Tag Archives: B2B

5 reasons why email is still a great B2B marketing tool

I want your email The glory days of outbound marketing are slowly drawing to a close, and are being replaced with a new form of marketing called inbound marketing. Instead of pushing sales pitches at the customer, savvy marketers are now using compelling content to draw customers toward them. Experts argue the latter is more effective and less intrusive.

Caught up in the middle is the fate of email as a marketing tool. When drawing up a comparison between outbound and inbound marketing, email is often lumped into the mass communication, spam category of outbound marketing. For the following reasons, this is a flawed conclusion I would urge CMOs to reconsider:

1. Just like social media, email is an “opt-in” channel

If a person wants to access your tweets on Twitter, they follow you. If a person would like to read your LinkedIn updates, they connect with you. If a person would like to view your Facebook posts, they Friend you. Similarly, if a person wants to receive email newsletters or updates, they subscribe to your channel.

The difference between social platforms and email is that you can send an email without receiving prior permission, and this is why email communication has been tainted. The solution, however, is not to kill email; it is to apply an opt-in strategy to your email marketing program.

2. Every channel is a mass communication channel

Each one of the channels mentioned above is a one-to-many communication platform. You can argue that Twitter enables mass messaging, and the same goes with Facebook and LinkedIn. All have content streams that have to be monitored and checked for information, just like you have to check your email inbox.

In this regard, email is no different than the channels that support inbound marketing.

3. Spam isn’t where you think it is

Here’s the Wikipedia definition of spamming:

Electronic spamming is the use of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited bulk messages (spam), especially advertising, indiscriminately.

With promoted updates now being introduced across all social platforms, you are going to receive unsolicited messages – spam, some might call it – amidst new inbound marketing content.

But here’s the rub: people with well-managed inboxes will receive less spam, because they have a number of services preventing spam from entering their inbox. For them, spam is blocked at the Internet Service Provider, blocked by their company firewall, or sent directly to the junk mail folder on their computer.

4. If you ask permission, you will enjoy more success

If you provide an email subscription service that enables prospects and clients to provide optional information – such as their company, job title, seniority level, country, desired communication frequency and other interests – you will be able to give customers what they want and when they want.

People crave information, if it is relevant, useful and well-timed. By collecting and respecting personal preferences, your organisation builds credibility, trust and confidence.

The important thing is not to abuse this channel.

5. Email is still the preferred channel

Progressive marketers are moving to inbound marketing models because they work well, but many of your clients and prospects are not moving as quickly.

We have conducted research with existing clients and prospects, most of whom were senior managers and executives within our target market. We were surprised to find that over 90% of these individuals still preferred a personalised, weekly email. They favoured a short, skimmable introduction to the content we were introducing, with a link to download or read more.

Final words…

Abuse has given email a bad name, but – managed correctly – email is still a viable and often-preferred marketing channel.

Let’s not forget that every single social and blogging platform still uses email to contact their respective users to bring them back to their platforms.

David Graham is the Digital Engagement Leader at Deloitte Africa. He focuses on B2B digital marketing, relationship marketing and content marketing. You can email him at davgraham@deloitte.co.za

Image: 28 Dreams/Flickr

What you should be doing online to attract new business opportunities

 

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by David Graham – Digital Engagement Leader at Deloitte Digital

Getting business-to-business (B2B) online marketing right is an art and a science, a combination of multiple factors which involve people, process and technology. The analogy we like to use is that of an orchestra. The B2B online marketer is the conductor and the orchestra are the instruments (i.e. people, content, process and technology).

We have been approached by many companies, asking how they should engage, interact and influence clients and potential clients online in order to generate new business opportunities. Based on the experience and insights we have gained with our business-to-business (B2B) online marketing activities to date, here are five areas where you should focus your B2B online marketing efforts.

  1. DO NOT SELL

The biggest mistake businesses make is they talk about their products, services and solutions. Focus on building trust and confidence first. How do you do this? Equate your initial engagement and interaction with a new prospect or client with that of a first date. Your first date will fail miserably if you spend all the time talking about yourself (i.e. your products, services and solutions). If you talk knowledgably and competently about a subject that resonates with the prospect, and continue to do so over time, you will earn trust will be seen as a thought leader. Thought leaders are approached by people who need help or assistance. They say a good salesman does not sell but rather encourages the purchaser to make a buying decision.

  1. Content is the most important ingredient

Without the regular production of good content, your B2B online marketing efforts will fail dismally. Online content comes in many guises. This could be web copy, a thought piece, an article or opinion piece, the results of a survey, a blog post, a Facebook or LinkedIn update, tweet or the content of an email. Each one of these serves a different purpose and needs to be worded, structured and formatted differently. Images in the form of photos and video also fall within this category and must be used appropriately on the relevant online platforms. Your content will serve many purposes such as educating, informing and influencing but also “humanising” your business in order to create an emotional connection with your target audience.

  1. Find out where your target market is online and their preferences

The big difference between business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing and business-to-business (B2B) marketing is that with B2B marketing, you know your target market. If you are operating within a specific territory you will be able to identify a finite number of businesses you would like to sell your products, services, solutions (and people) to. You will also know who the typical decision makers are within the organisation. Armed with this information and insight, it is a simple case of reaching out to these individuals and asking them how they prefer to consume content online. Once you have this information, you can then develop a strategy to engage and interact with these individuals on their preferred platforms. While you conduct this exercise, you may want to ask which online publications they read because you ell then know which editors and journalists to interact with. Once you know where your target market is online, focus all your B2B online marketing efforts on these platforms.

  1. Educate your staff

Gone are the days when all marketing was done by one department. Nowadays everyone has access to websites, blogs, mobile apps, email and social media. It has been proven statistically that if only 20% of your staff members actively engage and share your business content online, the will be a significant positive impact on your bottom line. Many marketing specialists now use the P2P or Person-to-Person marketing phrase. As with any change in an organisation, this behaviour won’t just happen. Your executive management must own this and cascade it down to operational level within your organisation. This will require a formal education and change management programme. If need be, motivate staff members to connect and share your business content by building it into their key performance indicators.

  1. Measure, measure, measure

There are a plethora of tools available which you must use to enhance and fine tune your B2B online marketing, which must be used throughout your B2B online marketing process. Some example I can cite are listening tools which enable to identify what your clients, prospects, media and competitors are talking about online (e.g. conversations relating to your products, services, solution, your company and industry). Depending on the online platforms you decide to use, there are analytics provided with all of these platforms which enable you to measure the success of your campaigns and online interaction. Before you embark on your B2B marketing process, obtain agreement from your management in terms of critical success factors and ensure that the analytics you extract can be used to measure your success against the CSFs.

Conclusion

To conclude, the top five things you must focus on when it comes to B2B online marketing is to build trust and confidence (i.e. DO NOT SELL), develop a sound content strategy, find out where your target market and the media are and go to them, educate your staff and become a “social business” and use all the measurement tools that are at your disposal.

Please note that these are the most important areas to focus however there are many other factors that you need to take cognisance of which we can discuss at your request.

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This article was written by David Graham, Digital Engagement Leader at Deloitte Digital

David is a thought leader in the Business to Business (B2B) digital marketing, relationship marketing and content marketing space and is the “go-to” person at Deloitte Digital for businesses who wish to connect, interact and influence business decision makers online, in order to initiate offline engagement. David has more than 20 years in sales and marketing roles at leading global software and management consulting organisations, engaging with executive decision makers and providing them with solutions to business challenges.

If you would like to have a more detailed B2B online marketing discussion with David Graham, connect on LinkedIn, follow on Twitter or email at davgraham@deloitte.co.za

Follow Deloitte Digital on Twitter or visit the Deloitte Digital website to get a taste of how Deloitte Digital can help digitise your brand

 

Online marketing and how it influences your sales pipeline

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To assist me in articulating to my clients how online marketing aligns with a typical sales process, I produced a diagram which shows the different stages in the marketing and sales process and how online marketing is used to drive leads, prospects and sales opportunites down the sales funnel.

online marketing pipeline

1. Awareness

Using a combination of your company website, search engine optimisation, search engine marketing, content marketing, your personal or company blog, social media marketing and smart phone and tablet apps, you create awareness and build credibility and encourage people to follow, connect, join your groups and subscribe to your blog and newsletter and interact with you.

2. Nurturing subscribers

People who have subscribed to your newsletter have given you permission to communicate with them on a regular basis. This is where you continue to build credibility and stay top of mind. Producing good content is crucial in order to retain subscribers and to encourage them to continue consuming your content and sharing your content with their respective communities.

3. Offline sales activity

This is where you make the transition from an online to an offline engagement and where the online channel can still play a part in building credibility. This is where you meet face-to-face with prospective clients, build relationships and present proposals.

4. Closing business

The is the last phase of the sales process and the start of an ongoing relationship with your new client. This is still an important element of your online marketing process because new and existing clients will (hopefully) provide favourable references online and can potentially allow you to publish case studies and testimonials on your website.

 

What makes a perfect B2B blog post?

I discovered this article on the {grow} blog on Schaefer Marketing Solutions.

What makes a perfect B2B blog post?

I wanted to let you know about a new resource for all you hard-working B2B bloggers out there. The amazing and progressive Eloqua company sponsored me to create The Grande Guide to B2B Blogging and it really turned out to be a sensational piece of work. It’s full of new tips and tricks to make your company blog sing and do a happy dance.

One of the coolest things is that they hired the Jess3 design shop to create the look, including some killer infographics including this one on the characteristics of the perfect blog post. It’s my first official kick-ass infographic:

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5 Steps to Generate B2B Leads from LinkedIn Company Pages

Posted on July 2, 2012 by Mark Bower of Cube Social

As a B2B company you probably already have a basic LinkedIn Company Page with a company overview and list of employees. What you’re probably not doing though is making use of the Products and Services section to market your offerings. And yet this is the most important part of a LinkedIn Company Page.

1. List Your Products and Services

The first thing you need to do is fire up your products and services page. Until recently, you could only add products, but now you can list services too it’s ideal for the professional and financial services industry.

2. Add each of your services and an image for each one too.

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3. Get Recommendations

The most powerful part of LinkedIn’s company page is the recommendations. In LinkedIn, people can’t recommend or review companies – only products and services. When a prospective client visits your page, they see recommendations from people they know right next to your offerings.

Get into the habit of requesting recommendations from clients at the end of each piece of work.

4. Add a Banner

LinkedIn lets you create what are effectively three free banner adverts on your page. (Try saying that quickly!) For each one you can add a link to a landing page on your website where you can funnel the lead to take whatever action you want (e.g. Sign-up for your newsletter)

5. Add Video

You can add a YouTube video for each product or service: Showcase your offerings, show video testimonials from clients or show a video case study. Your objective should be to encourage viewers to become a lead. Think about what specific action you would like the viewer to take after watching the video and explicitly include that call to action in the video itself. The call to action could be as straight-forward as asking the viewer to follow your company on LinkedIn.
Post Status Updates

Regularly post news and status updates on your LinkedIn company page. Think about what would be interesting to your audience – post company news, blog posts, product offers and relevant third party articles. Use it to showcase your expertise, show a little of your organisation’s personality and of course, market your services.

Do have anything to add to this list?

Heavy Chef interviews David Graham on mistakes made by brands in social media marketing

This interview was published in Heavy Chef News by Wendy Tayler on the 10th April 2012

David Graham is the Digital Channels Executive at Deloitte South Africa. His primary responsibility is to connect and initiate dialogue across numerous digital channels between Deloitte industry and subject matter specialists and business decision makers at leading organisations in the private and public sector. Heavy Chef chatted to him about social media marketing and the common mistakes that many brands make.

DAVIDDo you think it is necessary for every brand to get involved in this particular form of marketing?

Any person, organisation, company, corporate that was engaged in traditional marketing 1.0 activities in the past, needs to transition to social media marketing. The tables have turned from a company-push to a consumer-pull model. Consumers are dictating how they want to make purchase decisions and the only way that companies can gain visibility of these preferences is to engage with clients and customers, and listen to them. The short answer to your question is a resounding yes.

What is the most common mistake brands make regarding their social media marketing?

Brands rush in too quickly without doing the necessary planning first. Social media marketing, as with any business function, requires a proper strategy to be defined first. Strategy, as you know, has to be owned and driven from the top down. Social media also has to be part of a broader marketing strategy and cannot be done in isolation. Companies also need to have realistic expectations in terms of what they hope to achieve from social media marketing. As part of the strategy, companies also need to define specific criteria to measure success, and they need to measure regularly and provide feedback to stakeholders. What many companies do not realise, if you go back to the middle ages, people would congregate in a market where people would meet, develop relationships, and as part of this process, people would buy goods and services from the marketers. Nothing has changed today except we do it virtually, more quickly and involve way more people. What I am trying to say in a roundabout way is that it’s all about value networking and conversations. Companies that get this right will succeed.

How can companies best deal with stopping bad information from spreading out of control?

Bad information is shared more readily by people and travels way quicker across the Internet. The best solution is do not mess up in the first place, but that is virtually impossible. If a client has a bad experience, ensure that you make it as easy as possible for a consumer to contact your company across multiple communication channels. Secondly, ensure that you have a reputation management strategy in place to deal with incidents. If a consumer is venting on social media, attempt wherever possible to take it offline and resolve the issue. The other consideration for all organisations is to invest in software that identifies negative sentiment.

What is the best way for brands to deal with the fact that their target market is constantly changing social network platforms?

It is up to all companies participating on the various social networks to keep a constant eye on their target market to see where they are participating. They also need to conduct continual research on new trends such as Google+ and Pinterest. You cannot change consumer behaviour, but having visibility enables you to proactively move with the masses.

Thank you David. Your insight into social media marketing for brands was really insightful. You can follow David on Twitter here.

Read more posts by Wendy Tayler