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As the end of the year approaches, it’s time for marketers to establish 2015 goals and objectives. The marketing space is changing so it is important that we change with it. Below I have outlined three tactics I see becoming popular marketing trends in the coming year.
1. Turn Your Customers Into Advocates
Research has confirmed that customer referrals are essential in the B2B buying process. Jim Williams, VP of Marketing at Influitive, noted a recent stat, which says that 84% of decision makers start their buying process with a referral from a trusted peer, which means that customer advocates are more important now than ever before.
To start, what is an advocate? Williams defines an advocate as “someone that makes a non-financial investment in your company.” Advocates have the power to defend your brand, promote your content, support you in your social media efforts, and give you referral leads. These advocates will take action for you, and they will do it willingly. So in the coming year, make it a goal of yours to go out and find your advocates! Advocates provide value via:
- Lead Volume: Advocates will generate buzz and actively refer leads. These leads are more likely to close compared to random leads because they have been referred by people they trust.
- Funnel Conversion: As previously stated, these leads will convert quickly and effectively because the fear of risk is removed. They’re already familiar with your product, and they trust the advocates who told them about it, resulting in a shorter sales cycle.
Key Takeaway for 2015: Take full advantage of your customers and turn them into advocates. They will improve your reputation, give you quality leads, and most importantly, boost revenue. Looking for ideas on ways to make your customers advocates? Start by making these changes:
- Define Your Leaders: Who in your company is going to spearhead these efforts? Often times, the marketing and customer service departments will work together because they can figure out if the content they are creating is resonating well with customers. Doing this will allow you to figure out which specific individuals are going to bring the most value to your customer advocacy program.
2. Deliver Value to Buyers Along Their Journey
As marketers, we grapple with the same challenges year to year. For example, many marketers struggle to generate enough quality leads, produce content at a steady pace and align with sales. Although many of these challenges remain, the overall buying process continues to morph and we are thus presented with new challenges. One important change that marketers need to recognize is that the B2B buying process has evolved into something completely different than what it was before. The 2014 B2B Buyer Behavior Survey by Demand Gen Report revealed the current state of the buying process. Some key insights include:
- 58% of buyers spent more time researching their purchases than they did last year (48% in 2013)
- 53% of buyers said they relied more on peer recommendations than prior years (19% in 2012)
- 34% of buyers said the number of team members involved in a B2B purchase has risen in the past year
Key Takeaway for 2015: These statistics reveal one common theme: it is all about the buyer. We are living in a buyer-centric world and it is up to marketers to cater to the buyers. This means providing the right type of content, as well as a proper engagement, nurture and conversion process to allow a buyer to move through their buying process. It is not about what we want to say to our buyer, it is about what our buyer wants to hear from us.
So how do we make sure we cater to our buyer?
End the Battle Between Marketing and Sales
For several years, there has been a battle between the marketing and sales departments in many organizations. Often times, the sales team thinks the marketing team isn’t doing their job and vice versa. With the rise in marketing, the relationship between the two needs to be symbiotic:
- Sirius Decisions reported that, “B2B organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations achieved 24% faster three-year revenue growth, and 27% faster three-year profit growth.”
- Matt Close and Maureen Blandford (head of sales and marketing, respectively for The TAS Group) point out one part of the process that tends to be forgotten: marketing needs sales to share the insight they receive from buyers. With open communication, the two departments will be able to effectively build demand generation messaging and programs around the modern B2B buyer.
Target Your Content Marketing
In order for your content marketing to be successful, it has to resonate with the prospect or customer, showcasing a specific need or relating to the point they are at in their buying journey. Understanding who your audience is and where they are in the funnel will give you insight on what type of content your team should create and what tactics they should initiate. Targeting content for each group of individuals will allow your marketing team to:
- Create valuable, insightful, specific content for each audience
- Promote your product at the right time
- Cater the tone of your message to each audience and how often you should say it
3. Adopt Behavioral Marketing
Behavioral marketing is a huge opportunity B2B marketers should be taking advantage of; it allows them to communicate with their customers and prospects in an incredibly personal way. But first, what is behavioral marketing and why should we all use it? Behavioral marketing involves executing specific marketing tactics in response to an individual’s behaviors that are tracked and analyzed by marketing technology (e.g., content marketing analytics; lead scoring; predictive analytics). Behavioral marketing enables us to have more intelligent, unique, relevant, and valuable conversations with our buyers. Chris Murphy, Product Marketing Director at Silverpop, says that in order for successful behavioral marketing to occur, you must first answer some key questions:
- “Which behaviors matter most to your business?” Marketing teams need to sit down and figure out which behaviors matter most to their customers. Web behaviors? Demographics? Email behaviors? What are the behaviors that will help move the customer forward? This data should be individual, insightful, contextual, and actionable.
- “How do you capture and learn from these individuals?” A behavioral database (e.g., Silverpop, Marketo, Eloqua, Act-On, Pardot) can track information across several channels:
- Social: Did the individual come to your website via Twitter or Facebook? Share a piece of content?
- Email: Did the customer or prospect open an email? Click a link within an email? Open the email right when it was sent or a week later?
- Website: Did the individual visit your blog or website? Did they download a recent eBook or schedule a demo?
- Web tracking: Tie your email marketing campaigns into web tracking data to further communicate with customers as individuals. Marketing technology allows companies to track online behaviors, storing the data all in one place. By doing so, marketers will be able to send customers and prospects more targeted and relevant content.
- “How do you apply these insights?” Now that you have ways to learn from each of these individuals through your marketing technology, what can you do with this information?
- Target & Segment: Put these individuals into small or large buckets so that they can be segmented. Segmenting contacts via industry, gender, interests, etc. can help to accurately deliver the right content to the right audience.
- Implement Lead Scoring: A recent infographic by Lead Lizard states that 58% of marketers use lead scoring as a way to improve their marketing effectiveness. Lead scoring is a way to assign values to each of your leads based on the information they provide and behaviors they show on your website or blog.These scores are then filed into the leads profile and help to determine when they are ready to talk to a sales person. In order for lead scoring to be done successfully, it must be set up in your marketing automation software with an understanding of the specific values you want to assign.This tactic also allows marketers to understand their diversified customer portfolio. It is often said that 80% of revenue comes from 20% of your customers, but do you actually know whom the 20% are? An effective lead scoring model can tell you who is a one-time buyer and how you can further engage with them so they become a two-time buyer, etc.
Key Takeaway for 2015: Adopting behavioral marketing will allow you to send the right content to the right lead. Today’s buyers control the buying process far more than today’s sellers control the selling process. Customers are engaging with new channels and platforms and they want companies to be right there with them.
There are many more tactics emerging in marketing, but the ones listed above are certainly some of the most important in the coming year. As you start to plan your strategy for 2015, remember these tactics and know that the marketing space is changing and we need to adapt to these changes.
For more information about enhancing your marketing strategy, download Curata’s eBook, The Comprehensive Guide to Content Marketing Analytics & Metrics.