Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on March 23, 2017. We’ve updated it for accuracy, but also added new ideas and suggestions tailored to a post-COVID business landscape.
Digital marketing tactics are crucial to sustainable success, but picking the right focus for your b2b business can be tricky. A new digital trend seems to spring up every few months, and it’s tempting to just adopt them all to keep pace with your colleagues and competitors (Remember clubhouse?). But this leads to misunderstanding the value of the tactics themselves, and forces companies to retrofit tools and platforms to suit their real needs.
This gets expensive and frustrating. It may even cause business leaders to become apprehensive of rolling out right-fit, relevant digital marketing strategies that will truly help their companies. The core of the problem is that diagnosing your own company’s digital marketing pain points and finding the perfect digital solutions to address them is challenging. As a leader within the company, you might be too close to the problem to get the right perspective.
EdTech Company Solves for the Right Marketing Problem
For instance, an education technology company reached out to us for help with SEO, but we found that they had a contact database filled with their total addressable market. What they really needed was a more unified messaging and communication strategy that would convert those visiting their site and that continue on through their sales process. So we worked with them on the user experience of their site by starting with a playbook. We took a look at their industry conference presence, and email communications for both acquisition and lead nurture. Now their digital efforts are aligned with how they do business, and they’ve only had to invest in marketing tactics that move them forward.
In order for digital marketing to work, it must have meaning. Every tool you adopt and tactic you deploy must resonate with your values, or it will have the opposite of its intended effect; instead of drawing customers in, it will drive them away.
Every organization needs and deserves a top-notch digital marketing plan. We’ve compiled this guide to help you hone in on your needs and opportunities, and start investigating which digital strategies are right for your business model and niche.
Start by answering the right business questions
To start this journey, you’ll need to be brutally honest with yourself. When you look at tactics you’ve used in the past, were you just hopping on a trend or checking off a box? Did you research whether they suited your business model, products, or services? Or were you using them just because everyone else was using them?
There are no one-size-fits-all digital marketing tools, and even the ones that are almost universally helpful need to be deployed in specific ways to fit of your company’s needs. Yes, you probably need to do some email marketing, but you might not need to do it in the exact same way as your competitors.
Before diving into tools and tactics, start by diagnosing your company’s primary marketing and operations-related pain points. Use these questions as a guide:
- Which parts of our digital marketing processes are slow or broken?
- Which revenue streams or programs have the lowest ROI?
- How can we provide a digital counterpart for services we already offer?
- Is there something we just never get to because everyone is too busy? Would automation allow us to shift resources so everyone would have more wiggle room for creativity?
- Could the flexibility of communicating virtually positively affect our culture? Your client relationships?
- Who is your real audience? Those on your email list and engaging with your social channels? Are they current customers? Employees? Investors? Prospects? Or random people outside of your ideal customer profile.
- Which ideal audience are we really trying to and struggling to reach?
Semiconductor Company Connects With Their Real Audience
That last question is one we addressed by way of a strategic playbook with our semiconductor client. Like many corporations, they had social media channels because they felt like they had to…but they weren’t sure how to have a presence. As a deep supply chain agent, they weren’t generating sales leads from Facebook or LinkedIn, but when Digital Meaning did some digging we found that both employees and investors found their social media posts useful. That’s where their digital meaning was, in using their social channels as channels for communicating with both internal and external stakeholders. Their social channels are now effectively used to educate and engage directly with those audiences.
Consider the digital marketing landscape
The modern-day marketing mix still includes product, place, price, promotion, but as technology evolves, digital marketing evolves with it. The place to be is where your audience is—online, through their mobile devices and various other devices—using thoughtfully crafted messages carefully matched with the most effective methods and media.
With the highest rate of return among all marketing channels, email stands up as one of the most cost-effective. It has comfortably taken the place of snail mail for direct marketing programs. Demand Gen Report revealed that 87% of marketers leverage email newsletters as part of their go-to-market strategies, resulting in a 47% increased response and engagement rates from target buyers. But email newsletters should only be the start of your customer’s email journey with you.
Records Management Company Automates Time-consuming Workflows
Our records management client wanted to start using email to communicate with customers, which we helped them do. But we also showed them the value of automating emails for common, repeatable communications that were being handled manually. The action-oriented plan included in their strategic playbook listed periodic email reminders for shredding documents, creating a self-onboarding series for new customers to get up to speed on their own timeline, and investing in an email newsletter packed with valuable educational content. The result was more leads, sales, fewer questions, and more time for the business to focus on service improvements.
Find answers for your organization
Where are your company’s most promising digital marketing opportunities? The following questions will help you identify areas that make sense for your business:
- How are you nurturing marketing leads?
- How quickly are new leads or contact requests being responded to?
- How are you onboarding new customers, employees, and partners?
- Are you communicating with customers in a meaningful way? How?
- Is it easy for everyone to attend and participate in Company All Hands meetings?
- Is accounts receivables communicating?
- Do you accept payments via ACH? How about payables? Do you pay online?
- What’s your selling process? Are there opportunities to purchase a subset of your products and services online?
- Could you support sales offers and generate more leads with an automated workflow?
- Are prospects most likely to problem-solve for solutions like yours through search? Social? Referrals?
- Do you have a feedback loop in place? Are you listening?
- What data and insights do you use to measure success? Are there gaps?
Again, you’re looking to create digital meaning, not just more noise. So as you consider these questions, ask yourself about authenticity. Your best digital marketing opportunities will be ones that align with your company’s strategic narrative.
Finally, partner with a digital marketing pro
Digital business and marketing tactics have changed drastically over time. Roughly 15 years ago, social media was less complex and less important to brand presence. Content marketing was mostly confined to blogs and personalized email campaigns were just getting started. SEO was far simpler back then; now, it’s more nuanced than ever and increasingly vital to getting your business connected to the right buyers. There’s a lot to process and a lot that can be done to up-level your company, especially if you have deep domain experts supporting you through your digital transformation.
Since going digital is a unique process for every company, the best approach is to find a B2B digital marketing partner who can objectively help you:
- Determine the right channels and tactics to maximize your opportunities
- Design a clear, shareable picture of your digital marketing ecosystem
- Offer thorough planning and successful completion of your digital marketing projects