Most marketers understand that a B2B purchase decision is more complicated than a B2C decision. While you might make yourself crazy deliberating over that new pair of boots, buying a software program that your company of 500+ employees will use for the next five years requires consensus among multiple stakeholders — and means much more pressure. Yet too often, marketers fail to tailor their creative and targeting strategies to each long, complex B2B purchase process. Here are a few of the most common mistakes:
Mistake 1: Creating the Wrong Content
When creating new content, B2B advertisers often gravitate toward product messaging, because at the end of the day, products are what they’re trying to sell. This type of information may be valuable when your prospect is close to a decision, but to capture interest early-on, product-specific messaging doesn’t work. We need to create content that piques people’s interest in a certain benefit and sparks their curiosity to learn more. That usually means quality thought leadership. Since B2B purchases tend to be more emotional, they require more trust. And B2B buyers trust thought leaders. A recent study found that while 82% of buyers believe thought leadership content increases trust in brands, only 49% of marketers believe the same. After thought leadership, it’s important to engage prospects using content tailored to their phase in the purchase process, through awareness and on to consideration and decision. One way to leverage content through multiple channels is to take a cue from the entertainment industry’s franchise approach and create a few assets that can be promoted in multiple ways.
Mistake 2: Targeting Too Precisely and Leaving Influencers Out
As B2B marketers, we often try to make our advertising as hyper-targeted as possible in order to reach key decision makers. It’s good to have this mindset, but one risk is missing some important prospects. It’s not only important to target decision-makers, it’s also important to target the people who influence those decision-makers. Even if they’re not the ones who ultimately sign off on the purchase, influencers make a big impact on the decision. Additionally, we want to make sure we’re targeting both current and future stakeholders in purchase decisions. In the B2B buying realm, junior employees often rise quickly (a junior IT employee becomes a senior IT employee in an average of 2.7 years), so if you’re not aware of that, you could miss out on some key up-and-comers. This approach can expand to an industry or account level, as well. Targeting five to 10 accounts may seem like a good strategy if those companies are your “whales,” but by using various predictive analytics tools and available data, you can expand your number of target accounts to increase the chances of driving prospects through the pipeline on a larger scale.
Mistake 3: Measuring Inconsistently
Measurement is always a challenge, whether you’re selling shoes or software. It’s important early in any campaign to outline a measurement framework and not make ANY major changes. In order to effectively measure success across channels, the systems need to be outlined and unified where possible for full cross-channel measurement. This often requires technical tracking and tagging across media, website and any other campaign elements. It’s also crucial to ensure that your KPIs can be measured through their respective channels, and that you can tie your KPIs back to the campaign objectives and business goals. Without a built-out measurement strategy, teams can fall back on “vanity metrics” that don’t connect campaign performance to overall business goals.
With the right content, targeting and measurement infrastructure, we’re much more likely to make our mark.
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Too often, marketers fail to tailor their creative and targeting strategies to each long, complex B2B purchase process.
About the Author
Kellie strives to help clients meet their marketing goals using a data-driven approach to media planning and buying across a variety of industries, including travel, healthcare, telecom and more.