Today’s post comes courtesy of Sean Callahan, Senior Manager, Content Marketing at LinkedIn.
These days, B2B marketers are running hard just to stand still. They must run to stay up on new marketing technologies, and they hustle to stay ahead of their competitors – all the while trying to leap over the new hurdles that stand in their way. The digital world has made marketing more complex, but at the same time new marketing technologies have provided effective ways to reach prospects and customers as they self-educate through the buying process.
Here are four demanding hurdles facing B2B marketers – along with approaches for clearing them to keep racing toward your goals.
Hurdle No. 1: As much as 90% of the buyer’s journey is over before a prospect reaches out to your sales team.
The figures vary, but many sales and marketing experts agree that B2B prospects are 55 percent to 90 percent finished with the sales process before reaching out to vendors. As prospects self-educate about the products and services they wish to buy, the remain anonymous through most of this process, visiting websites, consulting peers on social media, and poring over review sites. The buyer’s journey represents a huge opportunity for the marketing department, which can glean insight during this lengthening phase of the buyer’s journey better than any other department in their company.
Leap No. 1: Embrace full funnel marketing.
Develop a full-funnel marketing program that enables you to reach, nurture, and acquire prospects and communicate with them through the entire buying process. In the upper funnel, marketers must use awareness and branding advertising to ensure that targeted prospects not only know their company but have a positive perception of it. In the mid-funnel, marketers must nurture prospects using a variety of tactics, ranging from email, to sales development rep phone calls to display advertising. And in the lower-funnel, marketers must be in acquisition mode, driving marketing-qualified leads for the sales team.
Hurdle No. 2: Too many marketers overemphasize the bottom of the funnel.
Many marketers are most comfortable in the bottom of the funnel. They use search, email, and other lower funnel tactics to drive leads toward the sales department. The comfort level stems from the fact that these tactics can be easier to measure, which means it’s simpler to prove to the CEO that these tactics are generating ROI. The problem is too many marketers are ignoring upper funnel tactics, which are the very things that fill the lower funnel in the first place.
And be sure to download The Sophisticated Marketer’s Crash Course in Full Funnel Marketing where you can learn:
- The most effective tactics for reaching prospects at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
- How to measure your impact in the upper and lower funnel.
- How real companies are using full funnel marketing to boost awareness, conversions, and revenue.
- How B2B marketing experts take full advantage of full funnel marketing.
Leap No. 2: Don’t ignore branding.
Branding and awareness marketing have traditionally been the expertise of B2C marketers, who have used TV and other broadcast media to reach broad audiences. Content marketing is an effective and highly measurable branding tool. Additionally, with the rise of targeted display advertising on the Internet, B2B marketers, with very little waste, can now use display ads to reach precise audiences with branding messages.
Hurdle No. 3: Only 1 in 20 of website visitors share their email addresses.
B2B marketers allocate much of their budget to drive prospects to the corporate website. The problem is that 95 percent of prospects who arrive at a website don’t share their email addresses, which means that traditional email marketing programs don’t reach a good portion of interested prospects.
Leap No. 3: Develop a multi-channel nurturing program.
By using multi-channel nurturing program, such as that afforded by LinkedIn Lead Accelerator, marketers can now use display advertising to nurture even the anonymous visitors to your website. Display can also be used to nurture the 80 percent of a typical B2B marketer’s database who don’t open email. A well-rounded nurturing program also includes sales development reps who use the telephone to nurture and qualify leads for the sales team. (LinkedIn Lead Accelerator has recently been integrated with two Oracle platform: Eloqua marketing automation software and BlueKai data management platform).
Hurdle No. 4: Sales and marketing alignment remains a challenge.
The disconnect between the sales and marketing departments is legendary. Too often, the marketing department believes the sales team doesn’t follow up properly on leads. Similarly, the sales team believes the leads that marketing provides leave a lot to be desired. Can’t we all just get along?
Leap No. 4: Marketing technology can help bridge the gap.
Marketing automation software, in particular, can help sales and marketing agree on the definition of marketing qualified leads. Sales and marketing should sit down in the same room and hammer out what demographics and behaviors define an MQL. Then, the marketing automation program can be implemented to build a pipeline filled with exactly those kinds of leads. A survey last year found that 81 percent of software marketers, typically on digital marketing’s cutting edge, had implemented marketing automation software. On the other hand, just 31 percent of all marketers surveyed had implemented marketing automation. The message of those figures is clear: Most marketers have a long way to go in catching up.
In the race to be an effective B2B marketer, there are plenty of hurdles. But by recognizing how the buyer’s journey has changed the race, B2B marketers can embrace a full funnel approach and marketing automation and other new tools to put them a step ahead of their competitors.