A lot has already been written about how the current health and economic challenges are affecting businesses, and marketers in particular. But what may be surprising, is that while many B2Bs have reduced their overall marketing spend this year, email and digital ads are thriving. eMarketer forecasts that US B2Bs will spend $8.14 billion on digital ads in 2020, up 22.6% from 2019. And AdWeek reports that email marketing performance has skyrocketed amid the pandemic, with email revenue up 86%.
Together, these channels are breaking down barriers for sellers to reach the right buyers, even during a crisis. Here are 5 reasons email and digital should get your vote now and how you can use them to drive business and acquire new customers.
- Quickly Adapt to Create the Right Campaigns
If there’s ever been a need for adaptability, it’s now. Marketers need to quickly react to what’s working and what’s not. A recent MediaPost article describes how email has become the most important channel during the pandemic, particularly because it’s so agile and can be easily adjusted as situations change. People are not static, and our marketing needs to be able to reflect changing circumstances whether that’s with altered messaging tone, more contact or less, or completely new campaign tactics. And email’s relatively low cost and high ROI means there’s little financial risk and plenty to gain.
- Strengthen Relationships at the Right Time
Marketers have had to find new ways to increase visibility and stay “top of mind” for their customers. Email and digital provides a personal touchpoint to build and strengthen those relationships by targeting audiences that a brand would normally see in-person. Marketers can use email to connect with customers through a mix of useful and personal content such as email newsletters, links to related blog posts, or information about a relevant offer, program or other sales opportunity. Jumping off of that digital relationship, programmatic advertising can provide a one-two punch by following up on an email with a targeted display ad to remind them of the opportunity and that you’re available for further contact.
- Provide the Right Information
Despite challenges, many buyers are still moving through the funnel, although perhaps at a slower pace than they were this time last year. A DemandGen report revealed that more than half of marketers said the current crisis hasn’t changed purchase plans, but 68% said the length of their purchase time has increased. And since many buyers have shifted to a more self-directed journey, email and digital ads provide the optimal channel to support buyers through the purchase process by providing relevant content, reminding them of their interest and need, and nurturing them through the funnel. In fact, when utilized to its full potential, email and digital ad data can be used to anticipate what buyers want and deliver it before they even ask.
- Reach Buyers in the Right Place
With most trade shows and in-person meetings on hold or limited, the selling process has changed dramatically over the past year. But that’s not a bad thing. In fact, a study from McKinsey revealed that 80% of buyers prefer B2B sales online, with 75% saying the new digital sales model is as effective or more effective – even for large purchases. Of the study respondents, 70% are prepared to make self-serve or remote purchases of more than $50,000.
Buyers want to be reached through email and digital ads, because that’s where they are. And since the pandemic has changed the daily routine for many, it’s the best choice for sellers too. Reaching the right decision-maker can be more difficult as many B2B buyers are working from home, at different hours, and oftentimes on their personal devices. But email and digital ads can be targeted to reach your audience across various devices and accounts. Exciting new data strategies like identity graphs are working to fill in the missing pieces and match a contact’s personal record to their professional one. Identity graphs combine data from multiple quality sources to expand and optimize digital marketing reach. Using the identity graph, marketers can custom-build their audience, then take the anonymized IDs from the graph to a demand-side platform for targeted emails and digital ads. The result is more accurate omni-channel marketing and an even more complete view of the contact.
- Drill Down to Find the Right Audience
On both sides, many sellers and buyers have had to cut down on expenses this year, which means every dollar spent needs to be intentional. Marketers need to focus their limited resources on targets most likely to purchase.
Audience segmentation is a great first step, but for even more relevant targeting, marketers can leverage intent monitoring – insights based on a prospect’s online behavior. Intent insights that are obtained when buyers’ online activities are anonymously monitored, captured and analyzed based on website visits, content downloads, product reviews, registration for webinars, etc. By combining intent data – which primarily uncovers company data through captured IP addresses – with high-quality prospect contact data, you can identify the right decision-makers that are “in market” and searching for your solution. From there, you can reach those buyers with targeted email and digital ads.
In today’s business landscape, successful marketers have transitioned to not just a digital-first mindset, but a digital-only mindset. We’ve had to rethink strategies, shift spend to drive demand, and reach buyers on the channels they frequent most. Those that had already been operating data-driven campaigns may have been more prepared, but success in digital marketing is accessible to all, especially with the power of third-party data. Email and digital marketing are empowering sellers to reach the right executives in the office or their home office – and everywhere in between.