Role of Digital Marketing in B2B
The challenges that come with digital marketing continue to emerge alongside the evolving digital landscape. In the uncharted digital world, there will be obstacles and roadblocks. One of them is setting appropriate goals in the short and long term. Setting objectives for your digital presence to grow your company are stepping stones for future ventures. In this article, we are going to cover areas such as:
Striving for exponential growth
Short-term goals that lead to progress
The objective of this article is to develop your understanding of the importance of having both short and long-term goals that help navigate the process of becoming an industry thought leader and how to accomplish it. What matters is what the champion of the campaign values more: short-term wins or long-term domination. Digital content marketing is as much a craft as it is your company's future. So it is essential to understand what short and long-term goals should be put in place to achieve your overall objective. Areas to Dominate: In the B2B sphere, awareness and importance of digital content marketing is growing yet not many have risen to the occasion. Developing a solid content marketing strategy can change the ways the market views your company. Many B2Bs have fallen behind because of their failure to innovate into the digital world. Dreamline Digital understands the long-term benefits of digital content marketing and the short-term objectives of how to get there. Industry Thought Leadership A thought leader solidifies you as an expert and authority within an industry. The objective of thought leadership marketing is not to create sales-orientated content but to provide value and an entry point to your business by branding yourself as an expert. This is exceptionally beneficial for companies and individuals in the B2B space because it makes them more trustworthy. With the amount and type of information they provide, prospects will feel more confident in their purchase. Cementing yourself as an industry thought leader is a long-term goal that produces lasting effects such as:
Digital maturity: Developing a digital brand that is always top-of-mind will ensure that your company is considered before the competition. Check out our blog about the benefits of having a digital brand.
Brand loyalty: Building a community that attracts the attention of companies, clients, consumers, prospects, and (even) competitors not only creates relationships, it ultimately leads to more sales. A loyal fan base is not achieved overnight; it takes time to nurture and build trust and credibility.
Brand affinity: Well-researched, authentic, honest, and straightforward communication that offers answers to real questions and challenges is vital to establish industry expertise. Done right, thought leadership has the potential to blur the lines that separate people when they interact through technology. To build a brand that is recognized as an industry leader, thought leadership means keeping the ‘human touch’ in human interaction.
SEO is more important than just being ranked on the first page of Google. It is about attracting organic traffic! GoogleAds is a great tool, but only 30% of online users click on ads that come up during a Google search while 70% click on the first ten organic non-ads (1st page). This is HUGE because while the first options paid for ad placement, the following options got their placements for free! To build your overall SEO, you need to attract influencers, build links (we will talk about this in an upcoming article), and produce quality content that attracts engaged traffic. The long-term benefits to SEO are:
Traffic: This leads to higher amounts of people going to your website and potentially generates more leads through targeting.
Positive PR: This goes along with being a thought leader in your industry, SEO makes sure that, as your brand ranks 1st, people will assume inherently that you are legitimate.
Link Acquisition: Building links will 1: improve your domain authority, therefore enhancing your SEO; 2: strengthen your awareness as you are taking advantage of industry KOL’s, thus, presenting your content to new people within your sector.
Conversions: Combine all of the benefits previously suggested and you will eventually witness an increase in conversions and more qualified leads coming through your digital ecosystem. With an optimized site, people are more likely to trust and purchase from your company.
Exponential Growth YOY
I don’t mean quarterly, I mean five to ten-year growth. Year after year, do what is best for the long-term strategy of your company as opposed to doing what shareholders want to see on a quarterly basis.
Exponential growth as a goal is all about the consistency of content flow. Now and especially five years from now, the importance of a company being first a media company will be vital, as we are trying to find new ways for customers to interact and engage with our brands. Exponential growth on its own is not a goal, but the development and strengthening of your overall content strategy mindset is the objective to keep forcing innovation and brand advocacy.
B2B companies, who develop this mindset and execute it, will immediately see ongoing growth for years to come. In our following article, we will be talking about the future of digital marketing. Follow us to stay updated and continue to mold your future-oriented mindset.
Path to Creation
Short term goals are necessary for a business and for marketing campaigns. Short-term goals come with great rewards, but should not be expensed at the value of long-term objectives.
Growing Your Social Media Presence
Growing your social media presence in the short-term is beneficial because it can lead to your overall long-term goal of becoming a thought leader in your industry. To grow your social media presence, it is vital to produce quality content, present it to the correct audience, and post regularly. By growing your follower count and engaged members, digital B2Bs are showing social proof. To build channels you must recognize what channels are preferred in your industry, use quality content to drive traffic and use KOL (Key Opinion Leader) for effective distribution. Since every industry has them, you can use a KOLs’ audience to increase online presence in your sector.
Increase Brand Awareness
While growing your social media presence, this will also provide you with achieving the KPI of increasing brand awareness. You are introducing people to your brand, so you want to choose your pillar content wisely to lead them down the funnel of, introduction, following, engaging, conversation, and sale. Think about how your content relates to the sales cycle and funnel leads accordingly. Brand awareness campaigns can be conducted through various social media channels by presenting the right content to the correct audience using paid ads. These ads do not need to be expensive (depending on your scope), start off with 5 dollars a day to gain data insights and then redefine (if required) and grow your budget after ten days of the data acquisition cycle.
Engaging With Customers
Engaging with customers means engaging with the already established community on social media channels. A community manager will be needed, as this is an intensive process. Be a part of the community by curating value-added comments and engaging with people who are showing interest in competitors.
Community management of your content on social media is essential to mitigate sales by leading engagers down the sales funnel and into the conversation stage. It is vital for your company to produce a community management strategy to predict the response of your content and mitigate. If there is negative feedback on your content that is released, you will also need a plan to defuse negative entries.
The Overall Importance
Short-term objectives will pave the road to long-term goals, but please do not value the short term over long term. Leaders who see likes, comments, and shares, are leaders who do not know what real results are. The numbers do not matter. It is the depth and quality of attention that you are drawing that matters. Becoming a thought leader is a difficult challenge yet it provides the most ROI out of any long-term goal. With the development of a future-oriented mindset, long-term goals will not feel so far off, especially when you are accumulating results along the way.
With a “next steps” mentality, Dreamline Digital strives to provide as much value as possible in our process of becoming a B2B content solutions media company. I see this company evolving into an important component of the B2B industry because “every company is a media company” and every company will need digital marketing expertise.
In our next article, we will be talking about “Why B2B digital marketing is essential” which will include the millennial decision-making positions, process, and the future of digital marketing giving you the opportunity to gain industry insight on how to scale your digital strategy.
B2B Digital Marketing as a Necessity
Is your business running stagnant? Are you observing minimal growth? Have you implemented content marketing in your business? In 2018, digital content marketing is as necessary as your sales team is to your business. Making sales is the foundation of your business. I'm going to show you why digital content marketing is necessary for your business to 10x. We are going to talk about the average age of decision makers, the new customer buying behavior and what the future holds for marketers, all components of which are necessary to understand before you spend a dollar on online ads.
Millenials make 73% of the purchasing decisions in the B2B space. This statistic is significant given the fact that millennials spend one-third of their day on social media. It should not come as a surprise that Millennials and Gen Xers are glued to their smart devices and social media. What is surprising is that 70% of B2B marketers do not have a consistent strategy. (Source: Altimeter) And Millennials and Gen Xers both voted blog articles as their most favorite type of content,(Forbes). These facts make the efforts of most current B2B digital marketing misguided and laughable, especially seeing that content marketing offers three times the leads of traditional marketing while costing around 62% less. (Source: Content Marketing Institute). The average age has shifted and will continue to move towards more tech-savvy individuals who want to experience the same company behaviors they witness as a consumer.
What does this knowledge bombardment mean for you? It implies you have to shift your traditional marketing techniques to a more digitally focused sphere. Instead of marketing events, TV ads, PR Newswires, and radio, move your attention to where your target is. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, and more professionally LinkedIn. To prove my point that the emphasis is no longer on traditional styles: How do you react when a TV ad comes on? What happens when the radio station goes to a commercial? Are you engaged in reading that PR Wire? The simple answer is….. the Internet. When a television ad comes on you immediately reach for your phone. Radio, you buy Sirius XM or play Spotify. PR Wires, you go to company online reviews. Back to my point, the millennial decision-maker is not paying attention to your traditional styles! Change it before it is too late and you become irrelevant through their eyes. If millennials are saying blogs and social media content are their favorite forms of online content, do those and learn about the behaviors they present before curation, because, sorry to burst your bubble, that has changed too.
Millennials B2B Buying Behavior
Millennials always seem to be a talking point in today’s business world. The question remains “how do we deal with these damn millennials?” It may seem like this generation of the workforce has had a collective shift in mindset that we all have to abide by. Some characteristics of challenges faced by millennial buyers will be explained along with a solution B2B marketers can implement.
#1: The Availability of Information
The availability of content at an individual’s fingertips has never achieved to the extent it has reached today. The B2B buyer is more educated and informed about their options, meaning that research is being conducted before initial interactions. According to an Accenture study, 94% of B2B buyers conduct online research at some point in the buying process.
Resulting in prospects obtaining necessary information about the products and services of your firm before engaging with a sales representative. Candidates are now searching and finding information online, critical information such as feedback, pricing, detailed information, and your competition.
Digital marketing plays a role in guiding prospects down the sales funnel, to the step where sales reps needed to get involved in closing the complex sale.
Regarding standing out from mass information, a solution is to offer innovative insights. The modern buyer wants to see that you understand their pain points and the sphere of your product/service is the one they need to solve their issues. Your content should provide the perspective of the market to assist prospects in interpreting the market and why your methods are better than your competitors. Create content that adds value and influences the prospect to move to speak with a sales rep beyond your online sources.
Content that adds value will attract millennials. “Buyers are now as much as 57 percent of the way through the buying process before actually engaging with a seller”.
#2: Social Yet Anti-Social
In the Forrester, “Death of a (B2B) Salesman” report it makes the humbling discovery that “59% of buyers prefer to do research online instead of interacting with a sales rep because the rep pushes a sales agenda rather than helps solve a problem.”
Millennials are using the mass amount of data on the internet to help their buying decisions. The solution to this issue (It's only a problem if you do not produce regular content) is to add value to the customer consistently. Ultimately building trust, before the researcher (Prospect) even enters the saleroom.
The modern buyer does not want to hear a sales pitch. They want to learn something. They want solutions to real problems. The important fact that every modern salesperson should know is “B2B buyers are 5x more likely to engage with a sales professional who provides new insights into their business or industry” (LinkedIn). The reason buyers are more likely to engage in businesses that produce content online is that they are building trust, and people are more willing to do business with people or companies they trust over ones they are unfamiliar with.
#3: Socially-Influenced Customers
This point aligns with long-term goals that I brought up in a previous article: becoming a “thought leader”. People look to other people and their experiences to gain insight on if they are making the correct decision. LinkedIn found that 3 out of 4 B2B buyers rely on social media to engage with peers about buying decisions, and Influitive.com data asserts that word-of-mouth recommendations from peers influence over 90% of all B2B buying decisions.
People are socially influenced by others. What you can do in this situation to increase your amount of buyers is: help prospects make informed decisions through content, have an online community that trust you and use organic face to face relationships to build respect amongst your industry.
#4: A New Decision-Making Process
Sales reps deal with an increasing number of stakeholders within the decision-making process. There is more emphasis being placed on assisting the group of stakeholders to reach a valid decision. There are roughly 7 - 20 people with all different backgrounds, titles, and mindsets that are contributing to making decisions for their respected companies, therefore, decreasing the likelihood of a purchase.
How do we, as digital content marketers, rebel against this? We have to understand the buyer and their pain points and personalize content towards them through hyper-targeting. With a complete buyer profile/persona you will become more aware of what content to present and how.
B2B buyers are more informed and have higher standards than ever before because of the immense amount of data/information that is available. Traditional sales strategies will continue to be ineffective. To see continued success in today’s world of the modern buyer, sales reps must understand the buyer's persona, add consistent value, and engage with buyers early on in the purchasing process by presenting them with relevant content.
In brief, you must use technology to your benefit to perfect practices and processes, understand the needs of your buyers, present them with solutions and convert them into a customer, while retaining and educating your current ones.
What Does the Future Hold?
Once you are running digital content marketing within your business, the question is “how do we scale this content?” To answer this question companies need to do some intuitive thinking of what their long-term goals are and where is the market leaning? Tough questions but through industry insight and advanced research, I can give you some particular points of where the market is taking us in the next 10 to 15 years and how to market on them.
First, this is 2018, and I always hear experienced business people say “Video is huge now.” Yea no way, it has always been big, what do you think Cable TV was in the 50’s? Yea the most significant advertising network in the developed world. To understand the future of marketing, you have first to understand the past: the video has been prominent since its introduction in the mid-1900's, along with voice on the radio and blog articles in the newspaper.
The way we consume content has not changed only the platforms in which we consume. It is safe to say that we will always consumer content the same way just the platforms will continue to evolve. We will consistently consume, visually and through audio. Voice is the channel that has grown the most in 2018. Two - Three years ago barely anyone was listening to podcasts, in 2018 it is one of the most effective ways of consuming content. With Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Dot, and growth of Voice AI devices, voice is going to become even more relevant, and we as marketers will have to decide on how to market on these platforms. When a customer is searching via voice in the next five to ten years, Alexia will favor Amazon products/services, while Google will support the sites that have the most optimized website. Facebook will be astronomically more expensive, as larger companies realize that is where the attention is they are going to drive up the cost of advertisements per thousand, turning themselves more into a media company than a social media.
Regarding visual content on the five to ten-year scale. Video quality is going to continue to improve with more personalizations of visual content, other than that when AR and VR achieve critical mass, we are going to be consuming an extensive amount of material with devices that engage us. Therefore marketers will have to advertise in a more engaging/interactive manner than the present to win the game of scale.
Solution orientated businesses who predict oppose to will be ahead of the game when these new technologies achieve critical mass. Asking the questions, “how do we personalize our information, how do we have customers interact with our information in AR/VR, and how do we get favored by AI voice platforms?” The answer is… start thinking NOW.
It is an obsolete question to ask if digital marketing is necessary for B2B because of the data presented. It is 100% essential for the survival of your company. The average age of decision-makers has decreased and 73% of them are millennials. The process of buying has changed everything because of the Internet and the immense amount of data available, and the future holds an even more interactive/engaging outlook of advertising than the present. Traditional methods are not going to be able to keep up with the digital influx. Digital offers a cheaper, more effective way to market, but the time is now while Facebook ads are going for 7 USD per thousand impressions as opposed to 80 USD per thousand 5-10 years from now.
Every company must become a media company in 2018. This means that no matter what industry, geography, or culture you are operating in, a major transformation in how you address marketing and engaging media is necessary.
Contact our experts to get started on your content marketing journey.