Digital marketing opens up a wealth of opportunity for any small-to-medium B2B business. But it can also act as a resource sink, consuming time and money without necessarily delivering the expected returns. This is especially true in the B2B arena, where long buying cycles can mean a campaign has swallowed significant costs before its success can be determined.
To get the most out of digital’s potential, it’s essential to follow a focused strategy. At our San Jose digital marketing agency we’ve developed a proven blueprint for creating effective online strategies in any B2B niche, and here are the main areas we cover during our research.
Knowing Your Ideal Customer
Digital marketing makes it easy to get your brand in front of a vast audience. Taking the important additional step of defining your ideal customer enables you to optimize both the message and where it’s delivered.
- What size company are your best prospects likely to be working in?
- Will you be dealing with an owner, a manager, or a buyer answering to superiors?
- What goals can you help your customers meet, and how will that help their job or business?
The better you can tailor your campaign to your ideal real-world customers, the more successful it’ll be.
What Sets You Apart?
Why should a customer choose you rather than a competitor? Don’t assume that your business’s unique qualities will shine through: your campaign should make it very clear why your offering is more valuable, and it should be from the customer’s perspective, not your own.
You should also look at what marketing strategies your competitors are using. A digital marketing agency will typically use analysis tools to collect information about who your competitors are and what they doing to promote their business online. This information will help you understand the level of competition you are up against, and can be used to shape your strategy.
How to Measure Progress
What do you want your campaign to achieve, in precise business terms?
Nailing down the goals you want to meet will give you a solid barometer to check results against. For example, if you want to generate more sales, set a precise target of a 10% uptick within the next six months. Or, aim to increase your email database by 50% by the end of the campaign.
Whatever your ultimate objective, setting it down in a measurable way helps you keep the campaign on track.
Review Your Existing Strategy
Unless you’re starting your first digital campaign, you’ll already have a base to build on. Which marketing elements are working well, which less so? Which areas show promise and could use a little more investment? Even brand-new campaigns in uncharted areas can benefit hugely from a review of recent business data.
Develop an Outline
Once you’ve completed the steps listed above, it’s helpful to outline your campaign in broad terms. The details can come later, but writing the channels and platforms you’ll be targeting, the timescales involved, and the general approaches you’ll take will help keep everyone involved working toward a common goal.
Consider What to Outsource
Few SMBs have the resources to run every aspect of digital marketing in-house. While you’ll likely want to keep some key team members as employees to provide oversight of marketing work, outsourcing aspects of the campaign lets you draw on external expertise while freeing your in-house team up to focus on overall results.
Decide which parts of the campaign you need to keep full control of, and which are better passed outside.
Assign Team Roles
Once you’ve decided on the balance between in-house and outsourcing, assign specific roles to individual team members or agencies. For example:
- Who will be responsible for social media monitoring so that you can react quickly to engagement?
- Who will oversee content creation, handle quality control, and assess results?
For a smooth campaign, everyone needs to know not only what their own responsibilities are, but also who to cooperate with on areas outside their own primary responsibilities.
Research and Select Tools
How will you actually conduct and measure the effectiveness of the campaign? Choosing the right tools can make things much easier, while choosing the wrong ones can create unnecessary obstacles that hinder progress. Do some research to help you determine which tools will work best for you before committing yourself to building a campaign around them.
- Which underlying tech will you use to monitor landing page conversion rates?
- Which software would make scheduled social media activity flow smoothest?
- Which tools can simplify collaboration and team management?
Setup a Marketing Funnel
Digital campaigns are excellent for delivering traffic, but without a methodical way to convert interest into customers they’ll never achieve full success. Using a marketing funnel is a proven way to reel in prospects, and it’s vital to have it in place before beginning a campaign.
A simple marketing funnel could provide free content to attract interest, then offer an email signup with a genuine benefit. Once the lead is captured, you need to follow up to keep the momentum going. It all starts with recording the lead into your CRM system.
Some ways you could do this:
- Pass the lead information on to your email marketing team so that they can take over and work on conversion.
- Send a follow up email to welcome them and offer to give them a call to answer any questions you can help them with.
The optimum funnel is different for every business, and designing a path that is appropriate for your particular prospects to follow is key.
Create a Content Calendar
Content is a fundamental part of most digital campaigns, and it’s important to maintain a consistent output. A campaign that loses momentum when ideas dry up can be extremely difficult to put back on track.
Avoid this by drawing up a content calendar spanning either a few months in advance, or ideally the whole length of the campaign. Create a list of content topics and formats, and lay down a schedule for when each piece should be commissioned, delivered, and published.
There’s no need to go into microscopic detail for each entry, but having a solid timetable to work to will ensure the campaign doesn’t stall, just as it’s starting to gain traction.
Focus on Delivering Quality Content That is Important to Your Audience
Publishing on a regular schedule isn’t enough to make content marketing a success. Each piece you develop and publish needs to meet a prospective customer’s specific need, inform them, or engage in some other way. This is particularly important in B2B content marketing where the emphasis is on developing long-term relationships and building reputation rather than shooting for sheer eyeball numbers.
Drill down into the areas your customers are interested in, and ensure that every piece of content hits the target in some way, providing genuine value for those who consume it.
Just as importantly, make sure the release of every piece is optimally timed for maximum impact. B2B content published on Facebook at the weekend will likely have less impact than the same piece broadcast to a targeted email list during business hours.
Don’t Overlook SEO
Content delivered immediately over email or social media can be very effective, but the same material can also play a role in building long-term value. Make sure you have a strategy for placing every piece of content on your website in a format that’s search-engine friendly. Add a little SEO promotion to that, and your content can then keep working for months and years to come.
Constantly Review and Tweak
Lastly, one of the great advantages of digital marketing is the agility it provides. Keep a close eye on your analytics to see what’s working and what’s not, and tweak your campaign as it goes along to make the most of its strengths and de-emphasize weak areas. This should be a constant, ongoing process to ensure the resources spent on a campaign produce the returns they should.
There’s plenty to think about before pressing the start button on a campaign, and overlooking even a small point can have a huge impact on results. Let our experienced San Jose digital marketing team at WSI Smart Web Marketing help you put everything together for you for your next campaign, and unlock the full potential of B2B online marketing.
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