I’ve been thinking about referral marketing recently due to my own experience giving referrals to friends and family for Blue Apron, the meal kit delivery service. Clearly Blue Apron is using referral marketing to drive lead generation. But does this type of B2C referral marketing translate to B2B marketing?
The classic referral marketing program
Blue Apron’s is the classic referral marketing program where the customer is encouraged to get others to try the service via various incentives. Initially the incentive was being able to give free meals worth $60 to my friends and family. More recently the incentive was upped to include savings for me if the person continued the service. But anyone connected to me on Facebook knows I’m a raving fan of the service, with or without the incentives, frequently posting pictures of the awesome meals we make. So this got me thinking about how this type of program translates to the B2B world.
Referred leads are better leads
Of course for any referral program to work the company must be retaining customers and keeping them happy. So why bother at all with referral marketing? The most recent Hubspot survey report, the State of Inbound 2017, respondents rated referrals as the highest quality leads. The report concluded this was likely because respondents thought these leads are more likely to convert, but the report also acknowledged the challenge most organizations face scaling referral programs to get more leads into the sales funnel. Similarly, according to the Journal of Marketing, a referred customer has a 16% higher lifetime value than customers acquired through other methods. Intuitively this makes sense because we trust our professional peers who may recommend a company’s product or service via word of mouth, social media, or online review. The thing I wrestle with is how a B2B marketing team can make this a formal program for lead generation.
A lead generation referral program?
Photos are an important element for B2B marketing such as content, social media, websites, and presentations. Photos and images add visual interest, understanding and engagement whether it’s white papers and case studies or literature, blogs, and web pages. For example, according to Buffer Social, adding a photo to a tweet boosts retweets by 150%. We are visual creatures. In fact it’s been shown that three days after hearing a piece of information a person can only recall 10%, but add a picture and their recall is 65%.
However, B2B marketing teams struggle to ensure photo assets reflect their brand and messaging, are visually engaging, and easy to retrieve and use. Why is this such a challenge and what’s the solution? Continue reading
Have you noticed how disjointed some B2B marketing is? Over the last ten, and especially five, years this seemed to be a growing trend. Article after article talked about and many B2B marketers implemented digital marketing, social media marketing, inbound marketing, SEO, etc. as though each can stand alone. And sadly, in many cases, each has stood alone with little thought given to an overall strategy and, unfortunately, delivered less than stellar results. But last week I attended a conference that gives me hope we may finally be seeing a return to strategic integrated marketing. Read on to learn more about this and other takeaways from the Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit (MAM Summit). Continue reading
Part 3 in a 3-Part Series on Content Marketing for the B2B Buyer’s Journey
I discussed in Part 1: Awareness stage challenges and in Part2: 6 Tips for Conquering Consideration Stage Challenges. In Part 3 of this 3-Part series, I’ll discuss the Decision stage of the buyer’s journey and provide tips for overcoming the top B2B content marketing challenges.
Decision stage buyer activities
The buyer moves into the Decision stage once they know the best type of solution for solving their problem or opportunity for improvement. They are ready to buy, but haven’t decided exactly which vendor to use, but your company made their short list. During the Decision stage the buyer is typically researching their short list vendors online. The buyer wants to understand the specific products, services, and capabilities of each vendor on their short list to determine which vendor is the best fit for their needs. They are looking for content that helps them:
- compare vendors and pricing
- sell the solution internally to upper management (return on investment, ROI calculators)
- purchase and implement the solution
The goal for a content marketer during the Decision stage is to convince the buyer your solution is the best fit for them.
Content marketing in the Decision stage
For most B2B companies, the Decision stage is where others such as purchasing and upper management become active participants in the buying decision. So it’s important Continue reading
Part 2 in a 3-Part Series on Content Marketing for the B2B Buyer’s Journey
In Part 2 of this 3-Part series, I share the top challenges I’ve experienced and observed B2B marketers face when developing Consideration stage content and provide tips for overcoming these challenges. In Part 1 I reviewed the Buyer’s Journey and provided tips for conquering challenges in the Awareness stage. The buyer moves into the next stage, Consideration, once they have clearly defined their problem or opportunity for improvement, and determined it’s worth finding a solution. Now let’s take a look at the Consideration stage in the buyer’s journey to understand the top challenges B2B marketers face.
Consideration stage buyer activities
The buyer in the Consideration stage first researches and evaluates the different approaches, methods, or solution strategies available for solving their problem or making improvements. The buyer wants to understand and think about which approach best fits their needs, so they are comparing solution strategies (make or buy, hire or outsource are two examples of solution approaches). They also begin comparing specific solutions, vendors, and suppliers within the approach that best fits their needs. They are looking for content that helps them understand the pros and cons of available approaches and why it would be the best fit for them. Content should also begin comparing product/service features and functions. The goal for a content marketer during the Consideration stage is to convince the buyer your solution method is the best fit for them and that your specific solution should be on their short list.
Top 2 content marketing challenges in Consideration stage
Especially for B2B companies, the buyer usually spends more time in the Consideration stage than the awareness stage because they want to devote time to researching to ensure they make the best decision. The content marketer should provide more in-depth information and industry expertise to continue building a trusting relationship with the buyer and reinforcing your brand as a thought leader. Continue reading
Part 1 in a 3-Part Series on Content Marketing for the B2B Buyer’s Journey
B2B content marketing seeks to provide helpful and compelling content for each stage of the Buyer’s Journey. By thinking about what actions a buyer is taking in each stage, we as B2B marketers should provide content that educates and helps the buyer progress to the next stage in the Buyer’s Journey and toward our product or service.
In a three-part series of blogs over the next several weeks I’ll address the primary challenges B2B content marketers face during each stage of the buyer’s journey and provide tips for how to conquer these challenges. So let’s jump in!
Review of the buyer’s journey
First, a quick review of the buyer’s journey which defines the typical actions and steps a prospective buyer takes from first understanding their problem to finally purchasing a solution. By defining specific phases or stages along the journey we can better understand what information the buyer needs in each stage. There are many different buyer’s journeys available, some more granular than others. I prefer HubSpot’s Buyers Journey, shown in the graphic below, because it is easy to understand and more than adequate for content marketing purposes.
The entire journey has only three stages, Awareness, Consideration, and Decision. In this blog, Part 1 of 3, I discuss the Awareness stage.
Awareness stage buyer activities
During the Awareness stage of the buyer’s journey, the buyer is just becoming aware there is a problem that may need to be solved or is discovering an opportunity for improvement. The buyer is typically researching online and offline to better understand if they have a problem or opportunity and if it’s worth further investigation. They are looking for trustworthy educational content that is not trying to sell and helps them more clearly define their problem or opportunity. The goal for a content marketer during the Awareness stage is to gain the buyer’s attention by offering educational and helpful content in the places where the buyer is looking and researching.
Top 2 content marketing challenges in Awareness stage
Assuming you know and have defined your target Personas (read my post, B2B Buyer Personas: 6 Easy Ways to Research & Develop, if you need help creating Personas) and have compelling content appropriate for the Awareness stage, your top 2 challenges for Continue reading
Retention marketing focuses on strategies and programs designed to retain your existing customers and optimize lifetime customer value. In my previous post, B2B Retention Marketing: The First Thing You Must Do, I discussed why retention marketing is worth doing and where to begin. Now let’s talk about some strategies B2B marketers can use to keep their existing customers and gain additional revenues throughout the relationship.
Strategies for retaining customers
At a fundamental level retaining your customers boils down to keeping them happy enough to continue doing business with you. Many customers, though of course it varies by industry and product/service, will maintain the status quo because change involves perceived risk of an unknown provider. Changing providers also involves switching costs. Switching costs are actual costs the customer incurs (financial fees for early termination) or personal costs (career risks, time required to research providers and negotiate an agreement) to stop buying your product or service and begin with a new provider.
Create “sticky” customer relationships
To prevent your customers from defecting to competitors who will eventually upset the Continue reading