Like the billions of bits of data buzzing through your computer and smartphone at this moment, technology today is moving faster than ever before. And while consumers are quick to adopt most new technology without much thought, B2B folks need to consult with logic and peers a lot more before embracing new tech. They need to ask themselves questions like, “Is this the best available solution for my company?” and “What’s the long-term ROI of this technology?”
With big budgets, project timelines and jobs at stake, B2B buyers need to be confident in the value of technology before committing to it. Here are three valuable technologies we’ve been following that B2B companies should consider adding to their marketing toolkit.
Faced with challenging market conditions and increasing pressure to prove ROI, more B2B marketers are using automation platforms to help manage complex, multi-touch buying cycles. While most B2B marketing campaigns are email driven, today’s automation platforms are going well beyond that capability. Popular vendors such as Pardot, Marketo, eTrigue and HubSpot are now offering users the ability to design emails and landing pages; track web visitors; capture, score and nurture leads; integrate native CRM; and analyze campaign data. Some vendors even offer advanced features like dynamic website content generation, multi-channel campaign management and mobile integration.
B2B marketers report1 that the top benefit of marketing automation is the ability to generate more and better leads. This is because the software combines relevant prospect criteria with an effective lead scoring system. By working together to define lead parameters, automation helps to improve the alignment of sales and marketing goals, a common struggle of many B2B companies. It also means that most leads are sales-qualified by the time they come in.
The report also found that another 36% of marketers who have adopted automation say that their main benefit is taking repetitive tasks (such as email personalization, scheduling, executing, sending reports to the sales team and lead nurturing) out of busy marketers’ hands. Other reported benefits include better customers and prospect targeting, improved customer experience, better email marketing, reduction of human error in campaigns and improved multi-channel marketing.
According to Forrester Research, B2B marketers that implement marketing automation experience a 10% increase in their sales-pipeline contribution. But, not so fast. With so many vendors in the marketplace, B2B companies should take time to shop around for the right vendor that offers the functions that best suit their marketing and sales needs. Take some demos, ask a lot of questions and find the solution that your whole team can agree on.
More than 95% of users leave websites without converting2 into a customer. Those users then browse the web and are likely being exposed to competitors’ products and ideas, and they forget about what they read on previous sites. This makes B2B marketers’ job of keeping their brand in prospects’ minds at all times difficult. That’s what makes retargeting so valuable. The basic concept is simple: serve customized online ads to users based on prior engagement with a company’s website. The technology gives marketers the upper hand by literally keeping their brand in front of prospects’ eyes throughout their online travels. Retargeting vendor Criteo says that website visitors who are retargeted with display ads are 70% more likely3 to convert on a website.
It works like this: When someone visits your website, retargeting software places a tracking cookie. The cookie then notifies the retargeting software after that visitor bounces and appears on another site. If that site has available ad space, retargeting automatically places a real-time bid on it. By the time the page loads, your ad will appear in that newly purchased space. Customized ads will continue to “follow” this prospect as long as they continue displaying ideal buying behaviors, like engaging with your site or searching relevant terms. This retargeting strategy is known as site retargeting; its main function is to boost top-of-the-funnel leads by displaying the right ads to the right people.
Retargeting can also be executed through an email campaign. Email retargeting uses the same concept of “cookie-ing” a prospect, only now that cookie code is being served to your prospect when they open an email from your company. Retargeted ads will appear one to five times a day while that person browses the web. This is a valuable tool because it complements email marketing campaigns with display ads that reinforce brand messaging and re-engage prospects at multiple touch points.
Another way to “cookie” a prospect is to target ads to people based on the keywords they search for. This is known as search retargeting. After a user searches a term that is relevant to your company or industry, they will see your customized ad while exploring options based on that term. This literally puts your brand in front of them at the very moment that they are searching for relevant solutions.
Compared to traditional online advertising, these retargeting strategies help B2B companies prevent wasted impressions and make the most of company ad budgets. In fact, according to the editor of www.CMO.com,4 retargeting can boost ad response up to 400%. It is no surprise then that 46% of search engine marketing professionals believe retargeting is the most underused online marketing technology.4
According to the latest IDG Global Mobile Survey,5 77% of business decision-makers use their smartphone to research a product or service for their business. Another study6 from software company Ariba claims that more than half of B2B buyers use tablets and other mobile devices to conduct research and make purchases. These numbers will only rise in the coming years—and users expect to have flawless mobile access to the sites they need to help them do their job. Because of this, it is no longer just an option to have a website with responsive design; it is crucial for success. Your website must be designed to automatically scale to the size of the device being used to access it. Similar to how a liquid spreads out to fit the space of its container, your website should seamlessly adapt to the screen of your visitors’ devices. This is especially important considering that frustration and confusion are the leading causes for visitors to bounce off a site.
Responsive design enables your company to provide an excellent website experience for all users. This is a crucial part of digital marketers’ jobs. If you’re going to spend time populating a site with valuable content, you also need to make sure that every single prospect is able to access that content effortlessly—whether they are in the office, at the airport or on the floor of a tradeshow.
Marketers who implement responsive design report an average 20% increase7 in clicks and conversions. This is partly because responsive design increases mobile traffic to your site and encourages more engagement. This may seem obvious, but imagine a site that is difficult to navigate using mobile devices. After a bad mobile experience on the home page, why would anyone want to continue browsing? On the flip side, if you provide users with a positive mobile experience when they arrive on your site, you will not only see increased traffic, but also increased conversions, page views, time spent on the site and repeat visits.
Another reason for increased engagement is that responsive sites better leverage the power of Google search. The search engine giant actually tailors search results coming from phones and tablets to favor mobile-friendly sites. This means better search engine optimization (SEO) for your responsive site, which results in overall higher online visibility for your brand. In addition, the price of creating a responsive site is less than having separate desktop and adaptive mobile sites, so it makes perfect sense from an economic standpoint.
When your company is ready to make the move to using these technologies, it is important to shop around for the most relevant solutions that can help you meet your company’s sales and marketing goals. There are hundreds of vendors offering retargeting and marketing automation solutions, and many have different features targeted for different types and sizes of companies. Contact several vendors and ask a lot of questions. Consult your company’s web team to find out what their responsive design capabilities are. Most importantly, establish a team of employees that can oversee the campaigns and track results. This will all help you get the most ROI out of your new technology investments.
For more information, visit www.schubertb2b.com.