16 min read
It’s fair to say, 2023 hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park for people in the B2B marketing community. The economic landscape has been as predictable as a summer storm! Leaving many businesses grappling to find their footing with persistent inflation and economic uncertainty. The good news is that the sun is starting to peek through the clouds.
LinkedIn’s recent 2023 B2B Benchmark report indicates that despite rough terrain, around half of B2B leaders are not just hanging on. They believe they have what it takes to drive revenue growth in the coming year.
It is even more encouraging to note that B2B marketing leaders anticipate a rise in marketing budgets and spending in the forthcoming years. You read it right. More resources are predicted to be channelled into marketing efforts. As marketers, this underlines the critical role that we play in steering businesses through these rocky times.
One question that remains is where exactly should budgets be placed to drive effective growth? Part of the answer, onebite believes, lies at both the top and bottom of the marketing funnel.
Imagine that you’re a captain in an increasingly empty sea of demand. Unfortunately, it’s the reality many of us have faced over the past six months as the number of in-market prospects for many of our solutions has slowed.
In response to these challenging tides, the first port of call for many businesses is to signal their B2B marketing teams to rev up the direct response (DR). They are being told to focus on lead generation engines with the objective of keeping pipelines from running dry.
At the same time, every competitor is likely in the same boat and also ramping up their immediate lead generation efforts. There’s a pressing problem – the sea isn’t expanding, it’s contracting. If we’re all casting our nets to catch the attention of the same limited pool of prospective customers currently in-market, what’s the outcome?
The scenario plays out as a textbook case of supply and demand. As more businesses throw out their lines into the same waters, costs per click or acquisition begin to rise. At the same time, the law of diminishing returns starts to gnaw at our conversion rates.
We know we can’t brute force the market with lead generation alone, so what’s the alternative?
We know that we don’t need to tell you that stronger brands generate stronger returns. B2C marketers, in particular, have known this for years. The UK’s top 50 brands reported 30% higher returns than FTSE 100 in 2021.
In a market where demand is falling, you have to ensure your solution is top-of-mind for those prospects who are ready to buy. This means building a relationship with them before they enter into the consideration and interest phases of the funnel.
It isn’t a case of brand vs performance marketing – it has to be both.
Viewing performance marketing and brand building as a short-term/long-term trade-off is flawed. Both strategies contribute to immediate revenue and long-term value. Pitching them against each other for budget allocation only leads to unnecessary tension and competition, undermining their shared benefits.
onebite often work with clients to use a mix of channels and activities to put their brand in the spotlight. This includes PR, content and experiential marketing with VR or immersive assets that build connections and confidence.
The key is finding the marketing mix that resonates with your target audience and helps you to stand out from the competition. A challenge we know in B2B marketing all too well.
onebite’s client Owen Mumford Pharmaceutical Services tasked us with creating demand for their new product launch at the height of the pandemic. onebite’s solution focused on an immersive online launch experience to learn about the product, supported by a bespoke online tool to customise the device which focused on one of the unique selling points. There was a lot of promotional activity too. From virtual conferences, media ads online and offline, an email campaign, Google ads, sales enablement, video and branded merchandise. Immediately after launch the website visitors increased 114.15%!
Globally, roughly 6 in 10 B2B marketing leaders say their C-suite has increased the importance of brand building because of economic conditions. When it comes to securing buy-in from the C-suite, it can be a challenge. It’s a challenge to demonstrate the value of investing in awareness-building activities, especially across multiple channels.
After all, awareness isn’t as directly attributable to revenue as B2B lead generation. It often requires a longer timeline to see results. There are some convincing arguments and strategies to help secure the C-suite’s support and commitment for this stage of the funnel:
Awareness activities are an investment. It helps cultivate a larger pool of potential customers and increased future sales. Introduce the ‘revenue compounding’ concept. This models how an upfront brand investment gains momentum over time and yields significant returns as brand awareness translates into increased customer reach. This means it has more efficient spend in the mid-funnel as you start to convert a warm audience.
Establish and track KPIs such as branded search or website traffic to demonstrate that the value of awareness-building can be quantified. While attribution can be a messy challenge in B2B marketing, we know that top of funnel engagement can be observed and it’s not impossible to measure lift. Some executives may dismiss these metrics as “vanity metrics.” However, it is important to emphasise their significance as leading indicators that, when analysed in the context of other data, it can show the impact of activity across the full customer journey.
We’ve navigated the tumultuous waters of mid-funnel demand capture. We’ve explored the potential of awareness-building activities, what’s next? Another essential element of effective marketing strategy: Customer Advocacy.
It is often viewed as the responsibility of customer success teams or account management. At onebite, we believe that marketers, with their unique skill set and strategic perspective, can add significant value. Importantly, they can drive substantial revenue by becoming active players post-conversion.
So, what does this look like in practical terms? It translates into activities such as:
Nothing is as powerful as word-of-mouth recommendations, especially when they come from satisfied customers. A structured referral program can incentivise customers to become active promoters of your brand. This can lead to new customer acquisition and enhanced brand credibility.
Authentic testimonials are persuasive tools in the marketing arsenal. Encouraging customers to share their positive experiences can influence potential buyers and build trust in your brand. These assets can also be leveraged and remixed higher up the funnel. This means that they can work to drive awareness and influence consideration.
B2B brands should consider establishing platforms too. Customer portals, forums, user groups, or social media communities are a great way of speaking directly to your customer. They can interact, gets support, share experiences and provide peer-to-peer support. The key here is to offer something valuable and unique. A place where customers and partners proactively come to engage and learn.
This strategy also works for channel partners. Vodafone approached onebite asking for help in overhauling its online partner experience. We created a centralised place for partners to access information and support. This resulted in 67% Partners utilising the Hub co-branding tool to drive increased marketing activity.
Encourage customers to create content about your products or services. UGC adds a layer of authenticity and relatability to your brand, offering perspectives that resonate with potential buyers.
To convince the C-suite of the potential windfall from investing in customer advocacy, we need to arm ourselves with evidence too.
Use relevant metrics that you’re able to share. Net Promoter Score (NPS), customer satisfaction rates, or the volume of customer referrals help to demonstrate its measurable value.
If the aim is to grow market share, we can show how advocates drive positive word of mouth and increased conversion rates. Is customer retention a priority? Illustrate how customer advocacy nurtures a sense of belonging and loyalty. This then reduces tangible metrics such as churn.
2023 has presented a unique set of challenges for B2B marketers. Between a shrinking pool of immediate demand and an ever-increasing competitive landscape, we’ve had to navigate uncertain waters. However, we’re also equipped with the resilience and strategic insight to sail these turbulent seas.
Yet, as with any journey, the right tools and map can make all the difference. This is why onebite has compiled the Fill Your Funnel Checklist. A comprehensive resource that includes over 80 tried and tested marketing techniques that will help you stay ahead of the curve.
You may want to identify the gaps or bottlenecks in your marketing and rectifying them. You may want to establish a clear priority list to direct your focus on the elements that move the needle in your marketing. onebite’s checklist is designed to guide you every step of the way at every step of the funnel.
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