will go into effect in the European Union.
In this February 14 post, we began a discussion on what B2B businesses that work with companies in Europe will be required to do in order to be in compliance with the GDPR, a conversation that we continued in this February 26 post.
Our InsightBASE platform is set to be compliant by the May 25 deadline, but for other businesses, most importantly those whose products serve B2C companies, it’s important to have a handle on the rules put in place to protect people’s personal data, including names, home addresses, phone numbers and other identifying information.
Businesses must obtain consent to use information, and requests can be made to scrub a person’s personal data from a business site.
Penalties are in place that can run as high as $24.6 million, so ensuring that your business is compliant is fiscally smart, not only because it can prevent fines, but because compliance can be used as a selling point to land future business.
Intent signal monitoring is a marketer’s dream, because it allows them to see what their target customers are thinking and doing in real time based on their online activity. Those signals help determine not only what type of marketing campaigns to direct toward those prospects, but also the best time for the sales department to make its pitch.
But despite the improvements over predictive marketing, there are challenges to intent marketing, which we’ve rounded up in this blog post from February 19.
- Understanding Your Buyers. Knowing your audience is the most important first step toward using intent signal monitoring effectively. Understanding exactly what companies are your ideal target market will not only make it easier to track data, it also makes marketing campaigns more effective. According to a 2016 survey, “71 percent of B2B companies who exceed revenue and lead goals reported having documented buyer personas,” writes Bill Giese. To build personas, bring your sales and market teams together to coordinate which accounts and people will be the most effective targets for marketing campaigns.
- Ensuring Data Quality. Data quality is everything when it comes to intent marketing, and if your data gathering platform isn’t tracking the right information, you could be wasting time and money. Using data that is influenced by your persona profiles and comes from a quality source is the best way to ensure that you are working with information that will provide effective leads.
- Managing and Modeling Data. Make sure your data monitoring platforms are tracking information not only on existing customers, but also on those whose data makes them viable prospects.
- Aligning Sales and Marketing. Because intent signal modeling relies heavily on both marketing and sales, the departments must be in alignment. According to a recent study, when sales and marketing work together, each team providing the other with valuable information, businesses are seeing a 20 percent growth in revenue annually.
- Managing Your Timing. Ensuring that your timing is on point is important, because too much marketing can drive potential prospects away, and too little could make a prospect forget about you when it comes time to make a buying decision. This is a good time for marketers to check with sales to determine when potential prospects might be most open to receiving marketing messages.
Intent marketing is powerful, but knowing where it can trip you up can help ensure that you harness that power effectively, growing your business, boosting revenue and establishing long-lasting relationships with your client base.
If you’re looking for the best way to market your business effectively, many companies are turning to easily-accessible video to elevate their conversion rates.
According to Janet Rubio in this February 21 post, more B2B marketers are looking to boost their use of video for marketing campaigns, not only to help increase familiarity with their brand, but also for use as production demonstrations on landing pages, “where it can increase conversion by as much as 80 percent,” Rubio wrote.
Visuals are always more effective, but video touches on the heart of account-based marketing strategies, which are a more intimate approach to marketing because campaigns target a specific business, creating the potential for the kind of relationship once had at a mom-and-pop corner store. Video opens the door to developing a more personal connection between buyer and business, especially when using employees as part of your video campaigns.
Because of that intimacy and the ability to offer more information more quickly, video has become more popular than infographics and static web pages, and they can be produced fairly easily, if only by bringing traditional infographics to life.
Movement engages a reader’s eye, and once you’ve caught their attention, you’ll likely keep it if the information you’re sharing is relevant, maintains your brand messaging and stays concise to prevent losing your viewers.
Video views can also be used as intent signals, so you can add to your tools to determine which businesses might be viable leads based on video views. Video also provides an opportunity for further consumer engagement, with room for more effective personalization, Rubio added.
Setting marketing goals is the best way to attain success, because it gives everyone that is part of your department something tangible to strive for, creating more focus and drive, Bill Giese wrote in the February 23 post addressing SMART marketing.
Most important is determining where to focus your efforts, basing ideas on which marketing strategies have previously generated the most success for your business.
But goals need to be targeted in order to be effective, and that’s where SMART comes into play.
SMART goals are those that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound, which helps erase vague goals in favor of more specific missions that can not only be met, but will also help grow your business at the same time.
Because it is early in the year, now is an ideal time to determine what goals will be most effective for your B2B marketing in 2018, and can be met by the time the year comes to a close.
There is a mountain of data available for B2B marketers, allowing them to better hone in on their target audience so they can more effectively make their pitches.
But much of that data is useless, said True Influence CTO RK Maniyani in this February 28 post, and getting caught up in the wrong data can destroy even the smarted account-based marketing campaign.
Not only can bad data destroy a singular campaign, it can also damage future campaigns, losing revenue in the process.
Based on estimates, companies lose close to $10 million a year due to bad data, a number that analysts expect to grow along with new data sources.
Obviously, it’s imperative to separate the wheat from the chaff. But how?
- Update your contacts. First, monitor and update your contact information on a regular basis. Turnover happens all the time, and sending emails or other messaging to outdated addresses means the effort your team put into personalized content is going nowhere. Not only that, each bad contact in your system costs about $100, according to Sirius Decisions. Those numbers can multiply fast.
- Make sure you’re gathering useful data. ABM relies on intent signal monitoring, which offers insight into the buying habits and/or needs of your prospects. Data, however, can be complex, and in the analysis, mistakes can happen. Double check your data before launching campaigns based on it. Problems can include incorrectly tagged data – mobile users can trigger confusion – or bots, which as they grow more intelligent, can have a bigger negative impact on data.
When data teams and business managers team up to analyze data and identify problems, it will be easier to improve data quality, ensuring that marking campaigns don’t go to waste.