Jon Clarke lays out six best practices to follow when employing behaviour-based marketing
In the past few years the traditional views of lead generation have been challenged. Some marketers are of the opinion that if it’s working, why not leave it? But increasingly, there are those that recognise the need for change, for a shift in approach that will help them generate better leads. In essence, programmatic advertising for B2B simply doesn’t work, so why invest in it?
There are a number of elements driving this need for transformation but the biggest is the change in the buying behaviour of consumers. In both the B2B and B2C markets this has been brought about mostly by the internet and the ease of getting information about products and services.
Empowered buyers, altered behaviour
In the B2B sense specifically, buyers are more empowered and savvier than ever before, knowing a lot more about products, solutions and the purveyors of those things. In the past it was a case of sourcing brochures, perhaps visiting a website and then calling different vendors and speaking to the sales team when researching a product or solution that could add value to your business.
Now, however, websites are more interactive and comprehensive, the rise of content marketing has provided a raft of educational marketing material to help decision making along and, perhaps most importantly, peer reviews and social media have provided an easy to digest and readily accessible source of information. To put that into perspective, when was the last time you called up a retailer to ask about a product? The odds are you checked the website, an app or looked on social media to see what everyone was saying about it. The same is true in B2B. And it’s one of the reasons that lead generation is getting harder, as is targeting buyers at the right time in the decision-making or buying journey.
Change is coming
Despite this acknowledgement of the need for change, there is still opposition and resistance. One of the main reasons is that change is inherently risky. And nowhere more so than in the marketing environment where investing in new technology or software and not being able to show return in investment is detrimental not only to business, but also to future revenues.
There is also always resistance to change because, let’s face it, no-one likes it. When it comes to lead generation, it requires a complete mindset shift, a change in behaviour and unlearning of decades of best practices. Doing something right that delivers better results isn’t necessarily easy, but it is worth applying the effort to generate better results. Why should we settle for mediocre or just getting by?
Don’t be fooled by the need for change as being something others need to worry about. B2B marketing needs to be more accountable around value and be far less woolly with contribution towards awareness and contribution towards sales growth.
But what is this change? What is needed for B2B marketers to generate the right types of leads, target the right audience and do it at the right time?
Enter behaviour-based marketing
It’s true that marketers are already using programmatic marketing to target and attract new customers. But based on the changes within the market and buying behaviours it is clear that this needs to be taken a lot further. The approach needs to be more personalised, more focused and enable marketers to reach that crucial 2-5% of prospects that are actually looking to buy, ready to make that decision.
This new approach is very much a qualitative, insights-based approach. Instead of relying on the established generic ‘spray and pray’ methods, marketers need to pay more attention to behaviour-based marketing that is fuelled by buying intent data and is a way of transforming the quality of leads produced by marketing.
Behaviour-based marketing is so effective because it is able to accurately spot and take action on (often) elusive intent-to-buy signals demonstrated by the active 5% of your audience. This approach enables you to target this audience with pinpoint accuracy and create hyper-relevant messaging for it in real time.
However, this is where the first hiccup may be experienced; instead of receiving 100 leads from a campaign, for example, sales will only receive 25. Immediately the question is raised, why so few? Last time we received more leads. The key differentiator here is quality. How many of those 100 leads actually panned out versus how many of the 25?
Marketing teams will be subjected to the age-old argument of quality versus quantity. But when it comes to lead generation, volume hardly ever guarantees results. Adopting this approach may be easier said than done, especially in light of the above. So how do you best go about this? There are six steps to consider.
Best practice approach to behaviour-based marketing
1. Take a layered approach
By taking a tiered approach to define your total addressable market you can allocate the majority of your marketing and sales resources to those audiences that are most likely to engage with your business.
2. Optimise your efforts
Use a structured approach to learn where to place the most effort, where to cut ineffective activity, and how to identify those most likely to buy a lot quicker.
3. Recognise your buyers
Build a deeper understanding of your customers by researching and mapping the actions and behaviours of the entire decision-making unit for each customer. In turn this helps you build out personas and relevant topics.
4. Identify your active market
Through the right mix of context, relevance and timing, you can accurately identify that small portion of the market that is showing current buying signals.
5. Create keywords
Build your keyword strategy based on the relevant topics identified for each stage of the buying cycle: Awareness (looking at challenges and needs), consideration (solutions) and decision (product names and your competitors).
6. Time to get personal
Personalise your messages for each prospect with relevant and current information to reinforce your own messaging and guide them along the buying journey.
Where volume-based mass marketing is speculative, inefficient and indiscriminate, behaviour-based marketing enables you to seek out the right audience, with the right message, and at the right time. Yes, it’s a paradigm shift that requires a change in approach and behaviour. And yes, there will be opposition from sales regarding the number of leads. But it’s time to stop acting like sheep, moving with the crowd and trying something that actually works. This new approach leads to higher conversion rates and will ultimately provide a greater return on investment. The time for change is now.