New Study Suggests Top B2B Marketing Strategies for 2016
The new year is finally here, which means marketers are settling down to evaluate the effectiveness of their efforts in 2015. By examining metrics as well as dusting off the 2015 Q1 marketing plan to see just how far they’ve grown beyond their initial planning, marketers undoubtedly will have many takeaways. But beyond understanding a brand’s past efforts, it’s just as important to understand trends and developments from the previous year, particularly for B2B marketing strategies.
To help out, KoMarketing has pulled together recent research that gives insight into the various trends, surveys, reports, and practices that have dominated the B2B market in 2015. From old practices that are losing their meaning, to content marketing strategies that have produced returns for both businesses and consumers, this report gives a clear picture of the B2B marketplace from 2015.
For some, B2B still elicits a sense of impersonality— the sterile, lifeless counterpart to B2C’s social media driven, visual content stimulated campaigns. But KoMarketing’s study has found that over the past year, inbound marketing and content marketing sensibilities have continued to work their way into B2B brands.
One such example would be the reported success of lead nurturing for B2B brands. Typically, for many B2B brands, lead generation and visibility are the sole goals of marketing—when it comes to starting relationships, cultivating accounts, or driving purchases, sales departments often take the credit. But this past year, 54 percent of B2B marketers who used methods of lead nurturing reported some kind of measurable success or improvement in their efforts.
A common issue, displayed in the graph above, is that the majority of marketers weren’t sure how to measure the success of their nurture campaigns. Part of this is simply due to technology, as many brands struggle to implement effective automation and analytics. But on the other hand, setting up effective goals for content marketing-oriented campaigns can also pose difficulty for brands new to the content game.
So what content marketing material is actually working for B2Bs? Citing a study from DemandGen, B2B companies were invested in a number of content efforts this past year, focusing primarily on white papers for research-based content, but also moving into recorded material like videos and webinars to add a more personal, engaging touch to education-based offerings.
As brands look ahead in the new year, here are a few takeaways for marketers looking to improve their B2B marketing strategies:
Test Personal and Professional Voice
Developing separate funnels for leads who respond to professionally-oriented and personally-oriented content can help marketers better understand their audience and also develop more effective means of nurturing leads.
One way to do this, for instance, would be to construct “plain voice” versions of automated emails that strip away flashy images, branding, and CTA buttons in place of an email written to feel like a personal outreach. By setting up your email automation to A/B test these templates against each person on your mailing list, you can learn which leads prefer flashy assets or a personal touch.
Set Behavioral Goals
Measuring content success can be difficult if your only focus is on the numbers. When testing new content or a new channel, construct a set of behavioral benchmarks that inform your primary marketing goal.
Is it more important to you for people to share your blog posts or engage in conversation in the comments? What do you learn if viewers drop out of your video content at the 25, 50 or 75 percent watched mark? And is drop-off okay if it’s because they’re following a link or annotation?
Understanding how people engage with your brand’s content can be as informative as how often they engage.
That simple, sweet word that controls so many aspects of business. When in doubt, trying a new kind of content can help brands both learn about their audiences and also about the efficacy of their ongoing efforts. Make it a goal to test a new channel or style of content every quarter of 2016, and use the information from these tests to improve your workflow or better serve the interests of your audience.
B2B marketing may never look exactly the same as B2C, but remembering that there are always people behind brands can help B2B content marketers make contact in ways they never have before. Technology will continue to change, but audience’s interest in meaningful content won’t. Find your brand’s story, and tell it— and of course, collect data with every new chapter you share.
Uncertain how to break into new content creation or marketing workflows? Check out this free eBook from Skyword on recruiting and engaging with influential content creators.