Marketers in B2B industries have shifted their focus to digital in the last year: Offline marketing is limited in terms of scale, and there have been a growing number of companies successfully embracing new approaches, writes Frank Ren of RedFern Digital
When talking about Business to Business (B2B) marketing, there are several things to consider. How can businesses effectively acquire new leads and grow their customer base when traffic costs are increasing each year? How to prioritise the high value leads for sales teams to follow up on in order to increase the conversion rate? And how to reach the end consumer and receive feedback data in order to help increase the effectiveness of marketing, for both the brand and the channel partners?
When it comes to growth, we often think of ‘explosive growth’ or ‘exponential growth’. However, these phrases will rarely apply to B2B marketing since the B2B salesperson will need to convince several people in the potential client’s organisation before the deal can be closed. The decision making journey of B2B clients is usually much longer than that of B2C consumers.
It is worth noting that growth is not merely about new user acquisition. Instead, the nurturing of existing leads with the aim of converting them further down the line should also be a focal point of B2B marketing. Thus, a full set of solutions based on solving the problems encountered by the clients is needed.
The decision making journey of B2B clients is usually much longer than that of B2C consumers
Getting the clients to understand and become aware of the B2B business is already a challenge. That being said, just because the potential client does not pay for the services now, does not mean that there is no hope for conversion later on. In fact, reasons for an initial rejection could include a divided decision-making team, a long procurement cycle, insufficient budget, or any number of other reasons. When these situations occur, B2B marketers should continue with their efforts, ensuring that their company is placed at the top of the potential client’s provider list once the demand is triggered again in the future.
How can B2B companies differentiate between leads and prioritise them according to which ones should be focused on? Generally speaking, a suggestion is to classify the B2B leads according to their level of awareness of the B2B company’s products or services. By looking at what stages the potential clients are at currently (e.g., initial research vs. actively looking for solutions), the different channels through which they were introduced to the B2B company (search engine, social media, referrals) and what kinds of actions they have taken involving the B2B company (downloaded their white paper, conducted initial conversations, watched training session), the B2B companies can then classify their potential clients. After prioritisation of the leads, B2B marketers can plan and execute targeted marketing strategies for a predetermined purpose (increasing brand awareness or sales conversion).
For instance, content pushed to different groups of viewers can be categorised: those who followed the B2B business’ own media account through an offline brochure at a trade fair may want more brand and product information, while those who followed the same owned media account and sent messages to the brand after having read through the information already provided may need a more direct approach, such as a campaign invite or a problem-solution case study.
By utilising a Social CRM that connects together every digital touchpoint (social media, website, e-commerce store, CRM), B2B marketers can get a clear view of every user that has come across their company through digital marketing.
Call-to-actions for the different touchpoints and scenarios should also be customised based on the level of previous engagement the B2B company has had with the potential clients. The difficulty encountered here is to differentiate the audience based on their feedback and behaviour towards previous marketing activities.
Traditionally, a B2B company would ask the salesperson to do this manually after communication with the client by entering their encounter into a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. This process however takes time and effort, as the salesperson has to manually mark each lead in the system.
As social media has become more widely used among businesses, B2B companies are also starting to push ongoing content to all of their stakeholders and followers of their accounts. In addition to the ongoing content, limited micro-level management of each follow can also be implemented to categorise them and understand who each follow is, what they want and whether the B2B company should develop a targeted marketing strategy for converting their followers into leads.
Today, marketers can recognise the level at which each lead is located in the conversion process using marketing automation technology. By utilising a Social CRM that connects together every digital touchpoint (social media, website, e-commerce store, CRM), B2B marketers can get a clear view of every user that has come across their company through digital marketing.
By tracking the behaviour of the users (including whether they’ve followed the B2B company’s account, read its content pushouts, liked or shared its content, watched its livestreaming sessions, downloaded its whitepapers and so on), the users can be scored according to viability, after which the manager of the Social CRM can then rate and prioritise the individual leads, categorising them into different groups for future targeted content marketing and more customised call-to-actions based on future marketing activities.
In this way, a B2B company can not only improve the user experience through the implementation of strategic marketing after gaining more information on the target audience, but can also more closely and effectively connect the marketing and sales departments within the organisation.