By Sam Martin-Ross, below, UK Managing Director of digital marketing agency, Eskimoz
The B2B landscape is incredibly competitive. Add to this the fact that many B2B companies operate on a tight marketing budget, with little margin for error, and it quickly becomes clear how important an effective strategy is for creating awareness and generating qualified leads. Here, I explore some of the biggest mistakes B2B marketing mistakes that could be costing your company time, money and leads.
A/B testing tunnel vision
Many companies are tempted by the idea that running the right A/B tests is the key to unlocking growth and conversions on their site. The truth, however, is that in the majority of cases this simply isn’t true.
B2B companies, especially those which operate in smaller industry niches, just don’t have the kind of large sample sizes needed for A/B testing to deliver statistically significant results. Additionally, A/B testing usually involves a substantial investment from both a cost and time perspective, meaning that for the majority of small-to-mid-sized B2B companies, that time and effort could be better spent elsewhere.
Instead of hyper focusing in on website A/B testing, your goal should be driving as much qualified traffic to your website as possible. Using the data you have at your disposal, you can start to build a picture of who is coming to your site, and what’s bringing them there. For here, you can capitalise on these drivers, whether it’s increased investment into your channels, ad spend or SEO. This isn’t to say that A/B testing is totally without merit – with a large enough sample size it can deliver useful insight, and can be especially useful when testing ad creatives, particularly on websites like LinkedIn where you can be sure you are already targeting the right audience.
Failing to understand your customer
It may seem obvious, but so many B2B companies lack a good understanding of their customer and the customer’s journey, resulting in ineffectual marketing efforts. This goes beyond simply creating a buyer persona or other surface level data points like job roles. It requires taking the time to really get to grips with how your customer thinks, behaves, and crucially, purchases, so that you can position your product or service as the clear choice.
So many B2B websites fail to talk to their customer in a meaningful way that understands their problems and addresses their pain points in relation to the value of your product or service, and seamlessly guides them through each stage of the buyer journey. This, of course, means taking the time to leverage the knowledge of your business development team to really understand your customers, so you can begin to serve and solve their problems in a way which makes sense to them.
Getting Google Ads wrong
Google Ads is often viewed as a silver bullet. It’s fast, effective and possesses a variety of targeting options. However, while many B2B businesses expect that Google Ads will drive immediate growth and awareness, the truth isn’t so straightforward. In fact, many misspend their advertising budget on ads with no ROI whatsoever.
The biggest mistake B2B companies make with Google Ads is targeting the wrong keywords. Spending advertising budget on non-transactional keywords when the goal is to generate leads is never going to deliver the desired results. Examples of transactional keywords (i.e., those which denote a purchasing intention) might be phrases such as “London IT managed service” or “payroll software provider”, as opposed to phrases like “what is managed IT” or “how does payroll software work” – the latter signals that the user is more likely looking for information that actively looking to purchase.
Rather than setting up your Google Ads and letting Google handle the bidding, and therefore increasing your chances of bidding on irrelevant keywords, Google Ads requires much closer management to be truly effective. Used as a part of an integrated marketing strategy, with a clear idea of your buyer and customer journey, Google Ads can be a powerful tool.
The abundance of data at the fingertips of most companies is both a blessing and a curse. When leveraged correctly, it can help to laser focus your marketing efforts and drive real results, but when every data point is obsessed over, or the focus is put on the wrong metrics, it can quickly become problematic.
Data, whether through your CRM platform, social media channels or Google Ads, should be providing a solid foundation for you to make strategic marketing decisions. To do this, you need to be focusing on the most relevant metrics for your business, which will be dependent on your marketing objectives.
It’s also important to remember that not everything can be measured. It’s sometimes necessary to take a holistic view of your marketing, without getting too bogged down in specific data points. Word of mouth advertising or brand impact cannot be tracked in a traditional sense, but are both incredibly valuable to your overall marketing strategy.
The key is to use meaningful data to empower your marketing goals, and pinpoint metrics that you can make a concrete improvement on in line with your goals.
No alignment between marketing and sales
The B2B space is notorious for its long sales cycles that may last weeks or months. The primary role of B2B marketing is to not only raise awareness of your company, but to reduce friction points along the customer journey, reducing the length of the sales cycle. For this to be successful, marketing objectives have to be properly aligned with the revenue goals of your business.
Marketers are naturally focused on lead generation, but these efforts need to be united with the sales pipeline, with a clear strategy between the two, otherwise they are simply wasted efforts. Neither sales nor marketing can work effectively when they are siloed, and lead generation will usually require a sales follow up if it is to be valuable for your company.
The best marketing strategies find a balance between business development and marketing goals, and are able to effectively align the two.
Breaking the B2B mould
In marketing, it can be easy to fall into these traps simply because they are seen as the done thing. However, being aware of some of these common pitfalls is key to making the most of your marketing budget, and ensuring your efforts are building a steady supply of qualified leads.