True Influence January B2B Round-up: Pivotal Trends & Modern Marketing Techniques
With a new year comes a chance to dive into your marketing strategies with an eye on making improvements and essentially upping your game.
At True Influence, our bloggers shared some ideas about what to pay attention to in 2018, what simple marketing techniques are still important, even if it seems as though tech is taking over everything, and why intent monitoring is such an excellent marketing tool, because of the insight it offers.
Essentially, 2018 is a good year to hone your marketing techniques to create smarter, more effective campaigns that will not only generate demand, but will also help cement your place as an expert in your field.
As a marketing strategy, demand generation is beneficial for both businesses and prospects, because both get something from the relationship.
Prospects learn valuable information through eBooks, white papers and research, and companies are able to gather intelligence when prospects submit information in order to access that content.
According to this blog post from January 8, demand generation is also the most successful way to attract the prospects who are toughest to reach because your strategy brings them to you, and you don’t have to use a one-size-fits-all solution in an attempt to lure them into your sales funnel.
For many B2Bs looking to boost demand generation, planning – by creating essential content that is suitable for each part of your sales funnel – is a good way to ensure that you’ve personalized enough to reach each of your targets with the right message at the right time.
Marketing and sales departments once had to predict which targets might buy a product or service based on whether or not they fit the market. Intent signal monitoring, however, erases the need to predict by pinpointing what prospects are reading, searching for or doing online, allowing more insight than the limited idea that they fit a certain mold.
Demand generation requires the unity and alignment of sales and marketing, because marketers tracking online movement know the best time to make a sales pitch based on that activity, and can guide sales teams in determining when to reach out.
And even through demand generation is far from prediction, marketing strategy expectations are not, and according to True Influence’s Bill Giese, demand generation strategies are expected to become more refined in 2018, with inbound and outbound marketing branded more similarly to reinforce marketing and sales success, and content marketing will continue to be a strong marketing strategy.
Of the marketing trends that have come and gone, intent monitoring is the one that isn’t going anywhere.
Why is it so effective? Because intent monitoring allows marketers to essentially see what prospects are thinking, “which blogs they’re reading, which webinars they’re attending, which resources they’re downloading,” wrote Bill Giese, which helps determine whether or not they are interested in their particular product or service.
Knowing whether or not there is a real interest, rather than casting a fishing net into the market in hopes of capturing some attention, is infinitely more effective, and that success cements intent monitoring as much more than a B2B marketing trend.
Intent monitoring opens up the window into the minds of buyers and can offer insight into what pain points may contribute to any hesitation to buy, based on online activity.
Having that knowledge allows marketing departments to compile content that answers questions and gives potential buyers information that will show them how your product or service is different from the competition, and better suited for their needs, without a hard sales pitch that is often seen as a turnoff.
Intent monitoring lets you know when someone is interested in your product or service, so information, content and email marketing campaigns guiding prospects to websites, landing pages and other sales-related destinations will be more welcome.
This blog post from January 10 takes a deep dive into the benefits of intent signal monitoring, which is the backbone of our InsightBASE platform. InsightBASE and other intent monitoring platforms gather information which is then analyzed, giving genuine insight into a company’s wants and needs in real time.
That in-depth knowledge ensures that account-based marketing campaigns are more effective, because they are compiled with fewer unknowns than B2B marketers faced before. Those clearer digital footprints can effectively guide marketing strategies through all phases of the sales funnel.
However, for all the information intent monitoring offers, marketers have to be ready to take advantage of that information, with a plan in place to retain prospects using marketing materials that complement the information.
Marketing teams can then arm the sales department with an arsenal of data that can make snagging a sale that much easier.
“By enabling organizations to shift from the guesswork of predictive analytics to the actual descriptive data, intent monitoring is changing the game of B2B sales and marketing,” Giese wrote.
Call it a trend, but intent monitoring is a strategy that allows both marketing and sales departments to shine.
Marketing’s technological advancements may be giving the field a certain industrial vibe these days, but trust is a stalwart that will always play the more important part, according to this January 12 blog post.
But trust can be pretty elusive these days, and it can be lost in a minute with a single marketing misstep, as companies like Pepsi and Ram trucks both recently experienced for attempting cause marketing campaigns with advertising that was immediately polarizing. (The painful results of marketing mistakes are felt much more quickly thanks to social media, though, so tech clearly has its place in this old-school ideal.)
Meaningful communication can help establish trust with your target audience.
- Learn about their interests. Addressing the concerns of your target audience through personalized content marketing that attracts attention takes effort, but the rewards will be lasting. It is also likely that while learning more about your targets, those interests will mirror those of other audiences, allowing custom content to be used in multiple ways.
- Build thought leadership around common issues. In order to build trust, establishing yourself as a knowledgeable source of information is a vital step. If the content you provide is educational, prospects see your product or service in a different, more respected light.
- Make a plan. In order to offer consistent, branded messaging, consistency is key, and can only be established with a plan. Know your targets, know what topics you plan to cover, be mindful of what content would be most effective through each media option, and schedule communications so that you can regularly release new content that keeps prospects engaged.
- Leverage the power of content marketing. Because intent monitoring gives you insight into what your targets’ interests are, you can offer content that engages, including webinars on topics of interest, white papers on new research and blog posts on new trends and advancements in their industry. Now only is this a chance to cement your place as a leader in your industry – “think guest blogging, articles in industry publications, and presentations at industry conferences,” writes Bill Giese – it also helps establish trust. “Your content should accomplish two goals: educating your audience and making yourself necessary,” Giese wrote.
- Customize, customize, customize. Prospects are looking for targeted communication that not only addresses their needs, but is delivered in a way that is best suited for them.
Go ahead and implement chatbots, voice and other tech that allows the consumer experience to be more enjoyable, and use tech to help you improve personalization or produce more localized content.
But don’t forget that once trust between you and your customers is established, “customers become evangelists,” Giese wrote, and they will share their devotion with peers at conventions, trade shows and other events, giving you free, extremely effective marketing that can elevate your reputation, drawing an expanded customer base.
In a January 15 post, True Influence sales director Dina Baird took a trip in the Wayback Machine to revisit marketing as it was in 2008 to 2011 compared to today. While that may not seem so far in the past, technological changes have transformed marketing. But at the core, some of the top tenets of marketing haven’t changed at all.
Following is what Baird took away from her research:
- Your website can’t suck or be outdated. A great website needs to be easy to find – SEO is still imperative – and compatible for all devices, because research has shown that people often jump from mobile phone to laptop to PC for a single action. If a website hasn’t been optimized for smartphones, even the greatest marketing won’t help you recover from difficulty navigating your website.
- Act more patient in lead conversion efforts. Remember that the buying cycle is much longer for many B2B businesses, especially when it comes to big-ticket items. Companies don’t often like to part with their money all that easily, so a lot will go into making a decision for purchasing something with a steep price tag. If many people are involved in the process, it could take months to convert a lead, so continue to nurture them.
- Include everyone. Make sure everyone involved in a company’s decision-making process is part of your marketing efforts, so when those people come together, your product or service will be familiar to everyone.
- Measure thoughtfully. Data is important, but there is a lot of it out there. If you’re probably not going to find it useful to your analysis, don’t bother measuring it.
- Integrate and nurture based on behavior and non-behavior. Successful marketers must be adept at knowing what information a target needs, but when they need it. “It doesn’t mean they are a bad lead if they don’t want you to call them after they download a piece of content. It just means… maybe you shouldn’t call them after they download a piece of content,” Baird wrote.
- Explicit and implicit. Score your leads based on explicit data – what you know – and implicit, which is how they behave. Together, the two create a deeper picture of your target, and it will inform how you market to them in the future.
- Video is visual. Great video content – professionally done and short yet informative offerings – is a great way to provide content that encourages prospects to become engaged.
- It’s not about you. Pitches put your business needs first, which was not true then, and is not true today. In order to create trust and loyalty, put the interests of your prospect first, during all phases of the sales funnel.
Sales and marketing teams are still not communicating as well as they should, says True Influence CRO Ken Stout in this January 17 post.
According to research, less than 16 percent of businesses had sales and marketing teams that were fully aligned as of 2015.
A company’s success hinges on the efforts of both marketing and sales. If both departments are working in sync with each other, which is the strength behind Account-Based Marketing (ABM), both efforts will be more successful thanks to the information the other side brings to the table.
While there is not enough communication between the two, businesses are upping their marketing budgets, now that more businesses understand the benefits of using data to help attract prospects. The move will help secure better leads for sales, which will naturally create more unity between the two sides.
Since both departments have the same mission – to help the company expand its business – working together clearly improves the process.
Using ABM as a marketing strategy allows both departments to play a major role in converting a lead, because specially-targeted marketing, compiled data and research will help sales understand when to make a move.
Because data can track the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, the marketing department can update or revise them as needed, without waiting for feedback from sales. Too, sales can offer feedback based on interactions with prospects that can help marketing better fine tune.