A five-point B2B digital marketing strategy for engagement and visibility in 2016
With a recent survey indicating that 77% of companies increased their digital marketing budgets - up from 71% on the previous year - and trends indicating further rapid growth in 2016, competition for B2B visibility is increasing significantly.
And what this means in terms of gaining competitive high ground in crowded B2B markets is the application of stand-out techniques in both new and existing B2B marketing channels. So what do these stand-outs look like in developing market share in 2016?
01. More sophisticated content marketing strategies
In B2B marketing content is key. That is because B2B audiences do detailed online research, and have a good grasp of their chosen subject at the outset of that research, so are very demanding and discerning recipients when served relevant content.
This means that your 2016 content strategy must offer a clearly defined storyline over the entire year with detailed, accurate technical information that is directly aligned with the commercial reasons for considering and purchasing your products and services.
02. Driving content marketing with marketing automation
More sophisticated and engaging content marketing will deliver significantly greater prospect and customer engagement if it is communicated to recipients through an organised marketing communications system that offers this as part of the prospect or customer sales journey.
This means that the content now has a dynamic, and is therefore explicitly designed to lead the prospect or customer to a sale - and as prospects are categorised according to their level of interest, so the served content may be segmented and streamed to reflect interests and aspirations.
03. Lead conversion optimisation
Simply put, lead generation - driving prospects and customers to content on your website - is an important part of market development and revenue generation but converting leads to sales, and then retaining those leads as loyal customers is a whole different story.
Client-side marketers with clear strategic vision will aim to build on lead conversion performance and take it to the next level through creating content that continues to deliver prospect and customer engagement and nurtures leads, creating solid prospect relationships.
04. Personalisation and interactive communications
The use of a more sophisticated content marketing strategy, introducing a marketing automation platform, and optimising lead conversions - if appropriately implemented by your digital vendors - will generate a considerable amount to prospect and customer personal data.
This valuable data will tell you a lot about your prospects and customers and allow you to build highly accurate buyer personas, meaning you will know enough about them to communicate in a more personal way, meeting their needs for information and guidance on the sales journey.
05. Social media and search optimisation
LinkedIn has grown massively in recent years as a B2B networking tool, and if you are a B2B services business, your prospects are likely using LinkedIn to research and identify potential consultants and vendors.
But even if your prospects and customers are not significant social media users, Google uses social signals in algorithms for calculating search engine rankings and therefore social media will be used to boost rankings and therefore search visibility.
Reaching out and driving B2B prospect interactions
This five point strategy will allow you to develop, nurture, engage and convert prospects and customers in the year ahead. But first you're going to need to find them. Will online advertising do that?
Well no, because ad-blocking is still a major obstacle here and as an issue, blocking is likely to become more of a significant barrier in the year ahead.
The best options for attracting leads in 2016 will be - in order of effectiveness - native advertising; LinkedIn, and Facebook Click to Website ads with call-to-action buttons; Google Customer Match which allows you to upload a list of contacts and target them through search. This feature is also available on Facebook and Twitter, and is effectively making search and social work more like email marketing.
Key to survival for 2016
But what is really going to matter in the year ahead is quality. Starting with the quality of your marketing strategy; through the quality of your marketing content, to the quality of your prospect engagement and customer retention and loyalty performance.
Because whatever else 2016 will be in the digital space, the most confident prediction I have for you is that B2B markets will be very crowded indeed.