Marketing Strategy

B2B marketing challenges for 2015

Now’s the time to think about the improvements we can make this year to gain greater results from our marketing in 2015.

The lessons learnt from last year’s marketing challenges represent a massive opportunity for improvement. In other words, look back to move forward. I’ve done just that, by looking at the biggest B2B marketing challenges I experienced with my own clients. And this is where I believe we can all find some of the biggest improvements. Technology is an overriding theme across many of the challenges. This takes us swiftly into our fist B2B marketing challenge of 2015…

Technology prioritisation

Technology will be a major B2B Marketing Challenge in 2015. Today’s modern marketer must understand marketing technology. Being solely a brand ambassador is no longer enough. Which tools will you choose? There’s one for pretty much everything – just take a look at this graphic by chiefmartec.com, which paints a great picture of the marketing technology landscape – a year ago.

Marketing_Technology_Landscape

There are no fewer than 947 companies listed, but the first version of this graphic – created in 2011 – listed only 100 companies. Choosing the right technology to suit your business marketing objectives and your budgets is time consuming and challenging. But it’s important. Read Scott’s blog for more information. He does a great job of explaining how he grouped the technology into categories and classes.

Keeping up with the changing marketing landscape is incredibly important. Marketing technology transforms what we do and how we do it, but it’s constantly changing. It’s important to be aware of what’s new and understand what changes impact you the most. Not everything will, so know how to prioritise changes.

Marketing skills shortages

Finding marketing talent that delivers measurable results for business will be a considerable challenge for 2015. Studies show an increasing percentage of businesses are planning to invest in digital marketing. This has led to an increase in demand for marketers with specialist skills including social media management, SEM, affiliate marketing, online community management and content creation. Marketing graduates will most likely lack the digital marketing knowledge that is needed in today’s marketing world. And, with marketing evolving every day, it’s hard to find a marketer with all the right experience. The Google Online Marketing challenge is a program that helps students to gain experience. I commend students who take part and professors who incorporate this challenge into their lectures.

Content creation

According to the Content Marketing Institute B2B Content Marketing 2015 Benchmarks, budgets and trends report, 70% of B2B marketers are producing more content than they were a year ago. This is an American report, however my experience in the UK market supports the theory that we’re experiencing the same trend. The report highlights the lack of content strategy guidance as well as the issues in measuring content performance.  Both of these are challenging tasks, requiring time and effort.

Measuring content performance

To ensure you’re targeting the right audience with the right content that people can actually find and want to read, you need processes and measurements in place. Companies that apply the right processes will receive more click-throughs and higher conversion rates. Content will perform better if it’s well targeted, understands the audience, is optimised to be found in search engines and can be measured with performance tools.

Segmentation and targeting

Do you know where your audience is? If you’re spending time on the wrong platforms, you’ll waste budget. Don’t just follow the biggest trend, do your research first. Find out where your audience is and communicate there. Oh, and also make sure you know your market segments. So often I see marketers that have not clearly defined their segments – one message for all approach just ends up as spam.

Customer retention

Yes, easier said than done. But the fact is, it costs less to keep a customer than it does to find new ones. Once you’ve got them, take care of them, nurture relationships, grow lifetime value and gain referrals. If you’re not focussing on improving customer experience and building advocates, one of your competitors, with savvier marketing techniques, will. Get to know lifecycle marketing and how it can hep you achieve this.

The leap

The final challenge for the year is encouraging business leaders to take the leap – to venture into new marketing methods, and to grow their vision of marketing from within the boundaries of what they know and understand, to all it has to offer. To take the leap also requires reallocation of budget. Marketing plays a much bigger role today. It can no longer be left to the university graduate who’s been hired to do the company’s marketing. It requires strategic thinking, planning, workflow and project management, creativity, analytical thinking and ability to work with data and technology.

Take Action:

1. Prioritise your technology investments and get them working for you, quickly. Gain support to help understand which technology and how to implement it correctly.

2. Subscribe to Strategic Insights where we’ll provide a weekly feature on new marketing technology. We also offer tips ad guidance to help you understand where you could make improvements.

3. Invest in marketing training and coaching. There are some great digital marketing courses that can help close skills gaps and give your team the right knowledge and confidence. We can point you in the right direction. Take the free digital diagnostic on the Digital Marketing Institute website. Get your marketing resources to do the same, and benchmark where you are at. We can also offer monthly coaching sessions to help keep your resources on track while implementing new marketing skills and tactics.

4. Apply a clear content strategy, using it to guide content creation and implement a means of measuring performance.

5. Learn about lifecycle marketing. Ensure you are developing content for all stages.

Hopefully we’ve given you somethings to think about here. We’d like to hear your comments about the challenges you faced last year and how you’re planning to overcome them. If you watch the Apprentice, you will have seen Alan Sugar take the leap into Digital Marketing. The product man, didn’t choose the product. I’ll certainly be following that story with interest. Let’s hope he’s getting the right support as Mark clearly has missed some key opportunities and perhaps chosen the wrong name – especially as the climbonline domain was not available.

Take the leap this year, with the right support. We’re always here to help.

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