Digital Marketing: How to Get Ahead of the Competition
5th July 2016 Will Humphries
Digital marketing isn’t just a way to do business; it is the way to do business for any B2B sales organisation.
We all know that digital marketing is necessary for your organisation, but in reality, it is still in its infancy and can be very complicated when trying to find what works best for your business.
The vast majority of buyers prefer to engage with your company on the digital front first, as they become more familiar with your solutions.
Customer relationship management, analytics, and digital communication are three particular areas that you must align with buyers.
Reach the Audience
Marketing and sales success has always depended on the ability to connect with the audience on its own turf.
Now, the turf for B2B buyers is online, essentially flipping the funnel so that you are now competing on the medium of choice for the buyer.
Competitors in your industry all realise the importance of digital as well. The big question is “How can you stay ahead of your competition?”
According to a recent McKinsey & Company article, 56 percent of firms reported an intent to increase digital investments.
“56% of companies have told McKinsey they plan to increase their investments in digital, there is a catch. When asked, “How do you feel about your digital capabilities?” less than a third of companies said they have what they need, and a mere 17% said they are confident they have the right capabilities and processes in place.”
Your brand has to be able to adapt to the constantly changing requirements and expectations from your customers. You need to be able to reach them wherever they are and provide them with the content that they are looking for.
Enable Buyer Pre-Qualification
Regardless of your process or methods, pre-qualifying buyers is important to ensuring you get the most from your sales efforts.
You need to target the right people with your communication actions to generate a high return on investment.
A major benefit of a digital marketing approach is that you enable buyers to pre-qualify themselves before you ever talk with them.
In fact, your customers prefer this system.
They want to conduct some initial research to learn about solutions to their problems, and then to compare options. They don’t want to learn about you. Not yet anyway.
Your content strategy should offer information and education, and then stronger follow-up messages speaking to product benefits.
By the time buyers seek more information or request a trial or demo, they have made it through some initial interest filters.
Increase Your Understanding
What I mean by this is your understanding of your buyers and how & when they interact with your content.
Digital activities are typically easier to track than physical or manual activities.
But the modern customer journey is a complex one. So it is important to focus on the key moments that can help you inspire people to buy your products or services.
When the prospects you want to do business with interact with your content or social messages, you can track and analyse their behaviours.
These interactions can be across a number of different channels. And these channels, depending of course on what ones you are using to drive your b2b marketing campaigns, are as follows:
- Organic Search
- Generic Paid Search
- Branded Paid Search
- Display Advertising
Each of these campaigns will drive different actions and behaviours depending on when your buyer interacts with it – at the beginning of the buyer journey (creating awareness), at the middle (generating interest), or at the end (sealing the deal).
And to add even more complexity to the mix, other key areas that will have a bearing on your results include:
- industry type,
- geography – the country or countries you are selling into, and
- the size of the businesses you are targeting – small, medium, large.
If you are not taking each of these items into consideration for your digital marketing strategy, and your competitors are, you could be in trouble.
The more data you gather on buyer traits and preferences, the greater your ability to interpret and understand the meaning behind their activities.
Learning more about the thought processes and actions of targeted buyers enhances your opportunities to influence the buying journey and then manage customer relationships.
In other words – sell more!
Digital marketing is the best way to align with the buying activities of most B2B customers. The difficulty lies in staying one step ahead of the competition.
Offering digital messages to buyers gives them the capabilities to conduct pre-research and to qualify themselves before your initial sales call.
Continually track digital activities through analytics, and refine your understanding of your buyers’ processes.
Yes, it is a complex procedure and requires a great deal of planning and an even greater deal of analysis.
However, if you execute it correctly, you will get ahead of your competitors who are not taking the time to implement it correctly.