digitalmarketingboxLast week I presented my views on digital marketing at the B2B Marketing Conference in London – you can view the presentation on Slideshare here. I’ve spent 18+ years marketing in the B2B tech industry in all kinds of companies. Small and large. Software and hardware. I’m a classically trained B2B marketer from a traditional ‘sales led event driven’ environment that seemed to be a winning formula a few years back.

In recent years I’ve shifted my skillset into digital and social marketing. No other reason than because I’m curious, nosey and like to learn new things. Now I’m totally converted.

Call it what you want…New Marketing, Digital Marketing, Inbound Marketing, Pull Marketing. The point is, the buying process within B2B has changed and marketing needs to adapt.

The digital buying habits we use in our daily lives have transferred to the B2B buying environment. We naturally seek recommendations, reviews and want to research our options when purchasing holidays, goods and services. The B2B space is no different. Research shows that 60-90% of the B2B buying process is complete before a buyer contacts a vendor (Source: Google & CEB). 81% of the time they start searching online (Source: Demand Gen Report). Of those, 75% don’t look any further than the first page of results.

Knowing how to win eyeballs in this digital playground is essential.

Rethinking-The-FunnelThe linear funnel that we classically took our prospects through has now become a complex journey of digital enlightenment. Just to make it more complex, every content discovery journey will be different with people finding and reading their own way through content in order to educate themselves.

For every 1 piece of content a business provides a prospect, they will end up finding 3 pieces of content themselves online about the company (Source: Forrester). If marketers continue to push the “event driven” tactic to prospective buyers who are early in their search process, they’ll find it increasingly difficult to engage people to attend.

Inbound marketing is no longer an option. It’s the changing nature of our profession.

Sure, handing it to a digital agency to will help in the short term but how will you know if you’re getting value for money? You could pass the responsibility of digital marketing to the ‘millennial’ that recently joined the team who understands all that “social stuff” but those guys can sometimes lack business experience, so be careful.

At a basic level, a digital marketing strategy should consist of 3 components:

  • Paid – PPC, Paid Media, Contextual Advertising, Paid Search
  • Owned – Your .com property, blogs, branded social channels
  • Earned – Your potential advocates including employees, partners and even customers

Integrate these three elements into a campaign driven model and you’re on the road to success but before you do any of that, focus on content.

Use social listening to see what’s trending, what’s topical with your audience, what themes are bubbling up. That should drive your content strategy which should be filled with the relevant keywords and phrases you know resonate well with your audience.

Once you have the content, fire up the amplification engine – an integrated set of tactics from the Paid, Owned and Earned mix that gives your content a chance to fly and get noticed. Choose what’s relevant to your audience E.g. The Paid element could be Direct Sponsored Content in LinkedIn or for a more targeted approach, sponsored InMails in LinkedIn.

Constant learning and continued development is essential for any profession. A lady I met last week gave me a great analogy. Her sister-in-law is a doctor and she asked “If you had an illness relating to your kidney, would you want to see a doctor that had 40+ years of experience or a doctor who had just graduated” which apparently most folks answer “the doctor with more experience…naturally?” Her reply “No, the doctor who has just left university has the latest knowledge, research and case studies. Experienced doctors must work continuously to keep topping up their knowledge to the same level.

So, to bring this back to marketing – it’s important to keep topping up your knowledge. In a few years’ time the ‘millennials’ entering the workforce now will have gained the business experience they sometimes lack today. Their skill-set will be in demand as the search for digital marketing expertise increases. Don’t miss out. Get reading.

Here are some resources I regularly check in with to top up my ‘digital knowledge’

Any others you would recommend?