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An eternally asked question with no simple or straightforward answer! We all want to maximise on that perfect strategy for brilliant results and ROI, but finding it is easier said than done.
When conducting research into our latest marketing eBook, we became certain that a mixture of channels is the best step to take in marketing, but which channels make the best strategy?
We thought it would be worth delving into what the online and offline options offer, in the hopes to put an end to the question - what is the best B2B strategy for marketing?
As you can imagine, online channels for marketing are modern and rely solely on technology. In an age where our reliance on computers grows with each day, along with a constantly advancing field of knowledge, online marketing is ever changing. We can however draw reliable results from how it performs in B2B marketing. Every day, Google sees 3.5 billion searches, and as 94% of buyers use online searching for their buyer journey, the call for an online marketing presence is impossible to ignore.
In many ways, website isn’t a channel in marketing, however it is essential. For almost every online marketing venture to be ultimately successful, you need a website that’s easy to use, looks smart and allows your prospects access to everything they need to know. Your website is like the nucleus of an online marketing strategy - make the most of it.
- Social media
Constantly on the up, 55% of B2B buyers say they use social media (especially LinkedIn and Facebook) to search for business solutions and opportunities, and 83% of B2B companies employ a social media channel as part of their marketing strategy. There is no doubt results can be drawn from social media, however if you don’t give it regular attention it will be no use to you. 78% companies who spend 6 hours or more on social media a week see results, so it’s worth doing if you can regularly spare the time.
The production of content (which should definitely include a blog on your website) can bring an enormous boost to your marketing. 95% of buyers chose a solution where the provider has regularly sent them relevant content throughout the buying process. Needless to mention, leads nurtured by content spend an average of 47% more than non-nurtured leads. The biggest problem of a content focused strategy is the practicality and cost. Producing and maintaining a high level of engaging content is heavy on copy and graphics creation, so whether outsourced or in house, you’ll need a steady resource.
A digital channel ultimately encapsulates Search Engine Optimisation and Pay-Per-Click; other factors such as web-chat bots and social media can fall into a digital strategy, but these two strands are the prongs. They can be intensely lucrative in results and conversion to revenue - as we all use the internet so much! SEO leads generated in B2B have a 14.6% close rate (compare this to outbound calling’s close rate of 1.7 %...) and PPC can make $2 for every $1 spent on it. This all sounds great! However the downside of this channel is the amount of attention needed to maintain it. SEO can only benefit you if keywords are laced throughout all content and landing pages tying it all together for a high Quality Score (QS), and PPC can be affected by the smallest detail ending up most costly than it needs to be. Your rankings can change so fast, you definitely need a manager and, if possible, a team devoted to digital.
- Email marketing
Arguably the oldest and most reliable channel in an online marketing strategy. Email marketing is the third most influential source of information for B2B buyers, and certainly the most influential online channel. As 73% of millennials chose email over any other sort of communication, the reach available along with the freedom of crafting (copy and design) means you have an incredible platform at your hands to raise brand awareness and gain interest for your business. The downside of email is the technical difficulties. A good email campaign relies on so many different technical factors performing properly, and can be hindered by several elements (mainly spam filters and blacklisting), you’ll need to keep your IT department close when running an email marketing channel.
- Lead generation
Much like website, lead generation isn’t necessarily a channel in itself, but it’s still essential. Sales start with leads, and generating them is a key effort for an online marketing strategy. 50% of companies see the generation of new leads as a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be this way! Lead Forensics can tell you which businesses are visiting your website in real-time and provides contact details for key decision makers. This enables you to generate leads thick and fast, whilst having the ability to make contact with a tailored approach. Why not book your a free 10 minute demo?
So now we know more about online channels, let’s look in more details at offline. Being considered a more traditional approach, offline marketing channels include anything separated from the internet. We spend so much of the day paired with our devices that we forget the importance of things we see in the real world. Shop windows for example - they’re always effective, helping you into the shop even if you don’t need to buy anything. This is because they’re so intensely visual, and vision constitutes 90% of information processed by the brain. Some areas of offline marketing also have the benefit of a face-to-face interaction, which 67% of B2B marketers agree is more effective than any advert or phone conversation.
80% of B2B marketers see events as a critical part of their marketing strategy, and 31% see them as the most effective channel of them all. The value of an in person approach at events can bring an ROI as high as 500%, so it’s easy to see why they’re not going anywhere as far as strategies are concerned. However when running an event channel you need to ensure you have the right people. You don’t necessarily want a salesperson pitching at an event, you want someone engaging and confident, but with genuine passion about the product - choose these people carefully!
- Direct mail
The action of sending a themed gift or a note/flyer about your product in the post is a great offline marketing strategy, and the response rates can prove it. 79% of people act on direct mail immediately, and with a 2.35% response rate, it’s stronger than email marketing by far. However it is costly, and can be time consuming if organising it in house. Also the postal service you chose causes you to rely intensely on someone else to have any deliverance at all. There are channels that remain easier and cheaper, taking better to an everyday approach.
- TV and radio
For B2B marketing, TV and radio are not considered commonly used channels, however decision makers for businesses are human too - they watch TV in the evenings and listen to the radio whilst travelling as much as anyone else. This means radio can increase business awareness by 138%! However the fact remains that business purchasing hinges heavily on research, and the time spent by decision makers interacting with TV and radio is often their personal time; the likelihood of decision makers acting on an advert placed in these channels is lower than other offline strategies.
It’s an old favourite-and why not! After events, print is the second most common offline marketing strategy (especially as print often appears at events and as part of direct mail campaigns!). Print can vary from flyers to billboards, and buyers find print 43% less annoying than online advertising. Added to this, 64% of B2B buyers find printed media trustworthy - more so than email marketing or cold-calling. Print definitely has its positives. The only resounding negative is the difficulty in attributing when it comes to ROI. Those who decide to enquire thanks to print may be many more than we think, but when they call in, send an email or fill in a contact form it’s easy to not mention the flyer - so it’s forgotten.
So what makes the best strategy?
Unsurprisingly, there is no clear answer. What we do know, is it’s important to have a presence both online and offline, even in B2B marketing.
Some online aspects are essential, such as website, digital and lead generation, and adding offline aspects such as events to the marketing mix allows for a huge boost in success. Other elements such as budget and your industry have effects on the best channels to choose, so we can tell you this with confidence; the best marketing strategy isn’t set in stone, but it is something you can grasp.
You just need to follow these simple steps:
- Know your industry and audience- what do they need/like/prefer
- Set up an online presence
- Set up an offline presence
- Combine them for the ultimate marketing strategy
So now you know the channels on offer - go and put them to the test!