While symphony orchestra music may or may not be on your play list, the modern symphony orchestra produces truly remarkable music. Consider that about one hundred individual musicians, typically playing over a dozen different instruments, must synchronize perfectly to produce the incredible sounds of the big orchestra. Turn the sound up and check out this tribute to my home town symphony orchestra:
Whether you are a fan of this type of music, or not, the results of this team are truly amazing. And the results of a well-designed and executed digital marketing program can be just as remarkable.
What are the key elements to executing a high quality digital marketing program? I am preparing a series of blog posts to add more detail, but I will briefly comment on the facets required to achieve great results.
Know Your Buyer and Their Buying Patterns
Typically, your buyers will follow certain patterns during the buying process such as reading particular web pages, requesting certain information or asking common questions. You should intimately know these common patterns, build personas for your key customers, and clearly assist them when they need it.
You should provide helpful and easy to find information to guide them through their customer journey. This could include benefits, feature lists, functions, comparisons, FAQ sections, white papers, and/or blog posts, depending on your audience needs. Your content should align with your buyer’s needs at each stage of their journey to help them move through that process.
Finally, you must understand the process of converting an unknown visitor to your site to an identified prospect and then to a sales qualified lead. Your site usability and function is vital, but it really comes down to meeting your customer needs by providing the right content at the right time.
Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing
We marketers love to use these buzzwords, but let’s look at what this really means for you. Not long ago we could use advertising to reach our customers, provide them a great incentive, and maybe we would have a relatively quick sale. But not anymore. In the world of outbound marketing, where we reach out directly to inform our prospective customers, our messages must be highly relevant to our target audience. Examples of outbound marketing include email programs, trade shows, telemarketing and executive seminars.
Inbound marketing uses the smart distribution of informative, helpful content to educate and motivate prospective customers. Essentially, Inbound marketing helps you “get found” by people already exploring buying options and supports the building of a relationship based on trust and respect. Some content tools of Inbound marketing include blog posts, eBooks, white papers, “how-to” guides and case studies. And, as part of the “symphony” of digital marketing, we will explore approaches that support both effective outbound and inbound marketing that generate optimum results for the B2B marketer.
Why Content is King
To build a relationship with your prospective customers, you really need to stand out from your competitors and help them in making a buying decision. Whether you build swimming pools, run a law firm, or you’re an information technology consulting firm, your online presence needs to clearly tell people why they should trust you and want to do business with you.
Is your content comprehensive in nature, exhaustive in covering the topic and authoritative in tone? Does it answer the key questions your prospective customers have when making a purchase decision? Yes, this is an investment, but in today’s market the playing field is increasingly level. In a few seconds your prospects can be on your competitor’s website. Great content, when presented well, will be a magnet to your website. And, once you have a commitment to great content, your business will need ongoing processes to build community, widely distribute the content and effectively promote each piece of content.
Content Distribution is the Secret
You are on your way to digital marketing success! You’ve studied your buyers and completely understand their needs, desires and buying behaviors. You regularly develop authoritative, comprehensive and helpful content to accentuate your offerings. But, will anybody read it? You absolutely must have an intentional distribution strategy that will get your content in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Part of knowing your customer is knowing where they will be looking for your content. Meeting your customer where they spend time builds rapport quickly and provides a warm introduction to your brand that helps build a stronger relationship over time.
Paid Digital Advertising
Paid digital marketing is a vital part of your marketing portfolio. Even small to mid-sized businesses can compete and gain new customers through effective paid search marketing. According to one study, fully 79% of the Inc. 5000 (the 5,000 fastest growing private companies in America) spend consistently on paid digital marketing. Before diving in to paid advertising, though, it’s important to know what is possible and what challenges you will face along the way. When done well, digital advertising can put you in front of a large audience more quickly than organic inbound tactics, such as SEO (search engine optimization).
Email Builds Engagement
Done right, email marketing is extremely effective for communicating with your prospects. Suffice it to say, email is alive and well and is a critical part of the relationship development process between businesses and their prospects and customers. And, as your prospects walk through their buying process, email is perfect for nurturing those leads and providing needed information to help them on their journey. As you build relationships, email is the primary vehicle for sharing the right information at the right time to help solidify your offering in the buyer’s mind.
Let’s Get Social
You may personally not have a lot of time for Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, but let’s put a marketing lens on the discussion. The active audience of each of these platforms is enormous (most in the hundreds of millions of users, and over one billion visitors for Facebook). The question is: where does your ideal target buyer spend their time? In addition, each of these platforms collects incredible amounts of demographic data about their audiences. So, from a purely marketing point of view, finding your buyer and targeting the right message has never been easier. But, I’m not implying that any of this is easy. We do need to work smart to get compelling and authoritative content in front of your buying audience. Social media done correctly can produce good, cost-effective results.
The Big Handoff: Qualifying Sales-Ready Leads
So, what’s the real goal of all these efforts? Qualified sales leads! Surprisingly, there is much confusion on what constitutes a “lead.” In a future blog post, we will look at an ideal process of lead qualification that businesses can use and adapt to ensure a smooth transition of leads to the sales team. This is especially critical if you have several people (or teams) involved in digital marketing, inside sales, outside sales and product delivery. This process starts with setting proper expectations and defining processes for managing:
- The goals and metrics for the lead generation program
- A lead qualification process
- When and how to nurture a lead
- What constitutes a “sales qualified lead”
Communication between organizations, breaking down department barriers and the proper setting of expectations is critical for sales success.
Analyze and Adjust
There are a number of tools and processes you will need to monitor, measure and adjust your campaigns to generate the expected lead results. As you can see, digital marketing is a never ending process and can be an exciting challenge. The tools available for analyzing results, campaign ROI and many other key metrics are incredible. In a future blog post we’ll discuss these key tools, setting the proper KPI’s and highlight results you should be experiencing in your climb to digital marketing and sales success.
At the core of the transformation marketing has undergone in recent years is a need to truly understand our customers. Engaging them on their buying journey, sharing resources that help them learn and make good buying decisions, using data to drive this process, and building relationships are all critical steps in generating qualified sales leads.