Two weeks into the new year and still not seeing any progress on your company page? You may be sitting behind your laptop right now, wondering how in the world you can get out of the “startup” social phase and begin growing and establishing new leads from LinkedIn. According to Top Dog Social Media, 50% of B2B web traffic originates from LinkedIn, making your company page essential for a successful B2B business.
How can I upgrade my company page and see more traffic?
Believe me, you’re not the first to ask, and you won’t be the last.Boosting your company page can seem like a hassle and take months to see results. However, by implementing certain tools, you can start seeing results much earlier. That’s why we’ve created a list of three steps to begin executing today.
Daily posts at the correct time of day are essential to increasing web traffic, along with attracting engagement. According to research provided by Hubspot, “On average, the best time to post on LinkedIn is between 3 PM and 5 PM CDT on Wednesdays.” Now, does that mean you can only post between those times on that day to become successful? Absolutely not. But you’ll see that this is during the time of day where people are either getting out of work or have a break in their day, giving them time to consume certain media.
Being consistent with your company page is another crucial aspect of a successful media channel. Try to post three to four times a week and make sure you’re active by engaging with followers on comments, or shares.
To initiate web traffic (and maintain it), you need to establish trust with your followers. Give them a reason to follow your company page.
How can you achieve this?
Provide your audience with beneficial industry insights. Don’t get me wrong, posting updates, blogs, ‘meet the team’ inquiries are essential to a company page, but adding sharing latest industry news establishes credibility.
Take a step back and analyze your company page for a minute or two. Ask yourself, “what am I lacking?” Or “where are my successes within my page?” Initiating these tools and analyzing your page will benefit you, starting 2020 on a high note!
Addison Hesterman is an Account Manager and Marketing Specialist here at SmarkLabs. She graduated from Iowa State University and has a passion for helping businesses grow!
When your company is launching a new product or service, or even just refreshing your brand messaging, you need to have a solid strategy backing you up. You might think, “well yeah, you shouldn’t unveil anything without having a strategy in mind.” However, “just a strategy” isn’t enough. What you need is a go-to-market strategy (GTM).
What’s a go-to-market strategy?
Your company’s go-to-market strategy is the plan to deliver your unique value proposition to customers, using both your inside and outside resources. While this might be easy to confuse with a marketing strategy, the most significant difference between the two is that a marketing strategy is for your brand. Your GTM strategy is unique to your latest launch and a subset of your overall marketing strategy.
The whys, whos, whens, and hows, are four significant differences that set your go-to-market strategy apart from your marketing strategy:
Why: The purpose of your marketing strategy is to create an approach to achieving a competitive advantage. But your GTM strategy’s objective is to make sure a specific product launch reaches the right audience.
Who:Typically, your B2B company’s marketing team works together on the brand’s marketing strategy. A smaller product marketing team usually runs GTMs.
When: Though your marketing strategy is ongoing and continuously changing, it always includes marketing for your brand as a whole. A GTM strategy typically has a fixed timeline and is focused on a new aspect of the business.
How:Communication is vital in both your marketing strategy and your go-to-market strategy. While your marketing strategy communicates the brand promise to your customers, your GTM is delivering the vision of the product. The brand itself takes more of a backseat.
Why a GTM strategy is necessary
Think back to your college days when you always seemed to have another paper due, alongside your other assignments. Chances are, you kept yourself organized by establishing an outline before diving into your paper. That’s a lot like working on your go-to-market strategy. You’re likely working on other marketing projects as well. Outlining your plan to stay on track is a great way to know what direction you’re headed in, ensuring you’re targeting the right people.
Establishing your go-to-market strategy
When building your GTM, you need to ask yourself a few essential questions beyond what new product you’re trying to promote. Getting clear-cut answers to these questions will help you target your marketing to the correct audience. It can also allow you to determine whether you’re on the right path. This is always good to know before you launch a full-on plan that may not even lead potential customers through the buying journey.
Who are you selling to? Is your target audience the same as your overall marketing strategy? Or are you looking to promote to a small subset of your audience?
What is your distribution strategy? How about the sources of marketing automation you’re going to use? What do you have experience with, and what will you try for the first time?
Will you also use indirect sales channels? If you choose to leverage partners, you need to understand and communicate why you made that choice.
Some other aspects to take into account are your industry competitors and similar products and services that are already available on the market. Are you offering something completely new? If not, establish how your product sets you apart from other options. What benefits do potential customers get from working with you instead of a competitor?
Building your go-to-market strategy
As you probably would guess, HubSpot is a great resource when it comes to making any marketing strategy — including your GTM. HubSpot’s even outlined seven steps to take to get it up and running:
Identify the buying center and personas
You didn’t think you’d be able to skip establishing your buyer personas, did you? The Harvard Business Review states that an average of 6.8 people are called upon to have a say in whether or not a company decides to use a B2B product. These seven roles may vary, with some people filling more than one. But most companies have the people in the following roles calling the shots. Which ones are you targeting?
The Initiator: Shows initial interest and spreads the word
User: The person who will spend the most time with your product
Influencer: The one convincing the rest of the team to get on board with your product
Decision maker: Makes the final call about whether or not to make the purchase
Buyer: The one with the company credit card
Approver: Final person who pushes the initiative along
Gatekeeper: The one who needs more convincing
Craft your value matrix and messaging
The value matrix is a breakdown of each buyer persona, their problems, and how your product can solve them. How will you tailor your message to each persona? As we’ve established time and time again, a little bit of personalization can go a long way.
Understanding your buyer’s journey
While each buyer persona might have a different reason for seeking our your new product or service, chances are, each buyer’s journey is essentially the same:
Realizing there’s a problem that needs solving > Looking for solutions > Researching which solutions work best for their specific needs and budget
There is no excuse for not having a full understanding of it! The first step is typically the top of the sales funnel, the second step has them heading toward the middle. Then, the bottom of the funnel is where you leverage the opportunity to show your potential customer that your product meets their needs the most.
Choose a sales strategy
Like go-to-markets, sales strategies aren’t one-size-fits-all. HubSpot suggests taking complexity, scale, and costs into account when determining your strategy. Will you pursue a self-service, inside sales, field sales, channel model, or a mix of more than one?
Depending on how large and established your B2B company is, generating interest in a new product or service can be the most challenging step in developing a GTM. Luckily, we have all the information you need about demand generation in the B2B world in the Smark Blog.
Content marketing is likely a mainstay in your marketing strategy, but don’t discount its effectiveness in your GTM strategy. Leveraging SEO and driving inbound traffic to your site is a great way to generate interest and inform potential customers of your upcoming launch.
You don’t only see commercials for products that haven’t come out yet. So why would you stop promoting your new service upon launch? Here is where optimizing comes in. As you watch how your content performs, you’ll see how many customers enter the sales funnel, and how many conversions you make. So you can determine how to best reach the people who need your product most.
Download our Buyer Persona Checklist!
Think about your selling strategy
I know, I know, it’s strategies upon strategies upon strategies. But that’s what marketers sign up for! You can build up plenty of hype around your new product or service, but your customers need to know that they’re getting a good deal — so your selling strategy is also tied in with your GTM.
Will you rely on your customers to take the leap and purchase your new product upfront? If you’re well-established with a good track record of product launches and a solid list of contacts, this may be a viable option. However, if you’re more of a newbie in the B2B world, you may want to set up a free trial offer for a new service or discounted system for a new product.
Another option for an up-and-comer in the B2B space is to use service-oriented channel partners to sell on your behalf. Otherwise, make sure to cover all of your bases. From warm emails and direct mail to your industry contacts to AdWords and other SEO campaigns, every little bit counts.
Just because you put this much work into establishing your GTM doesn’t mean that it can’t be fluid. It should be, like your overall marketing strategy. Once your product launches, you probably won’t have much of a choice but to adapt your GTM strategy to what you’ve learned about your buyer’s journey.
This plays into the “optimize” step that HubSpot laid out. The more you learn about your customers and how they respond to your products and services, the more effectively you’re able to market to them. If all goes according to plan (and you plan to keep this service around a while), your GTM strategy will eventually roll into your B2B company’s overall marketing strategy. Isn’t marketing wild?
Relationships can be tough, both in your personal and professional lives. The concept of two people with differing viewpoints and experiences working together isn’t always going to be easy. That said, unless you live off the land alone in the woods, you’re going to be working with other people. Luckily, there are ways to make working together in the professional world easy and even enjoyable. If you’re running a B2B business and have hemmed and hawed about whether to bring a B2B marketing agency into the picture, here’s what you should know.
Do I need an agency?
There are a few reasons a company realizes it might need to hire a B2B marketing agency. Maybe you’ve noticed that your workload has gotten too big for your team, or you need expertise that people in-house may not have. Content Marketing Institute suggests that the types of companies that would benefit from some agency assistance include:
Early-stage startups that need a flexible marketing solution
Mid-sized or large organizations without sufficient internal resources
Organizations with temporary staffing challenges
Business professionals who want to build their industry reputation
Many people think the best route to take when choosing an agency is making sure the team has experience working in their particular industry. This easy in the B2C world, where there are entire agencies dedicated to a small sector. But it can get trickier when you’re looking for a B2B marketing agency. Most B2B companies are pretty niche, so it’s likely that the agencies you talk to have never worked with another company just like yours.
The best approach is to think long and hard about what challenges you’re hoping this agency will help you work through and ask potential agencies if they’ve ever dealt with a similar situation, and what they accomplished.
Finding the one
What do you do when you’re considering any purchase? You read reviews. You ask your friends and colleagues. While this is undoubtedly a good jumping-off point when looking for your perfect agency, it’s not the only thing you should rely on. When evaluating your options, discuss some situations that may arise or challenges you’re currently having in the marketing area, and see how they would approach your case.
While agencies that you’re consulting with can help you work through what you might need and tailor their services for you, it’s essential to have a general idea of what you want and expect out of your B2B marketing agency.
Sometimes it can be hard to nail this down in the beginning, especially when there are a lot of people involved in the decision-making process. Avoid a “too many cooks in the kitchen” situation and include managers, bosses, executives, and anyone else who might want to be involved early on. You might not need them on every conference call, but they should understand the top objectives and the steps you and your prospective agency are taking to achieve them.
Transparency is key
When your team and an agency team begin working together, they’ll ask you what your goals are. Keep those in mind when assigning projects and revisit them often. Things are going to change, and expectations are going to shift, so you must relay any pertinent information as quickly as you can.
Don’t wait until your B2B marketing agency team has finished a project to tell them that your direction has changed. Doing this will lead to a strained relationship on both sides, especially if the team is made to feel as if the misdirection was their fault when they didn’t have all of the information they needed. You can’t read their minds, and they can’t read yours!
To avoid roadblocks like this, keep lines of communication open. Formkeep reported that communication, or lack thereof, is one of the biggest problems that arise between clients and agencies. Neither party should leave the other hanging for days if a question needs to be answered. Establish a collaboration process that is clear about roles, responsibilities, and expectations for everyone involved. The agency you decide to work with will likely kick this discussion off, so it’s best to come to that talk prepared.
As we talk about in our blog post, The Non-Marketer’s Guide to Reviewing and Approving Content Efficiently, one of the biggest reasons a marketing campaign stalls or stagnates is a failure to review and approve content. While it can be daunting to comb through a backlog of content, it’ll be better for your campaign and your relationship with your agency to get through that content quickly. Some tips for doing this, outlined in further detail in the linked blog post include:
Set expectations early on
Focus on the big picture rather than small details
Ask yourself questions about whether the content speaks to your bottom line
Look for flow and coherence
Double-check that the sources used are credible
Make sure there are CTAs
Once all of these boxes are checked, it’ll be much easier to wade through the content and allow your agency marketers to move along with the campaign.
The end of the year is coming up quickly! As we discussed in our blog post, The Ultimate 2020 Website Strategy Playbook, it’s the perfect time to take a good look at what’s been working for your B2B brand and what might need some work. You may have already done a website audit, gone over your budget for the upcoming year, and reassessed your SEO strategy. But we’re going to take a wild guess and assume it’s been a while since you’ve refreshed your value proposition. Don’t feel bad! That’s why we’re here. Let’s why you should take another look at this and how to do it.
What is a value proposition?
In simple terms, your brand’s value proposition is what entices customers into being interested in your product. It helps you align your marketing strategies to what gets your customers’ attention and what convinces them to seal the deal.
Entrepreneur Daniel Nilsson points out that, on average, you have about seven seconds to make an excellent first impression with someone who’s looking into your business. So your value proposition needs to be quick and snappy. That’s not to say that it’s a slogan or catchphrase, though. It needs to encompass both what your company does and how it serves your customers. Think of it more like the elevator pitch you use to describe yourself as a professional. Only about your business instead. At SmarkLabs, our value proposition is, “Driven by research, authentic content, and strategic marketing campaigns, we help tech-focused B2B companies accelerate revenue growth.”
Remember how bright-eyed and naive you were when you first started your business? Think about how much you’ve learned since then. You’ve learned more about your industry, you’ve learned through trial and error what works and what doesn’t, and you’ve learned more about what your customers are looking for when they come to you.
While a company’s value proposition is usually determined early on, especially when you’re building the website, there’s no reason to be married to that value prop. Like most things when it comes to business, your value proposition is fluid. So you should reassess it periodically as you learn more about your customers, and as your B2B brand grows and evolves.
In your early days, you probably didn’t have a clear idea of what your company was going to really do. Maybe potential customers come to your website and are still greeted with hyperbolic claims of you being the “best” in your industry. Don’t worry, though. That’s a common misstep that’s easy to remedy with a thoughtful new value proposition. Now you know, and you can relay that information to your potential customers.
How to determine your new value proposition
Exo B2B suggests starting by determining the value you bring to your customers’ problems, challenges, and objectives. Chances are, as your team has grown and learned its strengths, this is different than it was when you established your value proposition years ago.
Luckily, we’ve gone over some tools you can use to help you with this in our blog post, 3 Tools to Help You Create a Strong B2B Value Proposition. But if you’re elaborating upon an old value proposition or creating a new one from scratch, think about the following questions to make sure you’re really speaking to what your company does now:
What sets you apart from other companies in your industry?
As you know, we’re huge advocates for collaboration between your sales and marketing teams. When it comes to developing your new value proposition, we have yet another reason to emphasize that importance.
Many think of your value proposition as something that lives on your website. However, it should be a more significant part of your brand than that. Work together to create a value proposition that’s as effective when spoken by a sales rep as it is on your homepage.
Conversion rate optimization firm Invesp suggests testing your value proposition with an unbiased reader (or two, or three!) and asking them about the impression they got from it. Is that the message you want to send to potential customers? You can also run A/B tests on your homepage and see if one moves people along the website more than the other.
The key to keeping a customer moving through your sales funnel is to make things simple and easily accessible. Start with having a good value proposition that speaks to what your company can do for them at this point. When a potential customer speaks with you or a sales representative or takes a look around your website, you want them to take away the most crucial points about your business and what it can do for them.
Think about it; you have competitors. Your competitors have their own value propositions. Your competitors have that same seven seconds to get a potential client’s attention that you do. Make sure yours is good enough that they won’t even take the chance to look at anyone else.
Demand generation is what a brand does to create awareness and interest. Making the public conscious of their business is a key factor in leading them to want to learn more. It’s any marketing effort your B2B company makes to bring people into your sales funnel, with an emphasis on personalization.
As mentioned in our blog post, “The Impact of Demand Generation on Sales Cycles,” the B2C world can use demand generation in areas with longer sales cycles, but it’s most common in the B2B world. B2B products and services aren’t typically purchased impulsively, so commercials and traditional ad strategies don’t always work in such niche markets. So think outside the box when it comes to your demand gen strategies. Try using tools like search engine advertising, SEO, webinars, and free trials.
According to the SaaS platform, Integrate, demand generation “supports the entire marketing and sales cycle, from initial prospect interest and lead generation to lead nurturing and sales enablement to first sale and cross-sell.”
Isn’t that just lead generation?
Well, no. But I can see why you’d think so. The best way to describe the relationship between lead and demand generation is that the two strategies overlap. Like lead gen, demand generation is a crucial part of the sales cycle, but the two are not the same. Unlike lead generation, demand gen in and of itself doesn’t involve a deal or a follow-up. Demand gen is what a brand does to create awareness and interest. Lead gen is more like the “how” part of the equation. Now that consumers know what you are, how are you going to make that interest work for you?
How demand generation ties to inbound marketing
In addition to confusing demand generation for lead generation, many people mix it up with inbound marketing. While an effective demand gen strategy will certainly use inbound marketing strategies (and outbound ones, too), it’s far too simplistic to consider them the same.
Part of the reason demand generation is confused for so many other aspects of the marketing and sales processes is that it’s not so tangible. There isn’t a set “demand generation” spot on the sales funnel. In many cases, your demand gen efforts are starting to take place before a customer even enters the buying journey. HubSpot refers to demand gen programs as touchpoints throughout the conversion optimization and sales cycles. You could say that it’s present throughout the entire funnel.
All about the content
Creating content is the most common method of demand gen. Most of the time, that content is answering questions that consumers may have, or attempting to solve a problem. Online content like blogs, whitepapers, and videos that are search engine optimized help increase your chances that people who can use your services will find what you have to offer. Demand generation can also be highly interactive. Webinars and event marketing are increasingly popular ways to bring awareness to your brand while engaging directly with consumers. In such a short time, social media has also become a crucial method of demand generation.
Gone are the days of boring, bland corporate presences on social platforms. Brands are taking the opportunity of free publicity that social media gives them by creating new, approachable profiles that allow consumers to see them as more than a brand. Having an ongoing presence that keeps potential buyers (and even people who have already purchased) coming back allows you to nurture relationships long term.
The need for relevance
Demand gen is thoughtful and engaging. Cold emails and banner ads certainly have their place in the marketing and sales worlds, but they do not fall under the demand generation umbrella. That’s not to say that you have to completely write marketing automation out of your demand gen strategy, though.
Founder of Seas Marketing, Kari Seas, told Marketingland that the right marketing automation platform will still allow you to establish those deep relationships with your leads and make it simpler to have an ongoing conversation with them.
The whole purpose of your demand gen strategy is that it creates interest around your brand. That requires your efforts to be relevant to your consumers. Targeting individual customers at specific points in their buyer’s journey is imperative. Allowing your sales and marketing teams to work together on this strategy really helps ensure you’re contacting each lead at the right time. You don’t want your efforts to be wasted on hard-selling a casual browser or have someone who was looking to make a purchase slip through the cracks.
It should be data-driven
All marketers know that data is everything when it comes to refining your process. There’s nothing like cold, hard numbers to let you know if your marketing efforts are driving the progress and revenue you’re aiming for. So why should your sales and marketing teams have to each find out those numbers for themselves?
Let’s continue the discussion of how important it is for the sales and marketing teams to work together. Wordstream states that demand generation is a “long-term relationship between a brand’s marketing and sales teams, and prospective customers.”
When both teams work closely, they’re able to share pertinent information about potential leads with each other. This allows each lead to be nurtured appropriately. When the marketing team creates content and evaluates its performance, they’re able to relay that information. Doing so allows your sales team to determine which leads are ready to take the leap and which ones need a little more nurturing.
Sure, in theory, each of these teams can take on these tasks themselves. But why not combine your efforts and spend that saved time moving your leads through the sales funnel? You know what they say: work smarker, not harder.
(Oops, did we mean “smarter?”)
Why it matters
Integrate pointed out that even though you can have lead generation without demand generation, you shouldn’t. Including both strategies into your marketing efforts will help you attract more quality leads and engage potential leads to the point of becoming sales-ready.
“Using wider demand generation tactics typically leads to more intelligent lead generation efforts due to a deeper understanding of bottom-funnel performance,” Integrate also stated. “By closing the loop on marketing performance, demand marketers can fine-tune their lead generation efforts to capture more qualified opportunities. With better brand authority and customer trust, they may increase their visitor-to-lead conversion rates.”
Simply put, demand generation streamlines and refines your marketing strategy, ensuring your market qualified leads are nurtured at the right time (and your other leads are on their way to becoming MQLs!). As a marketer, it saves you time and minimizes the guesswork, allowing you to target effectively. What could be more important than that?
As we discussed before, in our blog post, “HubSpot vs. Pipedrive: Which CRM is Better for Sales?”, choosing a customer relationship management tool for your B2B company is a big decision. You need to take a lot of factors into account, like the size of your company, what software you want to integrate, and what the main functions of your CRM will be. It’ll help you find new contacts and organize the ones you have, allow you to nurture your leads, and facilitate collaboration between your sales and marketing teams. In other words, you’ll be spending a lot of time with it. With so many options out there, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to which is best, but we’re going to break down some of the key aspects of two of the most popular CRMs: HubSpot vs. Salesforce.
All about HubSpot
The great thing about HubSpot, especially for a new business, is that there is a free option. While you will probably have to add on some premium sales tools as your company grows and you need change, you have a lot of flexibility to purchase just the ones you need. HubSpot’s CRM also gives you the option to have as many users on it as you want, enabling more collaboration between your sales and marketing teams. The free CRM option offers contact management, deal and task management, and integrations with social media and email that allows you to track your interactions with leads.
The HubSpot CRM wasn’t created to compete with Salesforce. According to Impact, HubSpot’s CRM is ideal for companies that are new to customer relationship management systems, that are looking to improve their organization and efficiency.
If you’re already using the countless tools that HubSpot offers new businesses, it would make sense to want all of your information in a single place. After all, HubSpot does offer tools for social media marketing, web and social analytics, content management, landing pages, and search engine optimization, as well as videos, to teach you how to use all of them.
Salesforce is one of the original CRMs, founded in 1999. Currently, Salesforce is the No. 1 CRM, dominating 30.27% of the market share, with over 45,000 domains under its belt. Known for offering just about everything you might need in a CRM and name recognition, it’s typically the first CRM that new business owners look into.
It’s also not surprising that that convenience isn’t free. Convenience typically costs a pretty penny — like that last time you ordered an Uber when you really could have taken the train, or that Doordash you ordered when you had a fridge full of ingredients to make dinner, Salesforce is no different. For many up-and-coming B2B companies, Salesforce’s pricing is just not in their budget. There’s no free plan, and though pricing starts at a mere $25 a month, most companies need more than the $25 plan offers. PieSync suggests that the average user needs to spend about $150 on Salesforce to get all of the functionality they’ll need.
You know how some people live and die by Apple products, while others prefer the look and feel of a PC? Neither one is notably better (despite what people on either side of the fence will try to convince you on), but it all comes down to the type of interface you prefer.
HubSpot is known for having a clean, simple, user-friendly look to it. After all, its CRM was specifically created for beginners. You’re able to clearly see everything that HubSpot has to offer, on an intuitive dashboard. We mentioned before how Salesforce provides more than most marketers will ever need, and you can tell that by looking at the dash. It’s pretty clunky, with a lot of information right there on the screen, but you still need to click around and do deep dives to find all of the information that you’re looking for. Flight Media took screenshots of both for you to compare:
Like in our previous post comparing HubSpot and Pipedrive, it all comes down to integration! While your CRM will be able to do a lot, it won’t do absolutely everything a growing business needs it to (Nope, not even Salesforce). This is where integration comes in. While some CRM systems have barriers to integration, neither HubSpot or Salesforce do. Salesforce ultimately allows for integration among more programs than HubSpot does. Still, HubSpot is sure to offer extensions for some of the most prominent programs you’ll be using, like Microsoft Office and Google Suite.
What if you already have a CRM, though, and are looking around for other options? Well, HubSpot might be the pick for you. Not only can you simultaneously use both CRMs, but you can eventually integrate your data into HubSpot. This is also handy when you have clients working along with you who use a different in-house CRM — even if that other CRM is Salesforce.
Depending on the size of your business and how in-depth you want your reporting to be, there are certainly pros and cons to both HubSpot and Salesforce. If you’re just starting, though, HubSpot’s user-friendly interface and wallet-friendly pricing might be the way to go.