Archive for Elizabeth Hines


6 Ways Digital Natives Are Changing B2B Purchasing

6 Ways Digital Natives Are Changing B2B Purchasing

A new generation of buyers, digital natives, is shaking up the B2B purchasing landscape. Is your business ready to meet them online?

Digital natives, who now make up the majority of the B2B purchasing landscape, have completely changed how vendors need to market and sell to buyers.

Digital natives, who now make up the majority of the B2B purchasing landscape, have completely changed how vendors need to market and sell to buyers. Click To Tweet

In fact, according to a study of millennial buyers by Merit, some 73% of 20 to 35 year olds are involved in product or service purchase decision-making at their companies. Not only that, about half of all B2B product researchers are digital natives — and the number is rising by the year, according to a Google/Millward Brown digital survey of buyers.

It goes without saying that the B2B purchasing landscape is going through a radical shift. Here are 6 ways that digital natives have changed B2B purchasing — and how companies have to respond.

6 ways digital natives are changing B2B purchasing

1. Product searches begin with a generic web search.

This means that companies now have to focus on SEO and producing informative content. First impressions are everything in B2B markets, and when it comes to digital natives, your first impression is conveyed through every piece of content you produce and distribute online.

2. They bypass sales people.

So companies should aim to switch from primarily outbound marketing to inbound marketing. This doesn’t mean that salespeople are going to be out of jobs. But it does mean that sales and marketing need to work together in new ways.

3. Online search, vendors’ websites, and peer/colleague reviews are their most important sources of information.

It’s time to place focus on SEO, website development, social media, influencer marketing, and B2B review sites. Again, your reputation depends on your online content. Are you establishing your brand as a trusted source of information?

4. They prefer short bursts of information, often in visual formats.

 Not only that, they find phone calls tedious and disruptive. Companies need to be strategic about the type and format of any content they distribute. Emails and websites should be mobile-friendly, and visual formats like infographics are a highly effective way to present dense information.

5. Social media is a preferred source.

 These digital natives are relying on social media for information on brands, products, and services. How does your social media presence stack up?

6. They know what they want by the time a salesperson enters the process.

This new generation of buyers already has a clear idea of the value they expect from a vendor by the time they’re ready to move down the sales funnel. So vendors need to deliver on the promises made by their content.

How is your company accommodating the research and purchasing habits of digital natives?

Related posts:

New Call-to-action

Archive for Elizabeth Hines


5 Things to Do Before Starting an Influencer Marketing Campaign

5 Things to Do Before Starting an Influencer Marketing Campaign

Ask yourself these five questions before you dive headfirst into an influencer marketing campaign to set you on the right path.

We’ve been writing a lot lately about influencer marketing and how it can work for the supply chain. These campaigns can be extremely effective — but getting the most bang for your buck requires a strategic approach from the outset.

Before you start an influencer marketing campaign, ask yourself these 5 questions.

5 questions to ask before starting an influencer marketing campaign

1.      Why do I want to use influencers?

According to Natasha Lekwa, influencer marketing and social media editor at Snapchat, it’s important to “make sure you have a clear idea why you want to use influencers.” Answers might include boosting brand awareness, gaining followers, or increasing sales, to name a few. But each of these answers will lead you to a different strategy.

Being fully and deliberately aware of why you’re embarking on a campaign will help you set key performance indicators, determine your audience, and “envision what success will look like at the end of the campaign.” You’ll also be able to choose strategically the best platform to use, based on your content and target demographic.

2.      Who are my influencers?

It may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how often businesses dive into an influencer marketing campaign without having fully identified key influencers in their sector.

Lekwa suggest using hashtags to search Instagram for appropriate influencers and advises not just focusing on the obvious influencers in your industry. In fact, exploring influencers in other related industries can help expand your reach.

3.      Who are my micro-influencers?

Micro-influencers can give you a much higher ROI than big stars, and audience engagement tends to get higher as social niches get narrower. Click To Tweet

So you’ve identified your major influencers. Now you can start thinking about your “micro-influencers,” those with 10K to 100K followers. “Micro-influencers can give you a much higher ROI than big stars, and audience engagement tends to get higher as social niches get narrower,” Lekwa says. And since engagement is the name of the game when it comes to any kind of social media marketing, micro-influencers can be enormously valuable.

4.      What are your terms?

Since influencers tend to be content creators at heart, they often have plenty of great ideas. But it’s important that your goals are transparent and aligned.

“It’s important to be on the same page,” says Lekwa. “Having a clear contract that spells out what each side will execute will help manage expectations for both your team and for the influencer.” In fact, Lekwa points out that influencers generally appreciate having guidelines and “the big conceptual themes of a campaign handed to them.”

5.      What is my own value?

Approaching influencers can be intimidating. As Forbes writer Andrey Slivka points out, “As you might expect from people who get deluged with free stuff, influencers can be hard to impress.” This means you need to be clear and specific when you approach them about what you have to offer.

“Especially with micro-influencers, who are building their brands, what you offer doesn’t always have to be monetary,” Lekwa says. Often, brands can offer influencers exposure, the prestige of having their own brand associated with a larger business, or the resources to improve their content production.

Influencer marketing can be daunting at first, but it’s a powerful tool of the supply chain. If you lay the right foundation, an influencer marketing campaign has the potential to expand your brand’s reach exponentially.

Related posts:

social media white paper download

Archive for Elizabeth Hines


The 3 Most Important Sources of Information for B2B Buyers

The 3 Most Important Sources of Information for B2B Buyers

Today’s B2B buyers are mostly digital natives who get the majority of their purchasing information from online searches, vendor websites, and peer recommendations.

From a content marketing perspective, knowing where your buyers get their information is critical to an effective strategy. So what are most important sources of information for today’s B2B buyers? 20 years ago, you might have named things like product info sheets or sales reps. But not anymore.

B2B buying has completely evolved, thanks in large part to the increasing percentage of digital natives who now make up the B2B purchasing landscape.

Is your content marketing strategy meeting buyers where they are? Here are the three most important sources of information for B2B buyers.

3 top sources of information for B2B buyers

1. Online search

Not only is an online search the first move for 62% of B2B buyers, 94% of buyers report using online research at some point during the purchasing process. And this isn’t a surprise, when you consider that, according to a study of millennial buyers by Merit, “some 73% of 20 to 35 year olds are involved in product or service purchase decision-making at their companies.”

Not only is an online search the first move for 62% of B2B buyers, 94% of buyers report using online research at some point during the purchasing process. Click To Tweet

So what does this mean for your business? Gone are the days when a simply thinking about keyword rankings was enough to boost your SEO. In our four-part series on writing for SEO, we address how search engines and the search landscape have changed over the past several years. Improving your search ranking can seem like a complex process, but in the end it all boils down to one thing: quality content, presented in a clear and compelling manner.

2. Vendor websites

So buyers conduct their online search. And if you’ve done your content marketing homework, they find your business. How does your website stack up?

According to Bain’s global customer insights chief Eric Almquist, by the time they reach your website, buyers “will have already formed a strong opinion about many aspects of the value expected from a vendor.” For this reason, your website should “provide a wealth of information on these types of value, with details on where… products have been successful.”

Your website should be one of your primary assets. If you don’t give visitors plenty of easy, attractive opportunities to convert on your website, content marketing won’t generate leads for you. Your content should be organized and clear, presented with the goal of helping your potential customers. And opportunities for conversion should be everywhere.

3. Peers and colleagues

As digital natives step into purchasing roles in the supply chain, they’ve “brought their consumer habits to the B2B world,” says Almquist. This means that a big part of the purchasing process involves review sites, where purchasers seek the opinion of their peers and colleagues. “Reviews will tell the buyer how a vendor performs on many ease-of-doing-business elements long before the buyer has actual experience with that vendor.”

This aspect of content marketing can seem daunting for many businesses because of the perception that what’s on these sites is completely out of your control. But with the right strategy in place, review sites are actually a big opportunity for your business.

For a start, vendors “should encourage customers who are advocates of the company to provide reviews on relevant sites.” It’s also important to take an active role on these sites, responding to customer reviews — even the occasionally inevitable bad ones.

Says Almquist, “First impressions matter as much as ever in B2B markets. Today though, that first look comes through websites, user forums, and quick case studies, not flesh-and-blood sales pitches.”

With a well-thought-out, data driven content marketing strategy, you’ll be ready to meet digital natives where they are.

What sources of information for B2B buyers do you focus on?

Related posts:

New Call-to-action

Archive for Elizabeth Hines


3 Dangers of Sales and Marketing Misalignment

3 Dangers of Sales and Marketing Misalignment

When sales and marketing misalignment plagues your organization, it can have motivational and financial consequences.

Imagine your business spending millions of dollars trying to fix one perceived problem — and it wasn’t even the problem, after all.

Too often, B2B companies fall victim to the dangers of sales and marketing misalignment, often without even being aware that it’s an issue. In fact, a recent study by HubSpot found that only 22% of companies report that their sales and marketing relationship is tightly aligned.

HubSpot found that only 22% of companies report that their sales and marketing relationship is tightly aligned. Click To Tweet

That’s a big problem. And, recently, four business and marketing professors set out to explore just how bad it is for companies when sales and marketing don’t line up. In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, Wendy Ritz, Michelle D. Stewart, Felicia N. Morgan, and Joseph F. Hair, Jr., described their findings from an experiment and interviews, designed to tackle the issue of sales and marketing misalignment, specifically in regard to the pricing of products and sales initiatives.

What’s wrong with sales and marketing misalignment?

The researchers identified three major dangers for businesses when sales and marketing don’t share goals.

Danger 1: Demotivation

A key part of motivation is the belief that a team can achieve its goal. When goals are misaligned, “it reduces the sales force’s perception that they can achieve either goal.”

In turn, the researchers point out that this demoralizing effect can reduce commitment to the organization, in addition to specific goals. In their experiment, they found that “the effect of misaligned goals reduced hope of the salespeople and created a defeatist climate.”

Danger 2: Goals seem insurmountable

Again, the perception that goals can be achieved is crucial. When sales and marketing are misaligned, people are much more likely to view goals as more difficult or even impossible to achieve.

The researchers point out that “while difficult goals are not necessarily problematic, the challenge is when the sales force believes that the misalignment of goals is simply unnecessary, or that the goal combination makes it impossible to be successful.” In other words, if goals don’t line up, you wind up with a sales force who feels defeated immediately.

Danger 3: It’s going to cost you

Remember the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for?” When it comes to sales and marketing misalignment, the highest cost often comes when goals are met.

“To compensate for the mismatch between pricing and sales force compensation goals,” the researchers found, “salespeople may offer additional resources such as free training, free freight, and customized products.” When goals seem insurmountable or counterproductive, sales teams find themselves resorting to desperate measures to get the job done — which can unnecessarily erode profits.

When things go right

According to a recent study by Data Room and Marketo, “Sales and marketing alignment can improve sales efforts at closing deals by 67% and help marketing generate 209% more value from their efforts.”

The survey found that sales teams closely aligned with their marketing counterparts ranked the quality of marketing-sourced leads much higher than those that were rarely aligned or misaligned. The bottom line: sales and marketing teams that are aligned perform better.

Thinking about getting your sales and marketing on the same page? Consider these six ways to boost sales and marketing alignment.

Related posts:

effective content strategy

Archive for Elizabeth Hines


3 Steps to Prove Social Media ROI

3 Steps to Prove Social Media ROI

Daunted by the idea of proving social media ROI? These 3 steps will give you the structured framework you need to show the results of your efforts.

We all know social media is effective — but do we really know it?

Social Media Examiner’s 2018 Social Media Marketing Industry Report found that only 44% of marketers agree that they know how to measure social media ROI. That means two-thirds of you don’t know whether or not, or how much, your marketing efforts are paying off when it comes to the use of social media.

Only 44% of marketers agree that they know how to measure social media ROI. That means two-thirds of you don’t know whether or not, or how much, your marketing efforts are paying off when it comes to the use of social media. Click To Tweet

Managing your business’ social media is no small task. It can be a time-consuming and laborious process, so you want to make sure you’re doing it right. That means having a systematic framework in place to prove social media ROI. These three steps will get you started.

3 steps to prove social media ROI

1) Set goals

It may seem obvious, but too many businesses approach social media marketing with vague goals or none at all. Deciding that you want to “grow your business” through social media is great — but it does little to set you up for success.

As you think about goals, keep the SMART principle in mind: Your objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timed. So for example, instead of shooting to “generate more leads,” set a goal to “generate 10% more leads over 30 days.”

2) Track and measure

Once you’ve set your goals and identified your key metrics, it’s time to implement a system that will track and measure your metrics. At the very least, you should be tracking your metrics on a monthly basis.

We’ve created this monthly marketing reporting template just for supply chain and logistics businesses. It can help you measure social media ROI, as well as track your content marketing efforts, all in one place.

3) React

This is your endgame. While proving your ROI is a great outcome of tracking and measuring your metrics, the real object of your efforts should be reacting to what you discover. Look at your metrics in the context of your goals and objectives. Which efforts are moving you forward? What’s not working?

Trying to prove social media ROI is far from impossible when it’s supported by a solid framework. With a data-driven approach, you can prove ROI and use concrete tools to take steps to improve it.

Related posts:

6 marketing metrics your boss cares about