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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 3,500 in 2017) is strong evidence to support this. Companies like Salesforce.com, IBM, Apple and Intuit are frequently credited for their effective marketing campaigns, which have generated both mindshare and marketshare over the years.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’m often asked by clients to send them a pitch with multiple topics which I would write for them should I be contracted as their content writer. Though this seems like a reasonable ask, there are many prospective clients (who I haven’t built a relationship with) who will take those pitches and hire someone else to write them, or use them to create their own content. I ran across an article about a famous graphic designer/font designer, who refuses to provide free pitches, and I could definitely empathize.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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, you are often called upon to get up on a “digital soap box” and create online content about your company. Creating blogs, marketing brochures, or landing pages can be uncomfortable if business communication and writing for executive audiences isn’t your strong suit.
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.
Donald Trump’s behavior in the 2016 presidential race was full of lessons for media professionals, content marketers, and social media enthusiasts:
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.
This is a post I wrote about two years ago when there was an argument that “There is no B2B, there is only Human 2 Human, or H2H”.
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! 🙂
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:
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.
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.
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.
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, and I pulled it out of the Way Back Machine Internet Archive. Fun to see how times (and my style) have changed. The website I wrote this on a website called RealtyPortal which taught me a lot about managing web content, and writing to serve your target audience.
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?
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:
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: