B2B Tips And Trends For Digital Neophytes
By Derek Klimkowsi, VP Sales, Eyeota
For many marketers, the last year has meant a jump with both feet into digital transformation. B2B marketing professionals who have historically relied upon trade shows and events to drive leads have had to seek out other channels to attract new business prospects. While many leaned more heavily into social and email, others tried out new channels, buoying digital ad spend beyond industry expectations.
With nearly every live trade show and event canceled, B2B marketers in 2020 – and probably for the next few years – found they had extra money to work within their budgets. That conveniently dovetails with the huge spike in digital consumption as everyone works (and plays, and shops) from home. The opportunities to reach business decision-makers online has never been greater.
So, digital transformation for many organizations was only natural. Without the in-person events that have always worked so well for B2B businesses, new opportunities in digital begged for exploration.
Where to start?
For many marketers, digital is largely new territory – and at first blush, it seems designed for consumers more than businesses. Where big brands go for big display ads and carousels on Facebook, B2Bs may instead gravitate toward long-tail search terms on Google and sponsored content on LinkedIn. But are those the only options?
Well, that depends on your customers. The first place B2B marketers need to look for direction in digital is their own customer database. By understanding who their customers are, what they want, and how to discover and interpret intent signals in their market, marketers can effectively build their own digital roadmap.
For marketers that never took a hard look at their CRM or website analytics, just getting started can seem daunting, but it’s really time to start digging in. It’s important to gather the data from throughout your organization and figure out what you have. Beyond the CRM, gain an understanding of who has been opening your emails and what they’ve been clicking on. Look at customer service emails and transcripts. If you sell products, understand what’s selling, who’s buying and how long it’s taking them to get to those purchase decisions. Organizations have so much disparate data, but in this time of digital transformation, it’s more important than ever to pull it all together to answer these critical questions: Who are your customers? How many times did they interact with your ads, your content, your sales team, before they converted? What do the customers for each of your products have in common, and what did their path to purchase look like?
Any business has to be able to answer these questions as they take their first serious steps in digital. More experienced or sophisticated marketers will know their customer persona – but those who have relied on lunch-and-learns and event sponsorships have to start catching up.
With an understanding of what your organization’s assets are, the next step is to put that first-party data into action, so the marketing organization can be more efficient and make faster, better-informed decisions. For many marketers, an expedient route to expanding their digital presence is to match their own data with third-party data to find more audiences like their customers online, wherever they are. It’s an incredibly effective tactic, but one that needs to be approached with caution. Even several years in, the data space is fraught with bad actors. Make sure any data you’re using is coming from permission-based, verified, safe sources; complies with all privacy laws in the US and abroad; and is fresh and accurate. Work with a partner who stands by their data quality – preferably one whose data is third-party verified.
That data will help you reach and engage new audiences online via programmatic advertising. With programmatic, because you’re targeting either a specific audience or their intent signals, all the guesswork around “where do I advertise?” is removed. Work with an agency or other trusted partners to get things up and running, and you’re likely to see results quickly.
Follow the Trends?
There’s always a temptation to follow the shiny objects in digital marketing, and for some brands, that’s the right thing to do. But if you’re just starting out in digital, reserve the lion’s share of your budget for the tried-and-true, namely search and targeted display. These channels will help grow your list of prospects even without the opportunities to shake hands and exchange business cards in person.
If you want to try TikTok, Clubhouse, or some of the more business-minded streaming opportunities, reserve an “experimental” budget. Once upon a time, social media was for test budgets only; now it’s essential for almost every business.
At the end of the day, it all comes back to your data. When you evaluate the first-party data within the four walls of your office building, you’ll learn everything you need to know about who your customers are, what they do online, and most importantly, how they buy. Once you collect and analyze that, you’ll be able to build your roadmap to digital.
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