Why Small B2B Businesses Need to Invest in a Website

A website is essentially a home base which supports everything else you do – both online and off. Whether a company needs one or not is no longer up for discussion. Every website will have completely different needs, depending on a huge range of factors defined by audience, service and industry. Bigger brands in particular may be able to use their websites for completely different things, thanks to the full extent of their other resources taking some of the pressure off. Smaller business, on the other hand, will need their website to do a bit more legwork. There are six key things that it will need to achieve.

Establish your brand

Your website needs to offer visitors a clear picture of who you are. More than any other space your business operates in, your own site provides complete control over how you position your company. This positioning takes two key forms:

  • Aesthetic positioning – what your brand looks like. Colours, fonts, logos, styles of imagery. These need to be immediately apparent to users, and also need to be used consistently across all areas of the business, from social media accounts to business cards to van decals.
  • Message positioning – who you are, and what your company stands for. Your core values, your unique selling points. These messages need to be front and centre.

Establish your products or services

When it comes to the services you provide, and the things you sell, your website shouldn’t leave anything to the imagination. Make sure there’s plenty of detailed information about what you sell – and why you’re the best person to supply it. This can include:

  • Written descriptions
  • Technical specifications
  • Photography and video
  • Case studies and testimonials
  • Frequently asked questions

Generate leads or sales

The information above is all in service of encouraging customers to click the “buy” button – or persuading potential clients to enquire for a quote. Website visitors should have as few barriers as possible to initiating or completing these transactions – useful (even essential) features include:

Sales-driven
• Online storefront
• Pricing information
• Customer baskets
• Secure payments

Lead-driven
• Automated quoting tools
• Targeted contact forms
• Clear contact information

Appear in search results

A website is all-but-useless if no one can find it. Websites need to be designed and built in a way that search engines can read, index and serve up to people in search results – this is called search engine optimisation, or SEO. There’s no on/off switch for making a site appear at the top of Google – instead, it’s a combination of a large number of factors, including (but not limited to):

  • Identifying relevant search keywords that relate to your business
  • Ensuring each page has a unique title, ideally using one of these keywords
  • Writing enough unique, relevant content for each page to give a clear picture of what it’s about
  • Creating a logical site structure that bots can move through easily
  • Making sure the site loads quickly, and is useable, on all devices
  • Ensuring correct details are listed in Google Business
  • Updating the site regularly so that Google recognises that it’s an active business

You’ll notice that many of the elements favoured by Google’s bots are also incredibly useful to human users too. Creating a site that is easier for people to use means they’ll spend more time on it, rather than clicking the back button straight away. These metrics of human behaviour are recorded and considered by Google, and the better your stats, the better you’ll be able to rank. When SEO is done right, it’s almost like a snowball effect.

4 essential things every business website needs

Technology moves fast, and the internet in particular is always changing. A website that met every technical standard and best practice even two years ago could now be completely out of date. These standards range from boxes to tick to pretty essential user functions, to legal requirements that can cause trouble if not met. Here are a few key requirements:

  • Responsive design

Responsive web design means that websites are designed and built to work effectively on a number of different devices (desktop, tablet, mobile), and in any browser window size. If you make your browser window smaller, or look at your site on a smaller device, does it stay put, forcing people to scroll left and right to read anything, or shrink down until the text and images are illegible? Or does it adapt, subtly adjusting the layout to make sure everything remains readable, and on one screen? The latter is called responsive web design, and it’s increasingly becoming a factor that’s valued by Google – as well as by users, as mobile web browsing overtakes use of desktops.

  • Speed

This one’s fairly simple – no one likes a slow website. Human users are less likely to stick around and wait for your pages to load, and search engine bots may not be able to crawl through your entire site in the time allotted. Technical considerations to improve page speed include finding the balance between high quality images and small file sizes, optimising code to be as efficient as possible and compressing certain files.

  • Security

Protecting the privacy and integrity of the data your website handles is essential, particularly if the site allows people to make payments directly through it. If your website runs on a certain type of software, such as WordPress, it needs to be kept up to date with the latest version, as security issues and new vulnerabilities will be fixed with each release. Making sure your website uses HTTPS instead of HTTP as the method for which it transfers data is also essential – the secure version (hence the extra S) encrypts the data that your website sends around the web, protecting it from hacks. It also adds an essential badge of trust for consumers, who are increasingly keeping an eye out for the secure identifier on the websites they use to make purchases.

  • Data protection

If you have contact forms that collect data from users, you have a responsibility to make sure that data is actually relevant to your business, and is kept securely. You may be aware of recent changes to the law, with the introduction of General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR for short. This stipulates that you have to make your visitors completely aware of the data you’re storing on them, as well as why and how you’re storing it. You’ll also have to go to greater lengths to get consent for storing this data.

Best Practices for B2B Email Marketing

Emails are a useful and direct way for B2B organizations to share information
with customers and prospects, and can be effectively used to market products/
services, share new content, announce the latest company news, promote
upcoming events and more.

Aside from lead generation opportunities, email marketing works for your
organization by:

  • Keeping your brand top of mind with leads via email nurture campaigns.
  • Targeting specific audiences with segmented, focused content that drives better engagement.
  • Promoting gated content offerings to support your lead generation efforts.
  • Amplifying your content further through monthly newsletters and periodic updates.

With so many businesses using email as a marketing tool, more often than not, inboxes are overloaded and emails go unopened and unseen. To be effective, your B2B copywriter and email marketing strategy should:

  1. Include an offer in every email (content offering, demo request, webinar sign up).
  2. Include a call-to-action in your emails to boost engagement.
  3. Ensure email is mobile responsive and graphics/images display correctly prior to sending.
  4. Consistently A/B test each email.
  5. Measure effectiveness of campaigns.
  6. Measure the results of your A/B tests and determine which elements results in better email performance.
  7. Segment email lists to offer relevant and tailored messaging to various types of email recipients such as prospects (top of the funnel), qualified leads (mid funnel) and customers (upsell opportunities).

Crafting Effective B2B Marketing Emails

So how does a smart marketer craft a B2B marketing email subject line that gets attention? Many of the same marketing dictums/strategies that work in general campaigns apply here as well. The underlying element that should spread across strategies is value – by structuring your subject line to appeal to your recipient’s needs and interests, you hold up an immediate flag that stands out in a cluttered inbox.

  • Be relevant. The first rule of email marketing applies to the subject line as well. Use your knowledge of the target to compose a subject line that reflects their goals and behaviors.
  • Be clear. While clever subject lines can intrigue readers, being too obscure or confusing will cause a recipient to skip over your email. Make sure your message is clear and that your recipients understand who’s emailing them. Using a brand signifier such a consistent prefix for all subject lines can impart immediate identification.
  • Be urgent. Imposing a deadline or sense of scarcity such as this week only or only 12 left! can instill a feeling of urgency and inspire open rates. However, too many “last chance” emails will quickly wear out their welcome and create skeptism, so use sparingly.
  • Be timely. Tying your content to a current news or pop culture event will require some creativity – but it will catch attention. Keep it short. Studies have repeatedly shown that subject lines with fewer than 50 characters have the highest open rates.
  • Be regional. Mentioning location in a subject line – such as Visit our new location! will not only catch your recipient’s eye, but it can make your business feel more accessible and your content more personally significant.
  • Ask Questions. A subject line that asks, Do you have the right insurance when you travel? will jolt the reader into thinking about the answer. Suddenly, they’re thinking about what they need and they’re engaged – and you’ve positioned them at the starting point of the selling process.
  • Use a Call to Action. Putting a command in the subject line such as Call me today for your new discount can be surprisingly motivational. Once readers are given a task to complete, they often feel compelled to respond.
  • Be persuasive. Consider the spam filter criteria above. Appealing words like free or special offer can attract attention when used sparingly – but used too often, they can mark your emails as spam. To avoid getting stuck in a spam trap, offer free shipping, or gifts with purchase to entice prospects.
  • Announce a list. Articles titled 5 tax deductions you must take or 8 steps to get in shape often prove popular with readers, since even the busiest people have time to quickly scan down a list. Subject lines are no different.
  • Mention trends. Promising to tell recipients about The best new laptops or The gifts on every graduate’s wish list can make readers want to feel in the know.

Best practices for higher open rates

Using the above techniques can help you craft a subject line that gets your emails
opened, rather than caught in a spam filter or sent to the trash. Yet taking an intelligent approach to B2B email marketing means going beyond individual messages and implementing overarching strategies to help you develop consistently fresh and inspiring campaigns with a B2B copywriter.

Stay current. Email marketing is a shifting landscape. The nonstop daily deluge of emails means that once effective techniques can quickly wear out their welcome, as exposure hits “critical mass” and recipients stop responding to tactics they recognize and dislike. Marketers must stay vigilant to which techniques are generating responses
and which are outdated.

Test. An A/B testing campaign can save you the wasted effort of running a subject line that doesn’t perform well. Track which subject lines generate higher open rates from your target audience before launching a major campaign – and incorporate the results into designing future initiatives.

Use power words. Targets can have weighted reactions to specific words and terms. Do some keyword research on the ones that trigger open rates and draw an emotional response. Even similar words can have a noticeable difference in impact; for instance, studies have shown that “discover” often outperforms “learn.”

Be clever – but not too clever. Catchy subject lines that don’t quite relate to the content can stimulate curiosity and result in a higher open rate. However, they must ultimately connect to the content and pay off for the reader, or your recipient can feel misled
or deceived.

Build a good reputation. Take a long view of your relationship with your customers. Instead of only architecting individual emails designed to be opened, aim to create an appealing email personality that your targets trust. By sending carefully timed and designed emails that offer value, you will train your subscribers and recipients to associate positive benefits with your brand and spare your messages the delete key.

How to Create Successful B2B Marketing Plans

Successful marketing doesn’t happen on its own. To get results, businesses need a written plan. Without it, companies fall prey to trial-and-error or reactive marketing. That outcome virtually guarantees companies will spend more time, money and energy than necessary—a reality most businesses want to avoid—as they pursue their growth goals. While the planning process takes time and effort, it’s well worth the investment. Here’s a framework to get you started:

1. Conduct marketing research

Before embarking on a plan, it is important to have a complete understanding of the environment in which the company operates. Take the time to carefully evaluate the competition and conduct an internal SWOT analysis that assesses the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This process helps create a sustainable niche in the marketplace. As part of the process, ask the following questions in each of these categories:

  • Strengths: What advantages does your organization have? What do you do better than everyone else? What resources can you draw upon? What do your customers see as your strengths? What factors help you close deals? What is your unique selling proposition?
  • Weaknesses: What can you improve? What areas should you avoid? What do customers and prospects view as your weaknesses? What factors contribute to lost sales?
  • Opportunities: What trends exist in the marketplace? What changes in technology are taking place? What opportunities are your competitors capitalizing on, or better yet, missing out on?
  • Threats: What obstacles are you facing? What are your competitors doing better than you are? What marketplace changes are threatening your position? Do you have bad-debt or cash-flow problems? How are your weaknesses threatening your business?

2. Define your target audiences. 

Today, a well-defined target market is more important than ever. Many companies make the mistake of saying they target “anyone interested in their services.” Some say they target small businesses, manufacturing companies or professional services firms. These classifications are too general. Targeting a specific market does not mean the company excludes people who do not fit the defined criteria. Instead, a carefully identified target market allows businesses to focus their marketing resources on those who are most likely to purchase their products or services. This is a much more cost-effective and efficient way to reach potential clients and generate business. Use the following tips to help define your target market(s):

  • Evaluate your existing customer base. Who are your customers? Why do they buy from you? What types of companies bring in the most business?
  • Look at the competition. Who are your competitors targeting? Who are their current customers? Who are they overlooking?
  • Analyze your products and services. What types of companies and individuals could benefit most from the products and services you offer? Make a list of people, markets and organizations that have a need you could fulfill or a problem you could solve.
  • Identify demographics and psychographics. Do your ideal customers fall into a certain age group, gender, corporate role/title, industry or revenue level? What types of characteristics does your ideal customer have? Describe their personalities, interests, attitudes, values and behaviors.

Once you’ve decided on a target market, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are there enough businesses or individuals that fit the criteria?
  • Will the target audience(s) benefit from my product or service? Will they see a need for it?
  • What is the target market’s decision-making process?
  • Can they afford my product or service?
  • Can I reach them with my message? Are they accessible?

3. Identify your competitive advantage. 

A competitive advantage is an advantage over competitors gained by delivering what customers perceive as greater value. This may be achieved through lower prices or by providing greater benefits and services that justify higher prices. To define a competitive advantage, it is essential to determine how the company wants its prospects and customers to view the organization. Does the company want to be seen as a low-price leader, innovator, leader in operational excellence, technical expert, leader in adaptability or another category?

4. Identify your corporate distinction.

In a global marketplace, it can be difficult to stand out among competitors. However, an effective marketing strategy is built around communicating a company’s corporate distinction or what makes it different from other organizations that provide similar products or services. This goes far beyond branding, logos, color schemes and taglines. Dig deep to determine what sets your company apart from the competition. Embrace and communicate your signature differential in every marketing message by a B2B copywriter.

3 Barriers to Successful B2B Content Marketing

Content has proven to be a highly effective driver of revenue, both directly and indirectly. Each year B2B organizations spend more than $5.2B on content creation and distribution. Additionally, 77% of marketers say content is core to business success. For most marketers, the emphasis has long been on producing content of high quality and value. As such, marketing organizations continue to create and spend more and more on content development initiatives. Frequently neglected is how content will be utilized post-production.

As a result, many assets never live up to their full potential. They stay hidden in content management systems or cloud storage platforms where they are not utilized in the sales process and fail to provide true return on investment. Here, we will describe how marketing organizations can activate their content to improve its findability, maximize content spend and stop leaving revenue on the table. Let’s start by understanding what’s holding content back.

No one can find it

Content that is stored on an internal portal or server, or cloud services like Dropbox or Google Drive, is essentially hidden from view. It’s like putting it in a black box where it will never see the light of day again. This explains why sales reps can spend as much as thirty hours per month searching for and organizing content for customer facing meetings. Most marketers will tell you that they’ve been approached countless times by sales reps to create content for a specific objective, only to have to explain that such an asset already exists.

For someone who needs to find a relevant asset to present to a prospect or customer, this creates a real challenge, as there is no easy way to surface the content they need when they need it. Such systems are rigid and unintuitive, with only one mode of categorization. To find a piece of content, someone would need in-depth knowledge of every file on the system, as well as an understanding of how to navigate its folder structure. Even then, there would be no way of knowing what is in a specific file without opening it.

Most of this inefficiency stems from how companies share content internally. Stakeholders often receive assets via mass emails, which can create a “tribal knowledge” effect that makes it hard for newcomers to find and understand the value of content that predates them. Additionally, content announcements can get lost in the noise of day-to-day life and remain hidden in employees’ crowded inboxes. When this happens, employees simply continue to use out-of-date or inaccurate content because they aren’t aware that an alternative exists.

Lack quantitative feedback on content performance

What marketer doesn’t appreciate positive feedback? We love to hear how customers enjoyed our content or how it helped a rep explain our company’s value proposition. However, anecdotal comments only give us a glimpse of the information we need. And sometimes, the information we get is a complete outlier pointing us in the wrong direction.

This leaves marketers in a dilemma when they want to improve their existing content or make plans for future content efforts. So, the question becomes how do marketers derive insights with holistic content analytics? The answer is they can’t, not if they continue with the status quo.

There are many different ways to measure single facets of content performance using marketing technology platforms. These single data points include stats like the number of downloads, the duration of engagement, the number of shares, the number of total views, and so on. But keep in mind that there are also contextual lenses to use for looking at each of those data points.

  • How is the content being used? (lead generation, sales enablement, etc.)
  • What are the demographics of its audience? (senior or junior roles, geography, industry, etc.)
  • When is the content being used in the buyer’s journey? Before a salesperson is introduced or afterwards?
  • What happens before, during and after the content is used?
  • Did the content achieve its objective? (lead generation, education, partner enablement, etc.)

All of these data points are interesting. But without the context of multiple points, they do not provide enough information to guide the creation of new content. We need to be able to track, measure and analyze a full set of data points to derive meaningful insights about our content and its usefulness.

Content delivery and management stuck in ‘analog’

Today’s content delivery and management methods are the equivalent of an analog television signal. We create content with a B2B copywriter, put it on the airwaves and hope for the best. Marketers have no streamlined way to collect many of the data points mentioned in the last section.

Think about the differences between analog television and ‘smart’ television — cable vs. streaming media like Netflix or Hulu. Regular cable television shows the same content to everyone, on a set schedule, with the same advertising. Streaming networks can show customized, tailored ads to viewers based on other data sets like their social media profiles. They make recommendations to viewers about what type of content they might appreciate based on previous consumption behavior.

These same streaming networks also provide a feedback loop to the network about content consumption, advertising engagement and other behaviors that can then be used to improve the overall experience. The difference is that streaming networks have fully activated their content experience. These networks have taken analog content and enhanced it with an activation platform that makes content delivery and content management smart. Now, wouldn’t you like to do that with your company’s content?

Top 10 B2B Copywriters to Hire in 2020

With good B2B content, you can increase trust in your brand, strengthen relationships with customers, drive inbound traffic, generate demand, build authority in the industry, and educate prospects. That’s why many leading B2B companies invest in the best content B2B copywriters.

But a good B2B copywriter is hard to pin down. They need strong research skills and an aptitude for technical details to write believable long-form content. They also need the ability to write for certain business personas and the editorial focus to ensure the text is sharp and relevant. These capabilities are inherent in many of the copywriters in this list. Here are ten of the best ones to hire in 2020 and what makes them good.

1. Tim Yang

Tim Yang is a rare find. While many a B2B copywriter and B2B content marketing copywriter has come up from B2C, Tim is the only qualified specialist in B2B. He has spent years writing thought leadership and demand generation content for SaaS, fintech, healthtech, data management, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, network infrastructure, and other enterprise technology industries. Many business leaders from Oracle to SAP trust Tim as their go-to B2B copywriter when they need something done right.

2. Laura Soo

Laura is an award-winning professional, with years of experience in the communications industry. She is all about developing and implementing creative solutions that engage, connect, and deliver results. She has proven strengths in delivering a wide range of marketing strategy tools, including through-the-line campaigns for B2C and B2B.

3. Emma Gan

Emma is a specialist in the insurance sector. She has proofread, edited, and crafted copies for insurance groups. She managed and produced monthly content through social, digital, & traditional media while ensuring consistent brand tone & copy across all platforms.

4. Puan Khadijah

Puan Khadijah was once a creative director for a multinational advertising agency. She specialises in Malay copywriting and translating for the Malay Market. She has experience copywriting for Print, Digital, Outdoor, Corp. Video, TV, Radio, Innovative Media, Point of Sales.

5. Sonny Lim

A writer that cut his teeth in the telco business at the infancy of his career, Sonny has since bled, perspired and cried in the name of advertising for 12 years. When he is not writing, he teaches English after recently graduating from the British Council.

6. Alexandria Soon

With years of experience as a social media manager and freelance copywriter, Alexandria enjoys cultivating a strong online presence for brands through strategic content and effective publicity. She managed and wrote social media content for various brands such as One Doc Medical, Glo Damansara, and SPLAT Asia.

7. Minton Chew

Formerly a journalist covering financial market and economic issues, Minton now offers services in copy editing and copywriting of press releases, annual reports, and speeches. He has worked in print and online platforms, in addition to writing scripts and visualising the infographics for business videos.

8. Azman Ismam

Azman’s experience has strong experience in setting up content funnels and executing them by preparing content and copywriting for paid advertisement and websites.

9. Danny Hong

Danny has been an editor with years of experience in the video game and entertainment industries. He has proofread, edited, and crafted copies for various businesses (both print & online). He also dabbles into TVC/Online video scriptwriting, web content writing, and social media strategy.

10. Klara Lee

Klara is a specialist in communicating with the Chinese market. She offers copywriting, translating and proofreading services in Mandarin and English.

3 Steps to Setting B2B ABM Objectives

As with any marketing initiative, the first step in building your ABM plan is to set objectives that will enable you to gain backing and ensure you deliver measurable success.

Plan how to engage each of your stakeholders in these objectives – in particular, the sales team. Make sure your marketing objectives align with your business ones. The objectives of your ABM programme are likely to be multiple.

They may depend on the target account’s position in the customer journey. For example, some of your ABM activity may be directed at creating new pipeline, while other efforts may be designed to help move existing leads over the line, up-sell or cross-sell existing client accounts.

Three considerations when developing ABM objectives

  1. Link objectives: Make the link between business, marketing and ABM objectives explicit. They should not be standalone but all build towards the development of an effective plan.
  2. Align with teams and a B2B copywriter beyond marketing: Every successful ABM programme works across sales and marketing functions and, in some organisations, the customer team should also be involved. Work with relevant teams beyond marketing to map out what you each need to achieve – both independently and together. Make sure any objectives related to ABM are identical or, at least, complementary. If your organisation is new to ABM, during these initial objective-setting meetings, you may need to champion a move from lead-based demand generation to account-based insight.
  3. Set timelines: To create momentum and be pragmatic, your timelines for achieving objectives need to be achievable. Set them based on your previous experience within the organisation and what is required in order to achieve success.

Examples of ABM Objectives

  • Deliver X number of new business face-to-face meetings
  • Deliver X number of account management face-to-face meetings per account manager
  • Deliver X number of pitches
  • Deliver X number of product trials
  • Convert X number of trials to sales
  • Deliver X number of proposals
  • Deliver X value of new pipeline
  • Convert X% of existing pipeline
  • Deliver X value of up-sell/cross-sell revenue
  • Increase average order value by X%
  • Increase average revenue per customer to X
  • Reduce enterprise client attrition rate by X%.

Creating an ABM Team

Making ABM work in your business may require a restructure of your marketing team. Existing roles may need to be re-purposed to incorporate ABM activities and new recruits may also be required. You may want to create a flat team structure for your ABM, or a hierarchical one.

Once you’ve worked through this guide you’ll be clear about the level of resource needed to achieve the desired results. At this stage, focus on auditing your current structure: the people in your marketing team and the potential roles they could play in delivering your ABM plan.

Team skills

The majority of your skill requirements will be specific to your company, products and market. However, ABM does necessitate some specific attributes. These include:

  • Content marketing – planning and delivery with a B2B copywriter
  • Social media marketing – earned and paid
  • Social listening
  • Social selling
  • Personal branding.

Additionally, you’ll be calling on your team to provide creative solutions for achieving cut-through with your target accounts, so look for members who are: Creative thinkers & Creative visualisers.

The skills radar map

This map, originally used in sport to chart players’ strengths and weaknesses, is a useful way to assess key skills gaps in your team. It allows you to map the skills of individual team members against what they could and should be, thus emphasising where further development (or recruitment) should take place.

The employee is then given a numerical score (with 0 sitting at the very centre and the highest score – say, 10 – on the edge). The bigger the overall shape created through the scores, the more skilled the marketer.

Team capacity

In addition to the structure and skillset of your team, there’s a bottom line that needs to be indentified: capacity. Do you have enough bandwidth in your existing marketing team to deliver your ABM plan?

What’s the team’s available and spare capacity? Which objectives and activities could be shelved in order to free up space? Should additional workload be recruited or outsourced? Define capacity before you go ahead with building your tactical plan.

3 Key Roles Inside a B2B Agile Marketing Team

The optimum size of an Agile team is between six to 10 people and has three elements, the product owner, the scrum master and the team itself.

1. Scrum Master

The scrum master is responsible for leading the day-to-day running of the team. They need good communication and negotiation skills, excellent organization and effective leadership.

  • Track and remove obstacles the team are coming up against – this can mean negotiating with senior management and other departments.
  • Ensure the ‘rituals’ of Agile are adhered to.
  • Organize and run sprint planning sessions, reviews and retrospectives.
  • Track the overall progress of the team throughout sprints.
  • Make sure the team has everything it needs to get the job done.
  • Keep an eye on the velocity of work carried out by the team so that the right amount of work is planned into each sprint (this is worked out over time and should become more accurate as time goes on).

2. Product Owner

The product owner has overall oversight of the team and projects it’s working on and is often in a senior position in the organization. They must have an indepth understanding of customers, the marketplace, competition and future trends. They must also have the power to take decisions, and balance short-term delivery with long-term vision.

  • Set the agenda for the team by maintaining the product backlog and ensure everything is prioritized correctly.
  • Represent the business and ensure the customer (or user) is at the center of everything the team does.
  • Set objectives and KPIs and report back to the board.

3. Team Members

The most successful Agile teams contain members with a range of different backgrounds and skillsets, such as a B2B copywriter. A key part of being a member is volunteering to take on tasks that might not sit within your usual remit – which is also one of the benefits as it allows members of the team to develop new skills.

  • Be proactive.
  • Be prepared to be open and transparent about work.
  • Be ready to take on tasks that wouldn’t be in their usual remit.
  • Understand that their job title is unlikely to be relevant.
  • Be committed to the success of the team and its output.

7 Signs Your B2B Business Needs to Adopt Agile Marketing

The core of Agile is the ability to respond more quickly and effectively – change. Short bursts of focused work that are prioritized, reviewed and then changed. Forget all the principles, frameworks and jargon – according to a B2B copywriter who practices Agile marketing, the most important aspect is mindset.

Agile requires a different way of thinking, being willing to assess effectiveness and change your strategy according to what you’re seeing in the market – not three to six months later when the campaign is over. Given the speed of market and customer change, this is more relevant than ever before.

Even though Agile can have a significant impact on your performance, it’s not for everyone. To follow is a checklist, helping you to determine whether it’s right for you. Agile marketing might be right for you if:

  • Your team is beset by multiple requests from the organization and struggles to prioritize.
  • It struggles to complete work to set deadlines and is running to stand still.
  • It takes a long time to bring campaigns to market (by which time market conditions and customer preferences may have changed).
  • You are chained to long-term marketing plans and budgets that leave you with little flexibility to react to marketplace changes.
  • You work in an industry where there is constant product innovation and/or short sales cycles.
  • The marketing team is disengaged or is siloed within the business.
  • Your metrics have stagnated – or you need to deliver a step-change in growth – and traditional campaign tweaks such as A/B testing are not moving the needle sufficiently.

4 Ways the Internet is Changing B2B Marketing Forever

In the past five years the internet has led to a radical change in the international B2B market. Seventy per cent of the B2B buyer journey now takes place online and anonymously. The traditional sales organisation is losing its grip on the market. Additionally, a new generation of buyers has emerged with a strong online focus and who approach the ‘game’ differently.

Companies that do not develop an adequate online strategy on time will lose out to the smart start-ups and competitors that do respond to that change in time. Here are four reasons why the shift to online marketing is critical to B2B companies.

1. Leads are now online and anonymous

Before coming into actual contact with a company, a potential customer has already taken a considerable online journey, an online journey that takes place anonymously. Leads do not enter into dialogue with a company directly but first they do research, collect knowledge, make choices and define a short list of suppliers. There is no one-on-one contact in this process. At this point, your potential customer only sees companies that present themselves online as a knowledge organisation. Moreover, there is often so much knowledge available online, that to a certain degree, the buyer themselves becomes an expert.

2. New generation of buyers

This trend is intensified by the drop in the age of B2B buyers. In 2015, 46% of professional buyers were between 18 and 35 years old: so-called ‘Millenials’. Moreover, 68% of the staff influencing purchasing decisions is under 45 years of age. In the near future, this group’s influence will only increase more.

Professional buyers say they use smartphones and tablets extensively in their work. Among Millenials, the number is 84%, for Generation X it’s 76% and in the 52+ age group, 60% also says that a mobile device is indispensable for their work. They use their smartphone or tablet to find and consult business-related content.

3. The smartphone is increasingly important in B2B

The B2B-related use of smartphones has tripled in the last 2 years and is almost on a par with desktop. Nevertheless, companies are slow to realise that their marketing strategy must be equally strong on all devices. In reality, companies that are not visible online or cannot be found online – on all devices! – no longer play a role in the selection process of the potential customer.

4. B2B companies are becoming disconnected from international leads

At many internationally operating B2B companies, the marketing & sales organisation is still not geared to creating and maintaining contact with international leads/customers using online channels and a B2B copywriter. Supplying information to customers and contact with customers were often conveniently organised at a distance – in the distribution channel or by local dealers.

However, international leads are looking for information about products and services beyond their own national borders. They do not usually find this information at one single distributor, or – in many cases – on the producer’s site either. How easy is it for international prospects to see and find your company? And does your website supply the appropriate answers to the questions that international prospects are asking in their buyer journey? If it doesn’t, your sales department is losing out on serious potential customers, without even noticing.

How to Create a Great B2B Brand

You can’t have a brand experience if you don’t first understand what your brand is and what you stand for. Your brand is underpinned by three components, which put together form the brand vision. The vision sets out a clear direction for the brand.

  • Brand values:  The shared values the company adheres to that sit behind the brand.
  • Brand future:  There needs to be a vision about what will happen to the brand in its future.
  • Brand purpose:  What is the brand’s ambition and what does it stand for?

Having set out the vision for your brand, there are three more vital elements to come up with. Can you answer the following questions?

  • What’s your unique offering, and who is it for?  This is your ‘brand promise’, the statement of what customers can expect from dealing with your brand.
  • How will you deliver your brand promise?  This is the brand performance, the execution element.
  • How will you communicate the brand promise?  This is the brand positioning, the element that differentiates your brand from the competition in the marketplace.

A mission statement, which defines the company’s goals for owners, employees and its customers. A good test of a mission statement is does it differentiate your business from the competition?

With all these in place, you should have a good idea of your brand personality. There are five main types: sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication and ruggedness. Understanding this personality will influence the form your brand experience will take.

Few B2B organizations are brand-led – the majority are product or service focused – so trying to build a brand experience from a standing start may be a significant challenge.

Developing a ‘brand charter’ with a B2B copywriter – which sets out this vision, and what it means for everyone in the organization – can be an effective way of getting the message across and developing a shared sense of purpose. The charter should include all of the above information, and detail how all these elements interact.

The B2B Brand Messaging Framework

Start with a Brand Messaging Framework – a B2B copywriter tool that helps brands embody and communicate their strategy and story across their different lines of business; also a helpful way to visualize the individual messaging elements that come together to comprise it.

There isn’t one absolute right way to construct your brand messaging framework, but there are core elements that are present in most instances.

  • BRAND PROMISE (OR TAGLINE) – A succinct capture and blend of what you will deliver, do or embody. Example: BMW – The Ultimate Driving Machine
  • POSITIONING STATEMENT – A single sentence (ideally) that communicates what your brand, product or service is and, broadly, who it will serve. Example: [Blank] is the automated cybersecurity platform of choice for financial industry institutions that prioritize data protection.
  • AUDIENCE – Think of this as a macro view of your ideal client profile and buyer personas. Example: IT, Risk and Security leaders in financial institutions across the globe with more than $100 million in assets.
  • MISSION – A visionary or aspirational view of what you want your brand to accomplish. Example: To inspire healthier communities by connecting people to real food.
  • VOICE (TONE) – Your voice articulates the tone – the personality and perceptions that your messaging should elicit to match your desired positioning. Examples: Innovation, Practical Experience, Human, Serious-minded
  • ELEVATOR PITCH – A succinct synopsis of your brand/product/service – what it is, what it solves, who it serves – that can be communicated in the span of an average elevator ride or similarly brief interaction.
  • BRAND PILLARS – The 3-4 most important selling points for your offering. Example: Simple, Reliable, Secure

5 Hallmarks of Effective B2B Branding

On the heels of our focus on messaging, it’s understandable for many to think about branding in the context of what a company’s external outreach “looks” like. Although visual presentation is a key component, one’s brand is far more than just a logo and style.

Your brand is the all-encompassing identity of your company and what it stands for. It’s made up of the perceptions and feelings customers experience when interacting with your products or solutions. It’s felt and understood both internally and externally. An effective brand is:

  1. Something people are willing to pay a premium for
  2. A positive differentiator against other alternatives
  3. The name people use when discussing your offering with others
  4. Easy to recognize and mentally frame
  5. Something which has a beyond-the-product personality

As with messaging, it’s important for organizations to continuously evaluate their brand with a B2B copywriter against evolutions in the market and their offerings. It’s also critical that you guard against personal bias and all-too-easy rationalizations that your brand is “fine for now” or that “we’ll just know when it’s time” to assess where it stands.

3 Ways to Create a Great B2B Brand Experience

To customers and leads, your brand is more than the logo, packaging or website design. It’s also the perceptions and feelings created via their interactions and experiences with the brand. Although we should continuously strive to improve prospect and customer interactions with our brands, this aim takes on added importance when marketing momentum loses steam. Here are three principles a B2B copywriter will aim to follow.

Make mundane moments meaningful.

Seemingly small moments of delight can deliver big dividends. Whether it’s a handwritten “thank you” on every invoice, beautiful and smart packaging, or offering tailored, digital proposals instead of “sign-scan-return” PDFs, seek out every opportunity to exceed expectations.

Make it easier to engage.

Don’t discount tactical drivers of engagement. For example, page speed is a search engine ranking factor and customers expect loads of 2 seconds or less, yet many do not actively assess their performance. Elements such as online chat, progressive profiling (which lessens the burden of information on inbound forms) and responsive design can also improve engagement.

Promote your personality and positivity.

Personality isn’t restricted to consumer brands. Many B2B organizations effectively convey their personalities with smart social media and add genuineness in everything from website login welcomes (e.g. “Let’s start innovating, Isabel”) to clever error messages (e.g. “Oops, that didn’t go as planned”).

Conclusion.

Building your brand essentially equates to building your business. Ask yourself and your teams – How can we move more prospects from consideration to conversion? How can we achieve higher levels of brand advocacy and loyalty with our customers?

Brand upkeep, be it streamlining your website user experience or checking in with clients throughout their engagement on ways to improve, should not be viewed as an optional exercise. Continuously listen to your customers and act on what they tell you.