At Think Shift, one thing that we intentionally did this year was raise the bar of our own digital expertise. We spun our “digital team” – specifically, development and digital marketing – into its own unit, hired several extremely experienced experts who we’re thrilled to have on the team and made a concerted effort, in general, to educate ourselves on what exactly this “digital marketing” thing is and how we could best help our clients use it.
“Digital” has become a bit of a suitcase word in advertising and business – everyone packs their own definitions into it.
As an agency that primarily caters to B2B companies (business to business, rather than business to consumer), we noticed a trend of frustration in our clients: why are all of the best examples of digital marketing – and the most successful digital marketers – B2C? Was this even something that B2B business should invest in, given the differing nature of their sales from B2C companies? After all, it’s estimated that around 60% of the buying process in a complex sale is already complete before clients are even willing to talk to the salespeople. How can a sales team maximize that marketing funnel, when that same sales team may not control the message?
When putting your digital marketing dollars down, focus on these four things:
1. Brand Awareness and Reach
Digital marketing is most effective when it honestly and accurately expresses what your company and overall brand is all about. In this space, you can truly let the personality at the heart of your brand shine through. The more you communicate what you believe in, the more likely other people will be to take an interest in what your company has to say.
Case Study: Salesforce wanted to target a very specific audience on Facebook with the marketing campaign for its B2B marketing automation solution, Salesforce Pardot. Their marketing team used Facebook’s Custom Audiences tool, to allows advertisers to use multiple data points at once to identify and reach the right people on Facebook (Facebook claims that advertisers reach 54% more of their offline customers on Facebook when they use advanced matching). Compared to email matching alone, their campaign achieved:
- 2.3X increase in customer match rate
- 93% lower cost per response with Lookalike Audiences
- 3.8X increase in return on ad spend
Channel to Focus On: Social Media (particularly Facebook and LinkedIn). Both Facebook and LinkedIn allow marketers to become very granular with their targeting. It’s possible to target by title (C-Suite, Director, VP, etc), industry (Fishing, Forestry, etc), location and company names. Using these channels can help you gain very specific leads and tailor messages to individual audiences.
2. Increased Lead Generation
Ultimately the point of any digital marketing campaign is generating more leads for your sales team. Digital marketing allows you to reach a wider audience, while also more carefully targeting who you’d like to reach.
Case Study: Lumension, a producer of endpoint security software, ran several “integrated retargeting campaigns.” First, their marketing team worked with publishers who covered events that interested Lumension’s target audience, and cross-referenced site visitors with conference booth attendees to retarget online afterwards. Next, they retargeted visitors who showed interest in competitor content. They could then target individuals who were in the market for IT security, but not in their funnel yet by using cookies the media portals would drop in the visitors’ browsers. At the end of these campaigns, lead volume went up 81% despite a 30% PPC budget cut, and web traffic increased 10%.
Channel to Focus On: Retargeting Ads. Retargeting isn’t just for B2C brands anymore. Thanks to advances in behavioral targeting technology, B2B marketers can now create retargeting campaigns that reach potential buyers at specific stages of the sales funnel.
Anytime a paid search delivers users to a landing page but they leave prior to completing the conversion, you can display relevant ads to those users as they continue to surf the web. The retargeted ads don’t need to send users to the same page where they landed before either. You can use the ads to expose them to other areas of your website or highlight additional benefits of your solution.
3. Increased Engagement Rates
There’s a huge volume of information in the form of reviews, industry reports, social networks and interactions, available to potential customers at the click of a button. Keeping that in mind, it’s essential for you to be found when users are searching for information pertaining to your industry – even if they aren’t yet shopping for your service.
Case Study: InVision is a prototyping platform that helps companies collaborate on designs. Since launching in 2011, InVision has built a user-base of more than 700,000 and a fervent audience of blog subscribers. What stands out about InVision’s content is how unique it is, and how diversely the content is displayed – across blog posts, interviews and video posts. One series goes behind the scenes at a range of companies and interviews their design teams about design principles, workspaces, and culture.
Channel to Focus On: Video advertising. Good video content is one of the most effective ways to connect with buyers. What’s more, the barriers to creating, publishing, and promoting video content are lower than ever. Even a B2B company with a modest budget and equipment can produce videos that tell a compelling story and showcase their brand. At Think Shift, we’ve produced a great deal of video content for our clients that has seen a great return.
4. Loyalty and Advocacy
What’s the difference between customer loyalty and brand awareness? 94% of B2B buyers conduct online research before deciding on a purchase. However, 97% of professional buyers believe that user-generated content, such as direct recommendations, peer reviews and group discussion, is more credible than content provided by the company itself.
If you want to make more sales, creating other clients who will advocate for you is essential. Displaying that loyalty digitally will only add emphasis to what normal word-of-mouth can do.
Case Study: Youtube, which generates most of its revenue through B2B transactions, features actual customer testimonials as pre-roll advertisements before YouTube videos. This clever positioning serves the double purpose of advocating for YouTube’s platform – using YouTube’s platform – while also promoting their current client base.
Channel to Focus On: Case studies. Promoting case studies show the successes that you’ve already delivered on as a company and allow existing clients to promote you to their own network (while giving themselves a subtle boost). Make sure visitors to your website can find case studies and testimonials easily and often on your website. They speak to prospects about your quality and services better than you can.
Digital marketing may not seem as intuitive for B2B companies as it is for B2C, but don’t toss it off. There’s a tremendous amount of value in becoming intentional about marketing to your customers online.
Want to create an intentional marketing strategy, one that includes digital? Give me a call, or click below to read our How to Make Marketing an Investment white paper. Our focused digital advertising team is ready to give you a hand.