Trends in B2B Marketing for 2015

We’re fast-approaching the end of 2014. You know what that means: trend watching posts galore! Here’s my view on how I think 2015 will shape up for B2B marketers.

B2B Marketing Trends 2015

1. Marketing as education

Buyers, especially B2B buyers, need to have as much information as possible before they can make a purchasing decision. Remember, it’s not just one person making that final decision on whether to go with you as their vendor. There may be 3, 4, 5 people involved, at various management levels. Growing their business is their number 1 priority. They want to understand how your product helps them do that.
Produce marketing content that answers their questions, shows them how to overcome the obstacles they face in growing their business, and solves their problems. It builds credibility with your audience, attracts new readers to your content, and positions you as the thought leader in the market.

2. Simplifying the marketing process

Gone will be the days of isolated departments in any B2B firm, where Marketing ignores Sales, and vice versa. In order to optimize their workflow, Marketing will follow their CMO’s lead and start breaking down all of those information silos. Reaching out across departments, and even geographic locations, teams will start to work together better, integrating their specific insights into the overall marketing message.

We will see a more conscious effort to bring disparate groups to the table to learn how to collaborate across screens, channels, and moments of truth to deliver ONE experience to customers wherever they are in the lifecycle. – Brian Solis

3. The rise of the HUMAN in marketing

DJ Waldow of Marketo told Lee Odden that “…we’ll begin to see more marketers incorporate human-speak into their messaging – videos, pictures, humor, and human!” B2B brands in particular will continue this trend, as they’ve (mostly) realized that they’re still talking to people when they sell to their customers. Just because they sell to an enterprise-sized customer doesn’t mean there aren’t any humans in there reading their content.

4. Learning how to connect better with an audience

On the heels of remembering that’s it’s humans that read their content, B2B marketers will understand how to better connect with their audience. Tim Washer from Cisco Systems says that it’ll be the year of humor in digital marketing. While technology brands still tend to be the domain of the young, they’re finding themselves in more positions of authority and power, and one of the easiest ways to reach them is with a “clever laugh” or the “vulnerability of silliness”. That’s what earns their trust and loyalty, which is what we’re looking for as marketers, right?

Get to know your marketing audience

5. Really getting to know your audience

Lizetta Staplefoote calls this “micro-targeting”, but I just see it as a getting to know your audience better. Commit to developing better buyer personas and avatars, and really dig in to the needs and motivations of your audience – don’t forget to find out about the needs and motivations of their companies as a whole too! B2B marketing has to hit both the individual and the enterprise as a whole in order to be successful. It’s what makes B2B marketing a little more tricky, as you’ve got to serve more than one audience.

6. Understanding how technology + marketing play together

As a Geek, I love this idea, proposed by Jason Miller from LinkedIn. Sure, it’s important to produce quality content for your marketing campaigns, but understanding how the technology of digital marketing works, and how it can affect it is going to be important too. As Jason said, “The ability to understand how front end web development and coding can affect, enhance, and optimize a content strategy will become a necessity for marketers instead of a nice to have.”

7. Increased focus on security

Technology brands are continually thinking about security and privacy when it comes to their own products. They understand that any slip-up can lead to significant monetary and reputational damage to them and their brand. Forrester’s 2014 Technology Trends found that brands lost a minimum of $10 million for every data breach, and that’s often the starting point. Whether it’s Apple’s iCloud photo hack, or a retailer losing the credit card information of millions of customers, the fact is, any kind of security breach reflects negatively on the brand. As consumers we’re starting to get a bit jaded with these breaches, however even though they’re not as common in the B2B world, the threat is still there. Protecting your customer’s data is now an essential part of the relationship building with your B2B audience.

B2B marketers are now publishers

8. Marketers & brands become publishers

No, I’m not talking about marketers suddenly publishing books, but rather the idea that they’re publishing content, regardless of the type of content it is. Ann Handley thinks we’ll push those boundaries even further, and focus on empathy and customer experience when it comes to marketing. That means creating content that’s useful, helpful, and in tune with your audience.

9. The rise of the Marketing Technologist

The successful brands today are ones that have embraced the idea of being a “marketer in a digital world.” We’re now wedded to our smartphones and mobile devices, and can do so much while on the go. Work and play are now done almost exclusively online, so if you’re not on board with the idea of a digital world, you’re in trouble. The Marketing Technologist will be able to integrate the digital world we live in with the marketing strategies that have worked in the past, and come up with a new marketing outlook that works well today.

These are just a few of the trends that I think will continue on into 2015, and continue to influence the way we do B2B marketing going forward. We’ve all got our own perspectives on how things will play out, so I’m curious to hear what you think will be the trends that we see next year. What ones have you noticed now that you think will hit it big next year? Let me know in the comments.

Lead Generation Metrics – Here’s How the Top Performers Do It

Peyton Manning just passed Brett Favre for the all-time pro football touchdown passes record. Rafael Nadal has only one loss at the French Open in the last 10 years…ONE! Wayne Gretzky has the most career points ever in pro hockey, at 2,857. Lionel Messi scored 79 goals for his club team in 2012, the most ever by one player in one year. Martina Navratilova won six Wimbledon singles titles in a row.

Lead generation metricsWhat’s with all the sports stats? Well, it’s easier to talk about top performers in sports than in the B2B business world. We don’t often get a glimpse into their inner workings and stats, so it’s hard to compare them.

Top performers however, always know where they stack up against their competitors. They may SAY they don’t care about the records, or that they don’t KNOW where they are in the chase, but don’t believe them. These athletes know EXACTLY where they are in the chase. They’re not driven by them, but they certainly know how they stack up against their fellow athletes.

This is one of the reasons that they are the best at what they do. Sure, they’ve got natural talent or skill, but they work hard to make sure they’re ready to take on all comers. They want to ensure that in any competition, THEY come out on top.

Translate this idea of “measuring up” in the B2B business world, and you end up with metrics. To understand how your business is doing, look at your metrics.

Lead generation metrics

Let’s take a look at lead generation metrics. In order to know if your marketing programs are effective, you’ve got to start measuring them.

In sports it’s much easier to get those metrics, as there are times, scores, and championship wins. It’s obvious who the top performers are. In the B2B world, it’s a little more challenging to get that information. While you may not know what your competitors are up to, you can definitely take a look at your own programs and see how you’re doing.

The Lenskold Group recently did a survey where they asked B2B marketers about their programs’ effectiveness. What they found out about the top performers was interesting.

Top performers measure their marketing ROI more than the rest

By a margin of almost three to one, the top performing B2B companies in the survey measured the return on investment (ROI) of their marketing programs more often than the rest. They wanted to see how much they were earning for every marketing dollar they spent.

To use the sports analogy, they wanted to see how much they improved for every hour of training they spent. Did all of that training time rWin awards with these B2B Lead Management Best Practicesesult in more wins, goals, or championships?

For a marketing team, it’s the same thing. You want to know if your efforts are being rewarded with more leads and sales. Whether it’s by using modelling and statistical analysis of your numbers, a comparison of pre-campaign numbers and post-campaign results, or just basic tracking of open and click rates, the fact is START MEASURING.

B2B companies that track their marketing stats are growing more than those who don’t

The top performers are acutely aware of their marketing stats, and how it’s affecting their business (41% vs 19%). In fact, the numbers show that these companies are growing at a faster rate than their non-measuring competitors.

They understand how their marketing activities affect the company’s bottom line. This gives them a greater investment in their work and planning, so that they truly believe in their actions. This belief has a tremendous impact on their individual work, and if everyone’s pulling in the same direction, then the company grows more easily.

Top performers use both traditional tracking methods, as well as marketing automation apps

In order to save time and effort, the top performing companies are using marketing automation (MA) apps to track their efforts. Everything from content views to response inquiries and participation in consuming content like webinars. They’re tracking it all through their MA apps and are saving a ton of time doing it.

Lead gen metricsThe one area that these tools are helping is mainly in the tracking of sales conversion. Often it’s difficult to track the conversion from initial engagement to lead to final sales conversion, as these metrics can be held by different teams in your company. An MA app helps with this as everyone’s looking at a centralized repository of those metrics, and upper management can pull reports from them at any time.

Start tracking your marketing efforts now, and see your B2B business grow

Marketing in today’s B2B world is changing. First it was simply a matter of getting a website out there. Then it was using social media for customer service. Now it’s content marketing and lead management. The evolution continues. And just like those pro athletes who compare themselves to their competitors in order to see how well they’re doing, you can do the same. Use those stats and metrics to evolve and change your B2B marketing programs to maximize their effectiveness. Grow your business by measuring.

What stats are you using to determine your marketing effectiveness? ROI? Lead conversions? Hit the comments and let me know.

Lead generation metrics - Julia Borgini

25 B2B Marketing Stats for Autumn

With the arrival of autumn here in the northern hemisphere, thoughts turn to the end of the year and next year’s B2B marketing budget. You’re probably starting to get meeting invites to discuss next year’s marketing budget, and you’re starting to pull together the information you’ll need to get all the resources you need. Look no further, here are 25 stats you can use to in your presentations and discussions.

73% of global traffic on business services websites comes from organic search (source: BrightEdge)

A little more than two-thirds of B2B marketers use data to analyze their customers (source: Bizo)

48% of emails generate a qualified lead for B2B marketers (source: Chief Marketer)

45% of B2B marketers think their email prospects turn into qualified leads (source: Bizo)

53% of B2B marketers are using content marketing programs to generate new leads (source: Chief Marketer)

44% of B2B marketers are using webinars to generate new leads (source: Chief Marketer)

Only one-quarter of sales people feel they collaborate well with marketing colleagues to develop marketing assets (source: Demand Metric)

42% of sales people are rarely or never involved in the development of marketing assets (source: Brainshark)

62% of B2B marketers develop content on an ad hoc basis, ignoring the idea of a long-term marketing strategy (source: Forrester, the Business Marketing Association, and the Online Marketing Institute)

61% of marketers use responsive web design as part of their mobile SEO (source: Regalix)

56% of marketers integrate content marketing with SEO (source: Regalix)

75% of B2B marketers use videos during the introduction stage of their B2B product’s lifecycle (source: Regalix)

An average of 7 executives are involved in the B2B buying decision in the US (source: Text100)

55% of B2B marketers feel that videos are the most effective blog post type they publish (source: B2BMarketing.net)

62% of B2B buyers learn about new developments and best practices in their industry online (source: CMO Council & NetLine)

$16.6 billion: Amount of money invested by B2B marketers in digital content publishing (source: CMO Council)

98% of B2B marketers around the world are using in-house email marketing (source: eMarketer)

62% of marketers say their digital marketing efforts are successful (source: Ascend2)

49% of marketers want to increase their conversion rates next year (source: Ascend2)

58 % of marketers say that content creation is their biggest challenge (source: Ascend2)

80% of B2B decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles (source: Circle S Studio)

B2B marketers capture their leads’ email addresses 89% of the time (source: NetProspex)

48% of B2B small business marketers have a documented content strategy (source: CMI)

65% of B2B marketers have not established lead nurturing (source: Gleanster Research)

82% of buyers say they trust a company more when its CEO and senior leadership team are active on social media (source:  TopRank)

 

 

 

 

 

There’s Hidden Lead Generation Potential in Your B2B Website

B2B Lead Generation Secrets - They're in your websiteGet this: Over a quarter of all organizations redesign their websites to optimize it for lead generation, yet less than 40% of them use any metrics to measure their site’s effectiveness (either the new or old one).

Looking a little further into some numbers discovered by Hubspot, and they show that some companies redesign their websites every 12 months. That’s every year! And a full third of them are unhappy with the results.

No wonder. If you’re simply redesigning for the sake of redesigning, then no one’s going to be happy. Website visitors want an easy-to-navigate site that includes all the information they’re looking for. They don’t want to be confused every time they come to your website and have to re-discover where you’ve hidden the contact form or product information.

And if you really want to unlock the potential of your B2B website, here are the secrets to better lead generation with your website.

Secret 1: Clear CTAs (Calls-to-Action)

A CTA is a button, image, or text link that encourages visitors to take an action after visiting your website. Usually that’s to sign up for a special report, attend a webinar, or purchase a product. The actual words you use here are very important. Lose the clever phrasing and in-jokes when creating your CTAs. Be clear, to the point, and use good action verbs. For example, Click Here or Sign Up Today.

Secret 1a: CTA placement on the page matters

Try putting your CTA on the extreme right or left of your page. Studies show that they tend to get more clicks if they’re out on the edges, rather than in the middle of the page.

Secret 2: Simple user experience

It’s important the B2B visitors can access the information they want and need quickly. Even though their buying cycle is long, they still don’t want to spend a ton of time trying to find the information. Who does, right? Apparently, the #1 thing B2B visitors want to see on your website is pricing information. Then technical support information, then other resources like white papers, case studies, and blog posts.

Be careful in how you gate your information as well. (“Gating” means you require users to register in order to access or download the information.) A good mix of gated and ungated content will serve your visitors well, and avoid any annoyance or anger with you. For example, blog posts, infographics, and case studies could be ungated, while white papers and webinar content is gated.

Secret 3: High quality content on all pages

This one should go without saying, but it still needs to be said: use a professional writer on all of your marketing materials. Whether they’re in-house or an external freelancer, working with a pro will increase every related metric you’re measuring on your website. Visitors will be captivated by the engaging and insightful content, and be willing to register their information with you for future updates. Your bounce rates will drop drastically as they’ll stay to read everything, instead of navigating away at the first sign of a typo.

What pages do I need to spend the most time on?

This is always a tough question, as you should spend quality time crafting each page on your site. However, at the very least, look at these ones:

  • Home page: A well-written home page does a good job of sending visitors further into your website. It’s not just a splash page for introductory information. Use it to guide them to the next step in the buying cycle, and the next set of content on your site.
  • Product pages: These pages will describe your products and services in an engaging manner.
  • Sales and Landing pages: These pages are designed to sell or convert visitors into leads. Use strong and clear headlines, compelling ledes, bullet points to spread out the text, appropriate images, and a clear promise of what they’ll gain by filling out the form on the page.
  • Thank you pages: This page is often the least customized by B2B marketers, and they’re missing an opportunity for additional business. Use the Thank You page to offer additional information to the prospect, or buttons to your social media profiles so they can share the page with their network too.

Secret 4: More sharing on social media

While not really a secret, using social media to amplify your B2B content is a given these days. It’s a legitimate lead generation channel in today’s fast-moving Technology market. Put social media sharing buttons everywhere that’s appropriate on your website. Don’t forget to include them on any landing or sales page, as well as in any eNewsletters you send out as well.

Secret 5: Take your time

It’s cliched, but true: lead generation is a marathon, not a sprint. You can’t simply build a great product that offers value to customers and expect to generate more leads with that. Good lead generation strategies take time. You must publish content and offers regularly that provide real value to your prospects. THAT’s what’s going to convert them from prospect to lead, and eventually lead to customer.

Update your website on a regular basis with unique, quality content that has real value to prospects, and you’ll find yourself connecting with them more.

Your website is a lead generation magnet

It’s true. Setting it up the right way to bring in leads and potential customers will benefit your B2B Technology company in the long run. You’ll develop a strong and deep relationship with them and seriously affect your bottom line.

3 Simple Steps to Helpful B2B Marketing

Being useful must be part of your entire company’s DNA — not just the DNA of a small, centralized team.

— Jay Baer, Youtility

Having worked for more than a decade as a technical writer, where most of my writing was almost 100% help-related, this quote from Jay resonates with me. I enjoyed helping people learn how to use the software I was writing about; explaining the benefits to those magical features the developers worked on so diligently under the guise of an instructional manual or set of release notes.

In the years since I started writing marketing materials for B2B Technology companies, I still try to infuse my writing with helpfulness. The only thing that’s changed is the document types I work on. I’m still explaining the benefits to the magical features, relating the benefits to bigger picture B2B business growth. But it’s still helpful, insightful content.

Marketing content that’s helpful to readers has a number of effects:

  • It brings you closer to your audience.
  • It instills confidence in your audience.
  • It creates a strong bond between you and your audience.
Smart marketing is about helping
Image credit: Convince & Convert

Setting up your marketing to be helpful and really strengthen the relationship with your audience is a powerful tactic to use. How can you implement this at your B2B company?

Step 1: Crowd-source your useful knowledge

Yes, it’s all the rage right now, crowd-sourcing everything, so there’s no reason you can’t do it with your B2B marketing. What I’m talking about here is simply involving a wide variety of employees in the creation of your marketing content. Different employees in different departments have different experiences and knowledge. Mine them for their useful knowledge! Encourage sharing in your B2B company and use the information in your marketing programs.

Step 2: Re-invent what you’ve already created

Aside from the improved SEO reasons why you’d want to revisit previously published content, revising and re-inventing your content is a necessary process for any B2B company. Your audience is changing, whether it’s their needs that change, updates in technology, or the demographics of your audience that changes. The fact is, if you don’t change right along with them, you’re going to lose your audience.  New content is important, but so can revising your existing content. Not sure how you can do that? Why not:

  • See if there are new links you can update in a blog post?
  • Add new ideas to a list post?
  • Refresh the images in your e-newsletter?
  • Insert new data into a landing page?
  • Update sales data in an email series?
  • Create a new success story by interviewing your sales staff?

Step 3: Measure what you’ve created

Let’s state the obvious here: we’re all afraid of metrics and analytics. We don’t know what we should be measuring, how we should measure it, and what to do with the data afterwards. And that’s okay. However to truly embed the notion of helpfulness in your B2B company, you’ve got to measure it. Progress is important to see, as it’s a good reinforcement of behaviour.

Jay Baer suggests measuring the categories of “metrics that matter“: consumption, advocacy & sharing, lead generation, and sales. How you do it is up to you, but you should do it regularly and efficiently.

In conclusion

Are you sold on the idea of your marketing being “helpful”? It seems like a simple idea, and an obvious tactic that B2B companies would use in their marketing, especially when you see the effects it can have on your bottom line. And if your entire company has embraced the idea of helpfulness, it’s easier to create insightful content that your audience craves.

Are you creating helpful marketing content for your B2B company? How is going?