As we approach the beginning of a new year, it's important as profesisonal marketers to reflect on what we were able to accomplish in 2012, where our marketing team could have performed better, and what tools, processes, and initiatives we can undertake in 2013 to perform at a higher level. I compiled what is, in part, a personal wish list but in a way that could and should translate to all b2b marketers as we continue to slowly emerge from deep recession and face new business challenges and global uncertainty in 2013.
The thing about the end of a year and is that there's never any shortage of predictions on trends and the "what's hot for 20XX" list. Many of the lists tend to be general or mundane and make dramatically bold statements such as "content marketing will become important". Well yes, content marketing has, will and shall continue to become increasingly important. More importantly, marketers will actually "run out" of content to feed the ever-growing beast of inbound/outbound marketing systems.
Looking back at what industry pundits spoke of leading into 2012, It makes sense to review some of these items in the context of the tools and processes we will need in 2013...assuming the 2012 predictions, barring the Mayan apocalypse, come true.
Marketing Technology - many spoke of how there would be explosive adoption of new b2b marketing automation tools and platforms. Platforms like,
Content - was and still remains a big topic, issue, problem and weapon to marketers. With the growing use of combined inbound/outbound marketing systems and the explosion of social, blog and web competition, content is the new currency of b2b marketing and if you don't have enough content, you won't be able to pay for leads for sales.
Social confusion - just when you think you you've mastered twitter, along comes Pinterest or Google plus.....or something else. Social networks in b2b marketing are being born and dying just as quickly. Understanding how to navigate these networks beyond the buttons on your homepage will be critical for marketers.
Boiling it down to its simplest terms, 2012 was about technology adoption, content droughts and social media confusion. If you agree that these three items were the big topics of 2012, then 2013 should, at some level, be a time when we begin to master, control and optimize each of the three items above.
The 2013 to-do list for every b2b marketer should include the following:
- Optimize your marketing technology - simple bulk email blasts and a static contact-us page on your website are not going to move the needle on your lead generation goals. There is simply too much competition for attention of potential buyers today and using outdated or over-simplified tools is going to put you at a strategic disadvantage against your competition. The technologies within this category include website visitor tracking, drip and trigger-based email campaigns, landing pages, social publishing, lead scoring and CRM integration.
- Focus on quality of content - while we would all love to have a staff of industry experts, the most important facet of a good lead generation campaign that leverages the latest technologies for nurture-based email campaigns is quality content. Companies must develop educational, value-added content in addition to PR, blog posts, tweets and newsletters. White papers, webinars, articles represent the gold-standard for content marketing and when used correctly and of great quality, can provide a serious boost to your lead generation.
- Pick your social battles - focus not on the number of social icons you can point to but the quality of how you manage a few social networks. Pick your top 2-3 social networks and focus all of your social energy, education and efforts on them. The big 3 in b2b are Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. The latter have PPC programs to supplement profiles and publishing. Forget having 12 social icons with little or no valuable information on them and instead, have 2-3 great social network presences.
- Integrate marketing with CRM - having valuable marketing intelligence presented to sales in a manner that adds value to them in the sales cycle will pay huge dividends. Tying sales into the lead gen process will empower both sides of the funnel to perform better. Start simple with email based lead alerts when known visitors hit your website or send CRM task alerts when leads score to a high level. It has been well-documented by a number of analyst firms that companies who integrate marketing and sales perform better from a revenue standpoint.
- Implement lead scoring & routing - probably one of the most important aspects of a good b2b marketing automation software application is the lead scoring module. Lead scoring and the subsequent lead routing capabilities will enable you to more effectively classify, rank, route and track leads to the appropriate place, whether that is a nurture email campaign or lead in CRM.
If companies focus only on these five areas in 2013, they will perform much better in terms of number of leads, lead quality, and leads converted to sales. The simple fact of the matter is that 99% of b2b buyers begin their search on the web. The web has broken down barriers to traditional selling and buying processes. Your prospective buyers have much more power over the top of the funnel today than ever before. To keep pace, you need to master the technology, content and processes if you want to thrive in 2013 and beyond.
SalesFUSION is a leading b2b marketing automation platform with native
Good Luck in the new year!