3 Critical B2B DigitalMarketing Skills to Master

OverviewThe B2B marketing landscape changed dramatically during the pandemic.Many companies that rely heavily on trade shows and other industry eventssaw their marketing activities slow to a halt. Business travel ceased and asa result in-person sales meetings and other in-person customer touchpointsdisappeared. The decision makers and influencers who you’re trying to reachare spending their time differently. They are no longer getting bogged downwith back-to-back meetings, morning and evening commutes, or impromptubrainstorming sessions with colleagues. They’re spending much moretime sitting in front of their screens. They’re relying less on others, insteadresearching solutions that will help them achieve their business goals.While the pandemic accelerated this change, this new way of working was already wellunderway. B2B marketers have been shifting their priorities and budgets to contentmarketing, marketing automation, and analytics for many years. Now it’s crucial that B2Bmarketers understand this new reality. How do you continue to reach new prospects, havemeaningful conversations, and qualify and nurture leads? These are the three skills you willneed to be successful today and for the foreseeable future.Skill #1 - Persona DevelopmentContent marketing attracts prospects when they’re actively searching for solutions tobusiness problems. Content marketing is very different from advertising. Rather thanfocus on your products or services, you develop informative content geared towardsolving problems the target audience is currently facing.In order to develop effective content, you must first understand the prospects’ pain points. This isa very important element of the target audience persona. Developing a persona is key to creating acontent marketing strategy. The content needs to not only speak to this audience, but also providevalue that allows them to perform their jobs. You need to define who this person is. What are theirinterests and values? What keeps them up at night? How can you use your company’s resourcesand expertise to connect with them?

When you create an audience persona youshould key in on the ideal customer. Sheshould be fictional but realistic. It’s importantto write content that is specifically designedfor this persona. The more honed it is to anindividual, the more effective it will be.There are many sources you can use to buildthe persona. If you place a LinkedIn tag onyour website, you can get data about yourvisitors that corresponds to their professionalattributes - job title, function, seniority,industry, etc. Many social media sites provideinsights for the audience that follows yourcompany’s page or profile. Google Analyticswill also provide some demographicinformation as well as data on site visitors’ shopping habits and interests. It’s always helpfulto interview the people at your firm who work with your customers and prospects everyday.Oftentimes, the sales team will have extensive knowledge of your ideal customer’s pain points andthe potential objections to purchasing your product or service. This is invaluable as you developcontent that not only piques their interest, but also positions your company as thought leaders andproblem solvers.Once you have an understanding of the audience, you can engage the experts at your organizationas well as partners and vendors to develop content. Make sure it clearly addresses the problemsyour persona is facing and offers solutions; remember this is not content for everyone, it shouldbe specifically crafted for your target audience. This is not a place to hide your knowledge. Someprospects might take the information and run with it, but the best qualified leads will recognizethat they need to outsource the work to ensure high quality and maximize the results.Follower Demographics% of Followers27.11%MarketingBusiness Development15.85%Sales11.27%Media and Communication8.45%Operations7.38%Arts and Design7.38%Information TechnologyEngineering4.58%3.52%Human Resources2.11%Program and Project Management2.11%

Skill #2 - Lead Nurturing StrategyNot every lead or prospect who engages with your company is ready to buy. MostB2B products and services have a long purchase process consisting of three stages- awareness, evaluation, and decision. The content you develop should address thedifferent concerns and needs that occur within each of these stages.B2B BUYING PROCESSAWARENESSStatus ompareOptionsDECISIONValidationChoiceIn the first stage of the purchase process, your prospect is just beginning to recognize the problemor opportunity. Broad, high-level content that addresses this issue is referred to as “top-of-funnel”content. In the evaluation stage of the purchase process, content is more specific and detailedabout the possible solution(s) to the problem. For this stage B2B marketers develop “middle-offunnel” content. In the final stage, the potential vendors have been chosen and it’s time to make abuying decision. Content that highlights your company’s solution should be used to persuade thedecision maker during this stage. This content is referred to as, you guessed it, “bottom-of-funnel.”For each identified pain point, there should be content developed that addresses each stage ofthe purchase process. These content pieces are used to nurture prospects to sales qualified leads,meaning a lead that is ready to take a meeting with a sales or business development professional.A lead nurturing strategy identifies how content will be used to engage prospects at each stage.This is typically executed using a marketing automation platform such as Hubspot, Pardot,or Marketo.The nurture strategy defines how and when content will be sent to potential customers. Usingmarketing automation, different events will trigger different actions. With the right strategic planin place, prospects will receive content that not only addresses their pain points but also deliversrelevant information based on which stage they’re in in the purchase process.When executed correctly, the marketing and sales teams work together closely to determine howand when a lead is “sales qualified.” The marketing automation platform can be connected directlyinto your company’s CRM to seamlessly alert the appropriate sales rep and ensure no leads slipthrough the cracks.

Skill #3 - Measurement andOptimization“If you can’t measure it, you can’timprove it.”-Peter DruckerOne of the great advantages of contentmarketing and lead nurturing initiatives is thateverything is measurable. You’ll need to havethe right systems in place to track actionscorrectly and attribute actions that are takingplace in different channels and ondifferent platforms.For example, your marketing automation platformcan track the performance of emails and LinkedIn willtrack the results of posts promoting content fromyour company. You should add tags to the URLs in theemails and social media posts so that your websiteanalytics software can track these back to the specificemails, offers, and audiences.Performance rates for each component within the content marketing and lead nurturing programwill be key. For emails you’ll be tracking open rates, click rates, and bounce rates. For contentoffers you’ll be looking at download rate or video view rates. Social media will provide additionalview rates, click rates, and conversion rates.Rates are important because they give us the ability to compare different subject lines, contentoffers, incentives, etc. But you shouldn’t just set up proper tracking and expect to gain insights. Inorder to learn what works most effectively, you’ll need to set up experiments that properly testspecific variables.Experimentation starts with a hypothesis. Will subject line A entice a higher rate of people to openthe email than subject line B? Will a video on the landing page entice more visitors to complete aform to download content than no video? Will a case study or product demonstration work betterengage the prospects nearing the decision stage of the purchase process?

For each experiment, you’ll want to run a “clean” test that keeps all other parameters consistentand only swaps a single variable. That way you’ll have clear evidence that the hypothesis proved tobe either true or false. When there are multiple parameters being tested at once, it’s impossible toknow how much impact each variable had on the result.By continuing to test hypotheses with many experiments over time, you’ll have the ability to gaininsight and improve performance. Don’t just hope key learnings and insights will drop into yourlap, tests will ensure that you’ll gain knowledge from your content marketing efforts.ConclusionB2B marketing can be challenging with a long purchase process and significant changes in howyou’re able to market to prospects. There has been a shift to more digital touchpoints evenbefore the pandemic affected nearly every aspect of life and business. B2B marketers will need toembrace and develop new skills to successfully acquire and nurture leads. It starts with developinggreat content that resonates with your audience persona. Lead nurturing and optimization areimportant elements but only if you can create content that attracts and delights your prospectsand customers. When your team or digital marketing partner is skillful at all three, your companywill be more likely to enter into your prospect’s consideration set. Not only that, you’ll be able toarm your sales team or business development professionals with information that will help themclose more business.At Mason Digital, we have extensive experience helping B2B marketers develop content, nurtureprospects, and optimize campaigns.If you’d like to learn more about a potential partnership, please Contact us!

meaning a lead that is ready to take a meeting with a sales or business development professional. A lead nurturing strategy identifies how content will be used to engage prospects at each stage. This is typically executed using a marketing automation platform such as Hubspot, Pardot, or Marketo.