So quite often I hear the argument that people look at a lot of the case studies and examples we use in digital marketing and say, “Well, that’s all very well and good, but it doesn’t apply to me because my organization’s business to business.” And there’s a lot of resistance in the business to business world about how to use digital marketing, there’s a lot of risk adversity. And quite often B2B organizations are a little bit more slow moving than a lot of consumer facing organizations. A lot of this argument is based on the fact that a lot of case studies you see are for the really big, shiny, innovative kind of campaigns. Big budgets doing kind of really clever things with social media, with digital. And we take a step back and say, “Well, that doesn’t really apply to what I do,” but actually digital marketing is very, very easy and straightforward for business to business once we get our mindset right about what we’re actually trying to achieve. And this ties very much in with how we think about content marketing. So traditionally you see an awful lot of people using digital in a business to business way to just try and push out sales messages. We go back to that traditional sales process, and we send out, “We’ve got new product launches, special offers, all these sorts of things.” What we really need to think about is two different stages.
What is the first stage?
The first stage is how do I engage with my audience when they’re not even aware of my product or service, or they’re not yet at the point of purchase? And that’s really going to be about content marketing. What content can I provide to actually engage with that audience? So that might be best practice guides. It might be thought leadership. It might be podcast videos, anything at all. But I’m really providing value to that target audience when they’re at the top of the sales funnel, and I’m finding ways of driving traffic to my website even when they’re not at the point of purchase. The next stage is the actual active stages you go through when we’re researching and buying a product, and depending on the business to business product or service that might be a couple of days, it might be a couple of years. So I need to find ways of engaging with people over that period of time, and I’m answering the questions they may have about my product or service, how it works, frequently asked questions, all those sorts of different things. The purchase may not happen online. It may be they then go through and call a telephone number or they fill in a form, but that’s our objective with our digital marketing campaign. How can I drive that call? How can I drive that lead generation form? So we produce content marketing at the top of the sales funnel, where I’m posting and creating content. I’m optimizing that for the search engines. I’m engaging with that hrough social media. Then I’ve identified each of the stages of the buying cycle, and I’m creating content to tick the boxes of what people need. And then I’m measuring that primary objective of getting somebody to fill in that lead generation form or call a telephone number through my analytics online. Now with web forms, filling in a form that’s relatively straightforward. With telephone numbers, there are lots of services out there that will generate telephone numbers that are specific to specific stages or pages of your website so you can start to work out where that phone call actually came from as well. So actually, digital marketing is really, really effective for business to business, but it’s not about broadcast and pushing out sales messages.