B2B marketers: Five common digital challenges

(First published: WhatTheL.net 2/14/12)

Digital marketing gives B2B companies countless new ways to reach customers and measure ROI. However, “new ways” can bring plenty of confusion and uncertainty when you’re getting started. It’s worth enduring the temporary feeling of “what the heck am I doing?” because the upside is huge:

Companies that embrace digital marketing get a better understanding of what their customers need and want. With digital, customer action can be measured at every stage of the sales funnel.

Here are five common challenges and considerations for moving forward.

1.            I don’t know what to do online, so I don’t do anything.

You may not be used to thinking this way, but here’s the deal: Making the decision of how and where to show up isn’t really your decision at all – it’s your customers’. Fight the instinct to trust your gut. Find out where your customers are online, how they want to hear from you, and what they’ll do with that information to move through the sales funnel. So, now you’re wondering “How do I know where they are and what they want?” Try asking them. We all love to talk about ourselves.

2.            My company’s culture is print-based.

Using digital doesn’t mean you can’t use print. Instead, you get to rethink how you’re using it.  Include a website address on your next trade show mailing to drive your audience to a custom landing page. By giving the prospect something of value on the web page, you not only benefit from those coming to your booth, but you have a way to capture deeper information from those visiting your site.

3.            Our website is never updated.

Many corporate websites are built in content management systems managed by the IT department. You can’t keep your content timely and relevant. Brace yourself for some organizational change and insist on a content management system that allows for non-IT authors. Choosing an Open Source CMS can help you get started. That covers the technology. Make sure you also pay attention to the content. Do yourself a favor and create a content calendar to keep you on the “relevant and timely” communications track.

4.            My company doesn’t show up on Google.

If you’re not showing up, your competitors will be happy to greet your audiences with a cup of coffee and a muffin. Search is complex but, at a minimum, make sure you have key words and phrases in your site copy. Your page title, headlines and body copy are attractive to search engines. Do some informal research (try Google’s free keyword tool) to find out words customers may use to look for you. Rarely is it the industry jargon we use to describe ourselves. Customers searching for “thermostat-controlled cooling units?” Nope. “Refrigerators?” Yup.

5.            Social media confuses me.

B2B marketers often ask, “Should we be using social media?” Yes.  But how you should use it varies. The social conversation is happening, with or without you. Build your strategy first, including a plan for how to maintain your content. It’s bad for your brand to invite someone to follow you then provide nothing of value when they get there. Here’s a thought-starting article from Social Media Today. A client asked his agency, “Should I tweet?” The agency said, “Do you have something to say?” The client replied, “No, but that’s never stopped me before.” Don’t be that guy.

Keep this in mind

Remember marketing basics when looking for the best ways to use digital channels. Your focus can’t be on technology; it must be on your customers. Develop strong strategies and content plans and let technology help put them in motion. Then, start making the coffee and muffins.

 

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