B2B marketing has grown up and gone digital. Today, B2B marketing techniques are as sophisticated and cutting edge as their B2C counterparts. What's more, B2B marketers are becoming increasingly reliant on the power of social media to connect with brand marketers and brand decision makers. With consumers spending just under two hours per day on social media, B2B companies know they have to meet prospects where they already live: on social-media platforms.
Although B2B marketing arms function similarly to B2C marketing arms, the objectives and the tactics employed by each differ slightly. The biggest difference between the two schools of marketing is the complexity of the sales process. Often, B2C marketing initiatives involve deploying mass campaigns across several platforms in the hopes that consumers will convert.
Achieving a B2B sale, however, requires a bit more attention to detail. Yes, B2B marketing pools tend to be much smaller than B2C marketing pools, but the audiences within B2B target demographics tend to require more nurturing.
Breaking through the Noise
B2C marketers technically only have to convince one person to convert to achieve a sale. B2B has to first break through the market noise to get on the radar of a key contact, persuade him or her to consider the product or service, and then convince the rest of the team and the C-level staff of the solution's value. In fact, the average B2B buying group is 5.4 people.
Rarely are B2B conversions made after seeing a single ad or email. Often, B2B marketers achieve a sale only after conducting several rounds of communication across digital platforms, including PPC campaigns, social media content, email series and phone calls. Because marketers are not spending their hard-earned dollars on a new tool or service, but rather their company's money, they're often incredibly discerning regarding how and how much they spend.
B2B marketing efforts can last weeks or even months. During that time, it's crucial for marketing teams to maintain momentum by providing content and customer touch points. Once customers forget about a brand, reacquire them is much harder. As B2B teams strategize about which types of content and delivery methods will work best to attract and intrigue target audiences, they'll need to pay attention to particular metrics to ensure both high performance and more conversions.
If customers don't view your content, then you will never have a shot at breaking through and convincing them to explore your offerings. This metric refers to the number of views your content (mainly ads) generates. Marketers today have a host of tools and options at their disposal—so much so that it can be difficult to pinpoint which types of ads work best at driving traffic. Often, generating high impression rates is the result of weeks, if not months, of testing various ad formats, including remarketed ads, display ads, traditional PPC, and social media ads.
· Email Open Rates
Email campaigns drive many B2B marketing strategies. While marketers first have to work to get into the mailboxes of target audiences, their work is far from over once they've secured an email sign-up. Their next challenge is convincing subscribers that your content is worth their time and your product is worth their money. The best strategy for convincing audiences to buy is via a drip email campaigns. They give marketers the best opportunity to build and deliver a full story right to subscribers' inboxes. One message might be chock-full of helpful hints, while a second might feature a customer success story. A third might provide a link to an upcoming live webinar.
Drip email campaigns offer brand marketers a more in-depth understanding of how a solution can transform their brand's performance. But running a successful email campaign means that the open rate of every email is crucial. For example, if the third email in a series suffers a severe drop-off, you'll know that the culprit is likely insufficient or irrelevant content from your second email. By keeping track of this metric, you'll have the opportunity to alter and update the second so that future rounds of recipients don't lose interest early in the cycle.
· MOM Conversions
Tracking year-over-year performance helps, but a year is a long lifecycle in a sale. If you wait 12 months to assess your campaigns' performances, you may miss opportunities to make changes and enhancements in real time that could secure more sign-ups. B2B marketing teams should never operate blindly. Heading into a new month or quarter without a benchmark to work from means that the team has no basis for understanding how or where to improve. Tracking month-over-month conversions, however, allows you to assess the health of your current customer lifecycle. Are targets dropping out around the second email or after receiving the fourth email in your drip campaign? Tracking month-to-month performance lets you pinpoint a campaign's weaknesses and make enhancements on the fly to reverse any backsliding trends.
· Social Content Shares
The content that B2B organizations produce has the power to shape the success of a company. To convince B2B customers that a product or service is worth trying, you must first educate target audiences on the unique value-add of your product. B2B organizations must fully commit to producing blog posts, videos, infographics, whitepapers and social content on a consistent basis to position the company as an authority in its niche.
This content also sends the message to potential buyers that the organization invests in the ongoing growth and success of brands. Luckily for B2B marketers, the proliferation of social media platforms makes it easier than ever to disseminate content. A single piece of content has the potential to find legs and, subsequently, new audiences on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and, depending on the content, even YouTube and Instagram.
While some organizations focus on vanity metrics such as "likes," savvy B2B teams understand that a like does not spell success. With like bots crawling platforms, it's easier than ever to receive a thumbs-up. Plus, even if a like is organic, it does not mean that the prospect is seriously exploring your tool. But when an audience member shares a piece of content using his or her social profile, it's often an indication of a deeper level of investment.
When individuals share a blog post or image, it's because they were so deeply affected (positively or negatively) that they felt the need to evangelize the content among their social networks. Usually, if the content you're providing receives likes but not shares, you're probably not offering audiences information impactful or insightful enough to convince them to spread the word.
· Customer Acquisition Cost
B2B sales and marketing teams often employ a whatever-it-takes attitude when it comes to closing deals and acquiring customers. But this persistent approach doesn't mean that any team should also take a whatever-it-costs attitude for customer acquisition. Customer acquisition cost is the total of how much it costs to convert one target audience member into a paying customer.
These costs can include the CPC of a PPC campaign that initially drove the target to your brand's site, the price of a research-based case study that you created to drive email open rates, the cost of hosting a webinar on your site, and the number of hours sales and marketing teams spend liaising with target audiences in trying to convince them to buy or subscribe.
Too often, the cost of acquiring a customer outweighs the value he or she provides, especially if there are few opportunities for future upsells or long-term customer retention. You can calculate customer acquisition cost by dividing a campaign's total marketing costs by the number of customers acquired within a specific period. If your CAC rates are high or consistently rising, it's a red flag telling you that something in your marketing funnel is amiss.
· Domain Authority
Every business, including B2B companies, must be mindful of their domain authority to drive ongoing, organic traffic. The cost of running outbound marketing campaigns can be high, and rather than throwing the entirety of your budget at social ads and content production, you should also attempt to usher in organic leads.
The best way to secure this inbound interest is by maintaining a high domain authority. Domain authority refers to a site's ranking based on a scale of 1-100; the sites that boast higher rankings are better placed to receive more traffic and SERP awareness. Your DA comprises several factors, including Mozrank, Moztrust, and Link Profile.
Among the best ways to ensure DA improvement is to generate high-quality content consistently. The more quality content you deliver, the more likely it is that your site will garner backlinks to build authority. If your DA slips from month to month, it's an indication that other sites have stopped linking to you because they either do not trust your content or you have not put out enough new content.
The Final Word—Boosting Profitability
Keep these five metrics in mind the next time you implement an online B2B marketing campaign. They'll tell you how effective your campaign is in generating brand interests and whether you need to make changes to it. Making on-the-fly adjustments to your marketing campaigns can not only boost prospect interest but also cut marketing expenses. More importantly, it can help shorten the time it takes for you to find and convert a prospect. That, in turn, can boost your B2B company's profitability. And that's what B2B marketing is all about.