For B2B Marketers, Changing Established Marketing Habits Can Feel Like Leading a Mini-Revolution
Marketers work long and hard to build lasting relationships with their B2B clients, keeping their eye on long-term gains.
But c-suite can be a hard task-master, demanding proven ROI and short-term rewards from their marketing budget.
It’s no easy task persuading leadership that inbound marketing is by far the most cost-effective and measurable path to client acquisition. Here's some tips to help you lead the revolution.
If increasing the budget is not an option, you might suggest rearranging some priorities within current plans. Perhaps your company has tried content marketing and didn’t see any returns. In many cases, early content marketing was a bit hit and miss: Toss some content out there and see what sticks. Maybe those early efforts were agreed to just to be trendy, without a proper strategy in place that enabled the content to actually work to educate the audience. If past performance with content marketing was poor because the team was generating the wrong kind of content, looking for additional spend in content could be construed as an admission of failure because they weren’t able to prove any return on the investment.
How should you ask leadership for increased content marketing budget? In some cases, the challenge might not just consist of getting the funding you need to do something new, but instead it could mean phasing out activities that aren’t working.
Your company’s culture might be a factor, as well—an established mindset might prove more difficult to persuade than one that embraces taking risks and implementing new ideas. Discuss the ways that content can be a force multiplier for other marketing investments. For example, a content asset might provide more public relations awareness than the PR team could achieve alone.
Propose a Quarter-Long Trial
You can also ask your CMO to consider a pilot program for a certain length of time. Be sure to manage expectations for the pilot. I suggest 3 months to get proper momentum, prove engagement, relationship building, and improved credibility. You may need to use vanity metrics such as increases in the number of likes, followers, or website visits during your pilot to demonstrate that the content marketing program is working. In other words, you don’t necessarily have to verify ROI during a pilot as long as you can show a path to ROI.
Inbound works for B2B
B2B companies see the same return on investment as B2C companies when it comes to Inbound Marketing. In their annual report, Hubspot shows that the ROI is similar regardless of the type product or service you offer.
Content brings visibility
Creating targeted content supports generating visibility. Blogging is important as it can add up significant traffic advantages. Traffic growth is important especially if content addresses potential customers. According to Hubspot, an average company will see a 45% growth in traffic when increasing total blog articles from 11-20 to 21-50. Remember though that adding more visitors to the website is irrelevant if they are not close to your target market.
B2B Decision makers research vendors online
The business world is shifting online, and instead of calling vendors for quotes, decision makers take time to research the possibilities and opportunities available on the market. B2B buyers are 57% through their buying research before first contacting the seller. (Source: Corporate Executive Board).
When looking for a partner or supplier, companies research solutions that could match their needs before connecting with potential suppliers. In large organizations this might be delegated to interns, or juniors, however the decision maker will reach your website if you answer the right questions online and help the researcher do his job thoroughly.
66% of buyers agreed that the winning vendor provided higher-quality content and 63% said the winning vendor’s content was more conducive to building a business case for the purchase.
Increasing lead generation is not only blogging. It requires your team to leverage your website structure as well as social media for improved results. Hubspot identified that companies see a 55% increase in leads from increasing landing pages from 10 to 15 and Demand Gen Report shows that 72% of B2B buyers said they used social media to research the purchase decision in 2014
Marketing Automation supports lead nurturing
Even if you have a healthy lead generation program, you most likely reach to the decision makers at times when it is not convenient for them. They might not be yet at the decision point of a purchase, or they may have just signed with the competition for the next year. Gleanster Research shows that even with a good marketing strategy 50% of leads are qualified but not yet ready to buy.
How do you turn these leads into assets? Lead nurturing is the best solution, and marketing automation is a perfect solution. A good automation strategy can reduce the stress of the marketing and sales team to nurture leads, while increasing efficiency. The Annuitas Group unveiled that businesses that use marketing automation to nurture prospects experience a 451% increase in qualified leads.
Once you set the context and proved the numbers are there, reinforce it with a case study. You can use the Hubspot case study page and filter for companies similar to yours. Providing a success story from your industry helps your team live the situation rather then see if from outside. Make it easy to relate and they will be more likely to support it. You can check case studies also on InfusionSoft, Act-On or Marketo.
We know that blogs can generate a high number of leads, but convincing your senior management or team will not be easy. Use Hubspot data that shows B2B companies that blog only 1-2x/month generate 70% more leads than those who don’t blog. Furthermore, companies that increase blogging from 3-5x/month to 6-8x/month almost double their leads.
Your company might already have a blog, but so far no sales results have been achieved by using it. The question you usually receive here is “We have a blog now, how many leads did we generate so far?” There are a few major points you need to consider when answering this question:
- Do we blog regularly? Blogging works if it is maintained frequently and refreshed with relevant topics that address the questions the sales team encounters in the sales process.
- Do we blog about what customers need? Publishing blogs that are not targeted to the Buyer Personas will probably increase traffic, but yield no results.
- Is our blog designed for conversion? Do we use Call-To-Actions? Do you offer content for each step of the Buyer Journey? The blog itself needs to be designed and structured for lead generation. Blog posts are mainly used to generate awareness, and without content for Consideration and Decision stage, the website will not convert visitors into leads.
51% of B2B buyers depend more on content to research and make purchasing decisions than they than did a year ago.
A related stat: 47% of B2B buyers consume 3-5 pieces of content before ever engaging with a salesperson. So it's a lead pipe cinch you'll be squandering a huge number of potential leads and sales if you're not doing a blogging or content program of some kind, or doing a half-assed job of it. Remember, they're comparing your white papers, blogposts and case studies to those of your competition. Do you measure up?
Three quarters of executives watch work-related video each week
Video will be king of the hill for engaging consumers, making up nearly 70% of consumer web traffic by 2017, but it'll be nearly as important for B2B marketing. 75% of execs watch work-related videos on business-related websites at least weekly. Those videos get shared, too.
Clear data for management
Senior management likes data and results. A Digital Marketing strategy and a marketing tools like an analytics dashboard (like the one below) gives management clear information about the progress and results.
If this any of the above sounds familiar, you certainly aren’t alone. We see these concerns all the time.
For questions about how MarketScale can help you expand the vision of your marketing strategy, feel free to get in touch!