In case you hadn’t noticed, buyer behaviour is changing.
Statistics everywhere back this up. For instance, according to CloudCraze, 89% of B2B businesses attribute their growth to ecommerce; and 48% of B2B businesses sell their full product range online. Furthermore, 80% of UK buyers engage in online research before making a purchase, either online or offline.
In terms of online spending, the weekly average across the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics, is £1.1bn.
And yet simply ‘having a website’ isn’t nearly enough. In marketing terms, “having a website” doesn’t equate to ‘job done’ for engaging customers along the whole buyer journey and converting clicks and visitors into sales.
Companies for whom digital marketing is confined to just a single digital channel risk being overtaken by a tidal wave of change in buying habits so that by the time they start figuring out what to do, it will already be too late.
If you are wondering what other steps your business should be taking for digital marketing success in 2018, read on.
1. Put digital marketing in context
Whether your company is in B2C or B2B, your customers are now starting – and increasingly completing – their buyer journey online. Digital marketing influences every area of your brand, from awareness, visibility and perception, through first contact and sales engagement to the sale and on to customer service and support
You absolutely require a digital marketing strategy to engage with potential, current and past customers.
A key mistake which we often see (as a digital marketing agency that helps business attract and win new business online) is that companies operate their digital marketing in a piecemeal and inconsistent way, with little or no overarching plan or goals.
If you take the time to think through and set out your approach to digital marketing and you’ll have potential to reap huge dividends.
Top tip: If you take one piece of advice from this article, make sure it is to understand the context of how your customers are using digital channels to find and purchase potential products, services and suppliers. Link this back to your current business processes and marketing activities.
2. Know what you know
Many businesses have enough skills and expertise to manage their own digital marketing in-house.
Others underestimate what is involved, don’t allocate the necessary resources, or believe that once they have a website in place, the customers will come and sales will grow.
A successful digital marketing strategy recognises that different tools and approaches are needed for each stage of the buyer journey – and that means requiring expertise in a wide range of disciplines from SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), PPC (Pay Per Click) and social media to content marketing, digital PR and outreach – not to mention CRM (customer relationship management) and marketing automation.
What’s more, all of these tools must be brought together to align with existing branding and marketing activity. Yet few businesses have the internal knowledge, skills, time and resource necessary to manage all of this to an adequate level.
Top tip: When you develop your digital marketing strategy, include a ‘current’ and ‘required’ skills audit or gap analysis to uncover the areas where you need to bring in expert outside help.
3. Understand your target customer and buying behaviours
As well as knowing what potential buyers are looking for, you need to understand where people are looking and how they are searching. By understanding what their needs are, you can design strategy to attract, engage and convert them using the digital channels at your disposal.
Have a look at your current buyer or customer profiles. Work out what they look like (business type, sector, job title etc) and when and how they have interacted with your business. Establish which channels they contacted you through and exactly what they were looking for when they first came into contact with your business.
Arming yourself with information like this is incredibly valuable for digital marketing and will help you massively in honing and focussing your messaging and propositions.
Top tip: Start by drawing up a set of buyer “personas” or buyer profiles for the sorts of customers you want to attract and work out what kind of messages will resonate with them when they are looking for the sorts of products you sell.
4. Create a digital marketing strategy and plan
Don’t kick off your digital marketing before you have a plan in place.
Instead, first set the goals you want to achieve. If you want more sales choose the channels, messages and offers focussing on conversion. Is your aim to generate more brand awareness? Decide what activities are best suited to attracting new customers and engaging with them.
Once you have clear goals set, you know about the customers you are targeting and the messaging you will use, then and only then create your plan and set your activities for the next few weeks and months.
Top tip: Social media can be highly effective because it can be used to create brand awareness and visibility via two-way conversation which traditional marketing simply can’t match. Set one of your goals to build a up a social media community that reflects your target market.
5. Set expectations and measure your results
A key component of digital marketing is to learn what works – and then do more of it, building on success.
It is reasonable to expect that not everything you do will be an instant success. But key aspects of what you do will work well, so it is vital that you have a set of benchmarks for what success looks like. A major benefit of digital marketing is that it generates masses of data, so you can set your KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) for what you do. You can then start to link your KPIs to genuine business metrics.
Attracting a gang of LinkedIn page followers doesn’t count as success on its own. Followers become truly effective once they turn into website visitors who engage with your business and translate into sales. Additionally, you may need to build relationships with them by engaging with their content or direct messaging them when relevant.
Top tip: Using the LinkedIn example above, build your audience first and test content to see what resonates with your followers. Aim to get users off of LinkedIn to your website by taking snippets of blog posts with links to read the full article. Also remember that engaging contacts ‘offline’ so they convert into sales for your business is the main goal.
6. See digital marketing as part of the whole buyer journey
Digital marketing is not some sort of new-fangled black art and should not be thought of as separate from the rest of your marketing strategy. Success comes when all marketing channels are joined up.
Many B2B buyers expect to use a ‘multichannel’ approach on their buying journey. The customer journey can take a user from a Google search, through supplier research, product or service selection and purchase. This should be as seamless as possible and the user should see consistent branding and messaging throughout.
Of course, business is not always online and may be taken offline too. But B2B suppliers who integrate online and offline marketing to deliver a buyer journey that is smooth, easy and intuitive will the ones that enjoy the greatest success.
Top tip: Expect your buyers’ journey to combine both online and offline channels. In simple terms, a coherent digital marketing strategy should be integrated into the heart of your overall marketing strategy, not be bolted onto the side an optional extra.
Having a successful digital presence requires a multi-stranded, integrated approach to marketing aimed at attracting, engaging, converting and retaining customers at whatever stage of the buying journey they encounter your business. Engaging with them in the longer terms means you can create a relationship with your customers which in turn can develop into future referrals and recommendations, also known as advocacy.
To kick off your digital marketing strategy, drop us a line at C4B Media, call us on 01763 877110 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Ask us about our Digital Marketing Analysis, where we review your current position, assess your skills and develop your digital marketing strategy and plan.