Do you ever get the feeling that the majority of available info regarding digital marketing seems geared toward B2C strategy?
Despite all the buzz, not all digital marketing takes place in a B2C or even a generic B2B context.
For business to enterprise (B2E) technology marketing, I’d like to share some ideas regarding strategy. And accordingly, we’ll deal with the potential hazards of allowing B2C groupthink “buzz” to creep into your B2E strategy.
Here are four hazards that immediately come to mind:
1) BRAND FIXATION
While “brand” is the holy grail of marketing, I tend to downplay the importance – and the mystique – of branding in B2E tech-marketing.
If we were marketing a new type of tasty, yet nutricious, sugar free candy to all the moms and kids of the world, it would serve us well to become the next “Kleenex” or “Band Aid” equivalent for the candy industry.
But when you’re marketing a ten million dollar radar jamming system specifically to the U.S. Military Defense Industry, being the “household name” in that field is somewhat a wasted effort.
True, these two examples represent the farthest of extremes, but branding should vary proportionately between the two.
This is not to say that differentiation from your key competition can be the hallmark of a focused brand strategy, and something you’ll want to articulate. But very specific, high dollar, consultative tech solutions for a limited audience of large enterprise prospects does not require the typical “brand reach” of a broad B2B or B2C scale.
2) MASS APPEAL INBOUND STRATEGY
With B2E, your SEO / SEM targeting is based on quality, not quantity. Your target enterprise prospect is much narrower than the typical consumer or business. So if the question is posed, “Why do new visitors exit our website so quickly,” maybe what we should really be asking is, “Are the right visitors leaving too soon?”
All kinds of people visit websites every day for all the wrong reasons. When a visitor can be tracked back to an organization that is “close” to being our target enterprise, but would really be better served by another provider, we WANT them to exit early, otherwise pursuing them is a waste of time and effort for Sales.
So it’s extremely important in B2E tech marketing to have very specific (longer tail) keywords in order to attract the right, high quality prospect. This means multiple specific ads for each pain point or desired outcome, and specific landing pages for each.
According to Market Sherpa, 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to Sales; however, only 27% of those leads will be qualified. With B2E we can expect qualification to be lower yet.
Jeff Ernst of Forrester Research estimates that only about 5% of marketers use a full-featured marketing automation solution. B2E marketers should certainly comprise much of that 5% for the express purpose of attracting and engaging the right kind of prospect, and not the broader target that even typical B2B’s try to attract.
3) SOCIAL VS. EMAIL TARGETING
In B2C strategies, we tend to use Social Media more than email targeting due to the consumer appeal of social, and the obvious problems of consumer email marketing.
With generic B2B marketing we tend to reach out to a decision maker via email based on matching the nature of the product to the departmental need and solution.
With higher ticket B2E tech-marketing, multiple decision makers are usually involved, since the CFO is crunching numbers, but the CIO must be comfortable with the IT impact as well.
According to Sirius Decisions, the average sales cycle has increased 22% over the past 5 years due to more decision makers being involved in the buying process. That trend is economically driven and with high dollar technology sales, it’s even more pronounced.
High relevance email campaigns with automated triggers tend to work much more effectively for the collaborative decision sale than social media. But this is not to say that social marketing is not useful in B2E, only that it’s not as effective as inbound and email, and it’s best when used differently.
4) FAN FANATICISM
Speaking of Social Media for B2E being “different”, consider that a whopping 96% of marketers using Facebook measure number of fans and followers. 89% measure traffic, 84% measure mentions, 55% track share of voice, and 51% track sentiment (source: Awareness, Inc.).
Are any of these metrics useful for the B2E marketer? Somewhat, but B2E social marketing should measure interaction with qualified enterprises much more than measures of one-way content ingestion or sharing from the source. That’s a little harder to measure.
By following key enterprises and choosing relevant posts in the company feed to comment or share in a collaborative way, you begin to establish the peer to peer rapport and partnership relationship that defines the consultative approach moreso than the typical B2B “customer > vendor” or B2C “producer > consumer” relationship.
That strategy also keeps you informed of posts relevant to qualifying and better understanding the enterprise’s milestones, relationships and social interactions.
So much is written about digital marketing from a B2C perspective. Maybe too much. I hope you got something of a different perspective here, especially of you’re a B2E marketer.