1. Don’t Expect Any Single Technique To Be A Silver Bullet
In a 2016 report from Forrester Research, B2B
marketers looked at 17 different marketing tactics.
Not one got a thumbs up from the majority of
marketers. “When marketers ask, ‘What works?’
the answer is, ‘Nothing in particular,’” the report
Still, the best of the bunch was content marketing,
which was rated very effective for brand building
and awareness by 47% of respondents. Some 45%
also thought content marketing was very effective
for generating “demand, leads, or pipeline
opportunities.” The closest competitor was
“website,” which scored 47% for branding and 42%
for generating leads.
2. Pendulum Swinging From ‘Inbound Marketing’ To . . .
Laura Ramos, a Forrester VP and principal analyst who
co-wrote the report, said the pendulum has swung
recently from so-called inbound marketing to account-
based marketing. What’s the difference? The former
takes a build-it-and-they-will-come approach. The
latter identifies and targets prospects.
B2B marketers should be “disproportionately giving
more marketing effort to those accounts you feel are
good candidates [and] are showing the right buying
patterns,” Ramos told CMO.com. Rather than taking a
broad-brush approach, she added, marketers in the
segment are asking how they can target better.
Tapping big data for predictive marketing analytics is
key, Ramos said. Such technology can’t predict the
future, but it can predict fairly accurately which
accounts are likely to be more productive than others.
Blasting out content that’s rich in SEO terms but
poorly written may get initial attention from
prospects, but it doesn’t reflect well on your brand.
But creating compelling content is easier said than
done, said 87% of marketers in the Forrester study.
Above all, writing for content marketing should be
clear and free of jargon, said Scott Gillum, president
and channel market practice leader at gyro, a B2B
marketing firm. “We make it very easy for the
audience to find what they’re looking for or get the
payoff for what’s promised,” he told CMO.com.
The methods of creating such content vary. Some
hire in-house writers or heads of content strategy to
ensure a constant flow of quality content. Others
work with third parties. Whatever the case, it’s
important to track content creation and connect
those efforts to sales.
3. Maintain A Constant Flow Of Quality Content
Jonathan Franchell, a partner at B2B firm Ironpaper,
advises advertising on LinkedIn and Twitter--not
Facebook. “When people are on Facebook, they’re
there for personal reasons,” he told CMO.com. “You
have to make sure that what you advertise is relevant
to their experience.” Altitude Marketing’s Stanten
agreed. “When I’m on Facebook … I’m not looking to
buy a new enterprisewide software system.”
Franchell favors LinkedIn for its ability to target
potential customers by title. “For B2B lead
generation, it’s really important to understand the
roles of the people who you’re targeting,” he said.
Twitter, he said, is a great tool for building “top-of-
Not everyone discounts Facebook. “I think it’s going
to become a very important platform for B2B,” Gillum
said. “They’re getting a lot smarter at helping
advertisers get in front of the right audiences.
4. Use LinkedIn And, To A Lesser Extent, Twitter
A key aspect of content marketing is capturing
referrals. If you want to read a white paper or an
ebook, for instance, you’ll likely have to fill out a form
listing your name, address, company, and title, at the
very least. The problem is that more online activity is
happening on mobile. Have you ever tried to fill out
one of those forms on your smartphone? That’s why
Franchell recommended creating a truncated form for
But why stop there? Franchell also recommended
gamifying the process. For instance, Ironpaper recently
launched a shopping cart-like experience for a client
that made the sign-up process more fun than a
“Business buyers are typically so accustomed to filling
out a form and answering questions,” he said. “It can
be kind of a dull experience. So make it more visual.
B2B leads find it fun, just as B2C leads do.”
5. Make Those Forms Easier To Fill Out
Discerning your target customers’ titles and
types of business is important. But learning
about their pain points can really help convert
them to a sale. A key part of the signup process,
Franchell said, is letting potential customers
identify what’s causing them the most hardship.
“We simply let them volunteer information
about pain points and struggles and interest in
potential solutions alongside the downloading
of an ebook,” he said. “Then we can send them
6. Find Your Customer’s Pain Points
Once you attract a lead, using marketing automation
software is key. However, human intervention is
essential, Stanten said. “What we’re finding is that
companies are going out and purchasing the Cadlillacs
of marketing automation without thinking through
who’s going to manage it and who’s going to track it and
test it,” he said. “They’ve got this great-looking car, but
they don’t understand how to drive it.”
Similarly, Stanten said marketers are often overwhelmed
by the amount of data they need to process. “You have
to make sure you’re measuring the right thing,” he said.
For example, a client’s CEO was so stuck on his
company’s slipping SEO rankings that he ignored the fact
that qualified leads were up. “He was so fixated on
where he was with certain keywords,” Stanten said. “But
ultimately what we’re looking for today is overall lift.”
7. Use Marketing Automation Software, But Keep The
As the demise of cold calling illustrates, taking an
aggressive stance with customers doesn’t work.
Instead, give them room to discover your company.
For instance, wait a few days after a prospect has
downloaded a white paper before contacting them,
Stanten recommended. At that point, a nudge via
email directing the prospect to a related blog will
show whether they’re really interested. “If they click
through, they’re a little more qualified, a little more
interested in what you have to offer,” he said.
Engaging a second time with your content also
retriggers a new cookie that will let you retarget the
customer. “They are a little bit more down the
funnel, so it’s a little more brand-centric,” he said of
the messaging. After that, give prospects three
nudges over three weeks, Stanten suggested. After
six weeks, it’s time to write them off. “Stop bugging
them and move on,” he said.
8. Don’t Badger Your Prospective Customers