The budgeting process can be stressful, especially for B2B marketers. With so many options available, it can be difficult to decide how to allocate funds appropriately. Sometimes, marketers become overwhelmed and just base the new budget on the previous year's budget. However, in this rapidly changing world, historical data can be misleading, so it is important to take the time to evaluate the type of return you received from the different strategies that you deployed in the past as well as evaluate new technologies and strategies. Here are 10 strategies that you should consider before you finalize your 2017 B2B marketing budget.
- Facebook has long been considered a platform for B2C marketing, but an increasing number of B2B marketers are finding that it provides an excellent way to engage customers and capture leads. One B2B company that is finding success on Facebook is HubSpot, a company that primarily provides software to B2B marketing professionals. The company's blog is a favorite destination for potential customers, so HubSpot links their blog to their Facebook page. HubSpot posts on their Facebook timeline allow fans to download marketing guides and ebooks, which transfers users to form to capture leads.
- Content marketing continues to account for a sizable percentage of most B2B marketing budgets. However, content marketing is far more than just writing a blog post and hoping that it will attract readers. The most successful content marketing takes context into account, is personalized for the visitor and is promoted through social media and content distribution services. Videos are garnering an increasing share of B2B content marketing budgets. Providing evergreen content on a regular basis can keep your customers coming back as well as boost your rankings in organic searches.
- Remarketing can be a highly effective way to get your message and company name back in front of your website visitors. Suppose someone reads one of your blog posts in which a downloadable white paper was the call to action. The visitor leaves without initiating the download. You can then create a strategic display ad that will appear on sites that the visitor goes to afterwards that are within Google's network. Targeted display ads like this encourage people to visit your site again and execute an action that they did not perform earlier. It is also a great way to keep your name in front of them; visitors may return to your website numerous times before submitting a contact form or requesting a quote.
- Marketing automation can provide outstanding results when used correctly. You can break down silos and have your email marketing, lead scoring, content management, SEO, analytics and CRM in one place to capture, nurture and close leads with less time and effort. If you lack the budget or confidence to go with an all-in-one solution such as HubSpot, look at ways to start small. For example, there are several affordable services for automating your email campaigns.
- Speaking of email campaigns, email marketing is not going away anytime soon. In fact, B2B companies that ask visitors to register before they can gain access to downloads or special content are building substantial email lists. Newsletters, special offers and updates are easily shared at an economical cost. However, if you want your email campaigns to be effective, you need to learn how to craft emails that are extremely engaging.
- Split testing can help you improve your campaigns and earn greater returns for your investments. Split testing, sometimes called A/B testing, typically requires nothing more than a little of your time. There are various ways to conduct split testing. For example, you could create two display ads that are identical in all respects save one; the different element could be the call to action, the image, placement, title or font color. You then publish the ads in identical fashion. After two weeks, see which ad has performed better, adjust the other and repeat to see if the different element was truly the cause for the difference in performance. Another type of split testing is to test identical ads across platforms or channels.
- Marketing analytics are essential if you want to measure your success. You need to learn all you can about the traffic on your website, including demographics, frequency of visits, how they arrived at your site, how long they lingered and what they viewed. If you prefer to try analytics before investing or are facing budget constraints, you might want to start with Google Analytics. It is free, easy to use and provides a way for you to track many of the basic metrics that you need to help you decide on the best use of your budget.
- Display ads that are strategically placed can boost your results. An increasing number of people rely on the internet for their local weather, national news and other information. Taking out a display ad in the local newspaper is outdated. Instead, B2B marketers are opting for targeted display ads that they can place in front of people who visit major national newspapers, including the New York Times and Washington Post. Ads can be targeted to demographics such as location, age or gender, and tracking is typically almost automatic.
- Local visibility can be important even if you sell to businesses across the nation. Google has continued to place increasing weight on relevant local listings, which means that your website and content will rank higher in the search returns. If you rely on orders from local businesses, local citation building is even more essential. Although there are ways to improve your local visibility for free, you may need to pay a service to help you build your local visibility, especially if you need to cover multiple locations.
- Call tracking can be an economical way to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns. If your phone number appears on your website or in your emails, knowing how callers obtained your number, the time they spent on the call and whether they called again can help you refine your efforts. Identifying common questions can help you with your content marketing strategy as well.
Naturally, not every B2B marketer will need to embrace all 10 strategies. Hopefully, however, you will have found some ideas that are worth considering as you prepare to finalize your 2017 marketing budget.