Establishing your B2B buyer persona is the piece of the marketing puzzle that allows you to narrow down who you need to market to and how you can tailor your messaging and strategy to the needs of those people. The last thing you need is to be marketing to someone who will never buy from you and has zero interest in your product or service.
Researching Your B2B Buyer Persona
In order to understand your B2B buyer persona, you need to conduct some extensive research. Getting to know your persona is all about being open-minded and putting yourself in the customer’s shoes. Throw away any bias thoughts, personal preferences, and assumptions about the industry that you might have and then ask yourself:
Who could benefit from my product/service?
Who might be looking for my product/service?
Where or on what channels are these people most active?
Who has used products or services similar to mine in the past?
What problems do these people have, and how can I solve them?
Couple these kinds of questions with research on how your B2B buyer personas behave online and what their demographic might look like. Start by utilizing your current CRM system to see if you notice any kind of trends in your customer database. Maybe the majority are located in a specific area or have interacted with your business in similar ways. You can also use tools like Google Trends and Facebook Insights to get valuable analytics and data on what your personas are actively searching for and what they might look like demographically.
Buyers are naturally drawn to businesses that they know and trust. To build that trust, you must show a comprehensive understanding and concern for your B2B buyer persona. Keep in mind that at the end of the day, these are people, people who are very complex, educated, and typically have a long sales cycle. This means that your research should be based on a long-term, well thought out strategy.
It’s very common for businesses to have multiple personas, so don’t restrict yourself to just one. In fact, try to create as many as you can without going overboard. Distinguish your individual personas by things like their pain points, change drivers, and job status.
A great tool to use to create your B2B Buyer personas is Hubspot’s make my persona tool. This tool implements all the best practices of creating personas and gives you tips and tricks along the way. This tool includes metrics like your persona’s preferred communication method, tools they need to do their job, seniority level, and more.
Understanding Your B2B Buyer Persona
Your buyer persona is the bedrock of your marketing strategy. It dictates which channels you will utilize, what kind of strategy you will create, how much you will spend — the list goes on and on! Learn how to speak your B2B buyer persona’s language and speak it fluently. Speaking their language makes your persona comfortable; it builds credibility and helps your company build that trust with them that will help lead you to success. The more you know about your B2B buyer persona, their industry, and their organization, the better equipped you are to market to them in an effective and personable manner.
New to buyer personas and incorporating them into your marketing or sales strategy? We can help. Chat with one of our experts today.
The cameras are rolling around here at Lake One. While we don’t have our own personal glam teams (yet), we do have everything else we need to create solid content for our B2B video marketing efforts. How do we do it, you ask? Well, with the help of our trusty partners, Vidyard. If you haven’t heard of them, (which isn’t likely) Vidyard is an online video platform for businesses. From video creation, hosting, integrations, sharing, optimization, and analytics, they make it pretty impossible to have an excuse not to be doing video.
Which, if you aren’t, you should include video as part of your sales and marketing strategy. B2B video marketing is a must and not just because we say so. The numbers speak for themselves. Content Marketing Institute found that 71% of B2B marketers use video marketing and 66% of B2C marketers use it. Not to mention the ROI. Optinmonster noted that video marketers get 66% more qualified leads per year and 93% of marketers say they landed new customers by using video on social media.
Here are five ways that Lake One uses Vidyard for our b2b video marketing efforts:
Ever feel like your lead generation efforts are the same old, same old? Looking to spice things up and even have a little fun? If only there was something that could help with that.
Video is a great and often overlooked tool when it comes to lead generation and prospecting. A few ways to use video for lead gen:
Add video to your landing pages
Add video to other pages on your website, such as solutions pages, client testimonials and more
Add video to your thank you pages or send a personalized video to high-value leads who download resources off of your website
Pro Tip: Be sure to include a CTA (call-to-action) at the end of your videos. Let viewers know what action you want them to take after watching your content.
Since the goal of lead nurturing is to move someone through the buyer’s journey from the awareness stage to the decision stage, video is a great way to help achieve that. Especially for things like email nurture sequences (drip campaigns), it’s a nice way to break-up the content that’s in the emails and get your lead’s attention. Here are just a few types of videos you can use when nurturing leads:
Testimonials from clients that showcase the value they received from your product or service
Educational videos that are relevant and provide value to your viewer
When it comes to managing client relationships, it can be easy to get caught up in an endless cycle of emails calls back and forth. While sometimes picking up the phone can solve for that, it doesn’t always accomplish everything you need it to. That’s where videos come in to play.
It used to be commonplace to meet with clients in their offices for kick-off, monthly or quarterly meetings. That all changed virtually overnight, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. While Zoom and other video conferencing tools are great, sometimes what needs to be accomplished can be done in a video. Whether it’s a training, showing a client where to locate something, or a simple introduction video, Vidyard is a great tool to be able to manage clients.
At Lake One, especially since we’re a virtual team, we love using Vidyard for training purposes, whether for ourselves or for clients. One team member, I won’t name names, even refers to their internal training videos as “Trainings with Tiffany.” We didn’t say you couldn’t have fun with the tool, in fact, we encourage it.
With Vidyard you can record yourself on camera, record the screen or a combination of both, so people can see exactly what you’re doing when training. We’ve built up a library of sorts for training for both ourselves and clients. It’s a great way to go back and rewatch something or provide videos to team members who might have missed a live training session.
Vidyard will also transcribe your videos too, whether you’re creating videos directly on the platform or uploading them from elsewhere. This is a nice feature for accessibility reasons, but also if you want to repurpose the video content, you already have the transcription ready to go.
Which would you rather receive in your inbox? A generic email with a bunch of buzzwords, going on and on about guest posts and how much someone loves your “most recent piece” all in an effort to partner for link building purposes. Or, would you rather get an email that features an engaging video that’s short and to the point, briefly touching on the topics and value this person could add to your site? I don’t know about you, but I choose door number two.
We use video to either replace or support the messages we send surrounding our outreach efforts. It’s a great way to humanize ourselves and get our message across quickly. It’s also sometimes easier to explain an idea out loud, versus trying to capture it in writing. Plus, with any luck, you’ll stand out from the other pitches that your prospects are receiving.
We know that video is a must when it comes to B2B video marketing and creating the type of content that buyers want to consume. Considering that 85% of all internet users in the U.S. watched online video content monthly on any of their devices, it’s no longer an option whether you incorporate video into your content plan or not. Here are a few places to use and types of videos you can create:
Thanks to Vidyards reporting capabilities, you’re able to see who’s watching your videos, from where, for how long, and get insight into how your videos are actually performing. Like any content, video for the sake of video isn’t a strategy and won’t drive the results you’re looking to achieve. Be methodical in the videos you’re creating and putting out there. These are just a few ways that Lake One uses Vidyard. If you have any fun ways you use it, drop a note in the comments.
With marketing automation, you can serve the right content to the right person at the right time – at scale. You can also drive consistency and efficiency with internal processes. And not to mention, it just might be my favorite tool in our marketing tech stack.
So, how does marketing automation apply in the real world? Here are some of our top tried and true must-have B2B marketing automation examples.
What is B2B Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation is technology that allows you to automate, streamline, and measure your marketing tasks and workflows.
However, its true power comes through sales and marketing alignment combined with a well-utilized B2B CRM.
Sales & Marketing Alignment in Automation
If it feels like your sales and marketing teams are on different planets, adding automation to the mix won’t solve that. Ensure your teams are aligned by outlining responsibilities, defining key terms like lead statuses and lifecycle stages and aligning your team goals.
Reaching total harmony among teams can be a process, but at a minimum, it should be an active joint effort.
B2B Marketing Examples for Sales Collaboration and Internal Processes
Marketing automation helps to facilitate collaboration between sales and marketing in real-time. It’s the conduit between the two teams. These processes within B2B businesses are centered around sales collaboration and the facilitation of internal processes.
Automation for Sales Collaboration
Sales collaboration takes place in a variety of ways, but the most common are some of the marketing automation examples outlined below.
Not all leads are created equal and for that very reason, we leverage lead scoring. Lead scoring is ranking lead readiness to convert based on the lead’s behavior. The idea behind lead scoring is that a lead can take specific actions or engagements which speak to their sales-readiness. For example, a user who is highly engaged on the site, downloading multiple offers visiting key pages (like pricing), and signing up for the blog, etc. is in theory, more ready to purchase than a user who visited one or two pages on the site a couple of times.
Lead scoring allows a sales and marketing team to work together to develop criteria identifying leads likely to make a purchase so they can be followed up with by Sales. How to do this will be different for each CRM. In HubSpot, you set up your behaviors and scores and then create a workflow or a list to send all leads who meet your threshold over to sales automatically.
Setting Leads to Marketing Qualified & Assigning to Sales
This next section really applies to setting any lifecycle stage or lead status, but we’ll focus on Marketing Qualified Leads because that lifecycle stage is a must and a big factor in measuring marketing ROI.
Again each CRM will be different, but in HubSpot, our favorite way to achieve this is by creating what we call, a MQL List. The list includes all of our specific MQL criteria like the following:
Role is (insert the desired role)
Company name is known
Phone number is known
Industry is (insert the desired industry)
And the lead source is none of offline
Note: MQL criteria setting is part of the sales & marketing alignment process and should be revisited at a minimum twice a year.
Once your list is built with your set criteria, you can create a workflow that notifies sales or creates a task for the MQL to be reviewed by sales.
B2B companies often have complex business processes. Marketing automation can drive efficiencies and allow for real-time routing, task creation, and follow-up across functions and channels.
Is your sales team divided into territories? Or divided by certain products, services, or areas of expertise? If so, lead routing is your ticket to removing the manual review of leads and automatically routing by key differentiators. You’ll most always start with a form submission of some type and follow with if/then branches or conditionals to route leads.
For example: If a contact fills out the “Demo Request” form and their country is set to the U.S., then assign Frank as the contact owner and create a task for Frank to review.
It’s also common that workflows be used to ensure your CRM stays up to date and with as many properties completed as possible. Workflows can be used to manage some of the following:
Subscription Types: If contacts fill out forms such as a newsletter sign up, a webinar, product updates, etc… you can manage their subscriptions on the back end with workflows.
Opt-Outs: If you want to keep a running master opt-out list, you can create a workflow that states if a contact opts out of communication, add them to a specific list.
Contact Owners: Similar to the above lead routing scenario, you can use workflows to ensure all contacts have an owner. Or if they don’t, use a workflow to create a task for a sales leader to review.
Copying Across Property Types: This might vary depending on your CRM, but you are likely using different types of properties or objects to store your data. For example, a company record or contact record. In some cases, the information should be the same in both places. Rather than duplicating efforts, use a workflow to copy the value from one property to another.
B2B Marketing Automation Examples for Lead Nurturing
Lead nurturing is the process of cultivating relationships with potential buyers at every stage of the sales process and through the buyer’s journey. It puts a focus on meeting buyers where they are at, listening, and providing helpful relevant information.
Marketing automation allows you to create lead nurturing campaigns, also known as email drip campaigns which are a series of emails spread out over time that help buyers move from awareness to consideration to decision.
When it comes to what emails to include and how many and what frequency, it really depends on your personas needs and your buying cycle and the action the contact took. Nurturing campaigns are definitely not ‘set it and forget it’. Email open rates and engagement all the way through to marketing attribution reporting, will be your workflow gut check and point you towards areas for optimization.
Lead to MQL Nurturing & Beyond
Lead to MQL nurturing is a common point in the buyer’s journey in which nurturing can start. It’s likely initiated by a contact downloading a piece of content. From there, you offer the lead relevant information that you think may help them solve the pain point that brought them to your site initially. Along the way, you give them plenty of opportunities to convert with additional content and CTAs.
The goal is to nurture the lead until they become a Marketing Qualified Lead and meet your set criteria. From there, queue sales!
Form Submission Follow-Up
Depending on the type of form a contact submits, you might not need a full-blown workflow, maybe a simple thank you will suffice? If so, workflows are your ticket. They can easily go from a 10 email sequence as mentioned above, to a one and done thank you for your submission email.
Pro Tip: Take your ‘Contact Us’ form submissions to the next level by sending a follow-up email post submission letting your contacts know when they can expect to hear from you in response to their inquiry.
Date Based Marketing Automations
If you have a CRM like HubSpot, workflows don’t have to be based solely on a contact property, they can be date-based too! This is perfect for webinars, trade shows, and other events. The following can be handled with date-based workflows:
Leading up to an event
During an event
Post-event follow up
Marketing Automation Optimizations
Okay, you set up all of the marketing automations above, that means you’re done and can move on to the next initiative right?
In case the ‘how about no sloth’ didn’t give it away, the answer is ‘no’. The setup is only the beginning. Sales and marketing automation tools typically come with better reporting capabilities and you should totally use them. Whether it’s lead flows, MQLs, or subscriptions, reviewing and optimizing your marketing automation workflows are a must.
Also, it’s worth noting there’s a part of the story that can’t always be seen in the data. Take the time to talk to the teams and solicit feedback. Are the automations working? Are they missing the mark? Meeting on a regular cadence will help uncover those issues too.
So tell us, did you like the examples? Are we missing one of your favorites? Sales and marketing automation can save you time and help your B2B business scale. If you’re considering incorporating automation into your sales and marketing strategy, we’d love to chat.
B2B marketers are flush with myriad data points to measure and report on. The problem is – most of them don’t mean shit to your P&L. For leadership teams getting into the minutiae of PPC impressions or social media followers – it just muddies your ability to see the forest through the trees. In B2B SaaS it can be really misleading because marketing could be burning cash under the disguise of driving leads – leads that aren’t doing anything. So what metrics matter? The ones that tie to revenue. There are a few core B2B SaaS marketing metrics every organization should keep their focus on. Before you freak out about other indicators and such, give this a read.
Marketing Sourced Revenue
At the end of the day, marketing needs to be contributing to revenue potential. Is marketing sourcing revenue? I’m not talking leads, I’m not talking MQL. Are you able to trace back that a dollar came from marketing activity? This will inevitably require your organization to rely on adopting an attribution model since most every journey doesn’t go Email, Click, Buy or Ad, Click, Buy. (Wouldn’t that be nice?!) That said, find an attribution model that aligns with the goals of your sales and marketing activity and gets comfortable with it.
Marketing Sourced Pipeline
In the same line as sourced revenue – how successful is marketing at adding new opportunities to the pipeline? In well-aligned sales and marketing teams for SaaS – it can make sense to give marketing pipeline targets and quotas just as you would sales.
The customer acquisition cost is one of the more straightforward SaaS marketing metrics. It tells you how much it costs to bring on new customers over a given period of time. Take your sales and marketing spend and divide by the total number of customers.
Knowing this rate can help plan and forecast growth – but when combined with the next metric it’s powerful in assessing the return on overall sales and marketing activity. That return is where growth management truly becomes effective.
Months to Recover CAC
The final essential SaaS marketing metric to monitor is how long it takes to recover the costs spent to acquire a new customer. This helps determine how quickly a customer starts driving a positive ROI.
This can be calculated by dividing the CAC by Monthly recurring revenue times your gross margin (revenue – cost)
Key Takeaways for B2B SaaS Marketing Metrics
At the end of the day – there is plenty B2B SaaS marketing metrics to monitor and report on. I’m not suggesting that other data points aren’t worth watching as an indicator of good or bad performance upstream from the revenue goal. In order to truly forecast out a revenue machine – you need those measurements. What I am suggesting, is that when it comes to essential B2B SaaS marketing metrics- making a business impact is the name of the game and at the leadership level that’s what matters. Leadership that has bought into marketing, trusts a modern marketer to be keeping an eye on those downstream measures and to sound an alarm when needed. Measuring marketing’s impact on revenue, driving revenue opportunities, and making a positive impact on customer acquisition is job number one.
Your B2B website is incredibly important. It’s where people go to learn about your business and what you have to offer. It’s where people go to connect with you and ultimately the place where people decide if your company is one worth exploring further. So what makes a good website? Here are 4 B2B website examples that showcase the best practices of how website design affect B2B sales.
The Complexity of the B2B Buying Journey
First, to understand a website design’s impact on B2B sales, you need to understand the B2B buying journey. The journey of a B2B buyer is far more complex than that of B2C. While marketing in both verticles tends to focus on solving a pain point, B2B buyers often narrow in on one core problem and they are looking for a specific solution. Typically, they are looking for a way to accomplish something better, faster, and more efficiently. That might include new tech that automates existing processes, more reliable supply chain partners, software to update an antiquated process. The list goes on, but by and large, business buyers are looking for fixes.
Furthermore, very little B2B purchasing is done on a whim or impulse, and that becomes increasingly true as the sticker price increases. For that reason, purchases, and the journey to purchase, are often drawn out. There are more people involved in the buying process than consumer purchases, and often approvals and buy-ins are needed at many levels. There are existing, internal processes to consider as well. What might seem like a small investment can impact an entire organization. For example, new software can drastically change the day-to-day operations of whole teams, a new supplier might require new equipment and big expenses in training.
Because of that, B2B buyers are also looking for information. They need to be informed, empowered, and confident before taking options to their teams. Upfront and easy accessibility to information is critical.
Lastly, businesses are looking for products they can trust- ones with positive reviews given by other trustworthy companies. As mentioned, there can be a lot at stake for B2B buying, and reviews and testimonials can go a long way in mitigating some potential perceived risk for buyers.
B2B Website Design Needs to Be for Conversion
So how do you translate that complex buying journey into a website? Understand that given all of these variables, “Buy Now” likely isn’t going to work up front. The goal is ultimately a purchase for B2B, but B2B products and services are usually something you don’t buy upon the first visit to a site, or even third or fourth visit for that matter. That’s why B2B website designs all need to be designed for conversion and nurturing at every point in the buyer’s journey.
Examples of Great B2B Website Design for Tech
Here’s what we mean. These four B2B tech websites are examples of websites effectively designed for B2B sales.
Who doesn’t use Slack these days? We love the app, but we also love their website. First, without needing to scroll or open any links, you can immediately tell what the product is and what it does. We call this the “Blink Test.” Within a few seconds, the main header, images, animations, etc. tell me the basics of what the product is and begin to illude to why I need this product. There are also two prominent and actionable CTAs within the hero space, Free Trial and Contact Sales. Neither of these CTAs are pushing the user into buying immediately, which goes in line with that typically longer B2B selling cycle we talked about earlier.
Additionally, as you scroll down the homepage, you see a section with reviews and the logos of respectable companies who use the app. This builds authority and trust with the audience while also creating a subtle bandwagon effect.
Lastly, toward the bottom of the page, there are links to Slack’s resource center where you can download helpful eBooks, read blogs, and watch webinars with product tips and helpful information. These eBooks offer conversion opportunities for Slack to nurture their prospects that aren’t ready to commit yet. While most are bottom of the funnel (specific to the Slack app), others are awareness and consideration content. That means these pieces are intended to inform and aide a user along their journey, not push them into buying. (This is all part of the inbound methodology. Click here to learn more about Inbound and why it works.)
Asana is the project management tool we here at Lake One use. We’d be lost without it. Their B2b website design is clean, minimal, and has little bits of fun design and personality. They pass our “blink test” with flying colors by providing very clear, precise headlines explaining what the product is and why it’s the best choice for a project management tool.
Asana leads with Try for Free CTAs. Again, these are not directing people straight into buying or having to speak with somebody just yet. The beauty of CTAs like this is the opportunity to nurture a lead. You can set up workflows to send automated marketing to the lead shortly after signup or during the trial window that softly nudges them into the next step toward a purchase. When done right, this can be an extremely effective tool for conversion.
Asana then builds its authority via logos of partner companies and moves into a video on just how easy it is to use. After more credential building via reviews and more product highlights, another CTA is offered. A CTA at the bottom of the page is a standard best practice.
Unbounce is a tool that allows you to create high-quality landing pages optimized for better conversion. It’s no surprise their website makes our list of best in class. Immediately, the headlines tell you exactly what the product is and how it helps. Notice a theme between this site and the others yet? That “blink test” is critical for holding attention and interest. Unbounce users are likely coming to them for one thing: increased conversions. That’s why their rotating headlines are so perfect- they recognize their user pain points and quickly position themselves as the best choice to fix it. The headlines are simple, solution-focused to a very specific problem most website visitors have, and user-centric. The subheadline then clinches the deal by explaining how in a precise manner. Additionally, the graphics that rotate with the headlines subtly provide the hard data many B2B users need to provide in order to get buy-in and approval on an expenditure.
Again we see the Free Trial CTA coming in clutch. Selecting software is a highly personalized choice, especially for a product with a high barrier to exit like Unbounce. There are so many variables, unique business elements, and specific business goals that need to be taken into consideration before making a software purchase. Without getting hands-on, it’s hard to know if a product will deliver on those needs. Additionally, while a website can spout off about their product’s ease of use all day, you won’t actually know how easy it is for you to use until you’re in it.
Unbounce also uses video to help simplify the complexities of the product quickly. These are appealing, attention-grabbing, and effective. Lastly, they include their logo parade and testimonials to build credibility.
Lastly, let’s talk about Vidyard. “Vidyard is the easiest way to create, host, and share videos so you can keep connecting with customers and colleagues when everything else feels remote.” That subheadline is so clear I can copy and paste it in here and tell you exactly what they do. The main headline is also user-centric and provides a quick answer to the question all users will have, “what’s in it for me?”
Vidyard then has a Get Started CTA. This one is a bit different because they offer a freemium subscription method. That means you can use it for free with limited access. In order to get full product utilization, you need to pay.
Another thing Vidyard does well is delineating their persona and industry paths. This can be an incredibly effective B2B website design element. Three separate CTAs lead to different content and offerings depending on if you’re in sales, communications, or marketing. This shows a great deal of understanding on Vidyard’s part about their personas. They know that each has unique needs and problems. By speaking to them directly, they can better serve the user with the most relevant, helpful information.
If a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one around to hear it, did it make a sound? If a great SaaS product is created and there’s no inbound marketing strategy involved, will it be as successful as it could be? Well, I don’t know about that tree, but I do know if you’re looking to 1) promote your SaaS product and services 2) standout in a crowded marketplace and 3) meet revenue goals, then SaaS inbound marketing should be a part of your plan to help achieve those goals. We’ll tell you why in this post, where we:
Define SaaS inbound marketing and methodology
Showcase why inbound matters for SaaS buyers
Identify tactics beyond just free trials to promote your SaaS company
SaaS Inbound Marketing
SaaS inbound marketing is a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them.
There are three ways that the inbound methodology can be applied to your SaaS buyers:
Attract: Here is where you draw the right people (that’s key) with content and resources that they will find valuable. This will help establish you as a trusted source and someone they’ll want to engage with.
Engage: This is where you will present your insights and solutions to their problems and goals. If you can either solve for their pain point or help them reach their goal, they are more likely to do business with you.
Delight: Last but not least, delight. Here you provide help and support customers to find success with their purchase.
Keep in mind that there are some unique considerations when setting out to develop a winning SaaS inbound marketing strategy though. Due to the number of decision-makers and the size of the transaction – content is key.
By and large, gone are the days of buyers reaching out to sales or requesting a quote first. Long before that happens buyers are consuming as much content as they can get their hands on. In fact, according to Gartner research, B2B buyers spend less than 20% of their time actually meeting with suppliers when considering a purchase. The remainder of their time is spent doing research online, offline, or with their peers. If you don’t have content and resources to meet them where they are at in their research process, they will find someone else who does.
Why Inbound for B2B SaaS Buyers
SaaS inbound marketing is important because SaaS products tend to have a shorter sales cycle and are constantly evolving. Utilizing inbound allows you to address the buyer’s needs at every stage of the buyer’s journey. By providing credible information at each touchpoint, you’re creating trust between you and your prospects, while building authority for your brand. It’s a win-win.
Inbound is also more suited for SaaS models, as it requires convincing your customer to integrate your product or software into their everyday life, which is different than selling someone on a one-off purchase. A SaaS product purchase means a change in habits and lifestyle, which isn’t as easy to sell.
Put simply, SaaS inbound marketing is ideal for SaaS buyers because ultimately the goal is to answer your buyers’ questions. Inbound does that and does it well. To get buyers interested you need to start with focusing on them. By doing this, you will make their shortlist of potential solutions to their problem. Since the research tells us that B2B buyers are doing their homework long before they talk to you, by focusing on them you will have a trickle-down effect of driving downloads, leads, trials, etc. with the true measurement of success being revenue.
Know Your B2B SaaS Buyers
Now that you know why inbound marketing is ideal for B2B SaaS buyers, how do go about laser focusing the right efforts on the right buyers? Start with well-articulated buyer personas.
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your buyers and various stakeholders. By creating this fictional character as I’ll call it, it allows marketing and sales to put themselves in the buyer’s shoes and understand the journey from their perspective. It helps you know what questions they have, what motivates them, and what barriers they have to overcome.
Not sure where to get started? There are tools for that. You can use Hubspot’s Make My Persona to walk you and your team through the process. At a high level, here are some of the main questions you will want to answer when defining your personas:
What does success look like for them?
How do they measure that success?
In their role, what barriers do they need to overcome?
What questions do they have throughout their buyer’s journey?
What terms are they searching at each stage of the buying and research process?
Pro Tip: Creating great content for each stage of the buyer’s journey is a must, but so is having a website that makes buyers want to come back to again. Learn more about that here.
SaaS Inbound Marketing is More Than Free Trials
Once you have your buyer personas established, you can work to find the tactics that will help move them from personas to leads to customers. And while product trials are a popular route when it comes to marketing SaaS, SaaS inbound marketing is much more than just free trials. Sure, that’s one tactic you can and maybe should use, but when marketing for a SaaS company, you can’t be a one-trick pony. If you are, you will quickly find yourself left behind by others who are offering more. In an already crowded industry, you can’t afford to give your competition any help. So what else should be up your SaaS inbound marketing sleeve?
Content Strategy: We’ve already discussed the importance of creating targeted, valuable content for each stage of the buyer’s journey, but it’s worth mentioning again. A solid content strategy can help attract visitors to your website, build your brand, and generate leads. This includes more than just blogs, emails, ebooks, and infographics. Think video content as well. According to Wordstream, using videos on landing pages will increase conversions by 86%.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization): Once you’ve created that really great content, be sure you’re optimizing it for search so you’ll actually get it in front of your personas, by doing both on-page and off-page SEO. Keep in mind, SEO is what we would call a “long game”. You likely won’t see results immediately, but all good things come to those who wait and when done properly, your B2B SEO efforts will be worth the wait.
Paid Search: If SEO is the long game, then PPC (pay-per-click) is the short-game. Definitely a player to be played. Inbound can help reduce the amount you need to spend on Adwords, but millions of people still click on search engine ads every day. To avoid missing out on potential leads, you may want to consider investing in PPC.
Social Media: While traditional social media channels should be a part of your SaaS inbound marketing strategy to a certain extent, SaaS companies can also benefit from being in unconventional channels where their users might be hanging out. There are forums that you can be a part of to position yourself as experts in your industry. Sites like CNet Forums, Spiceworks Community, and the like are examples of channels to explore in addition to your regular social platforms.
We know SaaS is a complex industry, but the decision to launch an inbound marketing strategy doesn’t have to be. If you’re interested in learning more about SaaS marketing or want to take your efforts to the next level, let’s connect.
It’s nearly impossible to talk about marketing strategy today without discussing the benefits of marketing automation and the important role it can play in your startup organization. HubSpot said it best and said it simply: Marketing automation is all about using software to automate marketing activities.
So, why does that matter? Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t have unlimited time or resources to spend on repetitive tasks. Enter, marketing automation. A tool that can automate social media posting, ad campaigns, email marketing, and more, all while providing a personalized experience for customers. But that’s just the start. In this post, we’ll cover 6 benefits of marketing automation that will help fuel your startup success:
Aligned Sales and Marketing Teams
Higher Conversion and Close Rates
As a startup, you could likely benefit from a tool that allows you and your team to save time, be more effective and efficient. Marketing automation can be incredibly helpful in that department. It can allow for task creation, real-time routing, and follow-up across channels.
The creation of workflows allows startup companies to have marketing automation systems work both smarter and harder for them. For example, startups can:
Another benefit of marketing automation and a real timesaver is the ability to both segment and pull lists automatically. It pulls contacts that meet a certain set of criteria based on the information you have set up in your database. Whether your contact database is massive or in the building phase, automated list pulling is a must to save both time and ensure you’re tailoring your messaging to your personas.
In the Lyris Annual Email Optimizer Report, when asked to indicate their top three results, 39% of marketers who segmented their email lists experienced higher open rates, 28% experienced lower unsubscribe rates, and 24% experienced better deliverability and greater revenue.
Lead nurturing is the building of relationships with potential buyers who are not currently ready to buy but could be an ideal customer in the future. The goal of lead nurturing is to educate the prospect, build their awareness of your organization and its products or services, and build trust.
How does marketing automation play a role here? It allows you to create lead nurturing campaigns, otherwise known as email drip campaigns. These are a series of emails spaced out over time that help buyers move from the awareness to the consideration to the decision stage of the buyer’s journey. Depending on your persona’s needs and your buying cycle, what to include in your emails, how many to send, and how often, will vary.
A few examples of actions that can initiate a lead nurturing campaign for startups are if a lead:
Attends a webinar you’re hosting
Downloads one of your case studies
Requests more information on a specific service or product
Downloads a piece of premium content like an infographic or ebook
But remember, while ‘automation’ is a large part of this, nurturing campaigns should not be something you set up and let run its course. It’s important to consistently monitor things like email open rates, marketing attribution reports, and engagement. This will allow you insight into what’s working in your workflow and what’s not and then optimize accordingly.
Sending one email manually is easy. Sending a couple hundred or even thousands of emails that way, a little less so. That’s where marketing automation comes in. But how do you automatically send emails at scale without losing the personalization your buyers have come to expect? That’s one of the beauties of marketing technology. It allows for that personalization without all the manual labor. A few personalized “tokens” that you could include in your emails include:
Role or job title
The last piece of content they downloaded
Recommending content related to other pieces they’ve viewed or downloaded
The use of email goes beyond just personalization though. Although an important piece, it’s just one of the ways you can use it. So, what other benefits of marketing automation are there when it comes to email marketing?
Maybe a surprising benefit of marketing automation is the ability to facilitate collaboration between sales and marketing teams. Marketing and sales teams are able to use marketing automation to move leads through their buying funnel seamlessly. By creating automatic processes, this allows marketers to bring in leads, assess their readiness to buy, and send them to a sales rep without needing to manually intervene. Here are just a few ideas of sales collaboration oriented workflows:
Assigning lifecycle stages and lead statuses
Transitioning Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) to sales
Closing the lead quality feedback loop
Assessing a lead’s readiness to speak with sales or lead scoring
Higher Conversion Rates
Ultimately, the goal of all of this is to convert the aforementioned leads into customers. By using marketing automation, you can increase your conversion and growth rates, as it allows you to provide your subscribers with content that’s relevant to their buyer’s journey and as we know, personalizing communication and tailoring your messaging and content to your personas is key for engagement and effectiveness.
But don’t just take our word for it. We’ll let the numbers do the talking. According to recent studies, 80% of marketing automation users saw an increase in their number of leads using marketing automation software, and 77% had an increase in conversions.
Predictions and Decisions for the Future
How does the saying go, “You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been.” Or something along those lines. Well, the same is true for making predictions and decisions for the future when it comes to your business. You have to know how things are currently performing before you can make informed decisions on what to do next.
At Lake One, we’re about data first. Show us the numbers. But what does that have to do with marketing automation you ask? Well, a lot, actually. One of the benefits of marketing automation is the platform itself and the ability to create different dashboards to view the numbers and reports that matter most.
A few examples of reports you could create for your startup include:
Email campaign performance
Landing page performance
Contact lifecycle funnel
Marketing for startups can be challenging enough without adding unnecessary tasks and time to your already full plate. So whether your startup needs to save time, nurture leads, scale email marketing efforts, align sales and marketing, increase conversion rates, create reports, or all of the above, marketing automation has you covered.
LinkedIn is one of the popular social networks right now. With over 610 million users, it’s the epicenter of business networking and the perfect place for thought leadership. It’s also a fantastic place to launch your ABM. Here’s what you need to know to launch a LinkedIn account based marketing strategy.
Why Use LinkedIn for Account Based Marketing
Unique amongst all other social networks, LinkedIn is purely business-related. It’s mostly free of politics, memes, and the unsolicited parenting ‘advice’ that comes with other social platforms. People using LinkedIn are on it to network, promote themselves, and grow their businesses. They are inherently primed to have conversations about their companies.
That notion, along with LinkedIn’s native tools, makes it one of the best places to launch an AMB strategy. We’ll get into the specific tools shortly, but regardless of which tool you end up using, LinkedIn targeting is simply unmatched. Why? Users self identify on LinkedIn. They give you their job title, company, and job description alongside stats on the companies themselves, like size, location, and core business description. This makes it incredibly easy to find specific people for the purposes of account based marketing.
How to Use LinkedIn for ABM
Building an account list
As mentioned above, LinkedIn makes it easy to identify potential good business fits based on their shared information. Unlike running an ad that might target types and categories, ABM protocol is to actually find the specific people/accounts to target. You’ll actually be on LinkedIn searching for Jane Smith, CTO of Acme Co., and not just Acme Co. look alike audiences. You’ll use LinkedIn’s advanced search feature to find the types of accounts most suited for your business.
LinkedIn Inmail is for all intents and purposes paid direct messaging. If you’re a Basic LinkedIn user, you can only direct message your connections. InMail, which is only accessed through a LinkedIn Premium subscription, is how to go around that. Start by drafting a templated message that you can use as the base message to all of your identified accounts. Then personalize that template. Do you have somebody or something in common? Perhaps a mutual connection or ties to a former company? Include that personalization on your Inmail. Make sure your subject line is clear, attention-grabbing, and concise.
Sponsored content is just a fancy way to say “Ads” in LinkedIn terms. The only difference is that you’ll be promoting content as the term suggests. The ads will display in the newsfeed of your targeted accounts. Make sure the content you’re promoting is highly aligned with your persona. If it misses the mark, it won’t be effective or produce the ROI you’re seeking. We also recommend promoting content that aims to inform your audience- something at the awareness or consideration stage of the buying funnel. They most likely won’t be ready to buy or complete a form to speak with somebody, especially if your ad is the first they’ve ever heard of you. Start with something noncommittal.
Hand-in-hand with sponsored content is lead generation. Offering a piece of content for your accounts to convert on looks like gated content: access to your valuable content in exchange for their contact info. Once you have that contact info, you can nurture those leads. Luckily, LinkedIn integrates with HubSpot’s CRM. Any contacts generated through sponsored content will automatically be imported as contacts into HubSpot. Read more about that here. This cuts out manual work and allows you to easily enroll leads in workflows or sales sequences.
Sales Navigator is a native tool within LinkedIn. It allows you to take all of the above LinkedIn account based marketing strategies to the next level. Your advanced search is more advanced with Navigator. Accounts will be recommended and scored. Best yet, you can set up to receive alerts about updates on your leads, create notes and tags, and see who viewed your profile. It also integrates with your CRM as well.
LinkedIn & Marketing Automation Platforms for ABM
To say the integration with a CRM/CMS that does marketing automation makes life easy is a huge understatement. Marketing automation allows you to automatically nurture and follow-up with the leads you generate on LinkedIn. This might look like the automatic send of a follow-up email 3-day post initial outreach. It could also be sending automated notifications to your sales reps to take the next step in their selling process or it could be the trigger to enroll a contact in a workflow based on their response (or lack thereof).
How to Measure Results
You should be able to measure most of your LinkedIn account based marketing efforts within LinkedIn. What are your InMail open rates? What’s your response rate? A typical cold sales email has about a 16% open rate. Personalized InMail can increase that by as much at 13% bringing your targeted open rate to about 29%.
You can also track the conversion rates from your lead generation and Sponsored Content efforts. A standard ad click rate is 0.06% for LinkedIn. From there, you can expect to see a landing page conversion rate of 4%, according to Unbounce. However, we would expect the rates from an account based marketing campaign to be higher than standard. Your targeting is much more selective and if you’ve done your research thoroughly, they should be much more ready to engage with your company.
Another area to measure for success is your deal close rates. How do your close rates compare to your benchmarks or goals? Are you moving more people further along in your pipeline? Having more sales calls? These are all things you should already be tracking. Compare those against your AMB efforts to determine success.
A LinkedIn account based marketing strategy can be executed through the many native tools LinkedIn offers. It’s a great place to start your ABM efforts because LinkedIn users are already primed for discussing and growing their companies. ABM on LinkedIn begins with the ability to search for and find specific, highly relevant accounts. Using Sales Navigator can take the already advanced search functions to the next level, allow you to make notes, and find you more prospects. Utilize the integrations these tools offer and connect your CRM. That way you can build automation and lead nurturing into your ABM strategy in order to close more sales.
B2B buying is growing ever more complex. From 2016 to 2018 the number of stakeholders involved in a purchase decision jumped from 6.8 to 8.2 contacts at a company. Today, consumer experiences continue to overlap and influence our expectations and behaviors more and more each year in our business buying experiences. For B2B manufacturers already navigating a complex marketing and sales environment, this can be challenging. As 2021 gets underway, personalization and online expectations will increase. These are seven key b2b manufacturing marketing trends to keep an eye on in 2021.
B2B manufacturers face some of the most complex buying environments.
Long sales cycles
Growing numbers of buying roles involved
Channel and distributor relationships
Traditional outbound and inbound marketing strategies can struggle to prove value and support manufacturers’ sales channels in this environment.
Enter account-based marketing or ABM for short. HubSpot defines ABM as a focused growth strategy in which Marketing and Sales collaborate to create personalized buying experiences for a mutually-identified set of high-value accounts.
Streamlining and often speeding up the sales cycle
Expanding business relationships in key accounts
Better measure ROI
Because ABM starts by targeting and seeking to reach only your most qualified ideal customers first, it can be resource-intensive to get a pilot going but provides long term returns. DemandBase found companies that have been using ABM for at least 1 year saw an increase in revenue of 10%, 19% of those surveyed saw revenue growth in excess of 30%.
Account-based marketing isn’t necessarily one of the new manufacturing marketing trends, but tools and platforms are now making it easier to orchestrate and evaluate and as a result, savvy B2B manufacturers are looking at it as a potential addition to their sales and marketing programs.
Consumer-Like Buying Experiences
More and more B2B buyers are behaving as they do in their consumer lives. Forester 2020 predictions point to 2020 as a year of change as B2B buyers continue to evolve more of their experiences to online channels. In Gartner’s B2B Buying Journey we see that sellers actually have little opportunity to influence the decisions of their potential buyers. Enter B2B e-commerce’s time in the spotlight.
With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic – now there is an even faster escalation in demand for investments by manufacturers to make sure they meet changing buying preferences. Insite Software, a provider of B2B e-commerce solutions for Manufacturers notes in its parent company Episerver’s annual B2B Digital experience report that 93% of manufacturers and 95% of distributors expect more than 20% of their revenue will come from e-commerce websites they own and operate by 2025.
With a push online, creating more opportunities for real-time response to customers, and end-users will be critical. Queue the chatbots. Chatbot technology continues to advance every year enabling advanced logic capabilities that manufacturers can use to field all sorts of questions to drive sales and marketing forward. BotCore points out a handful of ways chatbots can help with fulfillment in addition to questions around inventory and delivery, chatbots can be an effective way to answer product questions or point website visitors to the product documentation to help them in their buying process.
Marketing Automation & Personalization
Marketing automation for b2b manufacturers will continue to grow in importance as the buying journey becomes more digital. Marketing automation helps manufacturers simplify complex b2b processes while personalizing and scaling their digital marketing and sales efforts.
Here are a few personalization examples b2b manufacturers are taking advantage of:
Addressing your recipient by name in the greeting
Referencing their company name when giving an example of how their company could benefit from your product
Referencing their role or job title when discussing pain points or solutions pertinent to their role
Referencing the last piece of content they downloaded by name and asking if they are finding it helpful
Customizing the sender information per contact by contact owner
Referencing product or product category of interest
Referencing examples and case studies
The complex business processes facing many B2B manufacturers are also a challenge marketing automation platforms or MAPs are ready to tackle head-on.
Marketing automation can drive efficiencies and allow for real-time routing, task creation, and follow-up across functions and channels. The automation we’re seeing B2B manufacturers take advantage of include:
Routing leads by sales rep territory
Sending custom ‘Thank You’ emails by country
Routing internal requests like samples, RFQs or catalogs
Creating custom tasks by a sales rep for lead review
Automatically setting subscription types
Setting product interest categories or other data governance within the CRM
Video Video Video
This is one of the manufacturing marketing trends that industrial buyers love: Video. Engineers, for example, nearly 87% report getting at least some of their work content from the video. B2B manufacturers have a ton of options when it comes to video. Brand videos, testimonials and case studies, use cases or field solutions, culture videos, demos, and more.
An area you can expect to see video grow significantly is through 1:1 personalized video. Short videos created for a specific user. It could be a sales follow up, a quick how-to, or just a thank you. With the influx of more personalized sales and marketing experiences across the B2B manufacturing marketing ecosystem – video enables face-to-face connections that can otherwise be lost in a completely online sales experience.
This year many B2B organizations had to adjust their event strategy due to COVID-19. While not anticipated and certainly sudden, many marketing and sales professionals leaned into the pivot and are embracing the benefits afforded to virtual events. A lack of travel and time constrictions. The ability to meet with much larger audiences in discussion settings. Virtual events are here to stay and for B2B manufacturers this spells opportunity. While trade shows will inevitably return in some fashion, planning a virtual strategy for everything from recurring lunch and learns or product demos to featuring unique use cases and customer stories will only enhance the growing online buying process many B2B manufacturers see their customers adopting.
Content Isn’t Optional
Creating content that answers your potential buyer’s questions early in their research process and throughout their buying journey is non-negotiable.
A survey by engineering.com found an overwhelming preference for an online search or a website blog as a primary source for finding answers to questions they have in their work. This begs the question: if your technical buyers have questions, whose content will they find, yours or your competitors?
Implementing a B2B sales enablement strategy can align your internal teams and empower your sales personnel with the tools they need to close more deals. A solid, collaborative strategy can create more effective sales teams and stronger marketing programs. Here are the elements every leader needs to consider when developing their sales enablement strategy.
What is Sales Enablement?
First, what is sales enablement? According to HubSpot, “Sales enablement is the iterative process of providing your business’s sales team with the resources they need to close more deals.” It involves the creation, distribution, and use of marketing collateral and content within the sales process. The goal of B2B sales enablement is to collaboratively create and use marketing material that sales can use to nurture and close their deals.
Why is Sales Enablement Important
The alignment of sales and marketing is at the forefront of what makes sales enablement important. When up and running smoothly, a sales enablement strategy will create a symbiotic relationship between sales and marketing teams. This facilitates a culture with an open, continual, and constructive feedback loop with the insights to spur progressive change. It also empowers both teams to create and utilize better, more effective content. Sales teams are able to utilize content in their lead nurturing that’s on brand, optimized for conversion and SEO, and written for the persona.
When sales teams are enabled with content from marketing, both teams win. According to Seismic research, enabled sales reps generate 65% more revenue. What would your company do with a 65% increase in revenue? They also see a 275% increase in conversions. And the benefits to marketing? A 350% increase in content utilization, according to the research.
In order to ensure you’re creating a successful B2B sales enablement strategy, you’ll want to make sure you have the budget to support it. Providing the right tools, resources, and technology to increase sales performance is a must when you’re looking for innovative ways to get ahead.
When creating your sales enablement budget, consider costs that are consistent and unavoidable, as well as costs that are unexpected or a value-add to the sales enablement efforts. Here are four core areas that will help you build the foundation of your sales enablement budget:
Fixed costs: These are your expenses that stay pretty consistent even as things change. For example, salaries for the sales team, the must-have tools and solutions, cost of training, and more. If it’s necessary for the day-to-day operations, include it as a fixed cost.
Unexpected costs: No plan is perfect, so adding a little bit of padding in your budget to account for those unexpected expenses can help lessen the blow when things pop up. For example, maybe the sales team has an urgent need for an unplanned sales meeting. There are likely costs associated with that meeting or event.
Variable costs: These differ from your fixed costs in that they might fluctuate as needs change in your business. For example, travel and associated travel expenses, professional development training, contract work, etc. These aren’t necessarily must-haves, but they can help increase sales enablement’s impact.
ROI/Measurement of Success: Here you should make a case for the investment you’re making in sales enablement. Why does sales deserve the resources you’re requesting instead of a different department? Show what you anticipate the return on investment to be. For example: If you can pull in existing reports and data to support the return of each cost, that will help when you’re building your business case.
Once you’ve created your budget, you’ll have to make a business case for each aspect of the budget in order to get the buy-in and support you need from executives, to secure the funds and resources you’re requesting.
Getting Sales Enablement Buy-In Across the Organization
Even though the business case for investing in sales enablement is strong, you will undoubtedly find that there are some executives and other company decision-makers who fail to see the purpose, value, and ultimately the benefits of it. According to CIO Insights, that could be why 40% of companies don’t have a dedicated sales enablement professional or program.
Knowing that sales enablement buy-in can sometimes be an uphill battle, how do you go about getting the support you need?
Who you’re talking to will dictate what areas of importance you should highlight. Learn what’s important to your leader or the executives you’re trying to get buy-in from. For example, when it comes to sales enablement, your CFO will want to know the potential to increase the sales reps’ contributions to revenue. A CMO will want to understand how enablement will affect and support the marketing team’s sales content creation. Your CEO might be most persuaded by improvements to profitability and retention rates.
Identifying the key stakeholders up front and what’s most important to them will help build a stronger case for sales enablement. Each of these conversations should highlight how your b2b sales enablement strategy will improve sales productivity.
Step 2: Let the Data Do the Talking
Data can be a powerful tool for making a case for sales enablement. For example, take a look at the day-to-day activities of the sales team, you might find that they spend too much time creating presentations, responding to corporate emails and more. All of these things take away from the time they could and should be selling, which incurs a higher opportunity cost.
Step 3: Show Results
If and when sales enablement activities are established, create a regular cadence to review the results of your efforts with company leaders. This will provide insight into what activities are actually effecting change. You want to do activities that produce the desired outcomes, but that might require some trial and error to find which ones yield the best results. That’s why it’s important to monitor performance regularly and adjust accordingly. Being transparent and working together with leadership will allow you to identify what sales enablement activities are actually needed and which ones you can do without.
Step 4: Start Small
Getting buy-in from internal stakeholders for your sales enablement efforts can be tough if you come out of the gate full force. Especially if you go from zero to sixty with your enablement efforts. This goes back to knowing your audience. Find out what’s important to your leader and where sales can add value and start there. Once you’ve demonstrated results and built that credibility, you can make an even stronger case for expanding your sales enablement strategies.
At the end of the day, the goal of implementing a B2B sales enablement strategy is to empower your sales team so they can close more deals and drive more revenue and profitability for the company. By doing this you not only support your sales reps, but you create alignment between sales and marketing and everyone can work towards the ultimate goal: company success.
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