The B2B landscape can be complex, difficult to navigate, and extremely competitive. Marketers encounter these challenges, among others on a daily basis.
- Challenge: We no longer follow a linear sales model (i.e. a straight line from ‘awareness’ to ‘purchase’). Today, prospects can inbound at any stage in the sales process, meaning that organizations must understand where their buyers are in the journey and provide relevant and engaging content.
- Challenge: Your prospects only have a limited capacity to consume content, which means you are fighting for consumers’ time. This situation stresses the need for quality content that is relevant and can break through the noise.
- Challenge: Consumers demand more content now than ever before, and they expect to have relevant content throughout their entire purchase process, not just at the top or bottom of the funnel.
The reality is that marketers will inevitably make mistakes, and many marketing professionals get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of their profession that they don’t even realize they are making them. No worries, though. These errors and obstacles can be overcome, enabling marketers to find even greater success. Read ahead for 8 common mistakes B2B marketers make and what to do about it!
Mistake #1: Neglecting strategy
Solution: Set clearly-defined objectives
According to a 2015 Content Marketing Institute survey, 83% of B2B marketers have some sort of a content strategy in place, but only 38% consider theirs to be successful. Many marketers will conduct marketing activities without understanding what they are working towards.
Determine what your goal is, how you will reach it, and how you will measure success. Is it website traffic? Number of meetings? Prospect lead quality? Social engagement? Revenue? Number of new customers? Conversion rates? SEO rankings? Having this marketing plan will help you to make informed decisions about which marketing activities to execute and keep you on-track when you get overwhelmed.
Mistake #2: Not adapting to the market
Solution: Customize your marketing efforts
Marketing is not, and should not be, a one-size-fits all approach – marketers must adapt their messages, channels, and strategies to better target based on persona, product, behaviors, etc. To do this effectively, marketers need to truly understand their audience and be able to identify where their prospects are in the purchase process. According to Mark W. Schaefer, 3-4 personas typically account for over 90% of a company’s revenue, but the key is knowing what defines these personas. Additionally, up to 70% of marketing content is never used, wasting valuable resources in terms of time and budget spent on content creation.
The problem often lies in not knowing how to effectively distribute content. Most organizations post content on their company website and blog, but consider additional avenues for sharing content, such as social media networks. And of course don’t overlook your sales reps. The sales team can leverage marketing content to drive prospects through the sales funnel, advancing opportunities and accelerating sales.
Mistake #3: Not segmenting the audience
Solution: Develop buyer personas
Each customer is different – they have varying needs, wants, challenges, and desires. Unfortunately, only 44% of B2B marketers use buyer personas, according to ITSMA. Consider factors such as demographics, geographics, and psychographics, as well as pain points / challenges, marketing channels they prefer, knowledge gaps, and types of content they demand. Ignoring these differences will lead to a generalized marketing strategy that will appeal to virtually nobody.
Mistake #4: Failing to nurture leads
Solution: Offer relevant content and have clear CTAs
When people come to your website or engage with your content, do they know what you want them to do next? Further, is the call to action (CTA) that you have appropriate to the prospect’s stage in the buyer cycle? The CTA doesn’t always have to be product-specific, unless the piece of content is intended for the bottom of the funnel. It could be to read a related piece of content, to sign up for your newsletter, or to register for an upcoming webinar on the same topic. Regardless, decide what you want your reader to do next and then make it as easy as possible to take action.
Mistake #5: Failing to use the right technology
Solution: Use tools wisely
The use of technology can be a significant differentiator between effective and ineffective B2B marketers. For example, a sales enablement solution, such as Seismic, can integrate with marketing automation, allowing marketing teams to bring the value of content marketing to sales. Sales reps can discover and use the best marketing content for a given sales situation, and prospects engaging with sales content can automatically be scored accordingly.
Further, the analytics in a sales enablement tool offer insight into what content is most effective at advancing a deal and generating the highest ROI, helping sales reps provide the right content at the right time.
Mistake #6: Functioning in silos
Solution: Align marketing with sales
The silo mentality, where departments operate as individual units, is increasingly an issue in the B2B selling space. In fact, Forrester research shows that only 8% of B2B companies have tight sales and marketing alignment. But other departments at the organization, such as sales, HR, customer service, and product development, have unique insights and subject matter expertise that they can offer.
Further, a study from Altimeter Group reveals, “Companies that evangelize, reinforce, and institutionalize the importance of content throughout and beyond the marketing organization are more successful, not only across their marketing initiatives but also with other internal and external success benchmarks”.
Mistake #7: Not A/B testing
Solution: Test, test, and test again
Only 1/5 of marketers regularly measure the results of their content, and only 44% are clear about what content marketing success or effectiveness looks like. But if you aren’t testing and measuring, how do you know what’s effective and what’s not?
Optimize your marketing efforts by testing to figure out what works and what doesn’t and then adjust your plan accordingly. Test everything, from email subject lines and landing page copy to CTAs and blog design. All of your marketing activities should be an ongoing cycle of testing, measuring, and improving.
Mistake #8: Ignoring the data
Solution: Use data to make well-informed decisions
Marketers often have access to vast amounts of internal data but don’t always know how to use it. Don’t underestimate the power of analytics. Analyzing the data will help provide answers to important marketing questions, such as where to focus efforts. In fact, a recent CMO study reveals that 94% of CMOs believe “advanced analytics will play a significant role in helping them reach their goals”, yet 82% indicate that their companies are “under-prepared to capitalize on this data explosion”. These stats validate the importance of data for B2B marketers.