For today’s small or mid-market B2B company, how your marketing strategies align with sales will be integral to your success. In fact, a study by the Aberdeen Group showed that organizations with good alignment between sales and marketing teams achieved 20% annual revenue growth while their counterparts saw revenues decline by 4%. But, if your sales are slumped, how do you determine if marketing strategies are the culprit? Here are 7 questions you should ask regarding marketing performance in order to optimize your channel for lead generation and potential revenue:
Marketing strategies need to align with consistent branding. Your brand reflects what people think about your company. A consistent message through design, products, and thought leadership develops the best trust and loyalty with your customers. According to a study from The Verde Group and the Wharton School, two thirds of all consumers use more than one channel to make purchases. If your channels are misaligned because of brand inconsistency, this could cause buyer confusion, which breaks trust and often leads to a missed sale.
The old adage of “spend money to make money” rings true here. If your sales force and marketing department are true partners, then you should be seeing your marketing budget as an investment that will bring a quantifiable return over time. The best place to start begins with your business objectives for the year, in conjunction with data from your sales funnel. Make sure your goals can support the number of qualified leads your current marketing strategies are generating, as well as how much time it takes to convert that lead into a new deal.
In the B2B landscape, relationships are key. Typically, your vendors want you to be a success because it helps drive their success. As a partner in selling your vendor’s products or services, inquire if they provide Marketing Development Funds (MDF). These funds help support marketing activities, like content development, that help you sell your vendor’s products or services, as well as grow your business, and in turn, theirs.
The point of developing content is to bring in potential leads. You could write an award-winning blog, but if it doesn’t contain links to a call to action, your lead generation will be few and far between. A strong foundation for inbound marketing strategies includes a consistently branded web presence with calls to action that appeal to each stage of the buyer’s journey, and a platform for easy addition and editing of content. An email database and social following is also integral to your foundation–provided you’ve taken the time to target and engage with individuals who are most likely to care about your brand and products. Content that you create and optimize for inbound marketing, can then align to outbound efforts to an audience already primed for your product.
Your marketing materials need to do two things: reflect the brand and align with your sales team’s efforts. Utilize co-branding where necessary, making sure your information is relevant, accurate and up-to-date. Your materials should well represent your target customer and be tools that assist your sales team in generating high quality leads.
There’s a reason sports teams keep their playbooks secret—and why an excellent play by one team quickly gets copycatted by another. Researching the marketing strategies of your competition can play to your advantage. For example, you may gain valuable insight that you can apply to your own marketing strategy. From blogs, newsletters, calls to actions, and website layout in general, don’t reinvent the wheel. Analyzing what tactics your competition is deploying will help your operation take out some of the guesswork, side-step possible mistakes, and identify gaps in your own strategy.
You’ll never know what is working if you don’t make a plan for monitoring and measuring results. In fact, according to a study by the Content Marketing Institute, 72% of B2B marketers are measuring ROI for their content marketing strategies, compared with 88% of top performers. Bottom line, measuring results equates to growth. Start with simple tools like Google Analytics to track and monitor website traffic performance, referral URL’s, and lead conversion. Tools like Google’s Keyword, or SEMRush, help optimize your content for the most searchable keywords related to your industry, products, services, and geography.
By using these seven questions to evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing strategies, you can determine opportunities for growth that will benefit both your marketing team and your sales team, as well as the profitability of your business.