True Influence December Round-up: Holidays Can Be A Good Time to Catch Your Cocktail-Imbibing Competition Unaware
While the holidays can be stressful for everyone, many companies completely shut down, allowing parties and celebrations to take over the business of doing business. For marketers who are on the ball, however, the holiday season is the smartest time to make a move.
In the past month of December, True Influence bloggers discussed how to snare your greatest catches next year, along with many smart tips on how to be on top of tech, and the best in content marketing in 2018.
The holiday season shouldn’t be festive for some businesses, but Scroogy for the B2B sales and marketing teams which rely on contacts in order to clinch their ongoing deals.
In this December 4 post featuring advice from True Influence CRO Ken Stout, he looks at ways to avoid the “notorious dead zone” of the holidays, and get on with business, no matter how many festive events and last-minute budget meetings are standing in the way.
Stout’s tips include:
- Keep the Funnel Moving as Budgeting Drags. Sales and marketing teams should attempt to encourage the shift of budget finalization – create a bridge budget – until the beginning of the coming year, so both teams can focus on finishing up the last months of the outgoing year on a high note. Not having to worry about budgetary planning allows your teams to capitalize on necessary budget expenditures your prospects might have to make before year’s end, using smart tactics to help ensure that those funds might be spent on your company. A bridge budget can also help sales and marketing teams focus on gathering new prospects during the first quarter of the next year, while your competition is looking at a dry pipeline, as they haggle over budgetary problems. Certainly, there will come a time when the budget has to be addressed, but it won’t be during the most challenging months of the year, when everyone else is bogged down with paperwork, unable to devote enough time to potential clients.
- Early Q1: A Bridge Budget Keeps the Ball Rolling. If sales and marketing teams are not focused on budget concerns, they can generate the leads that will keep the company’s revenue growth stable throughout the year. The marketing expenses included in the company budget can be finalized in Q3, the summer months, which does come with its own challenges, but won’t start the year on an uncertain note.
- Q3/Early Q4: You Can Never Have Too Many Quality Leads. Planning ahead for the end of the year slump can begin as early as late summer or early fall by over-delivering, so you can have plenty of relevant leads in your sales funnel before the Christmas cookie coma hits. The holidays are a distraction, but getting ahead of the game can help you, and your company, sell your product and/or service, while everyone else is busy planning the holiday parties.
- December: Look for Unexpected Opportunities & Solidify Your Plan. December is an excellent time to use intent signal monitoring to determine which marketing techniques are working and which are not. Those signals can also give your more information about your customers, making your ABM strategies more focused, targeted and ultimately successful.
- A Consistent Pipeline Means Consistent Revenue. The end of the year may seem like an insurmountable challenge, but by planning ahead, December can be more festive than ever before, for your business, as well as those who choose you, during this frenzied time of year.
Successful sales and marketing is not about finding the leads, it’s about finding the best leads, according to this December 11 blog post.
Relevant leads are the ones who are more likely to buy, and by defining them and determining personalized campaigns, marketers can stop wasting time on leads that are likely to fall out of the funnel, and focus on those that won’t.
These are the clients with which you have a symbiotic relationship with your company on some level, and you find them by creating a persona that would match your ideal client – what they buy, how they buy it, and what items of interest – seminars, webinars, e-books, etc. – intrigue them enough to attract their attention, by monitoring their intent signals. Survey current customers as well as industry research to ensure that you have the latest knowledge at your fingertips.
With that information in hand, your marketing team can target those who best suit your company, and go deeper, offering more than the information they have already gathered on their own, in an effort to show how your product or service can better help them meet their specific needs.
By cultivating contacts found online and through industry events – even during an airport layover – easily and smartly, finding solutions to their potential problems through your product or service, your company will stand far above the rest of the crowd.
In order to reach your target, however, you can’t approach them with the same deluge of messages they are currently getting. Breaking out from the noise and offering them real solutions that realistically solve the challenges they’re facing, will help them recognize the differences between you and your competition.
Keep watch over developing trends with a program like InsightBASE, that tracks intent signals and trending topics, so that you can develop marketing messages that are on trend, offer expertise, and are genuinely helpful.
Content marketing is poised to be one of the top marketing strategies of 2018, according to virtually all the surveys, but content marketing is different from content marketing with value, says True Influence’s CMO, Janet Rubio, in this post from December 13.
In order to lure valuable prospects and turn them into long-term clients, the content you offer has to be insightful, smart, interesting, entertaining and authoritative – all the information that makes your buyer feel that he or she knew what you’ve been saying all along.
“The key to winning business from B2B prospects is giving them confidence to make their important spending decisions; that confidence comes from content that provides real, value-added learning about the impact your product or service can have on their bottom line,” said Rubio.
While blog posts have their place – they keep prospects and clients up-to-date on the latest news from your company – blogs are not the most effect way to use content marketing.
According to a survey from Ascend2, a researched-based marketing agency, the most effective content most likely to drive clients included:
- Downloaded research reports, which had the highest customer conversion rates, at 46 percent;
- Video/motion graphics, which came in at 44 percent;
- Webinars, which saw 40 percent conversation rates; and
- Infographics, once the king of content marketing, which dropped to 17 percent.
What that means, essentially, is that in the same way the quick reads of USA Today didn’t save the newspaper industry, short, snappy content doesn’t carry the same weight or value anymore. Consumers of information want more, and that includes your potential clients.
Information that offers depth helps your client better understand their own business, your business and service, and the way the two can work together to build them a better business.
In 2018, B2B marketers are expected to boost their budgets for in-depth, quality content, in numbers that the Content Marketing Institute estimates at 85 percent.
If the content you offer isn’t packed with facts or information, it’s more likely to fail.
But finding that sweet spot – the right amount of useful content, presented in an easily accessible way – is still tough for marketers trying to navigate a landscape that for some is still fairly new.
As B2Bs boost their content marketing offerings, they will also begin to learn what works, and what doesn’t. (That means putting the focus on your client, not on you, which makes your content so much of a hard sell that is can ultimately be a turnoff.)
By ensuring that your aim is to make your customer successful, you generate more trust, and that will help you and your customer grow.
Personalization – providing content specifically geared toward a single prospect or groups of prospects – is one of the most important strategies to consider, and while it may be more difficult to undertake, intent signals that analyze what works and what doesn’t can give you answers that weren’t available in the past decades.
Content marketing helps your clients get to know you better when using video of your product or service to introduce it in action, and in-house marketing – interactive marketing which engages is especially popular – can bring you and your prospects together successfully.
“Everyone agrees: Content marketing will be key to B2B marketing success in 2018,” says Rubio. “As your organization increases its commitment to creating high-value content, remember that decision-makers want facts, not fluff.”
There was enough of that in marshmallow form on the holiday sweet-potato casserole, from which many of us as likely still attempting to recover.
If you’re wondering what’s on marketers’ minds, True Influence has the information you’re looking for, thanks to not only intent signals gathered from our InsightBASE platform – which tracks online footprints, gathering key data – but also by analyzing that data from the periods between August of 2017 and November of 2017; the keywords that got the most attention were isolated.
According to the study released in mid-December, “artificial intelligence” – while marketing experts worldwide argue about how fast AI will take on full acceptance, marketers should be ready – “online video marketing” and “location-based marketing”, all of which are smart ways to reach new and existing consumers, topped the list based on the three months of data.
“What makes this trending study significant is that it provides a window into the minds and interest areas of marketers nationwide,” said True Influence CEO Brian Giese. “Since we know the B2B buying journey begins with online research, this use of intent signaling data powerfully illustrates a new capability for B2B marketers. With this study, they can really see which products and services companies are researching online, to tailor their marketing and activities and win new customers.”
The study also broke down the searches by region, giving marketers a better idea of what is trending on the coasts as well as the South and Midwest.
Technology has become completely intertwined with marketing, so much so that many marketers have not been able to keep up with the latest trends.
But not to worry, sit back and relax and let RK Maniyani, True Influence’s CTO, break down the coming trends, so you can be on top of what’s around the bend.
While the automation of marketing copy may not be the most successful trend, tech solutions that predict customer behavior – such as True Influence’s InsightBASE, which uses real-time behavior to understand what is trending now, giving a glimpse of what might also be on the horizon – are more realistic options.
There are, according to MarTech, more than 5,000 marketing technology providers, with more to join the marketplace in the coming years. While each has a specific niche, choosing what’s right for your marketing department can be a daunting decision.
The most successful marketers will be focused on account-based marketing, which uses the analysis of data to better target and personalize campaigns to meet customer needs.
Trends with benefits that Maniyani suggests for 2018 include:
- Integrating Big Data Sources. Big data is as big as it sounds, and could be as daunting. It is, Maniyani says, “extremely broad, encompassing both data acquisition and analysis,” bit it will hold a big place in successful marketing in 2008, especially when it comes to ABM.
- Building a B2B Marketing Tech Ecosystem. Having a few tools that can work together to give you a bigger picture of your customers or prospects, ensuring that you send emails or content when it is the most appropriate.
- More Advanced Segmentation of Email and Other Channels. Standard emails aren’t as successful as those that personalize and segment your markets so the right client is receiving an email best suited to them. Taking a good look at home you send emails will be a smart move in 2018.
- Extend Content Personalization Throughout the Customer Journey. Personalization is what connects you to your consumer, builds trust and turns prospects into customers. Improving your personalization strategies will boost conversion rates significantly.
By taking advantage of all that technology has to offer your marketing and sales teams, you’ll be poised to kick off 2018 on a successful note.