We’ve heard all the excuses before,
“Why pay for clicks in search engines, when I am already paying my sales team to find customers?”
This point of view could be costing your company leads and sales, the truth is that almost all business purchases are researched online before the deal is closed. Even if your Company has a 100% success rate when it comes to sales, I would bet that the person on the other end of the sale did at least one web search. Customers don’t have to pay to use Google, so it seems foolish for anyone to not do a little research before taking the plunge on anything from a $40 pair of headphones, to a multi-million dollar piece of industrial equipment. Even if your business development team is performing above your expectations, they still cannot reach as broad an audience as search engines.
“Customers don’t know what my product is, how could theysearch for it?”
This is a valid point, expecting customers to search for the“WidgetSMART Solar Powered Lead Generator” is presumptuous. The way to find the customers you are looking for is to target search terms that describe their needs or business problems, rather than the specific product. Terms like “Lead Generation”, “Generating Leads” and “Ways to Generate Leads” are good starting points. Going deeper, we can get more specific; “Eco-Friendly Lead Generation”or “Outdoor lead generation” might be good keywords to try. Digging even deeper; “Growing my business”, “Getting more customers”, or “Eco-friendly ways to increase sales” address a customer’s business issues, and your ad (and product) provide a possible solution.
“No one searches our product, and when they do, they just find unrelated junk”
Consider this: your product, the “WidgetSMART Solar Powered Lead Generator” is shortened to “WSSPLG”. Unfortunately for you, this also happens to be the acronym for the Western Scandinavian Society of Professional Lady Golfers, and when potential customers search, they find nothing but golf related page. Fortunate for you, almost all pay-per-click providers such as Google have location specific targeting available. This way, any North Americans searching for WSSPLG will see your relevant ad sitting first position above all other results.
These are just three examples of how you can use pay per click marketing to augment your sales and marketing efforts to take advantage of one of the fastest growing, most measurable, and easy to set up marketing platforms available. For every dollar you think you are saving by not buying ads on Google, Bing and Yahoo!, you could be losing hundreds or thousands of dollars in lost sales. Don’t get left behind, just because you are not a tech company, or because you think search ads are just for B2C applications. Do a couple of Google searches and you will probably find your competitors are doing it and catching up is in order. If not, you can give yourself a leg-up by being the first in your industry to harness this powerful marketing tool.
The difference between Traditional and Online Marketing:
Online advertising spending in the US is expected to grow an additional 23.3% to $39.5 billion this year – pushing it ahead of total spending on traditional marketing forms (eMarketer). What is the reason for this trend? And how does shifting to an online-focused marketing strategy benefit B2B companies?
Most Traditional Marketing strategies involve one of four categories: Print (e.g., Yellow Pages ads, Brochures), Broadcast (radio & news), Telephone, and Direct Mail.
Online Marketing strategies involve methods where products and services are marketed through digital networks, such as the internet or mobile phone networks. Types of online marketing include:
- Online Advertising
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Email Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
Key B2B Benefits of Online Marketing:
Reduced Cost – Online marketing methods cost 62% less per lead than Traditional Marketing (SEORCHERS). The cost of an online marketing campaign is only a fraction compared to traditional methods such as Yellow Pages marketing and other channels.
Lead Generation –B2B companies can use Online Marketing for lead generation and conversion purposes. For example, using LinkedIn for inbound marketing can increase a firm’s B2B acquisition rate by 65% (SEORCHERS).
Measurability - Online marketing is significantly more measurable in terms of ROI as campaigns can be instantly tracked. The relevant data can be compiled in real-time to determine its effectiveness. With traditional marketing, measuring the ROI can be difficult as there is no definitive way to determine a campaign’s true impact.
Check out SEORCHERS infographic for an interesting visual interpretation on the shift to Online Marketing
On Monday, it was announced that Halliburton will buy Baker Hughes for $34.6 billion in a cash and stock transaction. This marks one of the biggest oilfield services mergers ever. You may be thinking to yourself, “Now what? How can my company compete with this industry giant?”
Some small firms compete in markets against major multi-national firms and face the daunting challenge of having to develop strategies to build and maintain a competitive advantage. They are Davids taking on Goliath.
However, in our experience, it is possible for smaller companies to market themselves like the industry giants and increase revenues all the same. All it takes is a well thought out strategy, industry leading tools, and best practices to create a competitive advantage in your industry, whether that is manufacturing, oilfield rentals or seismic software.
Identifying your company’s strategic competencies that differentiate you from the competition is very important. An advantage of smaller companies is a more personalized service and less overhead for corporate policy. Clients tend to appreciate this characteristic in smaller companies.
We also find many companies in the industrial sector are transitioning faster to the online world and realizing the future is moving away from traditional marketing like advertising at golf tournaments. Acknowledging the need for your company to go online and finding external resources to help with the transition is also important.
We have compiled a few tips and advice to help you compete with giants and win.
- As we all know, industry giants take time to implement any kind of change. As a smaller company you have the advantage of acting faster.
- You can also use this principle with your blog and case studies. Blogging makes your company a thought leader in a particular application or technology. Also, targeted case studies in a geography or special situation are a great way to show your expertise in the industry.
- State your differences as positives. Point out the clear differences between your offerings by presenting them on your website and make sure it is obvious why potential customers should choose you.
- Finally, the last competitive advantage your company should emphasize is your credibility. A professional website and branding does not cost that much and can be worth it’s weight in gold in making you look like you are as good as the giants, but better because you specialize. Also, any certifications and awards you have won or were nominated for will really push your credibility and give you an edge over the competition.
Overall, we have a lot of experience in the industrial sector, we know smaller companies can compete head to head with industry giants if they have the right tools and leverage their competitive advantages, especially online where YOU can be found.
Many of our industrial clients and prospects come to us asking about email marketing. They heard about it at a conference or a colleague was explaining how it helped generate sales. ActiveConversion has recently released a new marketing tool to allow companies to send and track email marketing campaigns.
Our software allows you to send email and track visitors that open and click your link. But what differentiates us from other software is that you can also track where else visitors go on your site and identify potential products and services they are interested in. This will allow you to identify leads and generate sales in the long run.
The main reason why companies don’t use email marketing is because they think the process is complicated or they don’t have the time. ActiveConversion was created with our users in mind and is extremely user friendly and easy to use. Below is a ‘how to guide’ to creating an email campaign.
Step 1: Identify Potential Recipients
Current customers could be thinking of other products or services they need, but haven’t had the time to call you. By nurturing existing clients by creating regular points of contact and sending useful information, they will keep your company top of mind and, in the end, buy from your company.
You may have attended a tradeshow recently and have a whole stack of business cards on your desk. Email campaigns are a great way to educate potential leads and to start a relationship with them, hopefully ending in a sale.
Step 2: Organize Your List
ActiveConversion allows you to upload multiple lists from a CSV file, anytime you want. This will allow you to segment your master list into smaller more manageable ones. You can then customize content to send certain groups, allowing you to send relevant information and make it feel more personable.
Step 3: Build Your Email
Build professional looking emails quickly and without any IT experience using ActiveConversion’s email editor. Either choose one of our customized industrial templates or use HTML code to customize your own. We have made it easy for you to create an email by easily inserting images such as headers or logos, and changing the font or colour scheme to match your brand.
Step 4: Email Testing
Before sending out any type of correspondence, you should always perform quality tests. This will allow you to see exactly what the email will look like in your mailing lists inboxes. ActiveConversion allows users to preview the email right on the email creation screen, and send out test emails beforehand.
Step 5: Schedule Your Email
ActiveConversion allows users to either send the email campaign right away, save as a draft or pick a time and date in the future to send automatically. This allows you to create emails ahead of time and send them at any time of day.
Step 6: Tracking
You need to analyze and track every marketing effort you try. You will know for the future what works and what doesn’t. ActiveConversion allows you to see how many people open the email, how many click your link and where else they are going on your website.
Step 7: Follow Up on Leads
Once you have tracked the email campaign, you can start following up on leads that have opened the email. ActiveConversion allows you to see every page a visitor looks at and where they came from, whether it is Google or an email campaign. This allows you to identify which products or services they are interested in and is a great conversation starter for when you contact them.
The trick for email marketers these days is threefold: to avoid being categorized as spam, to get read, and to inspire action. Admittedly, hitting all of these targets sounds a bit daunting, but take heart: because of their relative low cost, online marketing generally has a better return on investment than traditional marketing techniques, and email in particular consistently provides one of the highest ROI among online tools. So it is possible to engage in successful email marketing. Let’s talk about how.
First up, your contact list. Specifically, how to grow your list organically:
Grow Your List:
- For the love of all that’s good, stop buying mailing lists. These are not targeted contacts. Sure, they might fit some general demographics, but they aren’t necessarily anyone who’s ever heard of you or has any interest in your services. It’s likely you’ll be flagged as spam; if this happens enough, you could be blacklisted. Instead…
- Leverage existing contacts. Encourage forwarding and sharing. Include social media sharing, email, and subscribe buttons in your emails.
- Present calls-to-action on your website. If you’re offering valuable content (whitepapers, guides, e-books, etc.), put this content behind a registration form on your website. If a visitor wants to access certain content, they’ll have to provide a valid email address. The downside: this might turn some visitors away. The upside: the ones who do provide an address will likely be very interested in your content and, by extension, your industry and services.
- Collect addresses through events and partnerships. Whether online (like a webinar) or offline (like a tradeshow or conference), give everyone you network with an opportunity to join your mailing list. Do the same for partnerships or shared projects. Be sure to follow up the event or joint venture with a personal email to solidify the effort and add legitimacy to future email outreach.
- Social Media. Share quality content and contacts will follow.
Remember to keep your registration process simple. Don’t ask for more than three pieces of personal information (such as name, company, industry, website, or location). Be sure to ask for the information that you can best leverage to nurture leads.
As you grow your list and get engaged, here are some best practices for solid results.
- Set goals. These can be relatively soft (offer industry-relevant content to educate readers and grow reputation); or more quantifiable (increase website click-through rate by X%, grow email list by X subscribers, lower unsubscribes by X%). It is best, when possible, to set goals with specific numbers. This will provide clarity and make it easier to quantify your successes.
- Don’t give a sales pitch. Let your content do the talking for you. If it’s relevant and high quality, it will sell you without the risk of a hard pitch pushing the reader away.
- Set a schedule. There’s no single right frequency. It will depend on your content and audience. Just make sure you’re predictable and dependable. If someone signs up for a weekly newsletter, make sure you’re sending a weekly newsletter.
- Find the right topics. Your content should be relevant to your mailing list and be consistent with your brand messaging. Topics should consist of:
o Announcements. Let your audience know about new content (e-books, whitepapers, etc.) and upcoming events (webinars, conferences, speaking engagements, etc.)
o News. Something big going on in your industry or your firm? Keep your audience in the loop; you never know when one of these developments is in line with their needs or interests.
o Hard offers. When the time is right, offer your audience the opportunity to engage with you more closely—not a hard sell, but something like a free consultation or review.
- Calls to action. In other words, give the reader something to do or a deeper way to engage with you. These can be fairly distant early in the marketing process, like giving the reader a link to a new blog post. Deeper engagement-level calls to action include participation in webinars or consultations. Here are a few best practices to ensure your calls to action are effective but non-intrusive:
o Limit one call to action per email.
o Repeat it. Present it twice, possibly three times in longer emails.
o If there’s a deadline, point it out. Create a sense of urgency.
Remember, the more your potential customers know about you, the more likely they are to trust you—and to understand the ways you can meet their needs. Grow your list organically and keep your content relevant and high quality. Your emails will become a valued and actionable contribution to your audience’s inbox—as well as a way of building relationships and growing new business.
About the Author:
Sylvia Montgomery is a Senior Partner at Hinge, a marketing and branding firm for professional services. At Hinge, Sylvia provides strategic counsel to national clients. She is a co-author of Inside the Buyer’s Brain and Online Marketing for Professional Services. You can follow Sylvia on Twitter @BrandStrong.