The Shifting B2B Marketing Landscape
The key to remaining competitive and maintaining a healthy business pipeline in an increasingly competitive market lies in how companies target prospective customers and interact with existing ones through strategically developed marketing campaigns.
Whether you are starting a new marketing campaign or revising an existing one, there are two basic pieces of information your company needs to solidify:
1. Who are the target customers?
2. What is the best way to reach them?
While your target customer base will depend on the industry or a specific company focus, it is safe to say that these customers are all making use of one major channel—the Internet. For more than a decade, the Internet has reigned supreme as the optimal channel for businesses to market their products and services to prospective customers. However, in 2012, more than 54 percent of all Google searches were completed on a mobile device, while the vast majority of customer research and questions are being resolved via online social media forums.
Because of this shift in Internet usage, companies that want to remain competitive and capitalize on new strategies for B2B marketing must begin leveraging mobile and social media to successfully reach potential customers through the channels they are most actively using. But how?
Although the use of mobile devices is not a new concept, many businesses are still struggling to understand why mobile is a viable outlet for their B2B marketing efforts and how to successfully utilize the channel.
The fact of the matter is, today's business world is mobile, and because of this, everyone (yes, everyone) is using a mobile device. Think about it. When was the last time you saw an upper-level executive without an iPhone or BlackBerry? A businessperson without a smartphone or tablet is absolutely a thing of the past.
With today's high dependence on mobile technology, desktop Internet usage has steeply declined. Because of this, companies need to update their Web sites to be optimized for viewing on a mobile device to ensure visitors are able to get the information they need quickly and easily. Another option is to create a separate mobile site to which visitors will be redirected when accessing your site on a smartphone or tablet.
In most situations, potential customers viewing a company's site on a mobile device are looking for two things: news and contact information. By having both of these areas easily visible and accessible on a mobile device, potential customers visiting your site are more likely to act, whether that means calling to inquire about a company and its products or forwarding information to others at their company.
With the end goal of any marketing campaign being lead generation, you want to ensure that visitors can find the information they need quickly and easily, so they can move forward in the action process. Mobile is a viable option for today's businesses to meet their lead generation goals and show potential customers that they are in line with the latest technology.
When first introduced less than a decade ago, social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook were often thought of simply as a means for people to keep in touch with each other. As the adoption of social media has significantly increased during the past few years, many businesses have shown an interest in identifying ways to utilize these outlets for marketing purposes.
If used correctly, social media can be an extremely powerful marketing and lead generation tool for businesses. The key is to remember that social media is designed for two-way communication, not just one-way. While putting out value-adding information is an important aspect of successfully leveraging social media for business purposes, you must actively monitor feedback from potential and existing customers to correctly address their needs and retain or acquire their business.
Utilizing social media also gives businesses the ability to monitor their competition's activity to see what they are actively talking about and what their customers are interested in. While this can help businesses further generate leads from their competitors, companies choosing to utilize social media need to spend more time monitoring their own presence rather than that of their competitors to ensure positive and lasting relationships with customers and prospects.
Mobile and Social Go Hand-in-Hand
While mobile and social media are often thought of as two separate entities, they are very much intertwined in today's business world. Just as general Internet usage has shifted more toward mobile devices, so has social media. Providing visitors to your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn profile with direct links to your mobile site increases the likelihood of them visiting the site for more information and moving forward in the lead process. At the same time, having clickable icons for each of your social media outlets on your mobile (and desktop) site enables visitors to quickly move from channel to channel with great ease.
Bottom line: B2B marketing has changed. Companies that want to remain a significant force within their industries must tap into mobile and social media for their marketing. Those choosing to stick with traditional forms of marketing will soon find that their lead pipeline is decreasing, while those leveraging new forms of communication will reap the rewards.
Eric Litster is vice president of business-to-business sales for Dialogue Marketing, a nationwide customer engagement center helping companies of all sizes across a wide range of industries acquire, support, and retain customers. For more information, visit www.dialogue-marketing.com.
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