During a recession, your marketing efforts will impact your business survival – here’s how to supercharge your marketing investment.
B2Bs looking to maintain or gain a foothold in the market must take a proactive approach to weather a recession. As we explained in part one of this recession series, marketing through an economic downturn is a must. It’s equally critical for businesses to adjust their marketing strategy. In this article, we explain how to calibrate your marketing efforts to bring in more, high-quality leads and achieve better returns on your investment.
Read part one, Don’t Cut Your B2B Marketing Efforts in a Recession: Here’s Why.
To provide you with expert insights, we spoke with Elevation Marketing President Scott Miraglia, Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Ryan Gould, and Executive Director of Innovation and Client Development John Edelmann.
#1 – Realign your sales and marketing technology
To shorten the buying cycle and bring in more high-quality leads, businesses are turning to digital marketing. Taking your marketing efforts digital starts with integrating your martech (CRM, sales and marketing technologies). In an economic downturn, digital marketing must be precise to bring in a greater number of high-quality leads.
When your sales and marketing tools are set up correctly, the benefits are numerous:
- Cleaner, more accurate customer data
- Improved data privacy and compliance
- Automated campaign workflows
- Lead scoring of customer actions on websites, emails, ads, social channels, etc.
- Better understanding of the position of each prospect in the buying journey
- The ability to send targeted ads, emails and content to each prospect
- Leverage omnichannel marketing for a consistent brand experience
- Campaign tracking and optimization
- The ability to prove marketing attribution, return on ad spend (ROAS) and return on investment (ROI)
Unfortunately, many businesses have a “been there, tried that” attitude about digital marketing, because their efforts aren’t achieving the expected results. They’re not meeting their KPIs. They’re not getting the right leads. The problem is systemic – stemming from overly complex or incomplete martech stacks that are misaligned, thus impacting sales and marketing efforts, and ultimately, revenue.
This is an issue we’re seeing with many businesses right now. It’s happening because in the rush to go digital, many businesses chose cost leaders or proceeded too hastily without a plan. The good news is that it can be corrected.
Realignment starts with an audit of your martech stack to determine redundancies, functionality issues and inefficiencies. You must also have an understanding of your business objectives, budget, data use and required capabilities. So armed, you can then streamline your martech structure and strategy.
#2 – Adjust targeting for shifting customer dynamics
During a recession, marketing must be narrowly targeted to get the best return on marketing dollars. However, businesses that base their targeting on pre-recession data (or assumptions) are beginning to miss their marks. This is because customer dynamics shift during a recession and the long B2B sales cycle grows even longer and more complex. To re-adjust your targeting, you must:
Base buyer personas on data and research. Many businesses have the unfortunate conviction that they know the mindset of their buyers and decision-makers. However, internal knowledge shared by your sales and customer services teams are just a piece of the buyer puzzle. To truly understand your customer, you need to perform research and analyze data for various decision-makers, businesses and verticals. It’s also necessary to regularly reassess and redefine buyer personas, especially during a recession when buyer dynamics shift to value-based solutions.
Use personas to develop on-target messaging. Armed with on-target buyer personas, you can develop on-target messaging. Your messaging must be more strategic than ever before to communicate value. You must develop different messages that speak to decision makers of different generations, positions, verticals, geographies, etc.
Business-minded decision-makers want to see real-world results that are statistically significant. For this reason, it’s vital to build expertise, authority and trust by supporting your message with research, data, internal experts, partner experts, cross-promotional sharing, external validation, and in-market research. If your business is in the financial or healthcare sector, it becomes even more critical to build this credibility and expertise with your audience and search.
Use accounts-based marketing (ABM) for better results. A highly targeted and highly personalized approach to customer acquisition is most effective during a downturn. And it’s a strategy particularly suited to B2B manufacturing. An effective ABM strategy makes it easier to track return on investment (ROI) and optimize campaigns, which means less wasted marketing spend and lower risk.
#3 – Get more of the right visitors with an effective SEO and keyword strategy
During an economic downturn, businesses need to collect more leads to close the same number of sales. To generate more high-quality leads, your businesses must drive more of the right visitors to your website in the first place. You can do this by providing the information your audience is seeking and leveraging search engine algorithms (through SEO and keyword optimization) to serve it up to them.
SEO performs well during a recession because it is:
- Highly flexible – targeting new customers in your unique audience with ultra-specific long-tail keywords.
- Integrated – fitting into your social and digital channels to feed into your marketing funnel
- Budget-friendly – requiring an investment in time/labor, not deliverables such as ads and sales assets
Source: Search Engine Journal
We lead you through each step of an effective SEO and keyword strategy in our online guide. To summarize, your efforts should include:
- Researching your top-performing keywords on your top-performing pages
- Researching your competitors’ top-performing keywords
- Creating content that answers search queries of your target audience
- Tracking web traffic and page rank to know when keywords need to be updated
- Updating web pages with new content and keywords to gain or maintain your search engine rank
#4 – Align your content to the buyer journey
The B2B buyer’s journey is a long and complex one. Unfortunately, a recession makes it longer. With so many decision-makers doing their own research and many expecting a self-service buying experience, B2B agencies need to build a relationship with prospective buyers and decision-makers.
This means developing a content strategy and backing it up with the resources to target and nurture leads every step of the way. To serve up the right information to each buyer at the right point of time, your company needs to do the legwork. Market research and data from your martech stack will help you your audience’s challenges and opportunities, what type of content they prefer, on what channels and during what points of the sales process
So informed, you can then customize content for each stage of the buyer’s journey. This will be different for each business, industry, vertical and audience. However, here’s an example of what your content plan might look like:
- For top-of-funnel activities – use infographics, blog posts and eBooks to educate prospects who are researching their challenges and opportunities.
- For mid-funnel activities –use webinars, whitepapers and podcasts to inform prospects who are weighing their options.
- For bottom-of-funnel activities – use whitepapers and case studies to convert prospects who are ready to make a purchase.
- For post-purchase activities –use eNewsletters and how-to guides to delight, engage and retain new and existing clients.
#5 – Perfect your lead generation and email nurturing strategy
As a sales device, your lead gen form is the most important aspect of your website. For this form to convert, it must be short, only requesting the information you require.
A common mistake businesses make with lead generation is making company contact information difficult to find. Make your Contact Us page easy to find via a clear CTA or menu link. If it’s not on your footer, your company address, email and phone should be provided on your Contact Us page. Lastly, your Contact Us page should have a form fill to make it easy for prospects to reach out to you – and you to them.
Another common mistake brands make is gating their best content. Never put behind a form content that’s essential to moving prospects forward, such as a product catalog or spec sheet. Visitors must consider the asset worth the price of their personal information – which is at a premium these days. Prospects may be willing to exchange their email for industry-related assets such as white papers, infographics, how-to videos, informational eBooks and reports packed with statistics and useful data, etc.
No matter where your leads come from – online lead gen or industry event – it’s essential to nurture your relationship. In fact, research shows that it’s critical that you follow up immediately and diligently with an automated email campaign because:
- 30-50% of sales go to the first responding vendor
- Following up on a new lead within an hour increases your success rate by 700%
- Lead qualification drops 400% if you wait longer than 5 minutes to respond
- An email sequence of 4-7 emails can triple your reply rate
- 80% of prospects say “no” 4 times before they say “yes” (making your fifth email the charm)
Despite these compelling numbers, 93% of B2B companies don’t respond to leads within the first five minutes, and over 50% never respond to leads. For a business that improves or perfects its lead nurturing strategy with email marketing, a quick response can give your business the advantage it needs to win the market.
Choose an agency partner that specializes in B2B digital marketing
Work with an established B2B agency that specializes in digital marketing. With over 20 years of marketing experience, Elevation can help target your unique audience with the right message, across the right channels. We can help you synchronize your sales and marketing to bring the results you expect, create targeted messaging and develop an ABM strategy.
Contact us to learn more about how our marketing services can benefit your business.