At the beginning of each year marketing circles are inundated with blogs and papers on the coming trends for the next 12 months. Trends however, whilst being insightful to the industry generally give very little concrete advice on which activities will play a part during 2012. As such my first resolution this year is to stop following trends and to start doing, being proactive with my marketing activities. That’s not all though, read on and you will see 10 resolutions which each B2B marketer should abide by in the coming year.
1. This year I will use social media for more than just marketing
Last year the social media revolution continued despite corporate governance still preventing adoption in some B2B settings. The cold, hard fact is that social media is so pervasive that ignoring it is foolhardy. Social media is no longer just a marketing tool; it is a multi faceted discipline that can be used for improving search positions, customer service, recruitment and research; not to mention the role it plays engaging with your prospects at multiple touch points in the sales pipeline.
This year is all about producing content that you can take social and finding your audience in the social environment. To do this you need to produce appropriate content, utilise social tools and technology and educate your entire business as to the potential of social.
2. This year I will deliver a mobile experience, not just a scaled down website
In 2011 the growth of mobile and tablet continued, reaching 7.7% of all web traffic in December (Net Application Research). Catering for this ever increasing populace amongst businesses is evident, although in 2012 you need to avoid simply scaling down your website to accommodate mobile searchers; instead you must provide a complete mobile experience.
If you aren’t already, it’s time to take mobile seriously, study your analytics to identify how popular mobile and tablet browsing is becoming on your site and develop innovative ways to appeal to this user group. Also consider unique challenges with mobile users, such as click to call tracking to ensure that these visitors are effectively reported.
Mobile and tablet usage isn’t just about websites though, as part of creating an enriching experience look into application development and even using such devices and applications internally for reporting and management functions.
3. This year I will invest more in conversion rate optimisation (CRO)
Recent statistics show that for every £1 spent on CRO, £92 is spent on increasing website traffic (Econsultancy). 2012 must be the year B2B marketers start making their budgets work smarter by investing in increasing your conversion rate, rather than pouring money into increasing website traffic.
With a focus on CRO within your marketing it is possible to reduce your cost per lead, allowing you to use your marketing budget more effectively and report stronger returns. As always within B2B, your focus needs to be on quality rather than quantity when it comes to leads.
4. This year I will create a detailed content marketing strategy
Last year the content quality bar was raised significantly. Marketers upped their games and Google released the Panda update giving insight into the growing importance of content quality within search. This is the year to start using your content effectively, mapping it to the stages in your sales pipeline to attract and nurture prospects.
Don’t get hung up over the format of your content though, people now consume content in a plethora of ways making videos and slideshows valid mediums. Ultimately you need to match your format to the needs and wants of your audience as part of your content strategy.
5. This year I will love and humanise my CRM data
This year a major priority is to utilise marketing automation and nurturing technologies to gain a real time, 1:1 view of your data and marketing environment. Gaining this view however is insufficient, the insight delivered by your data needs to be shared across your business, particularly with your sales team.
Your data in 2012 should shift from a demographic to include a psychographic emphasis. Data is no longer about names, figures and titles but is a repository of humans, each with drives, fears, wants and needs. As such your content marketing strategy needs to appeal to these human elements with appropriate marketing collateral.
6. This year I will forget B2B tunnel vision for wider, more appealing marketing
Advancements and greater integration of technology in our everyday lives have changed the way in which we all consume marketing and conduct research towards an ‘always on’ mentality. This has changed the purchasing mindset and blurred the lines between on and offline psyches. The behavioural shift also permeates the lines between B2B and B2C purchasing decisions, making appealing to buyers in this newly converged market a challenge for this year. Challenge your creative side.
7. This year I will bring uniformity to my brand across all channels
With the patchwork of mediums and formats now present it is more important than ever to deliver uniform branding and company tone at every touch point, be it a website, email, sales engagement, reception foyer or social page.
The requirement for brand and tone coherence has been increasingly highlighted with the use of social media by employees, making everyone within your company a brand ambassador. As such in 2012 you not only need to bring together branding and tone in your collateral, but also need to educate your staff with effective social media guidelines so your image is consistent across all mediums and at all times. But remember, B2B branding doesn’t have to be boring!
8. This year I will record a video for my prospects
Business personnel today are time poor and attention spans are shortening. Subsequently video represents an opportunity to deliver key messages in a format that is fast and straightforward.
Instead of investing heavily in TV advertising, 2012 is the year to realise that online videos can be equally effective at reaching your audience. YouTube is now the world’s 2nd most popular search engine and videos are displayed prominently within search engine results pages.
Your videos don’t always have to be adverts however; the unique proposition of online videos is that they allow you to engage with your prospects at different points in the pipeline. From providing support and answering specific issues, to discussing industry developments, video gives you the opportunity to get your brand and messaging in front of the widest possible audience.
9. This year I will investigate the potential for HTML 5 for my website
In 2011 34 of the world’s top 100 websites were using the HTML5 central programming language and whilst B2B is often seen as sluggish to adopt new technologies this is the year to investigate its potential.
HTML5 is an intelligent programming language capable of adapting to different devices. This makes it a priority for businesses, not only to be leading edge, but as a method of future proofing website designs and catering for mobile adoption.
In 2012 even if you don’t start developing your company website in HTML5, it is time to start researching and planning how you can best utilise what is soon to be the de facto standard programming language.
10. This year I will deliver a B2C eCommerce experience to my B2B prospects
For B2B eCommerce websites 2012 is the year to catch up with B2C. As mentioned previously the lines of B2B and B2C are now blurred and so have mindsets of buyers. The result is that buyers are used to experiencing personalised content, delivery of special offers and integrated marketing and now demand it when buying professionally. As a B2B eCommerce website a priority for the next 12 months is to respond to these demands by offering better, swifter and more efficient experiences and processes.
These 10 New Year’s resolutions represent the ways in which B2B marketers and companies can make the most of 2012, not by following trends but by proactively improving your marketing processes to adapt to the changing B2B environment we now find ourselves in.