Keith Fowler

Why you need to consider a Marketing-Led Customer Experience

B2B marketing changes constantly – marketers have to be on their toes to stay ahead of what their clients want. Thankfully, there are plenty of platforms out there that can help. But staying on top of the technology is yet another challenge!

Did you know that back in 2011 there were only 150 digital marketing platforms? Today there are a staggering 8,000 options out there to choose from. That’s a staggering 5,000% increase! Clearly, marketing innovation is booming. But has the pandemic slowed things down?

While you might consider slowing down on marketing innovation during the pandemic, it’s actually the most exciting and effective time to create and deliver a more effective marketing-led customer experience.

How can a Marketing-Led Customer Experience improve upon the traditional customer experience?

A marketing-led customer approach works to address the multiple divisions that occur as the customer is moving through the different phases of your business. As your client gets passed from marketing, sales, operations, and more, they can start to feel like they’re being bounced around on a trampoline. With this approach, the marketing team spearheads a smoother end-to-end experience.

As a result, the customer experiences a more streamlined and cohesive relationship with your customer. Your team can gain a more in-depth insight into the entire interaction, which means you can pinpoint and overcome hurdles, as well as increase sales.

Three key traits of a Marketing-Led Customer Experience

When things get challenging and times are uncertain, marketing leaders don’t just survive – they thrive and drive the customer experience. So, what do they do differently?

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Looking to grow your network? Start talking to strangers

It’s almost impossible to overstate the importance of networking. Whether you’re looking to advance your career or search for a new job, it’s vital that you start talking to new people. However, you’re probably envisioning your networking attempts occurring in pretty typical locations and scenarios, such as conferences, industry events, and online seminars. But what opportunities are you missing?

You need to start talking to strangers. Yes, it’s true, this habit doesn’t come easily for those in London or other big cities, but discovering your inner ‘village barkeep” can really pay off. Can master the art of random connection, you can access golden opportunities and meet individuals who can make a significant impact on your career.

This is something that David Topus, a self-proclaimed ‘master-connector,’ espouses in his book Talk to Total Strangers: How Everyday, Random Encounters Can Expand Your Business, Career, Income, and Life. He proclaims the benefits of “random connecting.” That is, speaking with people that you encounter in all aspects of your life. This includes online encounters with strangers in social media groups and during seminars.  

Topus’s main point is that anyone you meet could have the answers to questions you’re seeking in life. By chatting with people in virtual and real-world spaces, you’ll meet people who work for companies you’re interested in learning more about. You’re sure to strike up a conversation with experts in your field and professionals who have skills you’re looking to employ. Mentorships, potential business partners, and clients – they’re all out there, just waiting to chat.

How to Connect with People Successfully

If you’re not practised in the art of small talk with strangers, connecting successfully might not come naturally. Follow these tips to network with strangers in a laid-back, friendly, and effective way.

Would you consider trying “random connecting?” Does it come naturally to you, or does it go against your personality? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Double your sales (without doubling your budget)

Want to double your sales? Of course you do. You’re probably used to thinking about doubling your budget for Google and Facebook ads and SEO in order to do so. But you can double your sales without raising your online marketing budget by one penny.

How? You need to think about your sales from the opposite end and do more with what you already have – your website. Doubling your website conversion rate has a knock-on effect – it doubles the efficacy of all of your other marketing strategies.

Conversion Rates 101

So, when it comes to your website, what is conversion? Essentially, it is a lead. Every phone enquiry, contact form filled out, new email, and appointment booking – they’re all classified as conversions.

To figure out your conversion rate, you first need to determine the number of visitors to your site. Then, you divide this number by the number of conversions. That’s your conversion rate – and it can always get better.

Why do clients convert?

When visitors to your website are impressed by your offering, they’ll trust you – and when they trust you, they convert. You need to show them that you are a trustworthy and reliable source. Your language, your social media, and your website content – it must all work together to build confidence and highlight your brand.   

What conversion rate should you aim for?

Every different industry has its ideal conversion rates. An ad agency will have very different conversion rates than a laundromat! A good rule of thumb? Aim between 5% and 15%, with trades and practical services on the higher end, and professional services on the lower end.

If your conversion rate is now 7%, imagine if you could ratchet it up to 14%? What would that mean for your business? Your digital marketing services would then be doing double duty, and your ROI doubled. That’s absolutely massive.

Three things you can do right now to increase your conversion rates

By improving your conversion rate, you’ll save time, boost your ROI, and start attracting new business faster than you imagine.

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Is Opportunity-Based Marketing the Future of ABM?

What if you could increase the value of your pipeline by more than four times – sound too good to be true? I recently read a case study by MOI that demonstrates that it is possible. They profiled B2B company Genesys and explained how their new strategy boosted their profits in a big way.

So, what did they do? They combined their account-based marketing (ABM) strategy with a new system of marketing alignment and real-time signals – the resulting strategy is known as opportunity-based marketing (OBM).

I know that this a fantastic strategy that can really make a difference to your business. How can you implement OBM into your marketing plan?

Opportunity-based marketing (OBM) 101

OBM synthesises the more effective aspects of account-based marketing with new and emerging technologies. The goal is always being in the right place and the right time with the right message.  

OBM uses insights and real-time digital data to search for and identify prospects out there who are ready to buy. In order to accurately develop prospect profiles, OBM harnesses behavioural profiling, and firmographic, demographic, and psychographic information. The resulting profiling can be as personal as 1 to 1.

Successful OBM should be fully scalable – and should convert, convert, convert. If you find that you aren’t having success, you need to work with a consultant to find out how you can change up your strategy. Most of the time you’ll find that you’re almost there – you just need a few small tweaks.

What are the Benefits of OBM?

Some of the key benefits of OBM include:

Is OBM Right for you?

No matter what approach you use, any marketing plan requires extensive research, dedicated planning, and crafty implementation. If you end up with bad data and a mismatch between your sales and marketing team, you’ll soon run into problems – and your poor sales will reflect these challenges.

Think about it this way – when it comes to your marketing budget, every single penny matters.  While OBM might not be the right solution for every business, it can make a huge difference in your bottom line and even improve morale. After all, everyone likes to succeed – and they like the bonuses that come along with success!

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Account-Based Marketing – What’s Next?

I realised something recently. Most of us are practising Account Based Marketing (AMB) even if we don’t realise we’re doing it. That’s because a lot of the ABM method is common sense. If you want to make sales, you should focus your limited resources on a smaller number of prospects who you’ve qualified well.

The stats back the efficacy of ABM. For instance, an Alterra Group survey showed that 97% of respondents boosted their B2B performance when they started using ABM strategies. Ever since Stephen Heiman and Robert Miller published their hugely successful book, Strategic Selling, in 1988, B2B sales teams have turned to ABM methods to boost sales.

But we’re a long way from 1988. What has changed? And what’s next for Account Based Marketing? Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing things up. Is your business harnessing the power of AI?

Artificial Intelligence is Shaking Things Up

Traditionally, the marketing and sales teams used their industry connections and killer instincts to identify the best prospects. Today, Artificial Intelligence can help with this process. It can provide an extra layer of information to help qualify leads and ultimately, to close them. Best of all, AI can help to bridge the gap between these two teams and improve marketing ROI.

Your marketing team can infuse your existing ABM strategies with AI technology, allowing them to scale their efforts while still delivering highly targeted messaging. The tech converts all of the data and insight into a one-on-one experience, making it easier than ever to start conversations and close the sale.

In addition to closing sales with your identified prospects, AI can also help you find juicy prospects who don’t fit your typical profile. As marketing legend Jim Sterne says, “AI can discover which elements or attributes in a subject matter domain are the most predictive. Even with a great deal of noisy data and a large variety of data types, it can identify the most revealing characteristics, figuring out which to heed to and which to ignore.”

Account Based Marketing – Managing Expectations

While you might be hopeful and excited about the potential for AI and other technology to bridge all of the gaps between sales and marketing, it’s still important to manage expectations. The human element is still essential, and no machine will ever replace an experienced marketing team and a savvy sales professional.

Indeed, it is a talented and tuned in management team that can help to align these aspects of your business. Your team is only as strong as its leader. A good leader will encourage people to work with the AI to identify opportunities and follow through on them. With AI, the data is there, but you need strong people to decipher it, action it, and get results.

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What Can Sales Enablement Do for Your Business?

You might have heard the term ‘sales enablement’ and wrote it off as a buzzword with little value for your business. Don’t write it off so fast!

Sales enablement is all about creating an environment that fosters the sale, harnessing the most relevant resources and content available and using them to their highest potential. The goal? Shortening the buyer journey, helping close the deal faster.  

There is more content out there than ever before, so it’s harder to arm your client with the precise information that they want when they land on your page. B2B sales enablement helps pare down this vast amount of information so that you are left with only the most effective material.

Your prospective clients have likely researched your brand before they’ve arrived at your site, and they already know a great deal about your field. So, they know a lot about you, but what do you know about them?

Sales enablement gives you more insights into what your clients want, helping you put the right material in front of them at the right time. As a result, your offerings are more relevant and well-timed, and your offer becomes that much more competitive.

This is especially crucial when trying to connect with C-suite customers, with more sellers competing to capture their attention than ever before. If you want results, you need to offer them meaningful interactions when they navigate to your site or social media. The best way to get their attention is to show them that you understand their needs.

Sales enablement helps you connect the client’s needs with the right content. After all, you can tell the most incredible story imaginable, but if you’re telling it to the wrong audience, it isn’t going to resonate.

Sales enablement can transform your business

In addition to closing sales faster, sales enablement can help your business operate more efficiently. You’ll spend less time training your staff – they can jump into the selling process quicker without having to spend ages wading through irrelevant information. During the time it takes them to get familiar with the process and content, they’re generally not as effective as their more experienced colleagues. What if that could change?

Sales enablement will help you curate your content so that your newest salespeople can access and understand the right information when they need it. This curation process will also align your marketing and sales departments. As marketers manage your content effectively, they can pass it on to the sales team at the right points in the onboarding process.

Sales enablement is far more than just a buzzword – it elevates the client experience and helps drive sales, strengthening your entire sales process. You’ll save time with your onboarding, streamline training, and boost your bottom line. Don’t neglect sales enablement – you can’t afford to ignore this strategy.

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Why you need to assess your communications strategy now

As working from home becomes the new norm, people are adopting digital technologies faster than ever before. B2B companies are scrambling to adopt digital solutions so that they don’t get left in the dust.

Companies are now assessing their communications strategies and considering new digital channels. Does this ring true for you? If so, your marketing strategy also needs to change along with your new tech. You need to know more about your prospects and learn even more about their online behaviour so that you can target them with the right content at the right time.

Most importantly, your sales and marketing teams will need to work ever more closely to develop relevant strategies that deliver tangible value. Virtual events, long-form content, and social media platforms – they’re all crucial to your success.

Virtual events need to provide value and incentive

Events – remember those? Industry events and meet and greets used to be a popular way to connect with prospects, providing value and building/strengthening relationships and brand loyalty. Attendees become lifelong customers, and even brand ambassadors. But while the ‘in-person’ aspect of events is a thing of the past, for now, virtual events can fill the gap.

Virtual events can be the perfect time to launch new products, facilitate discussions, and announce important news. But not so fast. Nothing is worse than a pointless online event. For your event to be successful, you need to grab your participants’ attention and provide them with value. Without the lure of drinks and chat, why should your B2B clients take time out of their day to log on to your event?

Offer exclusive insight, additional bonuses, and discounts in exchange for attendance.

Tailor your digital communication strategy to your audience

Today, it’s about so much more than the right language and tone – you have to make sure that you’re on the right social media platforms and sites to begin with. Does your target B2B audience respond best to LinkedIn ads, email marketing, direct mail, phone calls, or something completely unique to your industry?

Providing a range of content can help you reach your target audience and generate interest in your offering. Your marketing team has to be more prepared and do more research than ever before.

High-quality content remains king

As always, marketing and sales have to work together in a symbiotic relationship. Marketing generates buzz and demand, and sales qualifies the leads, closes them, and asks for referrals and repeat business.

The best way to generate buzz is with strong and useful content, both long-form and short-form. Your marketing team needs to focus on creating a library of valuable content, which the sales team can then use to engage and close prospects, and add value to the entire process. Excellent content also helps position your company as a thought leader in your field. Your marketing team needs to understand your sales team’s journey, and your sales team needs to feed back to marketing to let them know what works best.

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What is ‘Pipeline Inertia,’ and how can you overcome it?

The B2B sector is changing forever. The pandemic has forced us all to assess (and even pick apart) our ways of doing things and use new tools and tactics to close sales. However, you may have experienced ‘pipeline inertia’ when dealing with your clients. If you want not just to survive but thrive in this unprecedented

Simply put, businesses are watching their pennies like never before. According to research conducted in August by Marketing Week and Econsultancy, 85% of B2B companies are taking longer to greenlight spending. Nearly 70% are delaying payment schedules, and many companies now require CFO or even board permission to spend even small amounts of money.

What does that mean for you? Your leads may look good, and everything seems to be going swimmingly, but you’re not closing the sales. This is what we mean by ‘pipeline inertia.’ The deals are getting caught up in the pipeline, slowing down to a standstill even though they seemed promising.

This is a new problem that demands innovative thinking. What can you do to overcome Pipeline Inertia?

Show your clients you can help them get their vital jobs done

Break down your offering into smaller ideas, thinking of it more like a series of smaller ‘jobs’ that they need help with completing. You need to show them that you are there to make their lives easier. Do this by creating content and offerings that help them get their vital work done.

Think carefully about each of their pain points and their processes – how can you break it all down and then create services that address each one? Show off your ability to make their lives easier.

Select your targets more carefully

In the past, you may have targeted your B2B clients based on industry and company size. However, we now have a much wider array of data points that can give us a clearer picture of target clients, such as intent data and technology stack information. You need to make this data actionable – if you use data wisely and select your targets more carefully, you will overcome pipeline inertia and close more deals.

Stress your proven methods

We often forget just how important stressing our proven methods can be to potential clients. Buyers want to know that your innovative solutions work, and that your business case is strong. They will be far more likely to part with their budget if they can see that it will be worth it for their bottom line.

Work with your sales teams to craft pitches that include detailed evidence of how your solutions work. Case studies, testimonials, and hard facts – show clients, don’t just tell them.

It’s time to speed up Pipeline Inertia

If you want to succeed and close sales in this challenging time and beyond, you need to assess your pipeline and unblock any stoppages.

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Why Every B2B Business Should Avoid ‘Short-Termism’

As the pandemic continues to affect our priorities, more and more companies are falling prey to the ethos of ‘short-termism.’ Even though the ample evidence shows us that long-term strategic planning is far more effective, the rush to recovery has some people scrambling.

The Marketing Practice and Marketing Week have conducted surveys every year for the past three years to measure the B2B efficacy drivers. The results last year showed a clear connection between long-term planning and overall success. However, the most recent results show that people have switched to a shorter-term mindset. (You can check out the full results here.)

In 2019, 21% of B2B companies surveyed were spending more than 60% of their budget on long term planning. In 2020, that percentage has dropped to just 9%. Less than 30% of B2B marketers are now following the sage advice of Les Binet and Peter Field, who recommend that 46% of your budget should be spent on the long term, with 54% spent on short term sales.

Obviously, the survey’s results have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic; it was taken just two months into lockdown. But it highlights the concerns that businesses are abandoning their long-term planning strategies in favour of short-term stopgap measures. How should you instead balance your short-term concerns with your future strategy?

Managing your stakeholders is more important than ever

It would be naïve to pretend that short term results aren’t important – after all, you can plan for the future all you want, but if you fail to survive you won’t actually need that long-term planning! However, marketers are in a unique position to anticipate the future needs of your stakeholders and help strengthen the business both now and in the long-term.

You might feel pressure from other departments to adjust your strategy, but you need to explain that short termist ‘solutions’ will undermine your future success.

A long-term approach pays off

The evidence clearly shows that a long-term strategy is the best way to go, even in the wake of short-term setbacks and recession economies. However, a 12 – 18-month strategy right now? Pointless. So, what should you do instead?

B2B marketers should be focusing their efforts on conversion and pipeline acceleration – this will help the business in the short-term. But remember – leads, even those that look the most promising, will likely end up being time-wasters right now. Even if they have good intentions, they might have a small budget and less cashflow. Leads will spend more time in the pipeline, so you be concentrating your efforts further down the funnel. As much as you should be generating new leads, you should be working closely with sales to progress leads down the pipeline.

There’s no denying that you’ll feel pressure from above to boost short-term leads. Just never forget to spend at least 46% of your time and resources on long-term planning (thanks again, Les and Peter…)

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Are you using these Four Effective B2B SaaS Marketing Tactics?

As a B2B SaaS company, you need to find new ways to stand out from the crowd. While you might be on the hunt for the ‘latest and greatest’ new methods, don’t ignore the tried and true methods. Growth hacks are fun to read about and play around with, but make sure you’re always focusing the bulk of your efforts on the basics. After all, they’re classic because they work!

Here are 4 marketing strategies that I find work for my business and my clients, time and again. Are you making them work for you?

Make sure your existing content provides you with every drop of possible value

You need to consistently post, post, post new content, right? Yes, but never forget about your existing content. It can do a lot for you if you continuously assess and optimise what you have.

Get more out of what you have and regularly revisit your blogs, landing pages, and web copy. Update, optimise, and rewrite sections of your content, and add new lead magnets. Add new keywords and update your calls to action – search engines see this as fresh content, and will raise your rank as a result.

Make sure you leverage the power of your competitors’ brands

There is an unprecedented level of competition in the SaaS space, but you can find a way to use this competition to your advantage. Position your software as a more attractive alternative by targeting their keywords with Google Ads that lead to one of your landing pages. You’ll likely also attract organic traffic when people search for comparisons, such as “Company A vs Company B.” Be sure to include these keywords in your meta descriptions, H1s and H2s, and header tags.

Optimise your review listings

Speaking of optimising your listings, never forget to hop onto Capterra, G2, and other databases in order to claim and optimise your review listings. Add a high level of detail to your company description, and include as many images and videos as possible. Don’t skimp on the quality!

Work hard to collect reviews on an ongoing basis, and always address any mediocre or negative reviews in a diplomatic way. If you are diligent, you’ll boost your profile on the directory website and on Google overall.

Make sure you retain your existing clients

It’s a common mistake – you get so caught up in attracting new clients that you don’t spend enough time retaining your existing ones. Retention is cheaper and more effective than acquisition – don’t ever forget how important this is to your bottom line and your reviews, which in turn leads to more acquisition!

I know that it can be tempting to chase after the next big marketing ‘hack,’ but the fundamentals are crucial. Are you giving them the attention they deserve?

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