Lately, we’ve been hearing from a lot of B2B companies reporting a slump in lead generation and sales figures. They’re finding that, while in the past their reputation was enough to secure new business, the modern marketing landscape has changed.
Traditionally, B2B companies have used conventional promotion techniques to secure a steady stream of leads. These may have included
- Relying on reputation: using word of mouth.
- Outbound sales: cold calling.
- Print advertising: flyers, posters, press/media, billboards.
- Sponsorship: local teams or buildings.
- Other offline marketing
However, in many cases this is no longer enough to attract a steady stream of new business. Digital marketing has provided a new platform for emerging companies to communicate their services and attract new business in a far more effective way than those reliant solely on traditional marketing techniques.
This has been supported by Buyersphere’s latest B2B report, which illustrates the most influential processes in B2B purchasing decisions. 73% of respondents stated that they used supplier websites before purchasing, with web searches and supplier emails also increasing in importance – a strong indication that digital marketing will continue to be a hugely influential force.
Many B2B companies have taken a few tentative steps into digital marketing through a website, social media or sporadic email marketing. This is where the problem lies; without a strategy, some companies are missing out on attention from potential customers. When they are able to attract customers they often fail to communicate their value effectively. No matter how great the services your company provide or the expertise your team offers, without effective communication this won’t come across to your audience.
The first step towards a solution is recognizing the fact that your company may no longer be able to survive on only reputation and word of mouth. The second is to consider the process of how online marketing works.
Businesses often focus only on the first stage of the process; setting up a basic website or social media presence. Without thinking about how to generate traffic, these assets will only be seen by a few people – those who are already familiar with your business and website, or those who have received printer material, for example.
An effective digital marketing plan should involve the following steps:
Design and Development: building a website that best communicates your value proposition
Conversion: convincing customers to take an action. E.g. Make a purchase, make a call or enter their contact details.
Retention: engaging customers in a dialogue in order to keep them informed or engaged. This could include email marketing or social media.
Measurement & Analysis: recording statistics about how your marketing has performed, informing the marketing decisions you make in the future.
So, you know you need to think carefully about digital marketing and how it can impact your business. You know you need to conduct your marketing in a planned, strategic way. But how do you actually do it?
I’m afraid we’re going to leave that one on a cliffhanger – we’ll be covering it in the next installment of this series. The post will include some actionable steps as well as hints and tips on how to make the most of your company’s marketing strategy.