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The State of B2B Marketing: Here’s How To Cut Through All the Noise

In order to cut through the clutter and truly deliver intelligent, insightful and creative content it is imperative that B2B marketers need to work harder than ever in the increasingly competitive market.

From selling to a smaller audience base to targeting the message effectively such that it comes across as valuable to a sophisticated audience, there is much work to be done. One of the best performing tools in this marketing niche remains content. The question, however, is how well marketers are leveraging their content for B2B marketing success.

We have already discussed the various methods to measure ROI from a content marketing campaign.

Going back to the drawing board, one thing stood out to us:

There will be no ROI to measure if a solid content marketing plan is not on hand in the first place.

The Audience Mistake Everyone is Making

Every marketing book and resource that you come across will place a focus on the target audience. No, we are not about to tell you how that is one piece of advice you should do away with. We are, instead, focused on the fact that many marketers still do not get their audience right.

In marketing, the audience is the first thing. Even before the product, you should know who the product is for – and who the marketing will be targeted to.

The mistake that most marketers make is lumping up who the marketing is for, and who gets to use the product. Sometimes, they are the same, but that is not always the case.

A suitable example is that of the toy market.

Manufacturers know that they are making these toys for kids and children. They are also well aware that these children are not going to be the ones to buy these toys themselves. Thus, they make sure an element of their marketing focuses on the parents of these kids. That way, they have embraced both kinds of audiences that they have.

This should be the goal of any B2B content marketing campaign too.

Within any industry, there are a lot of players that are directly or indirectly impacting the buying process. The IT department might be the ones that will use your product, but they might not be the ones to buy it. The CTO will have to vet such software, the CFO needs to sign off on it and the CEO should also be okay with the decision.

Thus, while crafting content for the IT department, make sure to address the pain points of the other audience bases also. Otherwise, you will simply be leaving too much money on the table.

Why Retention is Key

Marketing usually follows the same trendlines, but there are major differences that set B2C and B2B marketing apart from one another. One of those differences is in retention.

A brand stands to gain 60% of all its revenue/ business from its existing clients. This makes those existing clients a very valuable part of the brand that should not be let off. This emphasizes the focus that should be placed on keeping the customers that you have on hand rather than always seeking out new ones.

In fact, aggressively looking for new buyers without properly catering to the ones on hand will backfire.

A Pete Blackshaw book is famous for showing that a satisfied consumer tells 3 people about your product. That sounds nice, but an unsatisfied customer tells 3,000 people about your poor product/ service. This shows that you will be bleeding potential consumers when you do not take care of those you have, and at a much faster pace too.

Another reason to embrace retention is how effective it makes your content marketing.

An important metric that we track at iResearch is the average cost of acquiring a consumer, or the CAC. The CAC of any content marketing campaign we launch has to be lower than the realized amount from that campaign. Otherwise, something is wrong somewhere and we have to step up next time.

Mathematically, this is how that plays out for us:

If we spend $450 on all of our content channels (text, blog, video, graphics, guest posting, outreach, etc.) to acquire a client, we hope to make back $450 to breakeven at all. Depending on the product/ service they purchase from us, retaining them over a longer timeframe means we stand to breakeven and even gain more value from the client in the long run.

Otherwise, they could end up spending lesser with us. In that case, our investment into the consumer returned a negative yield.

Do You Understand Your Funnel?

This is not a jab at anybody.

We will ask again, though: how well do you understand your sales and marketing funnels?

Every marketer knows that the basic funnel has five stages:

  • Awareness – showing the client what you’ve got
  • Consideration – congratulations. Your product just caught the client’s eyes
  • Comparison – the client is willing to commit, but they want to know they are getting the best value for money
  • Conversion – the stage at which the client commits
  • Retention – getting the client to stick with your product

Besides the retention stage, all of these are true for both B2B and B2C marketers. The latter also works in retention, but not with the same focus as B2B marketers should.

Here, we draw another parallel between both marketing styles.

B2C marketers have the room to create a piece of content that can work for more than one part of the funnel at the same time. So, for example, that one piece of content could cover all of the consideration, conversion, and comparison all at once. Some pieces of content are more focused, but others are just general this way.

Truth be told, this can be an effective way to cut content production costs while not necessarily sacrificing quality.

In our B2B world, focus is everything. With that focus comes an in-depth approach to the subject matter at hand. With that in-depth approach, also, comes all the information that your audience needs at the different stages of the funnel.

To avoid funnel creep, make sure none of your content targets more than two (2) aspects of the funnel at once.

This is not a license to lump things up, either. When it occurs naturally, though, you should go for it.

Information is Key, But…

We will all like to know as much as we possibly can about our clients. It is even better off we can get them to divulge such information to us without having to mine from data trends.

With that information comes true power. It becomes easier to segment all of your clients and offer them the best products/ services accordingly. This is the kind of model that companies like Google and Facebook have used to create great advertising success – and will continue to use also.

But there is a snag.

If I have to go through a lot of hoops just to access your contempt, best believe that I am not coming back there.

There are B2B forms that ask for too many things at once. They require readers to fill an extensive form before they geta access to some content, downloadable product, etc. This is where all of your customer experience goes out of the window.

Not to be the bearer of bad news, but poor customer experience is the slow poison that is killing many businesses today.

When putting your content out, try to ask for as little information as possible. Just the basics that you need to advance the conversation.

This could be email only. For more effective communication, ask for a first name and email – so you can personalize messages to this client later. In the long run, you will have the chance to ask about how many employees they have in their company, what their role is, and all that.

Only marketers who do not have confidence in their products and funnels make the aggressive move to know everything at once. Otherwise, just trust the process to play out.

Less (Tweaking) is More

No one plans to fail. Conversely, a solid part of any good strategy is the failure – large or small – that comes in.

We dedicated a whole page to this when discussing how savvy CMOs fail fast and learn from it to better their roles and output later. The problem comes when a perfectionist mindset is taken to B2B content marketing.

Every strategy has strong and weak points. Sticking to that strategy exposes these strengths and weaknesses over time. When the weaknesses are being shown out, it takes a forward-thinking mind and clear head to stay the course.

Let’s create a scenario to explain this better:

You start with a B2B content marketing strategy that has been, no doubt, well thought out by the brightest minds on your team. The campaign starts picking up and some KPIs are being hit. At some point, it seems like some things are not working as well, or not working at all.

At this stage, there are one of two things to be done:

  • Tweak the strategy to accommodate the failing part
  • Learn why that part fails, document it, and prepare to incorporate your notes in future campaigns.

On paper, both look good. In reality, only one should ever be considered.

When you make too many changes at once, you run the risk of ruining the parts that are already working. A good strategy relies on every cog in the wheel to make the right movements. Changing too many cogs at once affects the other cogs too.

On another hand, what you are left with after a series of changes does not pass as a strategy anymore. You have successfully changed what you started with so much that it’s a skeleton of its former self. That makes it even harder to learn from what you did to plan for a better campaign later.

B2B Can Be Fun Too

That we are marketing to other businesses does not mean putting up a robotic front all the time.

Be flexible and accommodating too. Show the human side of the brand. Let your clients in so that they see the company they are trusting with their processes. Transparency is key to the B2C audience – and it is even more so for your B2B consumers.

Get that down to a T. Follow the above recommendations and avoid the stated mistakes. You won’t be needing a megaphone to reach your audience anymore. Even with a whisper, your voice will come cutting through all of that noise.

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