Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What Works in B2B Technology Marketing

Marketing Sherpa has just published a free whitepaper titled Business Technology Marketing Benchmark Guide 2007-08: Practical Data for B2B Software, Hardware & Services Marketers. While experienced B2B IT marketers won't find any shocking revelations here, there are some minor surprises, and even the confirmatory data make it well worth the quick read.

Here are the key takeways from my reading of it:

Low conversion rates are (unfortunately) the norm…

“Fewer than 10% of visitors who click to your offer page for a white paper, webinar or online “education” (case studies, tech specs, etc.) actually wind up registering to use these resources. The other 90% leave without a trace.” 10% sounds optimistic.

…but there are tactics that can be employed to improve conversion:
  • Repeat important words throughout the copy. “Don’t assume that prospects carefully read everything on the page from start to finish…Make sure relevant keywords are present no matter where the eye flickers.” (Repeating keywords also helps with SEO of course.)

  • “Landing pages with fewer click options, fewer path decisions, nearly always get far higher response rates.”

  • “Bullet points work. Bullet points often blow paragraph-style copy (with nearly the exact same words) out of the water.”

  • “Add immediate calls to action, such as a large “Sign up Today!” and a bold “Register Now” even when you might think the action is self evident. Being politely pushy can pay off.”
The most significant challenge identified by B2B technology marketers is now the ever-growing committee – the increasing number of contacts within each prospect company that must be communicated with.

For 5-figure purchases, the average buying committee size in 100-500 employee companies is six people; in large companies, it’s 21. “Given the shift to mega-committees, marketing will have to expand their prospecting databases and outreach activities on a per-account basis.”

Buyers find vendors – not the other way around.

75% of influencers and 80% of decision-makers said that they found vendors (through research) rather than responding to a campaign. “The key increasingly lies not in blasting out your message via a marketing megaphone but rather in placing yourself where you can and will be found when prospects are looking. It’s the hunter concept turned sideways. Instead of hunting down new prospects, you are the prey they are hunting. That means the following marketing tactics become more critical to your mix:”
  • White paper syndication (e.g. TechTarget, KnowledgeStorm, FindWhitePapers, etc.)
  • SEO
  • Paid search advertising
  • PR (including speeches, blogs, awards and technical articles)
  • Consistent brand awareness advertising
  • Existing customer referrals
Cold-calling can still be effective – if done right.

Only 17% of influencers and 9% of decision-makers viewed cold-calling as “unacceptable.” Most said calls were acceptable as long as the caller was respectful of their time and had relevant information. That means:
  • Starting with a good list
  • Doing some research up front—know something about the person, the company and the industry before making the call
  • Having telemarketers trained well enough to use their script as launching pad to a more valuable conversation
  • Having compelling news or an offer to share – not just “did you get our mailing”
  • Using calls to extend the list of decision-makers / influencers within each prospect organization
Podcasting can be productive, but only if done on a regular basis.

78% of buyers said they had listened to a technology-related podcast more than once. (I suspect this number may be a little high; there were likely people who answered "yes" to this only to avoid seeming out-of-touch. Still, it's a significant number.) But “a routine podcast that is broadcast on a regular basis will have far more measurable impact than a one-off. Simply put – a one-off podcast is like a one-off email newsletter. You can’t get the job done with a single issue, nor should you expect to measure success from it alone.”

In short, make your company easy to find when prospects are looking—and have valuable knowledge, as well as a compelling story to tell for your product or service, when they raise their hands.

*****


The Internet marketing advertising portal: WebMarketCentral.com

A marketing and PR agency focused exclusively on
B2B technology companies: KC Associates

Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentral.com

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