You’re a B2B marketer, perhaps an IT software or service provider – and you want to build hype about your new product or service. You want to promote original, inspired content that wins likes, gains impressions and drives leads. You need ads that people can’t help but click… but where do you start. It may seem obvious to say that planning and strategy are key to successful B2B marketing campaigns. But many marketers rush through these stages – often to the detriment of the overall project.
There could be plenty of different reasons for this. Many falsely assume that it’s a better use of resources to dive straight into the work, rather than waste time on planning. This is particularly the case if they’re getting pressure for fast results from the C-suite or boardroom. But corners cut today often result in leads not won tomorrow. For that reason, if you want to ensure success for your campaign, you can’t afford to take shortcuts in the planning stages of your campaign.
What are B2B marketing campaigns?
B2B marketing campaigns are something we all basically understand – but it can be difficult to put that understanding into words. However, if you want to publish content, get leads and drive sales, it can be helpful to take a step back and understand what the whole thing is really about.
Any type of marketing campaign can be defined as ‘a series of marketing activities designed to achieve clearly defined goals within a specific time frame’. This isn’t the same as simply posting regular content to promote your services. The content should be tightly related and all pointing towards a single, often time sensitive goal: get this promotion, service or new product release.
For most marketers, this will be pretty self-evident, but it can be helpful to take a step back and consider the bigger picture when planning your strategy.
Asking the right questions
Once you’ve worked out exactly what the point of your campaign is, there are a few steps you need to take to define what success will look like and consider how you’ll achieve that. In short, you need some concrete goals.
Your audience is the most important part of any campaign. The key to success is effectively understanding who your audience is. The best way to achieve this is to build an audience persona – a fictional representation of your average or ideal customer, based on market research and existing customer insights. To gain a better understanding of your customers, it’s helpful to define the persona’s demographic, location, job role, likes and dislikes, as well as the challenges and pain points they face in their daily life.
The ‘why’ of your B2B marketing campaigns is probably the most important element. You might understand who your customer is, and what they want – but why they should buy your product, service or promotion is far more difficult to nail down. This requires an understanding of what their needs are, and how your product fits into that backdrop. More importantly, you also need to understand how and why your products or services differ from those of your competitors.
The goal could be anything from a set number of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) to be generated over a series of time, an increase in the amount of contacts on your email marketing list or simply a defined amount of content to be produced over the campaign period. It helps in these situations to be specific; establish a clear numeric target that you want to hit. Even if you don’t ultimately end up hitting that number, having a clear target will help provide the motivation you need to make a success of the campaign.
Now you’ve determined your audience and built your personas, it can be helpful to develop a clearer understanding of how you’re going to convert them into customers. To identify this, it can be helpful to create a marketing funnel, which tracks the content and marketing tactics you’ll aim at customers as they progress through the buyer’s journey. This involves three main stages; becoming aware of your solution, exploring and researching further, and finally deciding whether to make a purchase. Your campaign should seek to target content that supports and encourages the right choice at each one of these stages.
Of course, asking yourself these questions is the easy part – finding the right answers can be a little trickier.
What makes up successful B2B marketing campaigns
Once you’ve outlined some of the who, what, why and how of your campaign, it’s time to start creating some more detailed tasks and objectives.
Create the messaging
It can be easy when running your campaign to jump straight into creating the content – particularly if it’s time sensitive. Before you do that it’s important to identify your key messaging. Drawing on your competitor research and audience personas, you need to develop a series of marketing messages that will run through all the content you create.
One way of doing this is to create a value proposition, which outlines the key messaging of your campaign, your unique selling point and the reasons why customers would be convinced to buy your product. This is a good way of ensuring that everyone on the campaign is on the same page. This document doesn’t necessarily need to be pages long, but it definitely should outline the main strategy, how you’re going to achieve that and the messaging you’ll use to drive it.
Outline the deliverables
Once you’ve done this, you need to work out exactly what content you’re going to use to populate your campaign. Will it include a series of blogs? An eBook and a landing page? Emails? Paid media? The list goes on and on. Ideally, you want to produce a wide range of different content, that links together and targets audiences in different places. Obviously, the more content you create, the better you can expect it to do. But with the right messaging, and effective targeting, you can still achieve impressive results with a small amount of content.
A successful content campaign might look something like this;
- A ‘lead magnet’ – an eBook or Whitepaper with a corresponding landing page
- A series of perhaps 2-4 blogs which support and direct traffic towards the lead magnet
- Accompanying social media posts on Twitter and LinkedIn that push out the blogs and eBook
- A series of paid media ads on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google search
- Email marketing that can communicate with leads generated across the rest of the campaign, and encourage them towards a sales conversation
Of course, the demands and objectives of your campaign will mean this could change – this isn’t a one size fits all approach. But if you’re stuck for where to start, this should give you a good idea of what you’ll need to achieve.
Plan your resources
If you want to hit your goals, and create all the right content on time, you need to be realistic about the resources you have available. If you haven’t got the amount of people you require to successfully complete the project on time, you’ll have to remove some work from your campaign or extend your deadline. And it’s better to proactively make that decision now than end later down the line.
To do this effectively, you’ll have to create a schedule, so everyone is clear when deliverables are to be expected, reviewed, optimized and ultimately published. You should set out the amount of time that each person working on the project should expect to spend on each task, preferably some kind of project management software that everyone can easily view.
And of course, if you’re going to be producing content together with an external agency, you need to create mutual deadlines and priorities that everyone can be happy with. That requires making sure your agency is aware of work due dates, and your internal staff have the time allocated to edit, review, optimize and publish it when it arrives.
If you successfully plan all your resources in advance, the rest of the campaign will hopefully fall quite smoothly into place from there.
The final step before you get started putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) is to identify how you’re going to measure the success of your campaign. It’s important to demonstrate to your stakeholders that the work you produced paid off.
Naturally, the way you measure success will be closely tied to the objectives you set out at the outset of your B2B marketing campaigns. If you’re simply planning to increase leads, then the amount of email signups and MQLs will be the metric that judges this.
But it can be also helpful to look into a series of other analytics, via Google Analytics or Data Studio. Analysing click through rates, page views, and bounce rates can give you a more three-dimensional picture of how your content is performing. These can show you how many people read your marketing materials, how long they spend on it – and whether they choose to proceed to the lead magnet asset or provide their contact details.
This means that if during the campaign you’re not receiving the leads you need, you can effectively isolate the problem and work to resolve it. Let’s say you’ve got a lot of page views, but a low click through rate, it could be a sign that you need make your CTAs more eye-catching; perhaps moving them further up the page so users are more likely to see them. And if you’re not receiving many page views in the first place, it could be a sign that you need to increase your SEO efforts or tweak your paid media strategy to get more eyes on the page in the first place.
Either way, having isolated the ways you’ll measure your strategy, you’ll be able to quickly identify how successful you’re being and make more proactive changes to improve your results throughout the campaign. And when it’s all over, you’ll have the information you need to provide better results next time – regardless of how effectively you did.
Specialist B2B marketing campaigns for technology providers
Here at Fifty Five and Five, we work on B2B marketing campaigns every day specialising in technology providers. That means we know a thing or two about creating winning strategies that find new audiences, drive leads and ultimately qualify new sales. We often discover clients have the will and understand the need for good quality marketing – but struggle with the internal resources to effectively complete all the steps we outlined in this blog on time, on budget, and to a high quality.
That’s why many of them choose to work with us, because we specialise in creating the marketing strategy that earns you those all important marketing leads. If you want to find out more about how we can help you, get in touch today.