A lot has changed in the realm of B2B marketing strategies over the past year. New technologies have entered the market. Executives have new demands on marketers. How can you not only keep up, but pass these hurdles with flying colors?
Let’s talk about that.
Hubspot’s recently released State of Inbound report has provided us with key data that reveals what challenges are top of mind for marketers in 2017. Let’s examine the top 10 challenges, and the solutions that you need to know moving forward.
10 Hurdles That Today’s B2B Marketing Strategies Face
1. Generating Traffic and Leads
The Hurdle: This overwhelmingly polled as the #1 challenge facing marketers in Hubspot’s 2017 State of Inbound report. What makes this such a hurdle? Marketers today face more content overload than ever before, and the competition is fierce to create content that gets people back to your site.
The Solution: Marketers need to focus more on the quality of their content and the types of content formats they use.
Actively participate in your content creation. Look at your competitors to get a clear idea of what content is popular, and pour your efforts into creating similar but better content. To keep your content up to par with today’s bursting marketing scene, utilize tools that will get you results — such as Canva to create visual content, or Grammarly to ensure your written content is grammatically correct.
High quality content could also mean more long-form content. Do you have an ebook? A white paper? A long-form blog post of 1600 words or more that gets into the nitty-gritty of an industry issue? If you don’t, now’s the time! Such content can attract more traffic, and turn that traffic into leads. Studies show that long form content (of 2,000-3,000 words) consistently receives more shares on social media, and more organic traffic than its short-form counterpart.
Browse social media to see what kinds of content your audience most often shares and comments on. Infographics? Videos? Case studies? Approach this with an open mind, and truly get to know what interests your audience.
2. Proving the ROI of Your Marketing Activities
The Hurdle: Even with the analytics tools on the market today, proving the worth of every campaign or piece of content remains a top hurdle for marketers. To many, the time it takes to monitor and prove the effectiveness of every channel, campaign, and piece of content can seem like a monumental task.
For others, the variables that affect a purchase — from the number of decision makers at a given company to economic trends — are numerous. How do you keep track of everything? And with so many avenues available to measure ROI, how do you know which one is the right fit for your company and goals?
The Solution: First of all, keep it simple. Stick to avenues that will be easy for you to measure and prove ROI. This could include social interactions, brand mentions, and bounce rate. Choose what metrics are most important to your company, and then choose an analytics tool that will put this data at your fingertips.
For example, you can create special links, using such tools as bit.ly, to see what campaigns and networks are getting you results. You might also use a solution like Marketo or Kapost to get a wider view of your B2B content marketing strategy and its impact.
3. Securing Enough Budget
The Hurdle: Marketers often face the challenge of tight-fisted execs who are scaling back budgets across the board. Meanwhile, startups and small businesses may not have the extra money to invest in a higher marketing budget.
The Solution: Hubspot’s State of Inbound report revealed that 37% of companies have increased their marketing budget from the past year. This is evidence that when executives see positive results from inbound marketing, they respond. As long as you can show a proven ROI for your B2B content marketing strategy, it’s likely your budget needs will be met.
If you are a startup or small business without the financial reach of larger organizations, focus on cost-friendly or free alternatives to amplify your brand’s message, including social media and blogging. Use employee advocacy programs that encourage your very own employees to be effective brand ambassadors.
4. Identifying the Right Technologies
The Hurdle: Analytics, collaboration, automation…finding the right tool for each of these can be like finding a needle in a haystack. New marketing technologies feel like they’re popping up all the time. And with so many features and high price tags, the choices are complex and overwhelming for many.
It can be difficult to find all the answers to your questions, and make an informed decision.
The Solution: Start by narrowing down what your priorities are. What specific tasks do you need the technology to do? Then take to trusted sources to get the low-down on what tools fit those needs.
5. Targeting the Right Audience
The Hurdle: How do you reach your target audience? Defining who the decision makers are within a company and honing in them is one of the major challenges of B2B marketing strategies.
With so many budding networks, where can you find your audience? What social networks are they on?
The Solution: If you want to target a B2B audience, you need to focus on thought leadership material. If B2B buyers recognize your brand, and come to think of you as a leading and trustworthy authority in your industry, you will naturally float to the top of their list when they are serious about buying.
Create content that supports thought leadership at all stages of the buyer’s journey. This will range from how-to blog posts and videos to more in-depth and comprehensive case studies, eBooks, and white papers.
The right channel is also an important component to targeting your audience.
Find out where your B2B buyers live online. According to Hubspot’s State of Inbound report, when asked what networks they used most for professional purposes, 84% answered LinkedIn, followed by 77% who used Facebook, and 71% who used Twitter. Are your content and campaigns available on these networks?
6. Training Your Team
The Hurdle: Marketing concepts, technologies, and company values are just some of the general topics teams need to learn. As your company grows, it can become a hurdle to get your entire team on the same page, and train them to comply with company standards.
The Solution: Create a specific plan or introduction manual for each new hire, and gradually cover every aspect of the job that you want them to know. Instead of expecting them to absorb everything right away, make the plan easy to digest, gradually adding in new concepts and technologies as they master the task at hand. Having a uniform guideline for each new team member will ensure that everyone is on the same page.
7. Hiring Top Talent
The Hurdle: With more and more companies switching to an inbound marketing strategy, competition is high to find the right talent. Add to this challenge that the pool of eligible candidates with the right skill set is relatively small, and you begin to understand why this is such a hurdle.
The Solution: Many companies approach hiring too broadly. Instead, before you can find the “right” candidate, narrow down what your marketing goals are. Would you like to beef up your SEO? How about social media marketing? Content marketing? Once you land on the specific goals you would like to reach, focus on what specific duties and skills you need.
Cast your net wide by posting your needs on a variety of job seeking platforms, including Indeed, LinkedIn, Monster, and more.
Keep informed as to what desirable candidates are after. For example, a recent study showed that 72% of job candidates are looking for positions with an opportunity for growth, while 47% are looking for a good work-life balance. To attract the top talent, highlight these as part of your job description.
8. Leveraging Influencer Marketing Effectively
The Hurdle: Influencer marketing has grown in the past few years, becoming one of the most effective strategies in the B2B marketing world. Yet, people are still treating influencers like a secondhand tactic. In order to use the full potential of influencer marketing, marketers need to learn how to engage influencers, and what to expect.
The Solution: Marketing departments need to create a team just for the management and nurturing of influencer relationships. Such a team helps to coordinate the use of influencers across departments, and creates a more efficient and effective use of influencers.
Secondly, companies need to define what influencers will be most effective for their industry. It’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of marketing strategy. Find out what networks your audience frequents, and who your audience follows and engages with on those networks. After some observation, you can approach an influencer about working with you in an upcoming program.
9. Managing Your Website
The Hurdle: Your website is the gateway to your brand — its performance impacts many aspects of your business. Your website works nonstop to attract people to your brand, convert them into leads, and keep customers happy. But the challenge lies in making your website stand out among the millions of other websites that are vying for people’s attention.
The Solution: If you are a small company, it may be easiest to hire experienced freelancers who can handle the bulk of this work for you.
You must first know what areas of your website need work. Does it have a slow load time? Does it appear in organic search results? Once you pinpoint the problem areas of your website, you’ll be better able to move forward. Create specific, attainable goals for your website. For instance, you might want your website to:
- Be optimized for mobile
- Run smoothly
- Be optimized for organic search
- Have a modern and intuitive design
- Feature a variety of content
- Engaging enough to keep people on it
10. Producing Sales-Qualified Leads
The Hurdle: For years now, there has been a disconnect between how marketing teams and sales teams define a qualified lead. How do marketing teams hand over the right leads to their sales department?
The Solution: There needs to be a middle ground between these two departments. This is where lead nurturing comes into play. With emails and other marketing techniques, your team can build a relationship with a prospect.
Marketing and sales teams need to work together to define sales qualified leads as they relate to the sales funnel, and create a dedicated lead nurturing program. This ensures that everyone is on the same page, and that you only hand over qualified leads to your sales department.
Before a prospect is handed over to sales as a lead, the prospect should be:
- Qualified by going through several automated “drip marketing” campaigns
- Analyzed in order to score the prospect’s interest and intent
Key Points to Remember…
- Find out which types of content your audience engages with, and create high quality content to attract more leads.
- Be specific and uncomplicated when you choose what marketing goals to measure to prove ROI.
- Hire freelancers, or have team members dedicated to the smooth management of your website.
- Key in on what top job candidates look for in a job opportunity, and leverage this to get the best talent working for your company.
As B2B marketing strategies change from year to year, so do the various challenges that marketers confront. Stay on top of the marketing challenges for this year, and stay ahead of your competition.