It’s not easy getting people’s attention at the best of times. They’re busy or distracted and often seem to be oblivious to what’s happening around them - unless it’s on the small screen in their hand of course. The same is equally or even more true in the workplace where everyone’s more time pressured and focused on doing their jobs, or at least they’re supposed to be, unless they’re having a surreptitious browse of Facebook, Sky Sports or searching holidays on that small screen in their hands of course.
As marketers, we work hard to create original or funny or challenging or informative or emotive - but ultimately engaging content - that grabs the reader’s attention which aims to generate enquiries. Hubspot, the leading integrated marketing software platform, defines inbound marketing as “a business methodology that attracts the attention of customers through the creation of content that they find valuable and relevant and experiences that are tailor-made for them.” Which is sound thinking but it places a heavy emphasis on one key question:
How do we capture the attention of business customers?
There are two indicators that are relevant to all of the phases and channels of the B2B marketing processes:
- The creation of a strong lead generation strategy, that takes into account the context of a constantly changing digital landscape.
- Focusing on all phases in which the potential customer will be attracted, motivated, convinced, and ready to engage.
Research and Planning are vital to understand and gain the confidence and interest of a prospect in order to convert them into a lead and qualify them for potential conversion into actual sales. So, how can we intercept the attention of business decision-makers? And, how can we monitor the different ‘touch-points’ where leads can be found? Finally, what tools can we use to enhance this attention so that it becomes the foundation for a lasting relationship of trust?
The answer is to build an accessible, authoritative, and ‘joined up’ digital presence. This means adopting an Inbound marketing approach that takes the specific needs of each digital channel into account, where you create and distribute relevant content that is appropriate for the channel, accessible and, of course, engaging.
The digital sector is full of jargon and buzz words, but this is known as ‘omnichannel marketing’ and in order to build an inbound omnichannel plan for B2B, you first need to gain a good understanding of the dynamics of the different media and create content that meets the typical expectations of each channel. Here’s a quick summary that can help when creating an omnichannel strategy.
Social media has now become a key component of B2B marketing, having been initially seen as a largely B2C channel, but everything is a bit more complicated than in the B2C world. The conversion rates of B2B social media continue to be a little mysterious and hard to measure with some research placing the conversion rate below 2%, which is still a bit low. Social media is an ideal channel to increase brand awareness in the early stages of the buyer’s journey with quantity versus quality the key question for a brand to consider - you want to get noticed, but for the right reasons. The main B2B channels to focus on are LinkedIn and to a lesser extent Facebook especially for corporate comms although Facebook is key for ‘local’ businesses such as hairdressers and restaurants.
PPC [Pay-per-click or Adwords] lead generation campaigns focus on a wide range of paid advertising platforms, the most popular being Google with AdWords conversion rates at nearly 3%. PPC costs vary enormously depending on the sector and product type, so a lot of research is required to understand the landscape and to develop a cost effective and targeted strategy, otherwise your budget will get eaten up very quickly with lots of irrelevant clicks. It’s important to remember that PPC is not a substitute for organic SEO but it complements it. Google’s own research found that 89% of the traffic generated by paid ads is not replaced by organic.
A blog should be at the heart of content marketing, it’s the place to generate the long form content which is relevant and consistent with the target audience’s interests. Content should be published and promoted in snippets as posts, news stories and in emails with the aim of drawing users to read the full article which will generate engagement and leads where the content is good - 'this guy really knows what he's on about'. For the B2B market, blogging activity can:
- Direct traffic to your website. With good SEO a blog can help strengthen the company’s presence on search engines, linking it to the keywords searched by potential customers: each post is an additional indexed page with which to “place” company content on Google.
- Convert traffic into leads. A well-positioned call to action on a blog post can direct prospects to the landing page for conversion into leads.
- Generate sales. A blog can actually help convince customers or prospects to close deals or can serve to share with other people to create valuable referrals.
- Establish a reputation as “expert opinion” and a thought leader within particular sectors or spheres of influence. In the B2C world the concept of 'influencers' has become an enormous marketing channel, but it's essentially been around in B2B for years with many recognised thought leaders from Anthony Robbins to Simon Sinek who garner huge volumes of followers.
Email Marketing Lead Generation Strategies
Email is pretty old technology now and perhaps not seen as 'sexy' as it’s been around since the dawn of digital, but it’s as relevant today as it was years ago. Email is a sort of bridge between marketing automation and CRM, two of the most used solutions by marketing professionals; its opt-in function is still the starting point for lead generation. There are a plethora of advanced tools, such as Hubspot and Dotmailer which can make email marketing more personalised and targeted and can automate follow ups on enquiries, delivering content, and sending more information.
Don't forget you can get help!
Ultimately you might not have the time or the skillset inhouse to manage some or even all of the marketing process, so may consider outsourcing some activities to an agency or external consultant. It's a service we provide acting as a virtual marketing department for our clients covering strategy, research, planning, content creation, delivery across all channels and analysis. It brings access to our entire team of professionals which includes the skills of the Chartered Marketer, Chartered Designer, Prince2/Agile Certified Project Manager, Umbraco/Microsoft Certified Developer and ITIL/BCS accredited tester. We call it 'Flexsmart' because we're happy to provide services on a granular basis and have some clients who just use us for one or two services, and others who use for everything. We'd of course be delighted to explain how it all works anytime, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org