Most companies involved in B2B sales know that they need to raise their profile and engage with prospects through online marketing and lead generation. They also know that relying on cold calling and traditional prospecting alone is not enough, or indeed as effective, any longer.
Companies need to get themselves in shape to make the most of the new developments in B2B online marketing and take full advantage of the opportunities out there.
Update your online look and visibility
According to Forrester, 98% of companies in the B2B space agree that their website is their number one source of new leads and yet so many firms treat their site as simply an online version of their corporate brochure. So this winter make a commitment to work harder on your web presence and make your website work harder for you.
First steps will be to make sure that the site contains the sort of vocabulary and content that your customers are looking for. I recommend making sure your website is rich in the keywords or page content that might be used in searches. But above all you need to make sure there is something of value on the site to make it worth the visit. Prospects will always appreciate further information they can take away for free.
If your marketing does involve offering content for visitors to download from your site, then make sure you are able to capture important information about the lead - in particular an email address, otherwise you are just giving away intellectual property with no way of promoting your business in the future.
Contact your SEO specialists to discuss making the site more search friendly – they will be able to advise you and help to create a programme of regularly updated content such as news, case studies and video. They will also be able to review your paid search to align it with current marketing plans.
Get the numbers on your side
B2B sales is essentially a numbers game and an element of intelligence is needed if you’re business is going to generate the smart sums.
Take a look at your current CRM database. It will be out of date. Guaranteed. You will also find there just aren’t enough names in there to give online marketing campaigns a chance of success. I have seen companies with a few hundred names on their database that issue an e-shot and expect the phone to start ringing off the hook.
With average open rates of about 25%, varying depending in the industry, the only reply these companies received was ‘out of office’.
If you need more leads then you need to look at increasing your database size or improving conversion rates with more compelling messages.
Remember - every correct email address on a CRM has a value to your future marketing so ensure that your sales people are entering all contact details including email addresses, you will soon see the impact.
Try to segment your marketing campaigns by sector, company size and location so that you are targeting the sorts of companies you can actually serve and focusing your marketing and sales efforts on the areas where you have a competitive advantage.
Understand the filters
Most companies worth talking to will by now have some pretty effective spam filters on their network. They will look for use of capital letters and exclamation marks in the subject line and even filter out certain expressions like “How to succeed in…” so unless you take this on board you are not even going to get to first base. A marketing automation system will test your emails and let you know if they are likely to be seen as spam. It will also allow you to send from a web-based application with a trusted IP address and therefore ensure your messages are delivered.
Hook into the digital conversation
According to a recent Sherpa report, 93% of B2B buyers research companies and products online before making a decision to buy. So, most B2B buyers are engaged in a conversation with your company already. The question is: do you know anything about these conversations and are you having any input in them? Use online social media and brand reputation systems which identify online conversations about your brand across the Internet. These social media listening, tracking, monitoring and engagement tools allow organisations to successfully employ social media responses to both positive and negative conversions across the Internet.
Get your content in place before you start
Anyone who has been involved in email marketing to support their sales efforts will know that one of the biggest stumbling blocks is content. Carefully plan a programme of email campaigns and the resources upon which that might depend. If you are going to need in depth white papers, these take time to put together, case studies will need customer approval and webinars will need scripting and preparation. You can’t just magic all these resources into place over a weekend.
If you decide to go down the marketing automation route you will need to feed the system with a range of different types of emails for different circumstances. As well as regular drip emails there will be others that are triggered as the result of a prospect’s interaction with your website. For each email you will need a bespoke landing page that is relevant to the message in the email. A decent marketing automation solution will contain a wide range of templates for landing pages that will shorten the design cycle and allow you to react more swiftly to opportunities.
Invest in marketing automation
By investing in a marketing automation solution you can not only track who visits your site but also find out how often they come back and how long they stay on a given page (revealing their prime area of interest). By introducing activities and resources such as white papers or guides which entice your website visitors to download, you can then identify them on returning visits when they are ready to purchase.
A marketing automation system, enables sales people to receive alerts whenever a web visitor enters or leaves their website and to follow up on ‘hot leads’. The technology enables organisations to create marketing campaigns that are specifically tailored to appeal to a definite target audience at the right time.
Overall a marketing automation system allows businesses to greatly improve sales conversions by collating, analysing and delivering crucial information straight to the people that can use it effectively when those people need it.
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