Some of the most successful companies in the B2B technology marketplace owe a great deal of their success to effective marketing. The explosive growth in the high-tech marketing tools space (from about 150 vendors in 2011 to over 3,
Though there are many success stories, digital agency creatives and marketing teams are sitting behind their desks right now, about to make common errors based on instinct, previous blind luck or bad advice. If you know this person, forward them this article before it’s too late. Friends don’t let friends do bad marketing.
Here are five common errors B2B tech marketing professionals are messing up royally:
1. Prioritizing quantity (traffic, leads, social media followers) over quality
If you’ve ever looked at the Twitter or LinkedIn followers of some of your competitors, you’ll realize that a large audience doesn’t mean you should rely on social media as the only channel to distribute your marketing messages. The same goes for internet traffic to your website. Glancing at Google Analytics and relying on the volume of impressions isn’t a reliable indicator that your content marketing efforts are bearing fruit. It could mean:
? You aren’t optimizing for the right keywords - are you meeting your conversion rates? What pages on your website are generating the most traffic? Are they pages which are important to your business goals?
? Your website may be generating traffic, but is it suitable for your target audience?
According a survey by the Content Marketing Institute, (CMI) 78 percent of B2B marketers measure the success of their marketing campaigns based on website traffic. Only 50 percent use sales as a metric, and 33 percent use qualitative feedback from customers. When these same marketers were asked what metrics provide truly measureable results, all of the metrics in the survey dropped, and almost 10 percent said no marketing metrics are truly measurable.
2. They don’t trust their data, or don’t have the right tools to make data trustworthy
So lots of technology marketers say that none of the metrics they use provide truly measurable results. Yet there are 3,500 marketing applications, and many of them are purpose-built to measure the results of marketing results. It could be that these marketers aren’t measuring their campaign effectiveness at all, they don’t have effective tools in place to measure it, or they don’t trust the results.
In industries like agriculture, or maybe legal, it might be more forgivable for marketers not to trust their campaign metrics or data. In B2B technology though? Tech marketers need to find ways to better understand their marketing results, or follow industry thought leaders and understand how to do so.
3. Neglecting the bottom of the buyer’s journey funnel
You would naturally understand that technology marketers are highly focused on filling the top of the funnel, generating leads and building audience awareness. Further, ikt makes sense that they would be motivated to measure the results of content marketing campaigns for the Awareness and Consideration stages of the Buyer’s Journey.
The CMI survey found that 49% of marketers are measuring Awareness stage prospect activities and 44% measure the bottom of the “cone” of the funnel (Decision) stage. But only 22% of marketers are measuring the results of content marketing efforts designed to retain clients, upsell them, and create champions, or evangelists. Customer loyalty campaigns are neglected by almost 80 percent of marketers. 28% don’t measure content marketing ROI at all.
Leads are important to companies, but as any CEO will tell you, you need to protect your client base. You have to know how your content marketing campaigns are resonating with your audience, even if they are targeted at your existing customers.
4. Insufficient and ineffective use of case studies
Remember those evangelists or champions from about seven lines up the article? Satisfied customers willing to have their names and experiences published as a success story are very valuable for B2B technology marketers. References who are willing to talk to their peers are equally valuable, but a published success story can often take the place of a reference call.
Marketers spend a lot of time writing about best practices, lessons learned and thought leadership. A case study or success story is one of the best ways to demonstrate, as Open Text Chairman, Tom Jenkins often says “Follow me, I know where I’m going. I’ve been down this road before.
Many marketers are able to generate case studies, and they usually end up in datasheets on their company’s website.The B2B Technology Marketing Group surveyed 600 B2B marketers on the state of content marketing. The survey found that case studies are the most effective B2B content marketing tool. Yet they found that the best place for case studies isn’t only on the corporate website, but it should be used in multiple places in the physical and digital realms, including:
? Event handouts
? Sales brochures
? Social media channels
? YouTube, Vimeo or Vidyard videos
? Slideshare presentations and LinkedIn
? Review websites like Clutch or GetApp
? Press release/PR platforms like Cision and PRNewswire
Squirreling your success stories is like “hiding your light under a bushel”. Let them out into the “wild” of the internet so more people can find them.
5. Setting sales teams up to fail
Digital transformation has changed how and when customers engage sales representatives. A recent TechTarget ebook points out that sales reps should be briefed as each marketing campaign goes out, so they aren’t caught flat-footed when customers respond to the messaging in that campaign. Many customers take a lot of time to research a product or service until they are 60% of the way through the buying journey.
If a sales professional isn’t aware of a new product offering, sales promotion or feature enhancement when they meet a customer, it can be a serious blow to their credibility. Sales and marketing alignment is vital.
Are you a B2B technology marketer that has made a mistake, and have “lessons learned” to share? Are there other common mistakes that we should be aware of? Tell us about them in the comments section below.
As a freelance writer,
I was thinking about pitching a couple of weeks ago, as I was asked to pitch to a client who made a special request, and I really wanted to write for them. I had made three pitches with any response, and I wondered if I wasted my time pitching to this client, and a few other clients at the same time. It took some time, yet I contracted with a few of the clients after several days . Graphic design and digital content writing are different skillsets, so I've changed my perspective on pitching lately.
The power and perils of pitching B2B content
Pitching topics for blogs, white papers and ebooks isn't as simple as picking an idea out of the air. It's important to take stock of your existing content, and decide on keywords, themes which are important for your company to convey to your customers. As a contract writer, I'll often evaluate what your competitors are publishing, including articles and long-form gated content. As a marketing executive, you'll likely have more insights into
- What your customers are asking about
- How your existing content is ranking on search engines
- How your content doing in terms of converting browsers to buyers
- Your conversion rates on goals like contact form submissions, product purchases and downloads
I frequently get invited to pitch on content marketing platforms, to offer my services to their clients. It provides a prospect with peace of mind that I understand what their company does, their value proposition, and that I can effectively describe scenarios and use cases that tell good brand stories.
As I started my freelance writing career, I would pitch to clients, and if I didn't hear back, I would likely never approach them again. Experience has changed that perspective, and I'll often pitch multiple times to a client I really want to work with.
When I'm invited to make a "Hot Pitch", I tend to make the pitch more detailed, with an H1 headline, an introductory paragragh, H2 subheadings, a short conclusion, and a call to action when it makes sense. For cold pitching or casual pitches (to companies I don't have a relationship with) I'll usually make it much shorter, focus on building credibility, and lead with my portfolio of work for similar customers.
Ideation is part science, part imagination
Pitching is more complex than just throwing out at few ideas. There is research on what a prospective client's competition is writing about, what pertinent article topics are trending and even what your company wants to prioritize in the short term. I work with many clients who prefer to provide me with an article or whitepaper brief, or even a topic, and we start the project with an outline which includes the a brief introduction, the high level points of the content, and some on-page/off-page links to background resources.
When I work with a client, I really appreciate open, clear communication. If a pitch I make isn't ideal, or if it isn't a priority for you right now, it would be great to pitch to you again. The Toronto Blue Jays and other baseball teams get three pitches before striking out (a batter, I know) so a couple of quick signals helps me to throw one down the middle of the plate. With many of my clients, I ensure I have a contract in place before I start pitching. If none of my pitches ends up with a "home run" idea, (based on a client's feedback), there's no work completed, and no charge to you, as my customer. The more pitches we discuss, the more I will learn about your business, and I'll become a more effective part of your content creation team.
When I pitch to clients and they turn me down and use those ideas with another writer, or do it inhouse, it feels like a fast ball on the arm. Though if that is the way a client does business, it's really a win for me in the long run not to collaborate with them.
Web content writing is like using a chalkboard, not a stone tablet
The great thing about digital content is that it is easily modified, restructured for a better user experience, and edited many times over. If a client wants changes to the wording of an article, it's easy to make changes on a content management system like WordPress, or using the collaborative editing functions of Google Docs or Microsoft Word. I've edited content for my clients, and I am happy to make a couple of rounds of changes to get a pitch, outline, article, whitepaper or e-book content right.
Marketing managers, CEO's and other executives I work with want their digital content to get their company found online, build business authority, and convert browsers to buyers. I completely understand that, and I am writing this article for those same reasons. You want to work with a writer that takes the time to understand your business, can write in your company's "voice" and inspire your audience to act. I share those goals, and I'm happy to take the time to take your ideas, outlines and topics and craft content which bring those ideas to life.
- Writing keyword rich headlines, subheads and content
- Creating content which is conversational, targeted at your ideal persona/audience
- Use UX best practices in laying out articles which make content more digestible on a browser (mobile and/or desktop)
- Editing my content for grammar, spelling and flow
- Editing my content based on a customer's constructive feedback
If you are a B2B marketing manager, or another professional seeking a competent, freelance content or copywriter who is invested in your business success, it would be great to have a conversation with you on the phone or over Skype or Google Hangouts. You've invested heavily to get your web presence to where it is today. I can create quality content to help you reap better rewards from your digital marketing channel.
Are you looking to expand your content marketing efforts, but don't have the time, or core competency to develop high quality content? Whether you are looking for a writer to pitch you ideas, or have some topics or briefs you want converted into articles or whitepapers, I'd be happy to partner with you to meet these goals, so please contact me or set at appointment through my Calendly link.
Are you a fellow freelance writer, looking for better freelance pitching strategies? Check out Clearvoice's Freelance Guide to Better Pitching. I've learned from it, and other webinars and Facebook Live events Clearvoice hosts on the topic.
As a business owner or manager,
If you're a creative person, or even if you tend to be more of a left-brain, logical type, you'll know what it's like to work on something for someone and present it to them for feedback. It could be an architectural design for a building, user experience mockups for a website, custom software or a marketing strategy for a customer.
If you're passionate about your business, and you take the time to do your best work, client feedback can be the highlight of your day, or it might feel like a kick in the ribs when you get a negative review. As a freelance writer, I'm familiar with both of these experiences.
Writing web content for technology companies is a lot like being a speechwriter for a presidential candidate. You want to make the words and sentences sound like they blend well with the client's brand messaging. The content needs to build industry credibility and authority. You don't want to make the content sound like what all the other companies are saying (like a certain candidate for FLOTUS mimicked Michelle Obama). The content should be original, engaging and suitable for the audience you are targeting. Whitepapers, like campaign speeches, should inspire action. You want prospects to show support with their technology budgets as much as Democratic and/or Republican candidates want Americans to show support on election day.
Delivering your Platform Content
Donald Trump's behavior in the 2016 presidential race was full of lessons for media professionals, content marketers, and social media enthusiasts:
- Don't write posts on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn when you are emotionally charged on an issue. Write content you wouldn't be ashamed if your grandmother were to read it.
- Time marches on, but digital video and audio lasts forever. Watch what you say, even if you think it's off the record.
- Just like Hillary Clinton did during the 2016 election race, make your website the central source for your data, and refer prospects and customers to it often. Socialize the information from your website across social media channels, but as Jay Baer said, "Your website is fire, social media is gasoline". Make sure to fact-check and quality check your content for quality and cohesiveness.
- Just like a good campaign manager, a competent editor is great to keep you on message, and to fine-tune your copy. There are great tools like Atomic Writer and Grammarly to evaluate the mechanics of your writing, but a second set of human eyes is the best way to ensure your content is ready for prime time.
- Marshall McLuhan said, "The medium is the message". If you are promoting your products, services, or candidacy on Twitter, be prepared for faceless trolls, low-value followers, and your message may be drowned out entirely. Finding the best channel for your content is vital.
How to Be an Effective Digital Debater
When you publish content on the internet, you need to be prepared for contrary opinions, often from people who are looking to draw you into an argument for fun. Just like in the presidential debates, getting goaded into an emotional debate and lashing out in anger is dangerous to your reputation. Ensure your website content is accurate and truthful, your online conversations are classy, and don't feed the trolls.
You likely don't have any interest in running for public office, though partnering with a freelance digital marketing writer will ensure your business is well represented online. You can focus on running your business in the physical world, and be confident those who find you on the internet will be confident in doing business with you offline.
For business and technology consulting companies,
In the Dynamics business application space, and with online services like Office 365 and/or Azure, achieving Gold or Silver level certification is a great feather in your cap, which assures your consultants have completed thorough training, testing and have the competency to deliver.
Once a customer goes to the Microsoft Pinpoint partner site, and starts browsing for a competent consultancy to work with on their CRM, marketing or ERP implementation, they want more assurance than a competency tier. The assurance of customer success stories, blogs, and whitepapers are valuable, reusable content assets for lead capture and nurturing leads through the pipeline.
Seeing Business Value through the Cloud
Companies across North America are adopting cloud-based solutions like:
- Dynamics CRM Online
- Dynamics AX
- Click Dimensions for digital marketing
- Hosted or cloud based self-service portals
When technical installation/implementation isn't required, and configuring the software to your customers' business processes is a top priority, companies want to make sure your company has a good balance of tech savvy and business acumen. For on-premises deployments of Dynamics ERP or CRM, custom development and configuration to a customer's business needs is critical.
Technical certifications aren't necessarily the best indicator of a Microsoft Dynamics partner's ability to tailor Dynamics for a customer's detailed requirements. Publishing thought leadership content to your website is a great way to demonstrate your experience and expertise.
The Price of Success
If you have accomplished Dynamics consultants, a great sales team, and an executive team that is consistently occupied with managing a busy Microsoft practice, finding the time to write blogs, whitepapers or creating infographics is challenging.
A contract freelance writer with Dynamics experience is a great resource. Your consultant utilization might be at maximum capacity now, but a few months from now, you might have availability you didn't expect.
Consider collecting some topics from recent client engagements which were either challenging, or your consultant hit a home run on. You might have a workaround, solution accelerator or industry vertical you have deep expertise in. Writing stories about "the hero's tale" of recognizing a business problem, conquering it and reaping the rewards makes for a good story.
Even as it applies to software like Microsoft Dynamics.
Envision how to Ignite Your Client's Business
You know those Microsoft conferences you attend, gather information at, and often don't do anything with it? What if you were to include some of it in your blogs? Take some of those business cards from Dynamics ISV partners and exchange guest blog posts to help each other generate business opportunities?
A freelance writer could write your guest blog, and you can reap the benefits of fresh, insightful content. The right content pieces can paint a picture in your prospects' mind of what it will be like to work with you.
- Extended, evergreen blogs on topics like mobility, security or industry-specific problems you can solve
- White paper content on specific use cases which you have tailored Dynamics for, like how many partners have tailored Dynamics CRM for event management, member management or charity donations management
- Multi-step serial blogs on how you progressed through a client project like a significant upgrade, complex deployment or building a product
- A Dynamics CRM infographic, packed with statistics you gathered from your own clients about their Dynamics project ROI, or even industry research about ERP or CRM
- An e-Newsletter, previewing some of the great content listed above, as well as targeted landing pages
Once you have some great inbound content developed, you can reuse many of them, updating content as required. If business slows down, and you need to generate new marketing campaigns, having a library of share-worthy content to share is a great way to fill the opportunity funnel. You shouldn't stop creating fresh content, though, but a strong foundation of reliable thought leadership pieces is critical to digital marketing success.
If you are looking for a reliable, experienced freelance writer for your Microsoft Dynamics practice, let's connect soon! You can follow me on Twitter, connect with me on LinkedIn, or set an appointment on my calendar with the link near the top of the page.
Please take a look through my Slideshare presentation below on thought leadership content for Microsoft Dynamics partners for additional information.
I disagreed, and wrote this article. The H2H movement seems to have faded, but likely is lurking around somewhere. This was a "stream of thought" blog, so forgive the structure. I have evolved! 🙂
Should H2H be the New Marketing Standard?
Recently, there has been a bunch of chatter on the social media channels suggesting the acronyms B2C (Business to Consumer) and B2B (Business to Business) give the buzzword/acronym the old heave-ho into the jargon dust bin.
Those who support this change in strategy suggest the better, more accurate acronym is H2H for Human to Human. The argument is that executives in business that run businesses are, after all, human beings. They have hopes, desires, needs and goals and should be marketed to, not as business entities, but as "flesh and blood" human beings.
Although there is truth to the fact that yes, business decision makers are human and respond to human attributes like the need to feel, be valued, to understand and be understood, as do consumers. There are many similarities between B2B and B2C marketing, and just as many differences.
Here are some of each:
Similarities between B2B and B2C
- Buyers base loyalty on relationships and trust
- B2B and B2C are both targeted at people/human decision makers
- It is more expensive and complex to get a new customer than to retain an existing client
- Clients want to feel understood, valued, and if they need help they want a knowledgeable person to help them
- B2B and B2C clients self-educate, and often do a great deal of research before approaching a sales person/walking in the door to make a purchase.
Emotional and rational thought both play a part in the buying process for both business models. Since there are fewer decision makers involved in a B2C purchase, emotional reasons can outweigh rational ones. B2B transactions are ruled by multiple executives, and tend to be decided on a more rational buying criteria.
Both buying personas are price sensitive, however quality, level of service, supplier relationships, prestige, timing and other factors may be more important than price for certain products or services.
- Important factors in purchase decision-making include total cost of ownership, depreciation, status and return on investment (financial and non-financial payback)
- Effective marketing channels include social media, and targeted media (broadcast, internet, print).
- Due to volume of transactions, immediate payment is the usual form of payment either with cash or credit card. Payment on account is almost a thing of the past.
- Product, market share, share of wallet key drivers.
- B2C e-commerce often requires focus on product pictures, detailed descriptions and visually/emotionally charged buying experiences. Personalization based on previous pricing and site navigation stats is the norm.
Why B2B and B2C Should be Approached Differently
B2C transactions tend to have a shorter sales cycle and involve a few decision makers. B2B sales cycles can often go on much longer, and there are often multiple decision makers with a variety of different motivation factors for selecting different products and suppliers.
- Rational motivators such as cost by volume, efficiency, delivery time, supplier reputation usually outweigh emotional factors, but not always.
Businesses often buy in much greater volumes, and they are not necessarily the ultimate consumer of a product. Relationships with suppliers may be contract based and be much harder to break should competitors approach when a prospect already has a competitive product/service/solution in place.
Consumers tend to have less vendor “lock in”, and are freer to buy from a competitor should their satisfaction change. Businesses are often a single supply chain stage in the process of getting a product to a consumer, there are different distribution/value chain attributes that need to be considered in marketing or sales.
- B2B sales are usually lower in transaction volume than B2C however value of individual transaction is usually higher.
- Factors such as location, sale price, and convenience tend to be a higher priority with consumers. The ability to get a price reduction based on volume purchases or strategic relationships is not a common trait of business to consumer sales.
- B2B sales are often more service oriented than B2C and marketing is geared towards a bundling approach of many products or services. There are B2C bundles or “combo deals” however they aren’t as widespread, or volume driven as in B2B.
- Payment by cash or credit card exists, although payment terms on account are the norm. The dollar value is prohibitive to pay based on cash or put on a credit card for the most part.
- B2B marketing is mind-share and market-share driven, while B2C is very transaction driven
- B2B e-commerce is more fact-driven, part numbers, features, and tools for resellers to post product details to their catalogs are more the norm. Personalization based on relationship data is the norm.
Though the idea of H2H instead of B2B or B2C is good in theory, there are a number of logical reasons to approach each segment differently.
If you can think of reasons why H2H should, or shouldn't be adopted as an all-inclusive industry term, I would be interested in hearing them. Although each is of equal importance to industry in general, B2B and B2C have different attributes that make marketing to them merit different, although still human approaches.
This is not likely to be the last word on this topic, although the debate is definitely an engaging one!
The following content was a blog I wrote a few years ago,
Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Blog?
The hair on the back of your neck quivers. Your palms are sweaty, and your teeth are firmly set. Your eyes gaze unblinkingly at the light of your LED monitor. You have decided to write your first blog as an entrepreneur.
You have decided to write your first article on your business niche, and have done extensive research on industry sources. Your mind is prepared, but your nerves are still on edge.
Once you hit publish, you feel your credibility, your experience, and your reputation may change forever. You have read over your copy several times and your grammar seems on point. What will be the result when your colleagues read your copy?
- What will your clients and prospects think of your blog?
- What will your competitors think?
- What about the people you used to work with before you went "rogue" as an entrepreneur?
A chair squeaks, and you hit send, hurtling your words and opinions into cyberspace.
We often write many things in each business day. Yet writing a blog or web content for the first time feels like we are stepping up on a soap-box on a busy street corner. You feel like you are pontificating about your profession for all to hear. For good reason, as that is essentially what you are doing.
Don’t let your fear of speaking "your truth", or your expertise stop you though, as blogging can help prospects and clients connect with you on a human level. Blogs can give you credibility for when you connect at a conference, or in your office.
Clear language, good grammar and effective tone is important in blogging for business, however you don’t need to always worry about being the utmost expert on your topic. writing a 500 word article that even may have some details left out can sometimes incite conversation in real life or on your blog website.
Some of the biggest questions business owners struggle with in creating web content for their business include:
- Who is my audience?
- How do I set it up?
- What do I write about?
- How do I find the time?
When you do write your blog, share it as much as possible. On LinkedIn, Twitter, e-mailing it to clients and colleagues, and asking them to provide their feedback online if possible.
Your audience doesn't need to agree with your point of view, as an engaging conversation in cyberspace that can win you new opportunities that people you have never met.
Treat Social Media as gasoline, and your website or blog as the fire. Repurpose your blog content as much as possible. This blog was originally written about three years ago, and it was really empowering to edit it the content, and see how far I've come in writing effective online content.
Do you need help to hone your digital marketing content? Book some time on my calendar, and let's talk about ways to:
- Capture more leads
- Help your clients find the information they need, 24x7x365 on your website
- Generate content which builds up your credibility
- Incite clients to action!
Remember in school,
- Capture attention
- Build credibility
- Increase your understanding of subject matter yourself
- Establish and nurture relationships
- Differentiate yourself from your competitors
- Establish strategic partnerships
Your prospects and customers prefer to educate themselves about what you offer rather than talk to a salesperson right away. Sales people apply pressure on customers (as they are trained to do) buy a product or a service on their timeline. If you are a sales or marketing professional, clients are often waiting until they are as much as 60-70 percent of the way through their decision making process before they contact a sales person.
If you aren't teaching your prospects and customers about your domain expertise, your competitors definitely are!
What Should I be Teaching my Prospects About?
Blog posts are a great way to initiate the process of teaching your B2B clients about:
- How to reduce cost
- How to increase profitability
- How to better satisfy their customers and increase loyalty
- How to get their products to market faster and to the ultimate consumer on time
- How to deliver services on budget, on time and which create recurring revenue stream
Obviously there are many other topics you can cover, depending on your industry, yet these are common themes. Striking a balance between providing just enough educational content, and teaching your customer into the hands of a competitor is challenging.
You also don't want to train yourself out of a consulting gig, software development contract or a software installation and integration contract by giving away all of your expertise.
A great way to provide your target audience with some thought leadership, without losing too much of your intellectual capital is to use gated content. Have a prospect register on your website before they can access your whitepapers, ebooks, guides and/or videos. Encourage them to sign up for your mailing list, or attend a web seminar.
When you are writing your web content, focus on the strategic business value of your products and services.
Create pages which showcase your:
- Success stories
- Industry expertise and strategic partnerships
- Strategic business benefits, though benchmarking studies or ROI calculators
- Involvement with industry associations, community groups and non-profit organizations
Know When to Hold a Prospect, Know When to Set them Free
Make it easy for a prospect to opt out of your marketing campaigns. If your content isn't of value to someone, and they won't be contracting your services, (or buying your products) anyway, they aren't of any value to being in your database. It looks good to see a big number in your leads report.
Yet, any seasoned B2B sales professional will prefer to have 100 quality prospects who are interested in talking than one thousand leads who never want to talk to them.
There are many articles on the web on how to create engaging content for your audience. Write regularly and go deep on value. Keyword-stuffed Blog posts which are full of BS/fluff won't help your credibility, and they won't get shared among your target prospects on social media.
Examples of Educating to Sell
My "Top 10" of the most successful B2B thought leaders in the "educate to earn trust" category I know are:
- Jeffery Gitomer - B2B Selling Coach/Guru/Author
- Marketing Profs
- Atomic Reach
Educating customers with your marketing content helps you deliver value to customers, differentiate you from your competition, and establish loyalty. Consider the popularity of TED Talks. Another common example is Twitter chats have grown from organizations like Startup Canada/Intuit or Buffer.
Initiate conversations with your customers by helping them see the strategic value of your expertise. Web content is a way to let a prospective customer know you have experience in addressing concerns that they are looking to address, and are confident you can do so again. Build a following of prospective customers who look forward to hearing from you, because they looking forward to learning something new.
Have you run across a company or individual which is especially adept at using the "educating to build trust" model? Tell me about it in the comments section below, or contact me today!