Three years into a global pandemic and much of the world’s business playing fields have been forced to change. Lockdowns, patron limits, and social distancing has culminated in a giant push towards business being done online, and so everyone has been clamouring to start a new digital marketing strategy.
In the B2B space, marketing managers now realise the digital space is the main arena in which to compete, and subsequently are searching for ways to nudge their way in front of their foes.
We’re all on digital screens these days, and so on-screen experiences have become the medium businesses are required to engage with for their current and prospective customers. Everyone is fighting for your attention, especially companies searching for other businesses to work with, and one of the ways the battle is being fought is in making personalised experiences. We’ve been reflecting on work we’ve done with enterprise-level B2B organisations like AWS, Lenovo, and Microsoft, and have uncovered several insights and strategies to leverage your business’s digital marketing, no matter what size or scale operation you’re in.
Implement an Omnichannel Marketing Strategy
Those working in marketing know omnichannel marketing usually refers to a mixture of traditional off-line marketing and online marketing channels. Used together, they can make a brand feel as though it’s everywhere around us. This concept still rings true but in a pandemic-affected world, an alternative omnichannel approach has arisen.
Now, businesses can empower their brands by using multiple online marketing channels. Marketers understand people are living their lives across various devices and digital modes, and so the new strategy involves an omnichannel digital marketing campaign, making consumers feel as though a brand is ubiquitous no matter where they go online. The B2Bs who’ve gotten in early and gone deep across numerous platforms are experiencing a significant boost in ROI from their marketing spend. Whether on an app, browser, or social media, contextual messaging about products or services is being delivered en masse.
The Walk supported Lenovo by running an omnichannel digital marketing campaign, promoting Lenovo’s successful collaboration with Microsoft. When Lenovo Cloud Solutions and Microsoft 365 products are used together, it’s an attractive offering, and our role was to show this to B2B companies. This is where ROI (The Walk’s ‘patented’ return on imagination) comes into play. We got creative with Lenovo CSP Managed Services, getting a Melbourne-based artist onboard to design a miniature office within a tiny warehouse conversion, complete with tiny Lenovo hardware. Why? We’d deduced a powerful insight – the scalability and flexibility of Microsoft 365 can be tailored to any business – no matter the size.
This idea established the foundation for our creative, which was used across digital platforms including search, social, and email via a mixture of outreach and remarketing. A proverbial buzz ensued. We targeted key IT procurement decision makers while engaging and empowering resellers on carefully crafted journeys to conversion. It didn’t matter what digital environment they came from – all roads lead to Rome.
Start Your B2B Marketing Funnels With Digital Pipelines
Effects of the global pandemic have caused many experts to believe B2B marketing is being pushed towards a new age of digital communications. This may be a tough change for traditional marketers who feel comfortable with familiar practices, but now more people are working from home, and this means fewer people commuting, and so fewer eyes on the prize billboards and bus shelter posters we’ve relied on.
Subsequently, many businesses are partaking in an entirely digital pipeline, from brand awareness at the top, right through to nurture, personalisation, and conversion. Traditional marketing channels still work well in many contexts, so once the funnel process has begun you can choose whether to add these to further bolster your campaigns.
Don’t Be Crushed by the Seismic Shift in B2B Marketing – It Can Empower You
There is opportunity in every crisis, and so the pandemic’s resulting thrust towards digital communications has been shown to boost sales for many B2B organisations who’ve trialled entirely digital pipelines. It feels strange that many of our tried and tested swords of marketing have been dulled, but the restrictions and difficulties caused by the pandemic look to have affected humanity for the long-term. After being forced to spend so much time working from home, many of us have reappraised how we want to live our lives, and what a genuine work-life balance is.
If you’re working from home a few days a week (or more), direct mail becomes complex, as most people don’t receive work post at home. Events, trade shows, and exhibitions are on their way back to allowing larger numbers in indoor spaces, but the travel industry is still recovering from shutdowns. The cost and ease of travel to in-person locales has been severely compromised, and as the pandemic hasn’t completely abated, not everyone is comfortable or able to participate.
Digital Is a Rocket Into People’s Pockets, Hearts, and Minds
Luckily for marketers, humanity evolves when thrown in the hot seat, and this shift to digital communication has seen the consumption of digital media soar. Almost everyone has a mobile phone connected to the internet and social media in their pocket. Online content is being produced in prolific quantities, rich digital media is easily accessible, and trust in digital platforms has rapidly increased as we spend more time online.
A stronger B2B digital marketing strategy is warranted, and a focus on starting this funnel from the top via digital culminates in an ability to reach a vast audience who if interested can then be nurtured down the funnel towards the all-important conversion. It’s not dissimilar to traditional marketing, so there’s no need to fret.
A case in point is our work with AWS Training and Certification. We designed and developed a series of HTML display and video ads for top-of-funnel awareness. Targeting both technology-focused websites and mainstream media sites and apps, our ads ensured the funnel was kept full of prospects who were then taken down a personalised path.
It may feel weird to run both brand awareness campaigns and personalisation aimed at engaging prospects through digital channels, but it’s proven to work. Prospective customers still gain a level of familiarity with the brand, supporting them on their journey towards a click. Finally, at the business end of the stick, the power of personal data accumulated throughout the journey is leveraged to create genuine human communications people resonate with on a personal level. This includes account-based marketing, which for large enterprises is showing an increasingly strong ROI.
Sharing Stories Is an Integral Part of Human Life. Enter Digital Storytelling
As with traditional marketing and branding efforts, the power of storytelling should never be underestimated. Think of the story of your life. It’s full of tales, chapters, dream sequences, films, episodes, podcasts, articles, and poetry. When marketing online, you need to tell unique stories about your product or service, instantly differentiating you from your competitors. A compelling story leads to people seeing your brand as being more distinctive, valuable, and important.
Why stories? If you can capture someone’s attention, spark their imagination, or inspire curiosity, they are more likely to feel an emotive connection with you when compared with old-fashioned fact/benefit messaging. A good story goes much deeper than the elevator pitch on its own, and it leverages the credibility of third-party endorsement. Extremely popular in the B2C marketing space due to its level of effectiveness, many B2B organisations continue to overlook this medium.
Here’s a taste of the proof in the pudding. The Walk collaborated with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to produce a series of SMB customer story videos designed to show smaller businesses the value the AWS Cloud has to offer. Many SMBs assume AWS Cloud is only for big organisations, and so our aim was to humanise the brand story by showing real-life people discussing how the service helped drive their success. These video stories showcased cloud successes across a variety of industries, including retail, healthcare, and agriculture, demonstrating its versatility, agility, and power to scale – a crucial component of SMB growth.
We were dealing with a technological service which can often feel impenetrable to those who don’t see themselves as being tech-savvy. SMBs were finding it difficult to envision how the cloud could be used for their unique business case. For these smaller players, the idea of cloud innovation was also being perceived as out of reach. This is where these genuine customer stories are so effective.
The ability for these videos to be viewed from any location on Earth means B2B marketing teams can connect target audiences to real-life examples of businesses who are just like them – an extremely humanising approach. They can relate to others’ plights, and they can picture themselves finding success in the same manner as their counterparts. Placing an image in someone’s mind is akin to planting a seed. Now, we nurture the sapling.
We delivered easily relatable messages about what is normally seen as a complex technical capability, empowering AWS to connect with potential customers on a more personal level. Online videos are being watched at a blistering pace, and as this form of media continues to grow, an inspiring customer story could be the perfect way to entice your next customer.
Making Digital Sales Possible
Digital sales enablement focuses on providing a business’s sales team with tools to effectively market its offering to customers. Optimal alignment between sales and marketing ensures a seamless customer experience, as you establish trust through consistent messaging across both areas.
When working on the Lenovo campaign to help deliver ROI for CSP Managed Services, The Walk supported internal and channel resellers to ensure the sales process retained continuity from brand awareness right through to sales and onboarding. Lenovo has a massive network of reseller business partners who help one another via these sales enablement tools, as well as by sharing knowledge to sell Lenovo’s products and services to their own customers. We created a range of digital sales enablement assets for them including:
- Training videos to help salespeople understand how the program works, from both customer and backend perspectives
- A campaign flyer to provide familiarity with the messaging customers would be responding to
- Sales guides to make sure the offering was completely understood
- Conversation guides to help sales teams present consistent communications to customers, ensuring the right topics were discussed, i.e., those that lead to a sale
- Sales email templates to enable quick and consistent follow up communications
We provided regular marketing outreach to channel partners with spaces for co-branding. This amounted to them being able to use the collateral as their own, further enhancing the consistency of brand messaging across a broad market. All digital sales enablement materials could be accessed via a single location within the Lenovo Partner Hub, ensuring materials always remained up-to-date, and accessed by the ever-growing community of remote workers no matter where they are.
The Importance of Digital in a Distributed World
Hopefully we’re at the tail-end of this pandemic, but it looks as though its effects have changed the world, and so now more than ever, digital marketing needs to play an integral role in every B2B marketing strategy. With increased complexity and competition, you may not know where to begin. You need to go deep, which means implementation of omnichannel digital strategies, communication with customers through digital storytelling, and redesigning the marketing funnel from awareness through to conversion within a digital context. B2B organisations need to improve their customers’ experiences online or be left by the wayside.
If you need support with an existing digital marketing strategy or want to dive into the deep end with a marketing lifeguard at your side, get in touch. Before you know it, you’ll begin to see tangible results and ROI (or return on imagination, as we here at The Walk like to say).
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