Posts Tagged ‘b2b marketing’
Guest post by Brooke Cade.
Social media has changed the way we interact with each other. Not only on a personal level, but also of course in business. Brands know they can’t ignore these platforms (which is why 95% of B2B marketers have created corporate social media accounts) and the successful companies have figured out a way to effectively engage and build strong relationships with their customers. One key to sound business use of social media is empathy.
In the marketing realm, there’s a lot of talk about empathy. But do you know how to appropriately use it in a business context, and more importantly, what are you doing to apply it to your marketing strategy? Empathy is defined as the act of putting yourself in another person’s thoughts, feelings, personality, and circumstances to provide them with not only better service, but to foster long-term relationships as well.
One aspect that can get overlooked, especially on the digital platforms, is the importance of listening to your customers. A negative review or comment can get us jumping down another person’s throat, but have you stopped to acknowledge their review and see what you can do to rectify the situation? Successful brands are utilizing these situations to better market their brand, but surprisingly, many companies are not. By ignoring your customers, even online, you not only turn them off from your brand, but you risk losing other potential customers.
How can you use empathy to connect with customers online (and off)?
First, take time to understand your customers. Through learning about their hopes and dreams, fears and concerns, you can build their trust and gain valuable insights on what you can do to serve them better. Talk to your customers, collect feedback, and develop strategies to better identify with them to meet their needs and demands.
As you begin to know your target audience better, you can start to build a campaign around empathy. Pull in your team, along with managers and stakeholders, to brainstorm and throw out as many ideas as possible. During the brainstorm session, use an empathy map to look at the four aspects of the customer experience: thinking, feeling, doing, and seeing.
In each section, consider your customer’s perspective and ask yourself the following questions:
- • Thinking: Ask yourself, how does the customer perceive themselves? The product? What are their dreams and fears? When you are clear on how your customer sees the world around them, you can better anticipate their needs and how your product or service can benefit them.
- • Seeing: How do your customers view their community? What is missing from the world around them? When you understand the world from your customers perspective, their values, you can build trust and connect on a deeper level.
- • Doing: What are they doing to change their lives? What are their daily habits? How does your product or service help them reach their goals? If you know the answer to these questions, you can better identify your customers needs and how you can help them find a solution.
- • Feeling: How do your customers feel after using your product? How do they express their feelings? Customers base a lot of their decisions on how a product makes them feel about themselves and the world around them. Are you connecting with them on an emotional level?
How can you apply this in your marketing strategy?
Let’s take a look at Extra Space Storage. In their recent video campaign, 10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Having a Baby, they were able to use empathy to connect on a personal level with first time parents. (Though this is a consumer marketing example, the principles apply equally well to B2B marketing.)
By taking time to identify their customers’—both current and future—hopes and fears (thinking), the company able to reach people on an emotional level (feeling), and make the connection that some memories will want to be saved and past down. In this campaign, they built a connection with their customers that went deeper than just the product or service.
What can you do to apply empathy in your next campaign or email outreach? As you utilize the empathy map exercise and brainstorm with your team, possibly a few times, you will gain deeper insights into your customers and the way you can provide them with better service.
At the end of the day, what it really comes down to is: are your customers feeling like they’ve been heard? The way you can answer that question, and show your customers that you’ve heard and care about them is with empathy.
About the Author: Brooke Cade is a freelance writer with InMoment.com. When she is not writing, Brooke is committed to learning more about helping businesses and sales professionals improve their customer experience.
Guest post by Robert C. Johnson.
68% of B2B buyers now purchase goods online via their phone or tablet (and soon maybe their Apple watch). With many areas of B2B procurement beginning to look more like consumer transactions, 83% of B2B sellers understand long-term success is dependent upon implementing an omnichannel strategy; however, most have yet to create one.
As digital communications platforms change the way people communicate with each other, businesses have tried to keep up, using new capabilities to give customers more choices in how they interact with companies. A toll-free customer support line open only during local business hours used to be the norm. Now, most businesses offer other communication channels, including email, customer portals and chat windows, and some also use social media like Twitter and Facebook to communicate with customers and manage support.
In addition to new channels, more devices are also now used in the customer support mix, with companies and customers communicating on smartphones and tablets as well as desktops and laptops and traditional landline telephones. Most companies have adapted to the ongoing communication revolution in piecemeal fashion, setting up new channels and appointing customer support personnel to monitor them as new platforms gain widespread popularity.
But this ad hoc approach to customer support channels has significant drawbacks. It’s tough for the customer support group to manage numerous platforms simultaneously – when the person in charge of Twitter is out for a day, sometimes that channel simply goes unmonitored, or the colleagues who are already busy handling their own assigned channels have to take on extra work. For customers, an ad hoc approach means a lack of continuity, with customers forced to repeat their name, product and issue whenever they contact the company via a different channel.
An omni-channel approach is a better way to serve customers and drive growth. With an omni-channel approach, customers can contact customer support agents on their preferred channel, using their preferred device. But unlike with an ad hoc strategy, an omni-channel approach integrates the information customer support receives in a single repository that everyone in the company can access. That means customers don’t have to start over each time they choose a new communication platform, and agents can easily collaborate with colleagues to find solutions.
To optimize information sharing, an omni-channel support strategy requires several components, including a self-service knowledge base customers can access 24/7 to get the answers they need. It should also centralize customer information and service records received across all channels, including chat, email, phone and social media. To promote continuous improvement, an omni-channel support platform should enable the company to track ticket resolution by customer representatives and customer companies so that B2B service providers can understand the state of their relationship with individual customers as well as the businesses they serve.
An omni-channel support strategy makes sense in a changing business climate where more and more companies and consumers receive services via the cloud and communicate across multiple channels and devices. These days, delivering a great customer experience is a genuine marketplace differentiator, so companies that take a more rational, integrated approach to customer communication can gain a competitive edge.
As companies move beyond brick-and-mortar operations to deliver products and services via electronic channels, it is wise to rethink the support delivery approach to keep up with changing preferences. An omni-channel strategy makes it possible to collaborate to improve the customer experience, and that can result in greater long-term growth.
Robert C. Johnson is the co-founder and CEO of TeamSupport.com, a cloud-based, B2B software application built to help customer-facing support teams serve clients better through stronger collaboration, superior teamwork, and faster issue resolution. A seasoned executive and entrepreneur who has founded and invested in numerous software and high-tech companies, Robert’s industry experience as a business leader and a customer inspired him to create TeamSupport to give Support Desk teams the tools and best practices to enhance customer loyalty and positively impact product sales.
Prior to founding TeamSupport, Robert was President and CEO of Sundance Digital, one of the world’s leading providers of automation software to television and cable broadcasters. The company was sold in 2006 to Avid Technology (Nasdaq: AVID).
B2B marketers today certainly live in “interesting times” (in the sense of the not-actually-Chinese curse).
While search, social media, ecommerce and content marketing have dramatically altered the roles of buyers and sellers, a number of traditional channels (that is, pre-dating millennials) remain highly effective.
The collection of facts and stats below shed light on this paradox, as well as other insights. Here are four key takeaways from this research for B2B marketers:
- • Sales people won’t disappear, but their role is changing, and many are struggling to adapt. 82% of B2B decision makers think sales reps are unprepared; product demonstrations are among the least-valued types of information for buyers; and half of all B2B purchases may be made directly online by 2018. To succeed, B2B sales people need to focus on the three Rs—no, not reading, `riting and `rythmetic, but rather responsiveness (50% of sales go to the first salesperson to contact a prospect), relationships, and references.
- • Social media accounts are like seat belts; they’re only effective if you actually use them. 55% of B2B buyers say they search for product/vendor information on social media. Yet while 95% of B2B marketers have created corporate social media accounts, half are still not active on social media on a regular basis.
- • Don’t rely too much on advertising. Ads certainly have their place in a web presence optimization (WPO) framework, as the “paid” pillar in the paid-owned-shared-earned (POSE) media model. Search ads are effective for capturing immediate demand and display ads are useful for brand awareness. But 80% of B2B decision makers prefer to get information from articles rather than advertising, and 40% of millennials don’t trust ads—so strong organic tactics need to be part of the mix as well.
- • The classics still rock. Despite the tremendous growth in digital marketing, several basic old-school marketing channels remain highly effective. Trade shows remain the top source for B2B lead generation, with 77% of marketers saying they generate a significant quantity of leads. 59% of CMOs still say print marketing is an effective channel—and 64% of buyers cite print among their trusted sources of information—while 51% still see value in direct mail.
Get more inspiration from these 20 B2B marketing and digital business stats and facts.
12 B2B Marketing Facts and Statistics
1. Death of the salesman? When purchasing online, B2B buyers rate pricing as the most useful information (though not, generally, special offers or discounts). Technical information and specifications are the next-most important topic. Product demonstrations are least valued. (V3B Blog)
2. 55% of B2B buyers search for information on social media. (Biznology)
3. Today’s sales process takes 22% longer than 5 years ago. (Biznology)
4. 91% of customer say they’d give referrals; only 11% of salespeople ask for referrals. And 82% of B2B decision makers think sales reps are unprepared. (Biznology)
5. 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement. (B2B PR Sense Blog)
6. B2B customers now expect the same range of omnichannel buying options they enjoy as consumers – which is why almost half of B2B buyers (49%) prefer to use consumer websites to make work-related purchases. (The Future of Commerce)
7. 52% of B2B buyers say they expect half of their purchases to be made online by 2018. (The Future of Commerce)
8. 78% of B2B customers (and 83% of consumers) say fulfillment options – such as next-day delivery – are important or very important. (The Future of Commerce)
9. Although 95% of B2B marketers have created corporate social media accounts, half still are not active on social media on a regular basis–and just 10% feel they are able to articulate the business value of social media efforts. (MediaPost)
10. Good old-fashioned trade shows remain the top source for B2B lead generation, with 77% of marketers saying they generate a significant quantity of leads, and 82% saying they generate high-quality leads. (MediaPost)
11. The average cost of a B2B sales lead varies widely by industry. Healthcare leads are most expensive ($60) followed by business/finance ($43). At the low end are leads for marketing products/services ($32) and technology ($31). (B2B Marketing Insider)
12. Just 34% of B2B organizations say they touch leads with lead nurturing on a monthly basis. (B2B Marketing Insider)
8 Other Digital Business Stats and Facts
13. Six of the ten busiest websites are based in the U.S. – but 86% of their visitors come from outside America. (TechCrunch)
14. 15 of the 25 largest U.S. tech companies were founded by first- or second-generation Americans. (TechCrunch)
15. Marketing is all about digital now, right? Not quite. 59% of CMOs still say print advertising is an effective marketing channel. 58% say the same for TV, 51% direct mail, and almost half radio and telemarketing. (AdWeek)
16. The larger the company, the higher the marketing expense budget as a percentage of revenue. Firms with revenue of $5 billion or more spend on average 11 percent, compared with 9.2 percent for those with revenue between $500 million and $1 billion. Marketing budgets as a percentage of revenue varied widely, with nearly half of companies (46%) spending less than 9% of revenue; 24% spending 9-13% of revenue; and 30% spending more than 13% of revenue. (Gartner)
17. 40% of millennials (aged 25-34) don’t trust advertising. Marketers trying to appeal to this group need to understand that, but also that this group is highly educated (33% have a college degree) but struggling financially: many have student loan debt, 52% don’t have enough money to cover basic living costs, and 35% are either unemployed or work part-time. (Heidi Cohen)
18. 50% of sales go the first salesperson to contact a prospect. (Biznology)
19. So much for the “death” of old media. Though the heyday of print may be over, the two most trusted sources of information remain the online versions of traditional media outlets (68%) and print (64%). Blogs come in at 21% (ugh). (Cision)
20. 14% of businesses fail due to poor marketing. (B2B PR Sense Blog)
This was the ninth and final post of Marketing Stats Summer (#statssummer) on Webbiquity. Hope you’ve found the series entertaining and enlightening!
#9: 20 Brilliant B2B Marketing and Digital Business Stats and Facts
This guest post from Kirsten Chapman was originally published on LinkedIn.
Modern marketing and business are defined by one thing: The Web.
It’s safe to say that CMOs, CEOs and CFOs are keenly aware of the huge hole when it comes to measuring the business value of web marketing. When they want to know if all the time and money they’re pouring into web marketing is working, they’re handed reports generated by campaign management systems—Hubspot, Marketo, Vocus, and even Salesforce come to mind. Invariably, the next question is: so where are the KPIs?
Good question. And the answer lies in how the Web is viewed.
Not truly understanding the dynamics of the Web is what leaves executives making strategic decisions using tactical information. Intuitively they know this is wrong, but they can’t quite put their finger on what to measure.
The Web is extraordinary. Never before have we seen anything quite like it—it’s a business, it’s a market, and it’s channel all rolled up into one enormous and complex package. And that’s what makes it a struggle to measure and manage.
The goal here is to lay out an argument—for the first time—that the Web is an economic market. It’s more than just a channel for generating leads and engaging people, it’s genuinely a market with competitive forces.
Why is this important? Because it finally opens up new ways to measure the Web’s strategic value using a standard set of web marketing key performance indicators (KPIs).
The Web is a Market
Don’t be scared off—this isn’t a treatise on microeconomics. The Web as a market isn’t a complicated concept. However, it’s an extremely powerful one for those who understand its strategic import and who want to be able to quantify the business value of web marketing beyond only lead generation and engagement.
The best way to demonstrate that the Web is a market is to analyze three key elements of a market—structure, competition, and information exchange—then examine whether or not the Web exhibits these elements.
- Structure: A market is a place where buyers and sellers come together for the purchase and sale of products and services.
>>Yes, the Web is a marketplace.
- Competition: A market has a competitive structure. There are several types of market structures, each defined by the number of buyers and sellers, barriers to entry and exit, product differentiation, and pricing power.
>>Yes, the Web has competitive forces.
- Information Flow: A market allows products and services to be evaluated and priced.
>>Yes, the Web facilitates decisions on product offerings and their prices.
The conclusion? The Web is truly a market—of the economic sort.
So, why isn’t the Web a market in the sense that it represents potential customers? Because it’s a thing (network of content), it has both buyers and sellers, and it’s not a person or group of persons to be studied, segmented and targeted.
But wait, what about web lead generation? Isn’t that about studying, segmenting and targeting people on the Web? Yes it is, which is why the Web is also a channel. But it is not a target market, which is distinguished from an economic market.
Web Marketing Performance Measurement
By viewing the Web as a market, it presents the opportunity for a much-needed standard set of KPIs that can measure market-level web performance.
There are two types of web marketing measurements:
- Channel-level metrics that measure campaigns
- Market-level KPIs that measure brand web presence
Nearly all web marketing performance is measured at the channel level—degree of engagement and number of leads are two that come to mind. But the purpose here isn’t to weigh in on channel-level measurement, so let’s get to the meat.
The web is a network of content, so web presence is the unit to be measured.
To be considered a KPI, it must:
- Measure market-level brand web presence, and
- Produce a trend that acts as a leading indicator of possible future business success.
There are three categories of web marketing indicators—Brand, Competitiveness, and Website—each category has two KPIs.
To illustrate, we’ll explore one of the KPIs in more detail: Competitive Webshare™—an indicator of a brand’s market competitiveness.
Competitive Webshare is the percentage of paid, owned, and earned web presence that a brand holds vis-à-vis a defined set of competitors. It’s a bit like market share but focuses on comparing a brand’s web footprint to its most important competitors. By isolating the competitive set, executives are able to focus on developing competitive strategies that are most impactful to the business.
Like market share, Competitive Webshare is a critical trend to track. If a brand’s percentage goes up over time, it’s a leading indicator that the prospect for sustained business growth is promising. On the other hand, if the percentage is deteriorating, the business outlook isn’t rosy.
Having a set of indicators that work together to track and measure important aspects of how a brand is faring on the Web is paramount. It helps executives understand whether their investments in web marketing are creating conditions that can help put and keep the business on a path for future success.
Much of today’s confusion about how to measure web marketing performance is attributable to not fully understanding that the Web is not just a channel for generating leads and engaging audiences but is also a market in its own right. Viewing the Web as a market with competitive forces introduces new ways to measure its strategic value.
Through the use of market-level web marketing KPIs in the areas of Brand, Competitiveness and Website, CMOs, CEOs, and CFOs are finally able to gauge how effectively their investment in the Web is paying off.
Kirsten Chapman is a 30-year veteran of technology b2b marketing and PR, co-founder of MeasureMyBrand—where she pioneered the development of four of the industry’s first standard web marketing KPIs—and principle of b2b marketing and PR agency KC Associates.
Guest post by Ariel Applbaum.
There is an old adage that says “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” So the question is–are there things that today’s B2B marketers can learn from history, specifically, the tremendous success of Facebook and the rise, fall and possible resurrection of Myspace?
Background on the two social media sites
From its founding, Myspace took off like a rocket ship while Facebook had a much slower ascension from launch. The two companies were created six months apart; Myspace was founded in August 2003 and by July 2005 was bought by News Corp for 580 million dollars. In contrast, Facebook was founded in February 2004 and only took in its first outside funding of 12.7 million dollars from Accel Partners in May 2005.
In 2006, Myspace was the most visited U.S. social web site, surpassing Google in site visits. Myspace’s dominance would not last though. In 2008, Facebook surpassed Myspace in number of unique worldwide visitors and one year later claimed that title as well in the U.S. Myspace’s user base decline resulted in a tremendous loss in valuation; in fact, News Corp sold substantially all of its Myspace ownership in May 2011 for a rumored 35 million dollars.
The differences in the birth, development, nurturing, growth and monetization of these two companies go a long way in explaining the reversal in their fortunes and the sustainability of their successes. These differences can and should provide valuable lessons for B2B marketers. These lessons include three main points: market to those of greatest relevance; create an atmosphere conducive to experimentation, new idea generation, & creativity; maintain relevance; and avoid rigid corporate structures.
A bigger user base is not always better
Myspace was created by Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe, two former employees of internet marketing company eUniverse. They had both been users of Friendster, which was initially a social networking service intended to maintain contacts and share online content and media. The Myspace founders saw both the potential of social networks and ways to improve on the Friendster offering and experience.
Myspace jump-started its subscriber base when they held a contest to see which eUniverse employees, who were the initial Myspace users, could sign up the largest number of users to the new Myspace website. This incentivized quantity over quality. Anderson and DeWolfe contacted 20 Million eUniverse users. Because of their campaign, thousands of users signed up for Myspace, and Anderson and DeWolfe began focusing exclusively on growing the social network.
But these users were not necessarily interconnected. Because those who signed up for Myspace did not know one another or had no reason to meet, then there was no ongoing incentive to use the website. What the Myspace founders and eUniverse CEO did not understand was that the most appealing aspect of a social network is that friends can connect or reconnect or share anything from photographs to experiences to news.
The importance of the Network Effect
Facebook, by contrast, started out as a social media outlet for Harvard. While Facebook started out with a far smaller prospective pool of users, specifically only 27,000 students, they all had reason to be interested in one another, thus creating an engaged and devoted user base. Because of the relevance, satisfaction and engagement with Facebook, users recommended it to their friends and other college students, creating a massive network of similarly aged, highly connected people with mutual interests.
This created a virtuous network effect which further increased Facebook’s relevance for its users. The takeaway lesson for marketers is that while it is important to get the word out, unless you are reaching qualified leads, it does you no good. Don’t send emails to everyone in your address book, rather, choose your recipients carefully. Don’t spray and pray. Choose the right market and create a strong connection and relevance to it; otherwise, you might have a lot of misleading nibbles but no fruitful bites. It is important to segment your data and your customers to better understand and access useful people who will find you useful.
Make customers happy before you worry about money
While Myspace probably thought it hit the jackpot with its 580 million dollar sale to News Corp, the sale might have actually been the seed of its downfall. Startups often focus on quality of product and a strong user base before monetization. While Myspace was still in startup mode when acquired, its high acquisition price and obligation to a public company created immense pressure to hit quarterly targets. It hastened the monetization process, which led to over-advertising and increased focus on making money, as opposed to focus on making the customer happy or the product better.
Due to the pressure to hit numbers and the fear of underperforming, Myspace was not as receptive to innovation or user input. Tinkering with the model, platform, or product would have led the company to new and unknown territory with customers, and Myspace couldn’t run experiments that didn’t predict sufficient user growth or enhanced profits.
In addition to putting pressure on Myspace to perform, News Corp designed a rigid business plan for Myspace, which hindered it from being more focused on enhancing user experience and satisfaction and slowing willingness to adapt and change.
Facebook, on the other hand, kept its ear to the ground, listened to user input and adapted accordingly. In fact, Facebook actively chose not to take the big payout and focused on developing its product. In 2006, Facebook turned down two large offers, the first from Viacom for 750 million dollars and the second from Yahoo at one billion dollars. Facebook has never been boring. If anything, people complain about too many new features and too many updates.
The lesson for marketers is that it is important to maintain flexibility and willingness to adapt and change and remain interesting and relevant. Listen to user input and feedback and don’t be afraid to change what you are doing. Your business plan can project 300 percent returns over one year, but that doesn’t do you much good if customers and prospects lose interest in your offering. Focus less on making money and more on making your customers happy–money usually follows.
The importance of targeted ads
Myspace was rolling in the dough–earning 800 million dollars in revenue in 2008. If you ever used Myspace back then, you would remember the amount of advertisements on your screen. However, they were more ad than content. The advertising was not interesting, or applicable, and hence would be very annoying.
Facebook, on the other hand, played the advertising game right, as it uses the information it has about you to create relevant and targeted ads. Facebook targets ads based on your profile, your likes, and information it gets about you from your Facebook friends. Generally, Facebook knows your age, location, education, relationship status, and more; Facebook would not push an ad to 18-25 year old males about the newest and hottest bras from Victoria’s Secret or Estee Lauder make-up, but rather, ads for the newest Michael Jordan sneakers would appear.
Facebook made it a priority to run directed, interesting, and relevant ads in appropriate quantities. Facebook has paid attention to how many ads get pushed to users without annoying them. One Facebook rep was quoted in an Edgerank Checker post in October 2012, saying, “we’re continually optimizing newsfeed to ensure the most relevant experience for our users.”
It is of the utmost importance as a B2B marketer to target the right people in the right quantities. It is not enough to have tons of ads on high traffic websites; you have to reach the right people on the right websites about the right subjects. To be successful, design your ads to be suitable to the people you want to be reading them, and put them in the right places for the right people.
Continued success and an attempt to rejuvenate
Facebook went public in May 2012 at a then record valuation of 104 billion dollars. After some minor hiccups at the start, it now trades at a 220 billion dollar valuation. This past quarter alone the company’s revenue grew around 61 percent to nearly 3 billion dollars. The company now has over 1.4 billion users.
In late 2013, Myspace users numbered approximately 36 million–less than half the number of unique users Myspace had at its peak in Late 2008. Necessity, rather than creative destruction, recently forced Myspace to reinvent itself into a social entertainment website when it was jointly purchased from News Corp for $35 million dollars by Specific Media and Justin Timberlake. They have revamped Myspace into a music sharing website which they hope will have value and relevance to producers, artists and even casual listeners.
While the original Myspace had an element of music sharing, the current strategy clearly is a re-visioning of the company. Although too early to deem the strategy successful, the company seems to be headed in the right direction.
Myspace’s story and history illustrates the importance of admitting failure and moving on by learning from past mistakes and being willing to let go of old ideas. Vinod Khosla, a successful and well-known Silicon Valley entrepreneur, has been quoted as saying, “Most entrepreneurs–good entrepreneurs–are just not afraid to fail… the ability to think outside the box is the Silicon Valley mindset.”
For B2B marketers, it is important to remember if a specific campaign, article or eBook does not succeed, or even gets negative feedback, and to learn from that failure or feedback and respond accordingly.
About the author: Ariel Applbaum is a Content Marketing Specialist at Radius, the data company that’s engineering decision science for B2B marketers. Ariel is studying entrepreneurship at Washington University in St. Louis. At Radius, he’s focused on building a community of innovative marketers through content partnerships.