As a digital marketing professional, I lead a B2B marketing team for a major IT company across Australia and New Zealand. Our clients are spread across a range of industries, including retail, automotive, technology, and real estate. Our technology services are leveraged by enterprise-level clients to engage their end customers across the sales and marketing pipeline, and I play a key role in enabling those B2B interactions between businesses and prospects. Often this happens in a multi-channel way, whether online or offline channels.
This article covers tips that experience has shown to work for lead generation and improving the marketing funnel for B2B businesses.
Anyone who has experienced B2B marketing will tell you that it's a juggling act which requires balancing a range of customer-facing channels. Consistently calibrating your campaign while attempting to generate omni-channel ROI can be an uphill challenge for even the most experienced marketing professionals.
Take one area for example, content marketing and inbound funnels. A simple organic search using a high competition keyword can open the floodgates to hundreds of brilliantly crafted content pieces with catchy titles. In a world where competition has become turbocharged and marketing professionals are increasingly tasked with generating high-quality leads, optimizing campaign delivery in the following areas can help achieve the desired results while saving time and staying within budget.
Deeper Research, Better Targeting
In 2017, prospecting was the most difficult part of the customer acquisition process for most of sales and marketing professionals. (State of Inbound 2017, Hubspot) In reality, setting up your funnels and prospecting for new customers is directly tied into how you've answered the important question of "who is our customer?" The more clarity that this answer has, the easier it is to target, engage, and accelerate prospects through the marketing and purchase funnel.
Refining your target customer persona comes right at the strategy stage. Invest in gathering more information through market research, online surveys, prospect questionnaires, and other methods that will enable you to gain a deeper understanding. From a B2B angle, you should be able to answer key questions if you've done it correctly:
What are the prospect's business goals and how does your product/service align with those
What is the buying process and archetypal purchase funnel in your target industry
What channels are the buyers using and which influencers they might be referencing
What are the key drivers for purchase decisions
Setting the Inbound Funnel Up for Success
Conventional outbound sales can be very extremely difficult in B2B scenarios. Cold calling decision makers who already have the day laid out with meetings and paperwork typically leads to low lead generation rates. That is, if you are even able to get through the labyrinth of gatekeepers that medium to large corporations often have in place to deter such activity.
Luckily though, we live in the digital age. Their are tools available that enable insight, often real-time, into how these decision makers are doing their research before they purchase a B2B product or service. For marketers, the trick is to align their inbound funnel with the prospect's path to purchase, and then sit back and enjoy as the leads come in.
The basis of any successful content marketing campaign that accelerates the prospect's journey through the inbound funnel is to capture prospect intent. Put yourself in the target's shoes and think about what questions would you like to have answered before you decide to learn more about a product or service. Target the right keywords, look at the right content insight reports, and create content that answers trending questions.
Tailor Experiences, Boost Conversions
Once you see your funnel working and prospects engaging with your brand, they have gone from the Awareness phase, to the Evaluation phase of the purchase funnel. How quickly they transition from Evaluation to Purchase comes down to how well you've tailored and customized their experience from this point on.
SAP's Hybris Commerce Cloud for B2B enables businesses to do just that. The aim is to offer B2C-caliber agility and personalisation to B2B marketing campaigns to ensure that prospects are not just able to view the bigger picture of a business, but also transition quickly to where and how the business aligns with their specific need.
Marketing for a $1 billion, global enterprise with 200,000 customers spread across various international markets seems like a Herculean task. However, such an organisation in the US utilised SAP Hybris Commerce Cloud for B2B to create a consistent system interface across their functional products, allowing clients to do everything from one platform. Continue to do business, as well as the ability to view other products of interest. This led to increased net revenue by the millions, as well as a significantly higher Average Order Value (AOV).
Remember that your B2B campaigns will only be effective if they translate into an end-to-end customer experience journey for every single prospect. In the digital age where information is available with a search and few clicks, this has taken a new meaning. Data-driven intelligence coupled with strategic execution and ongoing optimization is the key to success.
In essence, the following steps will help you to ensure that your B2B marketing strategy is translating into results and solid business leads:
Perform deeper market research and validate your strategy with data before you begin implementation. Look for market data that can help you develop a near-perfect persona of your target customer
Develop a content marketing strategy and inbound marketing funnel that helps customers understand who you are, and how your business will serve their needs
Once customers have gone from awareness of your brand to engaging actively with you, whether through email, phone, in-person, or any other channel, make sure their experience from this point onward is highly customized to their unique business needs
The next post will expand more on how to collect and use data that will help you analyse and refine your business strategy, knowledge of target customers, and succeed with a data-driven marketing approach.