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6 simple things B2B digital marketing gets wrong

By Jennifer Esty  |  May 18, 2018

At Sharp Ahead we often get asked to do audits of our clients’ (and prospects’) digital footprints, which is a great way to start to understand how to make immediate improvements to your digital marketing.

Here are six things that come up time and time again.

1. Phone numbers: most B2B products and services are relatively complex and will ultimately require person-to-person selling. The best outcome of your digital marketing campaign is almost always inspiring a prospect enough to call you. So make phone numbers prominent on your website, ideally in the header of your landing pages and website.

A few other phone number rules:
– don’t make your prospects choose from multiple phone numbers, more often than not they’ll just choose to phone someone else. And when they do call, don’t give them 6 different options to choose from.
– don’t charge your B2B prospects for phoning you
– and most importantly, during business hours, make sure the phone is answered by a trained member of staff. Every. Single. Time.

2. Don’t hide your best content. Content marketing is not a treasure hunt. If you hide your best content, no one is going to come looking for it. Social proof like case studies, testimonials, and client logos needs to be featured prominently on key entrance and landing pages.

3. The Ronseal Principle: tell visitors to your site exactly what you do in plain language. Taglines, mission statements, and post-branding workshop catch phrases are all well and good, but don’t assume your prospects know you already or that you naturally have enough credibility to be on their short list.

4. Most prospects don’t even want to visit your website. Google has taught us to expect its search engine results pages (SERPs) to answer our questions without visiting actual websites. Make sure the SERPs for key terms, like your brand and contact information, are as carefully curated as your homepage. Google gives you lots of good tools for doing this, including free ones like Google My Business.

5. Prices: do not be afraid of talking about price. At some point, the cost of your products or services is going to be very, very relevant to your prospects. You can save a lot of everyone’s time by giving at least an indication of price during the lead generation process. The hard work of establishing your price points and your place in the market should have been done already; be confident in your decision making and honest with your prospects.

6. Landing pages. Use landing pages for your lead generation campaigns. Make sure they are optimised for conversion, which includes paying attention to every detail from page load speeds to the wording and colour of your CTA to which fields you put on the form. Do not send your hard won and paid for traffic to a page on your website.

And last but not least, if you have any questions or need help with any of the above, please get in touch.

Two people looking at a laptop and tablet

Why you should read one more blog article on B2B content marketing

By Jennifer Esty  |  April 25, 2017

Enough I hear you say!

Enough about content marketing, and thought leadership, storytelling, brandscaping, big data; and while we’re at it, enough about tailored content, content consumption and low hanging fruit.

I promise not to use any of those buzzwords (again).

But there’s just one more thing we should discuss about your B2B content marketing strategy: Marketing Automation.

No, it’s not just another piece of technology that will sit unused in your virtual cupboard like the popcorn maker of marketing appliances.

Marketing Automation is quite possibly the one thing standing between your content marketing strategy and utter pointlessness.

Back in 2015, SirusDecisions published research that suggested anywhere from 60-80% of B2B content was wasted- as in never read and never nurturing or generating a single lead.

And it’s not getting better.

How Marketing Automation can help

The beauty of Marketing Automation is that it brings process and measurability to content marketing.

Process to what content is created when, for whom, with what messages, for which stage of the funnel.

Measurability to what content actual contributes to lead generation and lead nurturing—for the right kinds of leads.

It can make sure that your content strategy is the right strategy and that it’s being implemented effectively.

How does it do all that and make popcorn?

Well it doesn’t really make popcorn.

But by combining your content library, landing pages, email marketing, social marketing, SEO, website prospecting, lead scoring, testing, and analytics in a single platform, marketing automation helps you understand what content you should create and how it performs once you have.

Most MA tools offer so much functionality that I’d need a whitepaper rather than a blog article to discuss each one, but for the purposes of convincing you that content marketing without marketing automation is a waste of time, let’s briefly discuss one.

Lead Nurturing

Leading Marketing Automation provider Act-On defines lead nurturing as systematically contacting prospects over a set amount of time and providing relevant content that eases them through the buyer’s journey.

Sounds good, right? And the whole point of your content strategy is providing relevant content. Right?

But how do you know it’s relevant? For whom? At what stage of the buying journey? And how do you know when it does and doesn’t work?

Marketing automation provides the following functionality to answer these questions. Or test possible answers to these questions. In real time. In a single place.

  • Lead scoring: a points system to assign values based on pre-determined criteria, such as the person’s industry and job title, website visits, content downloads, event attendance, form completions, etc. This scoring helps define what content you should be creating for prospects at different points in the funnel.
  • Triggered emails: emails sent out automatically based on important or momentous events that are related to your prospects’ actions, ensuring content is relevant.
  • Automated email programmes: email programmes based on real-time behaviours, overall engagement, or a pre-set schedule to push engagement with content based on real knowledge of your prospects
  • Funnel reports: track prospects through key conversions and create models that help you better predict the buyer’s journey and evaluate which, how and when content is contributing
  • Analytics: for everything from your emails and downloads to landing pages and form submissions, helping you answer the question: does my content matter?

So, if you plan to do any content marketing in the next 12 months, please make Marketing Automation part of your strategy.

And if you need a popcorn maker, I have one in my cupboard for sale.

Diagram showing components of a landing page

Building a landing page can help you understand your business better

By Jennifer Esty  |  June 27, 2016

Albert Einstein once said: “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.”

Essentially Einstein was just reminding us that if we really know our stuff, explaining it to people who matter shouldn’t be that difficult.

This is no less true in business than it is science. As marketers, it is our job to clearly communicate our organisation’s value proposition to our target audiences.

But too often we try to tell everyone everything all at once (check out your website for example).

How A Landing Page Can Help

Landing pages are a critical element of B2B marketing campaigns, and we have found that when we work with clients to create the content, agree the call to action, and assemble the right mix of creative assets, this process also has the interesting effect of helping clients realise what they actually need to convey to their audience.

A (truly effective) landing page should only have so much content, so many creative assets and one call to action that clients want their audience to complete.

The process of agreeing what should be included, and what shouldn’t, is a cathartic process that can help marketers focus on what really matters to their audience.

We often start a campaign by building the landing pages first. We do this even before agreeing what the paid media mix will look like, because the process more often than not changes what the client set out to say, and who they want to say it to.

It’s a process well worth investing time and attention to get it right. The rewards are higher conversions and messaging and content you can reuse across your marketing mix.

So remember, if you can’t explain it on a landing page, you probably don’t understand it yourself yet.

Making the Business Case for B2B Digital Transformation

Making the business case for digital transformation

By Jennifer Esty  |  May 11, 2016

Are you a B2B marketer trying to make the business case for digital transformation or investment?

My colleague Rob Stevens, has some great- and by great I mean practical and effective- advice on how to get buy-in from key budget holders.

His short white paper focuses on a few key areas of digital marketing that can offer solid return on investment for B2B companies. It offers some practical tips and useful statistics for getting the budget you need to execute them.

The paper also covers strategies for marketers in B2B companies who have previously engaged in similar activities and found they did not yield results that justified their costs.

Download the paper here or get in touch with us directly.

Coloured and Decorated Easter eggs

Preparing for the Easter holiday: quick tips for B2B marketers

By Jennifer Esty  |  March 24, 2016

Easter weekend is nearly here, and you’re probably  looking forward to a few days of hot cross buns and chocolate eggs, but who is looking after your marketing while you’re away?

If you have an agency helping you out, you might not be too worried. However if you’re looking after it on your own or with a small team, some of whom are also on holiday, there are a few things you can do to make sure all the hard work of the past few months isn’t compromised by a week away.

Using AdWords?

If you have Google AdWords campaigns running, download the Google AdWords app (not AdWords Express).

This handy app gives you top line campaign information including:

  • Stats
  • Bids and budgets
  • Real-time alerts and notifications
  • Call a Google expert
  • Act on suggestions to improve your campaigns

Schedule content

Not all of your potential customers will be on holiday, so don’t let your content go stale while you are away. You can schedule content for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media platforms. There are loads of tools you can use, including HootSuite, Sprout Social and TweetDeck. Check out this article by Capterra, complete with a handy comparison chart for more information.

Using Facebook?

With Facebook Pages Manager you can view and respond to comments and private messages from your phone (as well as see Page Insights) and the Facebook Adverts Manager allows you to edit your ads and budgets, get notifications of when ads are finishing and keep an eye on your spending.

Still send emails

Most email platforms will allow you to send emails scheduled for a specific time. Marketing automation platforms also allow you set up automatic email sends based on user behaviour. So you don’t need to stop your lead nurturing over the holidays or let potential leads go cold while you figure out what to do with all that leftover lamb (incidentally, the BBC do a nice list of recipes).

Think about your website

As with email most content management systems have an option to schedule content, so you don’t have to leave your Happy Easter message on your website until the 11th of April. Nothing screams ‘I’ve gone on holiday and don’t care about you right now’ like outdated seasonal content. If your website CMS doesn’t have a schedule function, consider putting your best performing content on the homepage while you’re away, or at least don’t leave up information about an out of date event (or a picture of an Easter egg) during your break.

Check with your Sales team

Finally, just before you leave, make sure there is a plan in place to deal with inbound leads. If you have a small sales team who are also on holiday, make sure someone will be monitoring the group email address and you have an answer service in place so the phone doesn’t go unanswered.

Happy Easter!

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