Marketing is evolving at a rapid pace due to how technology is advancing in our society. As a result, it’s become very difficult to keep up with what is trending and how businesses can leverage modern marketing practices and not be lost in them.
This guide is to help businesses understand how marketing has evolved and what elements of modern marketing are essential for a business. By going through this guide, you will have a better understanding of what is needed for your firm to succeed and grow with marketing.
Marketing these days is more than direct mailing, trade shows, events and email marketing. Here are 5 marketing trends that are transforming businesses to drastically improve their sales & marketing efforts and to match the way customers shop today:
businesses are finding that traditional marketing approaches, such as direct mailing, cold calling, and print ads, are becoming less and less effective. They are not getting the same results as they once did 20 years ago. This is because buyers have changed the way they shop. The power of the internet has opened the door for consumers to do their own research first in finding the right solution to fit their needs without the initial pressure from salespeople. According to HubSpot, 77% of B2B purchasers prefer to do their own research before ever speaking to a salesperson.
Businesses who are catching on to this shift in buying behaviour are turning towards the Inbound Marketing Approach, which attracts customers through content (such as blogs, downloadable ebooks and guides) on your website. Since customers prefer do their own research online before speaking with an salesperson, why not produce valuable and helpful content that they can stumble upon during their research?
Not only is Inbound Marketing the way to go, but it is also much more cost effective than traditional marketing. According to HubSpot, inbound leads cost on average 61% less than outbound.
Whenever you do a direct mailing campaign, you would have no idea what your recipients would do with your mail piece. Did they open it? Did they visit your website? How many times did they read it?, etc.
Marketing intelligence is to collect data of online customer engagement into one centralized platform for the company to access in order to make better sales and marketing decisions.
Businesses who leverage marketing intelligence are better equipped to sell their products or services. Based on their contacts’ activities online (page visits, email opens and clicks, etc), they can adjust and personalize their approach to address their implicit needs.
Mass mailing or mass email is something of the past. The reason why it was previously acceptable is because segmentation was difficult to do other than by geographic location or other basic categories such as by job title.
But with marketing technologies today, you can now create useful lists of email recipients based on their online behaviour and where they are at in the buyer’s journey. By segmenting with specific criteria, you can ensure you’re providing the right content to the right people at the right time.
Unfortunately, not everyone who inquires about your services are ready to invest right away. Businesses are faced with many non-responsive leads or leads that are not ready to buy and are uncertain about what to do with them afterwards.
Businesses can adopt lead nurturing to tackle these problems, which is to use inbound marketing content throughout the sales process to move leads forward in the buyer’s journey. For example, if a lead is not responding to your email, instead of sending a typical follow-up email, why not send a blog article on a topic that would address some objections that they brought up?
To reduce mundane tasks and to simplify the work of the sales team, sales and marketing automation can help. For example, if you are looking for a way to prompt a lead to respond to you, a sequence of emails could be scheduled to be sent out or activated based on triggers such as when a lead fills out a form submission on your website.
This way, you can increase the efficiency of your marketing operations while ensuring that you make contact with your leads at the right time.
The marketing strategy is the foundation of all marketing executions. Developing a marketing strategy is to carefully examine your playing field before you jump into action. This is why strategy must come before tactics. In other words, businesses need to build their marketing strategy before running any marketing deliverables.
Below are 6 important elements to a marketing strategy that businesses should take the time to work on and map out:
a) Buyer Persona
Your marketing strategy should start by understanding who your customer is in the first place. In other words, taking the time to build out your firm’s buyer persona is key to directing your marketing efforts in the right direction. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer. This includes details such as their age, gender, demographic, the main pain- points they’re facing, lifestyle, and even seemingly small details such as giving them a name and face to make them more tangible when planning out your marketing operations.
Here is a snippet sample of a Buyer Person below:
b) Buyer's Journey
In addition to developing the buyer persona, you will need to map out their buyer’s journey. The buyer's journey is the process buyers go through to become aware of, evaluate, and purchase a new product or service. As you will deal with prospects and leads in different stages of the buyer’s journey, they will be receptive to different kinds of content, and will need communications tailored to whatever stage they’re in.
Here is an example below:
There are hundreds of other businesses out there that are offering the same services to your potential customers. So what is it about your specific firm that makes it unique from the rest?
When creating a value proposition, start off by asking yourself some questions:
❚ What products, services or area of expertise is your firm selling ?
❚ Who is your target buyer?
❚ What does your business do well that makes you different?
❚ What is your most important customer-focused goal to make it relevant to them?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’re ready to start putting it all together into a value proposition. With the Buyer Persona and Buyer’s Journey established, identify the main problem or pain-point that your customer is facing and explain how your product or service will help solve the problem. Based on your answers to the last 2 questions, articulate what makes your business stand out from the rest and why a potential customer should choose you.
Marketing has many facets and it’s easy to get lost with what to do, lose focus on the objectives and yield little to no results. You need to first identify a methodology that your firm can adopt. Based on the 5 marketing trends, the inbound marketing methodology provides a great framework to ensure that your marketing efforts will provide more leads and to equip your sales team to close more deals better and faster.
Just as you have sales goals, you should set marketing goals as well. It is important to define goals that
you want your firm to head towards, then set clear objectives to help you achieve each goal. Whether your goals span from generating new leads to increasing social media presence, make sure they’re specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely, otherwise known as a SMART goal.
Based on your SMART goals and your firm’s total yearly revenue you can decide how much of a yearly budget you should allocate for Marketing. Therefore, you need to estimate how much you will need to
spend to achieve such goals. For example, if part of your marketing goal for the upcoming year includes generating 20% more new leads and you will need to increase the amount of blog articles written to do so and creating content offers for download, you may want to consider slightly increasing your budget to accommodate for the increased commission work that your content writers will be tasked with.
To produce content on an efficient, consistent basis, your marketing team needs to set up a clear, defined workflow that works for everyone on the team and equips them to deliver the right outputs.
It’s worthwhile to sit the individuals on your team down in a meeting and together establish the different content types and topics your team as a whole will be producing, set specific tasks and assign them to individuals to produce content in a timely manner, decide how many resources need to go into the development of each content piece, and figure out the logistics of how feedback and approvals will be coordinated and who’s responsible for the final output.
Finding a workflow that best fits your firm’s team is a continual process. Regularly assess what things are working and what’s not, and check in with the members of your team to gain feedback on how to fine-tune your marketing strategy and operations moving forward.
As mentioned at the beginning of this guide, the internet has opened the door for potential customers to find information online without the need to speak with a sales rep or anyone in the company. When they go on social media or type questions on Google, they stumble upon content such as blog articles that address their interest, challenge or goal.
By writing content for your firm to be published on your website and shared on social media, you will attract visitors to your website. And when you write content that is relevant to your buyer persona and addressing a specific stage in the buyer’s journey, you will attract the right people within the right context.
Typically how leads are counted online are potential customers who fill out a contact form or write an email saying that they want to speak with someone from the organization. But realistically, very few prospects are at such a stage where they would want to initiate contact with someone from your firm.
A lead does not need to be exclusive to those who filled out a contact form or inquire about your solutions. You want to expand the category and consider leads as those who simply showed interest in your content as well. These individuals can also potentially be seen as leads because your content addresses an interest, pain point or goal that speaks to them.
But how do you gauge their interest? And how much of an interest is enough to consider them as a lead? Those who filled out a form to download a premium content such as an eBook or guide should be considered a lead. That’s because they see value in the content offering that they are willing to exchange their contact information for it.
For businesses that have long sales cycle, nurturing your leads is critical. Lead nurturing continues to build the relationship with your leads by providing valuable content to help them move forward in their buyer’s journey.
It is not enough to do a sales presentation and follow ups to check if your lead is ready to buy. Those follow-ups do not bring value and can become a source of annoyance to the person receiving them. Instead, send content that addresses their objections and concerns that they may have as a substitute to follow-ups.
Content is the fuel to Marketing Intelligence. In order to collect online behaviour data (number of clicks, opens, page views, etc), there needs to be content to prompt them to take action. Without content, there would be nothing to click, open or view.
Here is an example of information collected that could be used as Marketing Intelligence below:
When you know what content they’ve consumed and what action they have taken due to your content, it will provide you with the intelligence to sell better.
In 2011, there were approximately 150 marketing technology companies offering various software or platform options for businesses. In 2018, the number grew to approximately 7000. That is a huge jump!
Even though there are currently a ton of marketing technologies out there for different purposes, businesses should start with an all-in-one sales & marketing platform as their foundation.
Here are 8 features that businesses should look for when selecting an all-in-one platform to execute sales and marketing activities:
Look for a platform that provides not only the software that has tools to run marketing activities but also a sales software that provides the tools for your sales team to better sell. Some sales tools would include scheduling tasks, live chat, email sequences (automated emails) and meeting links for your contacts to schedule an appointment according to your calendar.
A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) feature is a tool for both sales and marketing to have an extensive record of the activities of all your contacts. Every single contact has their own profile where you can see the collected marketing intelligence data (page views, email opens and clicks, etc) and the notes and emails that have been sent out respective to each contact.
3. Email Marketing Platform
There are quite a few email marketing platforms such as MailChimp and Constant Contact. Your firm may in fact already use one for sending out newsletters. However, make it a priority to find an all-in-one platform that includes an email marketing tool so that you have it in one centralized location rather than having a separate platform only for email. A reason for this being that it could become a hassle to synchronize your contacts and to have accurate data when working on 2 different platforms.
When a prospect fills out a form, you can set up a series of emails to be sent out automatically as a lead nurturing process to move them forward in the buyer’s journey. Automation should not be exclusively for marketing initiatives. Your sales team need that feature as well as they can save a huge amount of time by automating follow-up emails.
5. Smart Content
Smart content (or dynamic content) is content displayed on your website that changes based on behaviour or interest. For example, the information that a prospect sees on your web page may be different from a customer because these two individuals are at different points in the buyer’s journey and will need varying content in order to address their needs accordingly. Smart content functions to personalize your contacts’ experience as much as possible when they are exposed to your content.
A CMS (Content Management System) will allow you to edit your website, add blog articles and create landing pages without needing a web developer. Because content is king, it’s important that it can be produced seamlessly with the least amount of hassle as possible.
Having a social media publishing tool enables you to post in bulk for multiple channels and accounts. In addition, you can schedule these bulk posts to be published at a later time. This will help you plan ahead and to be actively publishing content on a regular basis.
To be the best at leveraging online technology, it’s important to constantly know the best practices and upcoming trends. However, because it’s quite difficult to figure it all out on your own, find a marketing platform that provides courses on how to take advantage of digital marketing or inbound marketing to better sell your solutions and how to attract prospects through online activities.
RECOMMENDED PLATFORM - HUBSPOT :
Our top choice is HubSpot. They provide all the 8 must-have features and many more that are beneficial for business all around the world. They are heavily invested in education in order to make sure that you are up-to-date with the best practices in both sales and marketing. Their platform is excellent for businesses who are looking to continuously develop and elevate their marketing strategy as they strive to improve their platform according to the current trends.
Having a proper marketing system in place will not only drive traffic to your business and generate leads, but also empower your sales staff to sell more, better and faster.
Found below are 4 ways in how marketing helps to empower sales:
Sales can leverage content created by marketing to nurture their leads to move forward in the buyer’s journey. Sending valuable and helpful content that addresses their pain point or goal will foster the relationship with a contact until they are ready to invest.
Leads produced by marketing, specifically inbound leads, are generally much more promising than outbound leads, the reason being that inbound leads are the ones who approached your content first by doing their own research to address their pain point or goal.
Reaching out to potential customers who have read a few blog articles and even downloaded a content offer demonstrates a level of engagement that your sales team could leverage to start up conversations and guide them towards the right direction.
When you use content marketing, not only will you start generating leads but you will also attract the right ones who are interested. With inbound marketing as your chosen methodology, the content that you publish on your website is found by people via search engines who are looking for answers to their question(s).
More so, because the content you’ve created is designed to specifically cater towards your buyer persona and the specific challenges they face, this will help to attract leads that would be a good fit with your firm and would have pain-points that your firm could actually help with.
The more insights you have about your leads, the better your sales staff will be at selling. The sales team benefits from knowing who clicked on your emails at what time, whether they chose to click on particular links attached in such emails, what pages they’ve visited on your website, and if they’ve downloaded any offers or resources from your website.
Gaining this sort of marketing “intelligence” will help salespeople receive a wider understanding of your leads and how to best nurture each one of them to move them forward to sales.
Let's chat about how you can apply the essentials marketing to achieve growth in your business. During our discussion, we will provide you immediate and long term actionable tips that will drive results.