When you think about B2B digital marketing, what comes to mind? Images of flawed attempts to produce meaningful content and useless technology trials? Or a cohesive strategy with clear outcomes and a tactical plan to get ahead of the competition?
If you can relate more to the former and you wish it were the latter, this article is for you.
With all the information out there about developing a marketing strategy, it’s hard to know where to begin. So, we've compiled everything you need to know in four key areas covering 21 points.
Grow With A B2B Digital Marketing Strategy
1. Get Into The Right Mindset
As a leader, one of your (many) jobs is to unite your team and get them onboard with your vision; then bring that vision into being with a B2B digital marketing strategy. Getting one of your team to write a few 500-word blog posts on a Friday afternoon isn't a digital marketing strategy.
Make digital marketing a priority and commit to investing in a long-term plan. Add SMART goals and achievable metrics to your plan to get the organisation to commit.
2. Get The Right People
For a B2B digital marketing strategy to be successful, it needs the right people with the right skills and attitude. Conduct an internal skills audit to see where you have skills gaps and make an honest assessment of the workload.
Asking people to squeeze in a lot of additional work on top of an already hectic schedule doesn’t work. You'll make your workforce unhappy. Once you know what training you need or who you need to hire, then JFDI! (just flippin’ do it). You could consider outsourcing your work if you can't take on more staff.
3. Create An Appealing Culture
Leading B2B digital marketers know how to get a blend of skill and company fit. They align the organisation’s culture with their strategy, ensuring their employees have an agile mindset and can rapidly deploy new approaches.
From improving processes to reducing time to market, they aren’t afraid to make mistakes, quickly learn and move forward. A shift in mindset is required, allow teams to make mistakes. Agile working needs space to breathe. Give employees the time and the correct tools, and watch them solve the company’s trickiest problems.
Improve output with opportunities for advancement. This should always be tied to the company's goals and the employees personal objectives and performance-related pay schemes. Focus on innovation, collaboration and execution for the best results.
4. Get The Right Tech
If the last piece of software you bought ran on floppy discs, it’s time to invest; technology moves quickly, and updates can soon go out-of-date. Figure out what you would like to do and what you can afford, then invite some suppliers to give you a demo. Buy the best technology to support your strategy both now and in the future.
Grow With Your Customers
5. Utilise Customer Data
Leading B2B digital marketing strategies always have a customer at their core. Use data analytics to see insights and create offers, content and services that would suit different customers. Analyse your data and then act accordingly.
For example, if you're getting a lot of male construction workers visiting your website and viewing your content, you should target them! Look at your customer enquiries and check what the most asked questions are.
6. Develop A Buyer Persona
Bring your customer to life with a buyer persona. If you can make them as accurate as possible, your campaigns are more likely to be successful. Open the door for your sales team and give them an idea of who they'll be calling before they pick up the phone. Build relationships and secure more sales!
7. Provide A Seamless Service
How well-automated are your business processes? Customers don’t want to be passed around from one department to the next, wait weeks for quotes or log in to different systems to buy from you.
Imagine receiving an email from Amazon with a book recommendation. It sounds great, so you log on to buy it. You select the book only to be told you have to log in to another system to pay. And then you need to print out and fill in a form with your delivery address. Two weeks later your book hasn’t arrived so you phone up to find out why, it turns out that the form you were given is an old form they can’t accept. Would you accept that service?
The best B2B leaders have a 360-degree view of the customer experience, so employees are empowered to execute their tasks with the customer in mind.
8. Know A Business's Buying Process And Who Influences It
When businesses buy, there are often several levels of approval before purchase. If your content can provide information to everyone in the approval process, you've got more chance of making everyone happy.
For example, you should work with your sales team to see if any additional information is needed, the marketing team create the content and make it available for the sales team to access. Where possible it can be included it in the marketing material, such as a blog.
Grow With Content
9. Create A Content Strategy
The role of captivating online content is to attract and engage existing and prospective customers and push them towards an action on your website. To get the best results, you need a content strategy within your B2B digital marketing strategy.
A content strategy is a plan you will execute with regards to content creation. It could include publish dates, keywords, repurposing ideas, article goals and articles to link to.
10. Know How To Send The Right Messages
If you have systems that capture quality customer data, you have an insight into your target audience. You know what they want from content and how to engage with them. You also understand the motivations of the different people involved in the buying process. Use this to inform how you write your content to give yourself a better chance of capturing their interest.
11. Become An Authority Using Paid, Earned, Shared & Owned (PESO) Media
A good content strategy could fall in any of these areas. Some companies like to stick to one method, but you'll often find them dipping into other areas. For example, the inbound method would start with owned media like blogs created by topic experts. But you'd also use social media and paid advertising to generate more business.
On the other hand, B2B influencers are likely to be thought leaders in their chosen field, so if you can get an interview with an expert, your reputation can only get better! Generate credibility by creating a marketing strategy that includes paid, earned, shared and owned media.
12. Recruit A Content Writer
You're considering making a content strategy, but who's going to write it? If you have nobody to execute your plans, you may as well not have any. A content writer gets all your thoughts into the open and is the first hire you should consider. After that, you can think about video, design and other digital marketing disciplines.
Hiring in this discipline will give the content strategy focus, accountability and drive. While it may seem like a good idea – asking a member of your team who isn't a specialist is unlikely to deliver quality content (we've seen it countless times before, in 2002 Gary got a B in his English Lit GCSE so he must be a top-class writer! No Gary, you aren't).
13. Write Regularly
How often is regular? The jury’s still out on this one. It's really up to you to decide what your team produces, but consider current workload, skill-level and how much you have to write about. We would suggest at least one 2000-word article per week, but if you can produce more, great!
Remember, if your competitors are getting in front of more people more often you could end up playing catch up. However, if your content is quality, you shouldn't have too many problems getting people to read it. It’s better to have four useful, high-quality pieces of content in front of your customer than thirty poor pieces.
14. Choose The Right Medium For The Content
It’s no secret that video killed the radio star, but is it about to kill off the written word too? Well, no! There are still plenty of radio stars, and there are still plenty of writers! Video is the fastest growing content form, so you need to include it in your strategy.
That’s not to say that you should replace all your content with video – there’s a time and a place. Some content works better as a video, some works better in writing, others work better in pictures. Choose those topics that work well when presented visually and combine them with the right words to get the best results. They can live together.
15. Deliver Quality Content Every Time
Whatever format your content takes, it needs to be high quality and useful to your customers. Use customer interactions to provide solutions to problems. This feedback can come from social media, sales or customer services teams (Read one of our earlier blog posts about how to link your marketing team to your sales team.)
And don’t forget the basics – get ahead of the competition by including relevant keywords, ALT tags, headings, white space, web links and a call-to-action on your blog.
16. Promote Your Content
We all know that putting a blog post on your website and sitting back waiting for the sales to roll in is a massive waste of time. And now the big two content distribution stalwarts, email and website contenthave become three, including social media. So, if you aren’t using the right social media channels to promote your content, you need to start doing it now.
Try thinking of your content as a new Broadway actor. They need a big break to make it big. Get your content up on stage on paid or social media and turn it into a star. The public reads your content and goes and buys your product or service. Simple. Keep repeating the process and give your content the stage-time it deserves!
17. Keep People Engaged With A Consistent Writing Style
Why do we often go and see films with the same actors in them? Because we like their style, we get to know them and, eventually, we trust that we’ll get a good performance, so we keep going back. Just as you don’t always go and see a new actor’s film straight away, your customers are unlikely to see one piece of content and buy immediately.
That’s why it’s important to be patient and develop long-term relationships by being human, friendly and always giving a performance that’s consistent. If a customer looks at one piece of content and it's written in an upbeat, high-tempo style; then they read another and it's slow and drab, you're sending out mixed messages. It's better to send out the same message 1,000 times than send out 1,000 different messages.
18. Your Customers Are Your Main Influencers
Talking of film stars, how're you supposed to get a celebrity to promote your brand? Forget ‘celebs’ and look for customers who will advocate your company. More senior customers such as CEOs work well, as do people who lacked credibility in your speciality that are now well-known.
Communicating your talents through the kind words of a satisfied client is more useful than any celebrity. However you choose to work with your influencers, develop a mutually beneficial arrangement where they get to make their company look good too. This way you strengthen your relationship, and everyone’s happy.
19. Content Management
When you're creating a lot of content you need somewhere to store it. That's where a CMS (content management system) comes in. The CMS acts as the hub for all your blog posts.
There are various types of software you can try, WordPress and HubSpot are popular choices, or for those who want more control with coding, Joomla is an option.
Without somewhere to host your content, there is no content! CMS have different functions as well, WordPress allows you to add plugins like Yoast and HubSpot has an SEO scorecard you can use to check the content meets requirements.
Grow With Reporting & Analytics
20. Monitor Data
Use the data you have available and the combined knowledge and expertise of your team to tell you what is happening on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis. Then react and adapt.
The more experienced you become when analysing data, the better you get. You'll start to notice trends and patterns emerging, and if one of your metrics is up or down, you'll be able to attribute a reason to it. Data analysis is crucial as it attributes what's going right and wrong in your campaigns.
21. Measure Success
While measuring data is vital, you also need to determine what constitutes success. Keep an eye on the performance of your team against your goals and ensure your systems, organisation structure and content strategy remain fit for purpose; and that you're set up for success. Knowing your goals will help you determine your ROI and identify any areas where your strategy could be improved.
How To Get Started
It can feel overwhelming when you first sit down to plan your growth strategy. You could try a few of these techniques for a quick win, but without the adopting all of these methods, you'll struggle.
That might mean hiring one new team member, getting the most from existing members of staff or outsourcing work to an agency.
If there’s one key takeaway from all this, it’s that proper planning prevents poor performance. Take some time out away from the office to develop your strategy and plan regular time in your diary to monitor progress and make adjustments as required.
Get this right and not only will your B2B digital marketing strategy deliver five times more growth, it will leave your competitors standing.
Editor's note: This post has been revamped and updated for 2018. At Red-Fern, we love keeping our content fresh, it ensures our articles are up-to-date, relevant and accurate!