B2B marketing's top challenges can be overcome, report suggests

B2B marketers face an array of challenges this coming year and a recent report suggests there are key tips that may help navigate the changes and challenges. By establishing a professional rapport with your industries “Influencers” and dusting off your email marketing campaigns for fine tuning and execution, you can get a jump on the competition. Putting your content marketing into the right context is far more important today than simple marketing, and competing for increasing space in video marketing requires some strategic planning.

A recent study entitled B2B Marketing Challenges Report 2016 by Fox Agency suggests the following:

Keep Your Content in Context

One of the key challenges facing B2B marketers today is the simple but marked shift from the word content to context. The idea that more content will result in more sales can only go so far, the report says. With the vast majority of working adults on the Internet and actively sharing thoughts, opinions and links to articles or blogs; content marketing has to remember to write in the style that your audience likes, while considering where they will read it and how they will share it. A great example is that you can turn to LinkedIn to see whom your audience is engaging with, the report suggests. If they are following the billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson and are engaging with his posts on LinkedIn, then a good content marketer will reference his quotes as relevant to what you have to say.

Additionally, it is key to put as much into promoting your content as you do writing it, the report advises. Social advertising is a great way for the content to be marketed, in the context where it can reach specific demographics, age, gender, location, industry, job title and level of seniority.

All Marketing is Local

A great U.S. orator and politician Tip O’Neil used to say, "All Politics is Local." In some respects, B2B marketing has to stay regional and local as well. An important tip is to be "human with your message" according to the report and it has never been more critical to avoid business jargon and buzzwords that talk around the subject. When talking to business people, don't confuse your message with jargon, the report advises. The goal is to be and sound as human as possible with your message. Keep it simple and avoid the overused, catchy buzzwords like "powerful knowledge base" that are "generating more clicks." Keep it straightforward, the report insists.

You Only Have a Micro-Moment

The average person now checks their phone 150 times per day, the report suggests and if you are trying to influence or reach out as a B2B marketer, you have a 'micro-moment. Statistically, 91 per cent of mobile users look up information while in the middle of a task. The report notes that 82 per cent of people surveyed use their phone to help with purchasing decisions, and 69 per cent believe that the quality, timing and relevance of your marketing message will affect how they perceive your brand.

The report advised that to get someone’s full attention who may be Googling you at the same time – consider a paid Google or Twitter promotional search. This gives you a jump on the competition. Additionally, use blogs, Trust Pilot reviews and influential experts who have tweeted in support of your services. Show your next customer exactly why your service is best for them, the report suggests.

A Different Style of Selling

By 2020, it is estimated that 85 per cent of the typical purchasing decision will be completed after the customer has done research on your company and that includes the individuals he/she might be dealing with, the report suggests. Individuals who already know your products, your competitors, and have a good idea on prices and customer experience make 60 per cent of purchasing decisions. The ‘85 per cent rule’ implies that a potential lead knows about your competition and why your service is better. B2B marketers are now facing the fact that the company has been Googled and the potential customer is an informed buyer. The report indicates, however, that the sales force within each organization have not kept up with this knowledge. The people who are researching you first, may also be more difficult to find. The report suggests that instead of waiting for a call, new business must be hunted. This requires a different approach by the sales rep, and a different style of selling.

It is a Mobile World Now

According to the report, 60 per cent of business is done on a mobile phone, with people using mobile devices more frequently each and every day. Mobile access to content, whether it be a phone, tablet, smart watch or through a computer, means that placing a large scale marketing video online or flicking through a sales brochure on PDF is far less likely to happen. This means that websites and content channels need to be optimized to mobile first. PDF files have to be kept small, pages on your website should be the size of a mobile device and videos should definitely be used. However, the biggest challenge is not visible, the report suggests. When it comes to a call to action in a mobile world, referring people back to a Twitter site or calendar invite or asking them to subscribe to the blog by email is very useful. Mobile allows for these quick actions, and uses and opportunity to warm the lead and sell later, the report notes.

Influencers With a Sizeable Audience

This last decade in marketing has seen a seismic shift in the way social media - in the form of blogs, micro-blogs like Twitter or Networks, like LinkedIn have been able to challenge more established brands in a way that was unheard of ten years ago, the report says. The "influencers" are defined as "vocal users of the Internet who wield power from simply having gained a sizable audience, that is large enough to drive change.” The influencers can be as small as a user group forum exposing bugs in software, the report says, or social activism instigating change. They have a large, influential and loyal audience that is something that marketer’s dream of achieving.

The challenge for B2B marketers is finding influencers. The report suggests looking at industry blogs to find out who is writing them. By reading what they are writing, or becoming a subscriber and follower, a B2B marketer can get to know their position and get connected. In dealing with influencers, the report suggests a casual approach and avoiding corporate messaging. It is important to remember that influencers are sharing insights into an industry in their spare time, and can be supportive and important resources for a marketer, the report suggests.

Big Data is Making More Sense

Big data can lure a marketer into creating messaging that is extremely targeted when it is deciphered correctly, but the report suggests many marketers do not have the expertise or skills to decipher the information. Databases can be bought, and running an export of the Twitter, Facebook, or Linked in account can provide the numbers. This is the right time, according to the report, to consider hiring big data experts or bring in organizations that specialize in interpreting big data. If you acquire the expertise from leaders in the field, you may find new audiences. The operative words, according to the report, are skill up, bring in experts, and stop talking about big data and start exploring it.

Video Captures the Moment

The main concern for B2B marketers today is that by the end of this year it is estimated that 59 per cent of all Internet traffic will be through video. While this is deemed more of a consumer trend than a business trend, it is certainly a global, human trend and video is increasingly becoming important in B2B marketing. Because Google now features video in search results, the report suggests that by SEO'ng your video and including them in campaigns, you can create video that performs far better than before. Videos are now being produced by Emmy award winning filmmakers so the level of professionalism of your video is important.

Ad Blocking is Hitting Hard

Ad blocking is possible on every device now and this will affect many traditional forms of online marketing, the report says. For example, with banner ad campaigns, ad blocking means that a significant part of the audience will see a blank space in place of the banner ad. Marketers will have to work harder, be better, to get the click through rate. For B2B marketers and others, ad blocking means that the intended target of your ad will have capacity on mobile devices, PCs and through software like Ad block Plus, to block it.

As an alternative, the report recommends “going native.” The notion that you can create an interesting article that an individual will read on your website, means that native content is a way to merge the ad into an interesting article, story or report. In a sense like the old style "advertorial" a story will always be welcome, not blocked, the report suggests. Ad blocking does imply that this may be a time to try and deliver a higher quality of promotional material.

Email is not dead

There are 2.5 billion email users in the world, which is 500 million more users than social media can say, the report notes. The good news is that email marketing allows you to reach a persons' digital inbox. The days of the email blast may be over but a good B2B marketer knows good content and good reporting analytics can really give a marketing campaign the traction it needs.

When social media took skills and time away from email marketing, the latter did fall out of favor for many marketers, the report suggests. Now, however, the value of it has been rediscovered, and the report recommends that with more sophisticated techniques and analytics, re-booting and fine-tuning your email campaigns is a good strategy. The report suggests talking to those who did not give up on email, and have maintained it as a highly effective marketing tool.

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