If Moneyball taught us anything, to maximize marketing efforts, it’s less about swinging for the fences and more about getting on base.
Ok. Backing up.
For those who don’t know, Moneyball is the story of Paul DePodesta, an amateur sports journalist, famously portrayed by Jonah Hill. DePodesta developed an interest in sabermetrics, an objective method for analyzing players through statistics, largely developed by Bill James in the 1970s.
Moneyball and sabermetrics have forever changed our understanding of how to win baseball games. Home runs are great, but if you strike out going for the big swing, you lose the chance to get on base and allow your teammates to drive you in.
According to sabermetrics, the overlooked statistic was the walk — an unexciting but useful mechanism for the discerning batter to gain a free base.
Walks plus hits measured a player’s on-base percentage, often a truer measure of a player’s potential to help a team win games than their batting average or number of home runs.
So, what’s this have to do with B2B Marketing opportunities?
Just like old-school baseball analysis, business leaders can wrongly assume that taking big swings — like starting a podcast or sponsoring a digital community — is the only way to ensure marketing success.
On the contrary, making incremental improvements and small tweaks often yield significant results. With time and consistency, these seemingly minor moves — like the walk — can be just what marketers need to make it in the big leagues.
Here are a few ways to get on base.
1. Get To Know Your Fans Better
Never underestimate the impact of truly understanding your customers, influencers, and the B2B decision-making unit. Here are some ways to incrementally and actively learn about your audience.
- Engage on social media, including discussions around the most common questions and concerns your customers have. Engaging not only informs your product development and marketing messaging efforts, but also demonstrates that listening is a company priority.
- Use organic search data to understand audience trends and interests. Look at what search queries are driving people to your site to get a better understanding of their questions and the topics they care about. Remember, Google’s rankings and insights are fueled by human behavior—which means SEO metrics are valuable audience data.
- Surface third-party research from credible sources like Spark Toro and GWI. Platforms like these provide invaluable resources on understanding your target audience and increasing your engagement with them.
- Test different messages, headlines, and visuals against each other to see what resonates most with your audience. If you ship something without an A/B test, it’s a lost opportunity to gain learnings. Digital marketing moves quickly, but that doesn’t mean testing should get left behind.
Learning more about what customers really care about — their needs, expectations, concerns, and journey — leads to improved messaging and relationship-building, which in turn inspires people to respond — voilà, demand generation.
2. Revisit the Best Marketing Plays
LinkedIn continues to be among the most-used B2B digital marketing channels, yet many companies still discredit the ROI of social media. Worse, many start and stop their social efforts when they strike out and don’t yield immediate results.
Although an individual post may yield unusually high results from time to time, it’s impossible to build a strong channel on the coattails of one successful post. There’s much more to keeping a social channel active, relevant, and visible, like the type of content used, hashtags, and other key essentials. Just take a look at these takeaways from Richard van der Blom’s LinkedIn Algorithm report.
Here are a few takeaways we’ve learned through lots of iteration.
- Stop trying to link out from LinkedIn’s platform. Studies have shown that posts that encourage the user to stay on the platform perform better in the algorithm — one study found that posts without links perform six times better.
- The LinkedIn article feature is relatively new and struggling to take off with users. There are several factors that could contribute to this lack of popularity, such as conflicting attention with the newsletter feature, so we are keeping an eye on it.
- Create LinkedIn posts from existing blog content on your website. Keeping them between 1,200-1,600 words and coupling them with, say, a PDF carousel that summarized the main points, is proven to have higher performance — 3x more clicks according to some experiments.
- Following up in a comment with a link back to the article a few days later subtly brings the post back into the algorithm and drives traffic back to your site — a double whammy for SEO.
- Reposting, even with a caption, doesn’t go far with the LinkedIn algorithm. It’s best to redirect that effort to creating original content (unless you’re trying to cultivate a relationship with a particular influencer — then, resharing their content can be a flattering way to catch their attention!).
- Hit “Notify Employees” when posting from your corporate page so that all of your employees can see what you’ve posted and help extend your reach by liking or commenting on your content.
Each of these small moves synergistically works to maximize the performance of each individual post — and ultimately, the channel as a whole.
3. Practice Makes Perfect
Players that consistently get on base spend a lot of time at the batting cages. Honing in on the perfect swing takes practice—just like your social media strategy. Luckily, there are some simple but effective tactics you can implement that will yield significant.engagement results over time.
Here are some social goals to focus on this year.
- Commit to regular posts, ideally daily, but at least weekly, that are relevant to your target audience. Instead of over-promoting your business, make each individual post as useful and engaging as possible. Keep in mind that every post should serve the purpose of entertaining, persuading, inspiring, or educating.
- Mention others in a meaningful way in company posts to expose content to a larger portion of the total addressable audience. This strategy allows you to leverage their influence and with the right message, they’re more likely to share or retweet your post. For example, Ultra Clean Technology courted a royal endorsement through a smart mention.
- Keep your finger on the pulse of social engagement. Pay continual attention to how your posts perform and note any upticks in engagement. This gives you the opportunity to rapidly experiment by replicating the content type, posting time, or subject matter to see what’s resonating with your audience—and adjust your editorial calendar accordingly.
Marketing is all about showing up deliberately and consistently, making small, informed changes over time and noting what your audience responds to.
While none of these steps will show dramatic results on their own, each plays a small role in that upward trend for reach, impressions, follower count, website visits, and engagement.
A 5% increase in follower growth this month likely won’t get your attention. But a noticeable boost in web traffic this quarter, and revenue this year, sure will.
Go Watch Film, Marketer
Even the best athletes go back to watch their game-day footage to analyze what worked, what didn’t, and what they can iterate to improve upon next time. Same goes for B2B marketing.
Schedule a periodic retrospective ceremony to review results and cover the following fundamentals: what worked and what could be done differently next time. Look back at what you uncovered as you monitored engagement and experimented with social content. Log any learnings, as well as gaps the team is still wondering about.
Between retrospectives: stay curious, look for patterns and connections between results, and ask questions. When it comes time to choose the next set of changes, be careful to discern what’s truly different in order to avoid redundancy. Put the next set of new changes in place, watch film, and repeat.