Recently, someone started a discussion on LinkedIn about B2B marketing tools. Here are a few interesting threads of that discussion and what is possible…
“Linkedin and Twitter are the two platforms I am currently using,” declared one commentator, who rated the former as the best tool for business-to-business networking. He saw so much value in LinkedIn that he confessed he felt compelled to add direct links to LinkedIn profiles in the database records they sold to their clients.
LinkedIn undoubtedly is effective but only when you remain actively engaged in group discussions. Merely being present and not doing anything is akin to being conspicuous by your absence.
What’s more, peer-to-peer communication is seen as authentic and trustworthy. A recent Forrester survey found that only 20% of buyers believe what a brand says about itself, because people view any brand-to-buyer communication as an advertisement. Conversely, 70% of buyers trust the recommendations of their friends and family.
Peer-to-peer communication, through a business platform like LinkedIn, should therefore be seen as the most cost-effective, authentic form of brand advertising. LinkedIn has something called ‘sponsored updates”(Akin to Facebook’s paid ‘Likes’) that you pay for and the site allows you to target users—based on location, company name, job title, skills, school name, LinkedIn Group associations, gender or age – in your content marketing efforts.
Last but not the least, you have LinkedIn ads, where you can opt for text-only ads, images, or video ads and they bring you 20% more clicks. Email is another useful lead generator, along with content marketing in the form of white paper, case studies etc. that establish you as an authority in your domain. Video could also be a part of this mix, now that SAP has predicted that 90% of all internet traffic in 2017 is going to be in the form of video.
If someone can get prospects to fill-out forms (A tedium, no doubt) questionnaires that pry out true motivations and drivers from buyers could also be a good resource, but one wonders, if, in this time-starved, multi-tasking world people really do people have the time, or the inclination to fill someone else’s knowledge bank?
In “Making Sense of Consumer Data’ by market research company, Gigya, the authors note that 54% of professionals cite the biggest barrier to implementing a successful data and analytics strategy is the inability to identify what data to collect, so they end up using the wrong data. Worse, 26% of marketers didn’t know what channel delivers the best leads; only 18% have access to a single view of customers and 33% are unsure as to which channel generates the most revenue. The author’s three-pronged suggestion to meet all these data challenges is: Leverage first party data; break down data silos and tie data to your existing KPIs.
This brings us to the next B2B communication channel – the company website that is its most visible face to the world. It can be effective for lead generation but only if your database is up-to-date and your CRM system can automate all your marketing efforts.
Last but not the least, if you are able to gatecrash past secretaries, cold calling also works, although it’s the least preferred, most intrusive marketing tactic at the B2B level. One LinkedIn commentator said her most reliable tool was her technical sales guys. “They are the people talking directly to my customers and their feedback is essential to identify our target markets; what our customers need and the problems they are facing. I can then use this information to segment our marketing strategy and use the most appropriate tool for the job.”
This kind of a diagnostic approach, along with a fine balance between different tools and services to make up for an integrated, multi-channel strategy would be the way to connect with your business associates across multiple touch points.
(From MLI, Social Marketing Division. As an integral part of our broader services, we provide clients with complete data management solutions including: Data Cleaning, Mailing Campaign Management, De-duplication and In house Database Management)