*whew* 2023 has started a little intense. The business landscape continues evolving, presenting unique challenges to B2B brands. Here are some of the most common concerns I’ve heard in 2023 so far:
- Keeping your sales teams “fed” with inbound leads
- Differentiating your positioning better online
- Diversifying lead flow
- Keeping the momentum on 2023 growth goals
- Expanding into new markets
- Honing in / niching into specific customer segments
If any of those concerns/opportunities resonate, you aren’t alone! I wanted to put together some of the more significant recommendations I’m giving to brands to help them maintain a critical edge going into what is stacking up to be a tumultuous year.
#1 – Better Analyze Key Pages with GA4
As I write this, I realize that many of us are low-key, ignoring GA4. However, once you get past the 12 stages of grief for the analytics program that Google’s forced us to learn and love for the last decade, there are some significant upsides to this platform for B2B brands.
Because GA4 is “event-based,” it allows us to get a much more granular picture of how users are interacting with your website and content. For example, most B2Bs have a small number of website pages considered your core pages (they might be your services pages, solutions, etc.). With GA4 event tracking, you can get a granular picture of what’s happening on each page, allowing you to make continual improvements over time.
A few examples
- Scroll Depth (is your audience scrolling down to key content, or where do they seem to be stopping)
- Video Views (if you have a crucial video, are they watching it)?
- Specific downloads for whitepapers or resources
- Distinct clicks on the page (e.g., if you have a FAQ expandable menu)
#2 – Understand What’s Changing With Your Customers in a Recession Year
Okay, let’s face it – economic downturns are nobody’s idea of a good time. But for B2B brands, this can be an opportunity in disguise. If you are first to market in understanding your customer’s changing needs, you can build a highly valuable differentiator.
Quantitative Research tends to be where we all like to start. What data or trends can you get your hands on, and how can you adapt to that? Some popular ways to collect quantitative data:
- Review website metrics
- Analyze changes in your CRM data
Spending time talking to customers is where B2B brands often miss the boat but have the most significant opportunity. Try to dive deep into the minds of your customers, understanding their thoughts, emotions, and experiences. Here are a few tips on doing qualitative research with clients:
- Listen & try to get their perspective
- Avoid “leading the witness.”
- Have an organized set of open-ended questions
- Dig for the “why” or the context behind a perspective
- Record the interview so you don’t have to take a lot of time with notes
Once you’ve got your research in hand, it’s time to adapt your messaging, offerings, and strategy to changes in buyer pain points or needs.
# 3 – Loop Your Sales Team into Marketing Strategies
The best B2B brands actively foster communication between their sales and marketing teams. They actively encourage them to share insights, discuss strategies, and collaborate on projects.
One idea is to involve your sales team in the content strategy process. They talk to customers and prospects daily, so they know the questions and what kind of content might need to be added to the site.
Another idea is to have marketing ask for the sales team’s advice. We know, we know … they want the Glen Garie / Glen Ross leads, but after that, sales teams usually have a very unique and extremely helpful perspective on what kinds of marketing.
Finally, attribute success like this is the team sport it is. Prospects need multiple touchpoints before they are willing to sign a contract. Be sure to congratulate marketing & sales together for new clients & deals, not just your sales ace.
#4 – Diversify Your Lead Flow
Whenever I discuss diversifying lead flow, I’m reminded a lot of the book “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” by Marshall Goldsmith. If you’ve relied on word-of-mouth referrals, tradeshows, or a few critical relationships to this point, it might not be enough to take your business to the next level. Diversifying lead flow can also significantly minimize risk for your company during economic downturns.
How to Move Beyond Referrals
While word-of-mouth referrals are great, they shouldn’t be your only source of leads. Branch out into other channels to reach a wider audience and stay ahead of the competition. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Content Marketing: Content is a natural place to start because you and your team are used to solving your client’s problems. Create high-quality, relevant content that addresses your target audience’s pain points and questions. This can include blog posts, eBooks, whitepapers, case studies, and videos. Valuable content can help drive organic traffic to your website and position you as an authority in your industry.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Start investing in optimization on your website and content to rank higher on search engine result pages (SERPs) for relevant keywords. SEO can increase your online visibility and attract more potential leads to your site.
- Social Media Marketing: Build your brand presence on social media platforms like LinkedIn. Share your content, engage with your audience, and participate in industry-related discussions to generate interest in your brand and attract potential leads.
- Email Marketing: Develop an email marketing strategy to nurture and engage with your existing contacts. Encourage them to share your content and offerings with their network, helping you expand your reach.
- Webinars and Online Events: Host webinars and online events to share your expertise, showcase your products or services, and engage with potential leads. Events build credibility and trust while generating leads.
- Online Directories and Review Sites: List your business on relevant online directories and review sites to increase your online presence. Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews to build trust with potential leads.
Key Note: Focus on first-party data through email opt-ins
In a world where privacy is tantamount, first-party data is king. Building an email list lets you stay connected with your prospects and customers and nurture those relationships. Create valuable, engaging content, and offer incentives like exclusive deals or resources to encourage visitors to sign up. This way, you’re diversifying your lead sources and building a powerful marketing asset for the long haul.
# 5 – Competitive Analysis
A competitive analysis is crucial in today’s highly informed and connected B2B landscape. With buyers having access to more information than ever, it’s essential to understand what they’re hearing from the industry and their colleagues. By learning from your competitors, you can make data-driven decisions to improve your offering and stay ahead of the game.
Here are a few ways to stay on top of what your target audience is hearing:
- Analyze competitor websites: Regularly visit competitors to evaluate their content, design, and user experience.
- Monitor social media activity: Follow competitors on social media platforms to observe their engagement strategies, content, and promotions.
- Email campaigns: Subscribe to your competitors’ email newsletters to gain insight into their email marketing strategies, including the types of content they share, the frequency of their emails, and their promotional tactics.
- Utilize competitive intelligence tools: Leverage tools like SpyFu, SimilarWeb, or BuzzSumo to gain insights into your competitors’ popular content.
# 6 – Audit Existing Content
A hard look at your current content can be the difference between success and failure in your marketing campaigns. All roads lead to the website, and you must have high-quality, helpful content that is easily accessible to your audience. Regularly reviewing and updating your content can optimize its performance and ensure it aligns with your user’s needs and expectations.
In light of Google’s “Helpful Content Update,” high-quality content has become even more crucial for ranking well in search engines. The Helpful Content Update emphasizes providing valuable, informative, and relevant content that addresses your target audience’s needs and queries. Additionally, engaging and retaining your audience relies on crafting helpful and easily digestible content. Strive to create authoritative, comprehensive, and engaging content.
Accessibility is another critical aspect of creating high-quality content. Ensuring that your website is ADA-compliant, or adhering to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), not only benefits users with disabilities but can also improve your site’s overall user experience and search performance. Accessible content includes proper use of headings, descriptive alt text for images, and easily navigable site structure, among other elements.
Quantitative Content Analysis
Need help with evaluating your content? The numbers don’t lie. Consider leveraging SEO tools like SEMrush to identify underperforming or “thin” content on your website.
Avoiding Similar Content
One common pitfall when creating content is inadvertently competing with your pages by covering the same or overly similar topics. Competing pages can lead to keyword cannibalization, where multiple pages on your site compete for the same search terms, ultimately diluting their potential to rank well. To avoid this, ensure that each piece of content has a unique focus and provides distinct value to your users.
# 7 – Extend Your Content Reach
You’re spending all this time crafting this unique content; why not ensure you get the full impact? Here are a few ways to make sure your content gets the full legs it deserves:
One of the best ways to ensure your content gets the attention it deserves is by utilizing email marketing programs to promote it. Share new blog posts, whitepapers, or case studies with your subscribers to keep them engaged and informed. Regularly sending out valuable content nurtures existing relationships and helps build trust with potential clients.
Social media is another powerful tool for extending your content reach. Platforms like LinkedIn are particularly valuable for B2B brands, as they provide an opportunity to connect with industry professionals and share relevant content. Post updates with links to your content, engage in conversations and join industry-specific groups to maximize your visibility. Paid boosting can further increase your content’s reach, helping you target specific audiences and driving more traffic to your website.
Each time you develop content, optimize it. This includes researching relevant keywords and incorporating them into your content, crafting engaging meta titles and descriptions, and using header tags effectively. Proper SEO practices will help your content rank higher in search engine results, driving more organic traffic and extending your content’s reach.
#8: Lean into LinkedIn
LinkedIn can be a goldmine for pulling prospects into your marketing funnel & also effectively building your brand in the minds of your target audience.
Personas & Topics
Start by developing personas representing your ideal customers and use these personas to guide your content creation. Identify the topics that resonate most with your audience and create content that addresses their pain points and interests.
Consistent Brand Tone & Look
Consistency is key when it comes to building a strong presence on LinkedIn. Ensure your brand tone & aesthetic is cohesive across all your content, from articles to infographics, to establish a recognizable identity.
Engagement – Not Just Promotion
To keep your LinkedIn audience engaged, offer a mix of content formats such as articles, videos, and polls. Regularly sharing fresh and valuable content will keep your followers interested and encourage them to share your content with their networks. Additionally, participate in discussions, comment on industry news, and engage with other users to foster meaningful connections and expand your reach.
LinkedIn is a great platform for thought leaders to share their expertise and connect with customers and prospects. Encourage your company’s experts to participate in conversations, share their insights, and engage with followers.
# 9 – Embrace AI for a Competitive Edge
It’s starting to feel like a whole new world with Artificial Intelligence. If you are ready to take your marketing game & efficiency to the next level, AI tools can give you that competitive edge you are looking for. Here are a few ways:
- Content – Let AI lend a helping hand in content development by drafting email drip programs or social media content. It’s like having an extra creative brain on your team! But, be wary of just letting AI take the wheel for content, especially content for SEO.
- Research – Remember to consider AI regarding competitive insights and industry research. Remember that many trending tools (e.g., ChatGPT) utilize predictive language models, so they may only sometimes be factually accurate.
- Ideation – Stuck in a creative rut? AI tools like ChatGPT and Bard come in handy & provide you with fresh ideas to kickstart your marketing efforts.
Smart B2Bs are quickly adapting & innovating as the 2023 business environment evolves. By better analyzing key pages with GA4, understanding your customers’ changing needs, fostering collaboration between sales and marketing teams, diversifying lead flow, conducting competitive analysis, auditing and extending content reach, utilizing LinkedIn effectively, and embracing AI for a competitive edge, B2B brands can successfully generate leads and make a lasting impact in the digital space.
Most B2Bs aren’t implementing these strategies, so even mastering a few could lead to a significant competitive advantage. Don’t hesitate to lean into one or two of these tactics and watch your business thrive in the dynamic landscape 2023.
If you’re looking for assistance, don’t hesitate to contact Volume Nine. Our team of experts is ready to help you unlock the full potential of your digital marketing and lead-generation efforts. Contact us today to get started on your path to success!