Reputation has always been the primary driver of growth for companies that sell services to other businesses. Since the dynamics of business relationships have shifted to the digital realm, traditional referrals are slowly trending away from being a reliable lead generation source. However, the core tenants of Modern B2B marketing operates on traditional principles of conveying value upfront and leveraging a positive reputation to secure new business relationships.
Rather than asking colleagues or associates for referrals, modern businesses often conduct their own research by asking search engines or social media. An effective digital advertising program will connect with the individuals who are searching for the services that your business provides and helps them engage them with your brand.
Since B2B companies typically provide high-ticket services with term commitments, there is a greater risk for these prospects to sign on. While this often means a longer sales cycle, an effective marketing funnel can streamline a significant portion of the hands-on work needed to direct those prospects into a closed sale.
Continue reading to learn how you can use digital advertising to target narrow segments of your target audience and engage them in a marketing funnel that leverages landing pages, ebooks, email marketing, social media, blog articles, and well-crafted calls to action to streamline the sales process and secure lasting relationships.
The businesses B2B companies serve are just as busy as the businesses selling to them, which means all marketing efforts need to be streamlined and cohesive to work effectively. A long sales cycle does not mean complicated, as complications can deter prospects. Instead, B2B businesses need to sell their services in a simple and easy-to-understand way to keep their prospects’ attention.
To begin, focus on your audience and the solutions you created for them (your services). What do they need? Why do they need it? Once you know why and who, you can convey the how to them. It’s important to convey your services to your prospects in a way that recognizes their pain points and responds to them through your services. At its very core, the foundation of your marketing program is to distill the benefits of your services to your prospects, not to showcase features.
The reputability of your team providing the services is equally critical to build your marketing foundation. If your prospect understands your services and that those services meet their needs, but don’t think your team is up to snuff, they’ll seek out a competitor.
To prove that your team is qualified to perform these services for your prospects without boasting, you need to show them some wins. Humanize your brand by showing them your customers’ success stories and by showing them the team behind the brand name. The key here is to demonstrate the benefits of your services through the lens of your customers’ stories. By focusing on your customers’ stories rather than your own, you lay a foundation of trust with your prospects.
For B2B, you’ll typically be focused on lead generation and brand awareness when developing your advertising strategy to target your audience. For brand awareness, you’ll want to leverage social platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You will want to utilize Google’s keyword planner to identify a list of keywords with high-intent for the business. On a monthly basis, you will update the negative keyword list to shape the traffic efficiently to increase lead generation, which will eventually lead to conversions. You will continuously optimize campaigns to improve ROI, landing page performance, cost, and audience targeting. Ultimately, you want to be tracking conversions. The two key metrics you’ll want your attention focused on are quality score and ad rank.
Before creating the advertising strategy, you need to spend time understanding the business, including learning its language and messaging, as these pieces are going to be key for discovering and identifying the high-intent keywords (see messaging in Marketing Foundation). The two key metrics for high-intent keywords are high monthly volume and low to mediocre keyword difficulty. Don’t be afraid of choosing high difficulty keywords because typically those keywords are worth going for if it’s going to be generating conversions due to being highly relevant to the business. Investigate keywords that your competitors are targeting since you’ll be implementing remarketing campaigns and display campaigns.
As campaigns progress, don’t be afraid to experiment because every business is unique and requires a slightly different tactic to achieve success. Most importantly, you’ll want to identify website performance optimizations as well because, ultimately, your conversions likely happen on your website, which requires optimal website performance.
The typical B2B Services sales cycle is longer than the sales cycle for most business types, which means your lead nurturing strategy needs to be geared toward this longer sales cycle. Because of this, it’s important to focus on nurturing relationships with your prospects and current customers, conveying the value of your services, and easing prospects into the sale through your communications efforts. This strategy will help your team integrate all communications and other lead nurturing efforts across departments and teams.
To create a lead nurturing strategy that focuses on these pieces, you must first revisit the customer journey. Consider your audience targeting efforts (primarily advertising efforts) and continue the messages (which were developed based on your messaging guidelines and positioning in Marketing Foundation) throughout all communications with prospects and customers. Determine what customers need to know and when they need to know it. Then consider the best formats for that information, which is based on where they go to consume information (i.e. which social media platforms, which news platforms, etc.). This is the basis of your lead nurturing strategy.
Remember: Your communications with your prospects and customers are usually not salesy in nature. Instead, they are informative and beneficial for where they are in the customer journey. This information will help them choose your services or use your services, depending on where they are in the customer journey.
When you know what type of information your audience needs, what the best formats are to share them in (e.g. blog articles, videos, ebooks, etc.), you can start developing an overall strategy for content creation and distribution that will benefit your audience in the customer journey. This strategy should also include the frequency of content development and distribution, and what platforms will be used for distribution.
Overall, the goal of the lead nurturing strategy is to develop a plan for communicating with your audience in such a way that automates some of your team’s tasks and answers your audience’s questions in a place where they can easily find the answers.
Once you have a lead nurturing strategy, you can develop a content calendar that fleshes out the details for when content is publishing, where, and how it’s being shared.
Be aware of your customers’ changing needs. If your analytics (e.g. blog views, Facebook likes, etc.) decrease greatly or your customers start asking your customer service team more questions, it’s time to reevaluate your lead nurturing strategy. The entire point of this strategy is to better serve your customers as a team.
If silos develop within your team, causing disconnected messages to your customers, revisit your strategy and update your messaging guidelines to ensure consistency on all platforms by all team members.
Note: Sometimes a decrease (or increase) in the analytics you’re monitoring is focused on one platform, so be sure to compare analytics on platforms individually as well as across the board before updating your strategy. This can connect to algorithm changes, for example.
For all of your communications efforts, remember that while you are working for and with businesses, you are first working for and with people. Individuals and groups of people are choosing to work with your business, so communicate with them in a personal, but professional, way, rather than in a corporate, stuffy manner.
For many of your communications, use marketing automation. This includes CRM, email marketing, ad campaigns, mobile marketing, and more. Automate processes to help your team effectively reach your audience more often and in a more personalized manner.
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