Setting B2B digital marketing objectives

Objectives means ‘where do we want to be?’

Most marketing professionals know that objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed (SMART) provide a pathway to marketing success. How often, though, do you take the time to set a specific plan for the use of the array of digital channels?

SMART digital marketing objectives help select which tools and techniques are best suited to deliver against the strategy you have elected to follow.

Digital marketing offers superb analytical capability but this doesn’t mean much if you don’t have some firm objectives from the outset. This means taking a realistic benchmark of what you have and what you can achieve, and creating some goals on which to base a future evaluation. In this post, I’ll take you through five areas of objective setting we’ve set out in Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing – available now in ebook format from Amazon.

Setting the Five Ss goals

The Five Ss of digital marketing (credit to Smith & Chaffey) is a useful way to start sense-checking your digital marketing planning. The Five Ss are used here as a simple mnemonic for a range of objectives that might be considered.

1. Sell – Have we set goals to grow sales?

Start with goals for your most important transactions which will lead to revenue and profit! That’s sales, or if you don’t sell online, the leads that your online marketing will deliver, which will convert through to sales or donations if you’re a not-for-profit.

For most B2B companies, the sale will come much further down the line but it remains important to set some sales-related goals within your digital marketing planning. Are you able to qualify for example the average order quantity or value based on minimum order, pack size or price? Using Google Analytics you can begin to track clickthroughs to requests for information, telephone calls, face-to-face appointments, demonstrations and free trials.

What about considering ways to increase sales and looking at scenario planning to increase sales by category, by region, by key client or sub-sector? Looking at your pipeline of business prospects, there are also opportunities to increase sales through increasing the efficiency of customer journeys on your website.

2. Speak – Have we set goals to get closer to customers?

Digital channels are not only sales channels, they excel as communications channels to engage your audience. We say engage because it isn’t about one-way broadcasting; good marketing requires you to get the balance right between communicating your offer and interacting with your audience.

Encouraging email subscribers to sign up is a staple ingredient of a successful digital B2B plan as the resulting email newsletter and eshots can provide excellent feedback on how your communication is being received and interacted with. Most email services will help you gauge who opens when and how many times, who clicks through and if they forward to colleagues. It is also good for data cleansing as bad, gone away and unsubscribes can be routinely managed.

For social media, tools are available for buzz monitoring and sentiment analysis. These will show you where you are being talked about and whether the conversations are positive, negative or neutral – also relevant to these goals.

And, since digital channels work best when joined with other channels, the goals here should also include online visits prompted by traditional offline media.

Make sure every page of a website or blog and every email and placed article includes a call to action that is a click to another page, further reading, more information, a sign-up or download.

3. Serve – Have we set goals to online customer service goals?

Most customers visit websites for information relating to orders, help with products or services, or to make comments or complaints. Visitors need to be quickly directed to contact us and frequently asked questions (FAQs) pages as standard, so why not set goals for customer care, service and satisfaction too?

Often this is an area most companies are notoriously poor at, but it might just be the focus of your unique online proposition to pay greater attention to enquiries of this type and offer a supremely speedy service which marks this out as a true value add. Live Talk and other on-page help functions are making a comeback to websites as companies look to differentiate and keep customers for the long term.

Providing excellent end-to-end service online also has a positive knock-on effect to your capability to effectively Sell, Speak, Save and Sizzle.

4. Save – Have we set cost-saving goals?

Saving money, time and effort is a less glamorous goal than some of the others, but you can also show the value you gain through using online cost savings to reduce service costs and save on traditional media like print and post.

This is most relevant for B2B service companies, especially those with multiple site operations where efficiency in operations can be achieved. Marketers can set goals for the number of catalogues downloaded or number of service transactions compared with other channels. In extreme cases, it may help unearth underperforming branches and identify logistical supply issues that are costing money and losing sales.

If you are fighting for budget for online channels, the savings you can demonstrate to your finance director or budget holder through digital means will support your argument.

5. Sizzle – Are we adding value to our brand online?

Putting the sizzle into your digital marketing will really help achieve your sales and speak goals, but it’s not very easy to set goals for elements like brand advocacy and engagement and then try to track them.

Sizzle is about building your brand online. Think about what makes for a positive online brand experience for your target audience and you. Remember that most business buyers are looking for information that is going to inform a short listing or purchase process – and reassurance they are making the right decision.

We have already said it’s important to set goals and track the quality of the experience online, but you should also check the temperature of your sizzle through how shareable and likeable your brand is.

If the experience is effective, the benefits of engaging with your digital presence will be clear; the interactions within the site and with other channels will be smooth and the visitor will want to use your online services again, and tell their friends and colleagues about it.

So, key measures on sizzle need to be set around elements such as sentiment and more specifically levels of satisfaction, service, recommendations and advocacy.

Think about how the Five Ss help to determine what those SMART objectives need to concentrate on. Your goals for marketing your B2B products and services digitally marketing should support, and be supported by, your wider marketing strategies.

Image credit: Laurie Gough

Selling B2B digital marketing to the C-suite

Need to get buy in to resource and investment in digital marketing? Keep reading to learn five ways to get the investment you need.

 

Whether it is ‘intangibles’ like up front strategy, planning and goal setting or ‘tangibles’ like websites, blogs, email systems, databases, social media accounts and more, you need to be able to bring your colleagues with you.

Arguing the case for an investment in digital marketing involves an understanding of the rules and vocabulary of the boardroom.

You have a digital footprint

Everything you and your business does online helps create a digital footprint which has immediate and far-reaching implications on your brand. Customers can make a spontaneous first impression of your capability and credibility so it is important to get it right. With some customers the impression made, the quality of presentation and substance of the content are so fundamental that poor first impressions rule you out for life.

The ability to track and trace

Encouragingly, digital marketing can be tracked in much more thorough ways than other more traditional techniques. An investment in overt migration of traffic towards websites, landing pages and other content hubs is a smart move and getting a view of impressions, clicks and visits helps to establish what works, what is valued and what is not. With the advent of the download, customers are now prepared to exchange contact data in exchange for worthwhile content that will aid their understanding of a given topic or help them in their role.

So, is it any wonder that if you don’t have a strategy that illustrates where you are, where you want to be and how you are going to get there, then when you ask for investment, senior managers appear reluctant?

The benefits of a digital strategy for a business are straight forward and clear:

  • It can deliver immediate, measurable return on investment.
  • It provides a consistent platform for brand communications and amplification in the most important, growing and innovating area of modern business.

Five things to remember when convincing senior and financial management about digital investment

1. Remember, they need your expertise

It’s not that the boardroom is hostile to the concept of digital marketing. A lack of confidence and lack of knowledge probably makes your board nervous. From their kids spending all their time on Facebook, to complicated smartphones to the rise of app culture, the value to B2B isn’t always easy to draw.

It’s your responsibility to bring them up to speed and always make recommendations with the company’s best interests at heart. Simple quick wins might involve internal training, shadowing on projects and visits to conferences and exhibitions to immerse in the industry. This will help you understand issues, trends and fuel strategic thinking.

2. Understand the language of finance

Those empowered with rubber-stamping business investment are invariably concerned about risk, return, cost and savings. With accountancy at their core, their perspective is the removal of excess expense. Consequently, unsubstantiated trends and crazes, new platforms – anything without a reasoned and robust strategy behind them – are not going to get financial backing.

3. Make attribution your friend

Marketing is all too often viewed as an extravagant overhead in many companies and is constantly under scrutiny. Finance Directors can be uncomfortable with marketing campaigns that cannot be measured, partly because of the rather mystical approach to attribution and the squabble that often takes place between marketing and sales teams.

But explaining the principles of media attribution models and the move away from ‘last click wins’ models can really help foster an understanding and buy-in to digital marketing expenditure. It can also help you explain the value of activities which are likely to be more effective in brand building and demand generation than traditional approaches.

4. Paint a picture of an improved future

Or so you might think. Try to build a compelling argument that makes the case for investment in marketing activity based on generating leads (risk), reports greater visibility of results (return), automating previously manual tasks (cost), delivers service at a reduced cost (save). It doesn’t have to be immediate – future time and resource cost savings are as powerful as real time ones.

5. Paint a picture of a future without it

Demonstrate, especially drawing on big industry trends and the activities of your primary competitors how not investing will actually have a devastating effect on the long term profitability of the business.

What challenges do you face in requesting (more) digital marketing investment? Share your challenges and tips below.

 

 

Download the new 440 page Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing eBook from Amazon today – for Kindle and Kindle apps for all devices and computers. 

 

Image credit: Telegraph blog

Ten reasons your B2B digital marketing probably isn’t doing what it should

Unfocused marketing activity generally leads to unsatisfactory results. This is magnified online where it is very easy to pour time and effort into tools that promise much but fail to deliver.

If you are marketing products and services to other businesses, return on investment is critical. If you aren’t thinking strategically you are wasting company time, effort and resource and not only harming the prospects of the business but also your own career prospects too.

Here are some common problems and ways to overcome them.

1. You’re directionless. Companies without a digital strategy don’t have clear strategic goals for what they want to achieve online in terms of gaining new customers or building deeper relationships with existing ones. Setting goals provides direction, makes it possible to decide on the best digital tools to use to support your business and sets a benchmark for evaluation.

2. You don’t have a powerful offer. A clearly defined Online Value Proposition (thanks Dave Chaffey) will help you differentiate your online service encouraging prospects and existing customers to engage initially and stay loyal.

3. You don’t know your online customers well enough. Google Analytics will help with volumes but won’t tell you how they think or what they want. You need to use other forms of feedback to identify customer need in order to optimally meet them.

4. You don’t know your online market share. Customer demand for online services may be underestimated if you haven’t researched this. This will make it difficult to know how you’re competing. Requirements online will be different from traditional channels with different types of customer profile and behaviour, competitors, propositions and options for marketing communications.

5. You’re not integrated, you’re ‘disintegrated!’ It’s all too common for digital to be placed in a silo whether that’s a specialist digital marketer, sitting in IT or a separate digital agency. Failing to integrate with other marketing activity is a missed opportunity and something you should work urgently to address.

6. You don’t have enough people/budget. Insufficient resource will be devoted to both planning and executing digital marketing activities and there is likely to be a lack of specific specialist skills, which will make it difficult to respond to competitive threats effectively.

7. You’re wasting the people, time and money you do have. Even if you do have sufficient resource it may be not deployed optimally. This is particularly the case in larger companies where you see different parts of the marketing organisation purchasing different tools or using different agencies for performing similar online marketing tasks.

8. You’re not optimising. Hopefully every marketer managing a business website employs Google Analytics. What is often missing is the reporting to senior management. An agreed strategy places a focus on the basics, which include goals that allow progress to continuous improvement of the key aspects like search marketing, site user experience, email and social media marketing.

9. You’re not agile enough to catch up or stay ahead. If you look at top online business brands like Blackberry, Dell, FedEx, Norton, Siemens as well as more consumer focused brands like Amazon, Tesco and Zappos, they are all dynamic – trialing new approaches to keep and/or gain online audiences.

10. More nimble existing and start-up competitors are likely to gain market share. If you’re not devoting enough resources to digital marketing or you’re using an ad hoc approach with no clearly defined strategies, you will lose out to your competitors.

Q: What other challenges do you face as a B2B marketer tasked with digital marketing?

Why B2B digital marketing requires a new approach

There has been a very good reason why this blog has been left unloved for much of 2012. I started the year musing on the lack of credible B2B digital marketing texts available to modern marketers – so decided to write one.

In this blog post I lay out why it’s needed and what you can hope to get from it. Much more on B2B digital marketing to come over the weeks and months.

Marketing in complexity

Understanding, interpreting and delivering on customer needs has been the foundation of marketing for over one hundred years. Many business­-to-business (B2B) organisations are already successfully using digital marketing in specialist sectors like financial and professional services, IT and software, manufacturing, engineering or science.

Businesses have been buying and selling products to one another for hundreds of years. But, don’t let anyone tell you that B2B marketing isn’t different from marketing products to consumers. It is. B2B marketing often involves communicating challenging and niche product benefits to hard to reach and hard to engage B2B decision makers, through a complex purchase cycle taking them from unaware to purchase.

B2B requires a specialised skill-set and understanding of the psychology, the gestation period, differing information needs and complex operating environment in which specifers, influencers and decision makers work together to procure products and services on behalf of their companies.

Scarcity of advice

Yet, for business marketers, there is a limited amount of good quality, specific advice and best practice available to draw upon for the unique challenges and opportunities available from digital media.

Visibility in Internet search for B2B marketers is key. Companies that follow a stepped approach that creates touch-points, positive first impressions and a tangible interest to customers will see a return on digital marketing investment.

Up until now, there have been surprisingly few books or guides which address the unique challenges of promoting business products and services online, whether these are for companies which don’t sell online who are focused on lead generation and customer communications or online B2B retailers.

B2B marketers can still learn something from the many texts that focus on how global super brands like Apple, Starbucks, Coca Cola and Unilever build and promote their portfolios. Yet, it is often hard to relate what they do with their multi­million dollar budgets and unrivalled resource relevant to B2B campaigns.

Until now.

In my new (and first) full colour, 400+ page case-study and best practice packed Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing (published in association with Dr Dave Chaffey and Smart Insights), you’ll learn how to create a plan or simply work through all the issues you need to think about to make online B2B marketing more effective.

Available now from Amazon for Kindle and for all Kindle apps across a wide variety of PC, Mac and smartphone devices (check your app store, it will be free) it covers all the areas you need to review to take your online marketing to the next level if you market to other businesses.

These include:-

– creating a strategy and setting measurable goals

– building effective, high impact relevant websites

– optimising digital marketing for search

– using content and inbound marketing

– harnessing the most appropriate social media tools to engage target audiences

– developing deeper calls to action and eCRM

– using analytics to improve digital marketing

I hope it helps you to determine a clear pathway to improved digital marketing for your business and one that gives you the success you demand. Do please feedback, either here, on Twitter copying me @renepower using the hashtag #BrilliantB2B, via Linkedin.

And if you want to leave a review on Amazon, please feel free – nice ones may qualify for a kickback of some kind in 2013.

7 steps to brilliant b2b digital marketing; Preview at On the Edge, 10 October 2012

The blogging has been slow through 2012 because I’ve been working on a major project – a book dedicated to be b2b digital marketing. This work, published by Dave Chaffey’s Smart Insights website looks at a robust 7 step approach to digital marketing for b2b companies taking in strategy, websites, search, inbound content marketing, social media, lead generation and CRM and analytics and evaluation.

I’m very excited to say the book will soon be available from Amazon and iTunes (late October 2012) and for a limited time only it is available to Expert Members of the Smart Insights website. Visit http://www.smartinsights.com/guides/brilliant-b2b-digital-marketing-ebook/ to join the site and get the book early, and hundreds of other digital marketing resources for the next 12 months.

The first step of pre-promotion of the book took place in Manchester this week where I chaired and opened the On the Edge digital marketing event. The slides below give a flavour of the thought process under pinning the book and why it should be so useful to so many people.


There is nothing like this book for b2b marketers in the market right now. It has been been a labour of love and contains hundreds of best practice tips and dozens of b2b specific companies including 3M, Atlas Copco, BOC, BASF, Blackberry, Ingersoll Rand, Knauf, Nokia Siemens, Oliver Valves, Saint Gobain, Salesforce, Skanska, UPS and many more.

I’m thrilled to almost be at the point of release. Expect much more from me over the coming weeks on this exciting project and how can get involved in it.