The way you make purchasing decisions for personal items you buy on Amazon is very different from the way you acquire products or services for work. The main difference? It takes longer to decide, and there are fewer purchases made on a whim in a work setting, especially for big-ticket purchases. Understanding that difference and building your marketing strategy around it often means the difference between successful marketing campaigns and crickets.

One of the biggest challenges that cause organizations to stumble with B2B marketing is dealing with long sales cycles. It can be frustrating when your marketing efforts do not seem to be paying off, even after investing significant time and resources. If you have a great product, yet find yourself struggling to generate demand, it could be because you are making one or more of the following common mistakes in B2B marketing.

Not Considering the ROI on your Marketing Spend

Most organizations we speak with have a meaningful marketing investment. Still, very few take the time to consider the ROI, or in other words, few have built the tools for marketing attribution. Attribution helps you understand the value you’re getting from each of your marketing channels. For instance, your own team may be sponsoring conferences and events, supporting a non-profit, organizing happy hours for prospects and clients, even holding webinars, and sending sales folks to symposiums just because “we have to be there”. Very few can link those expenditures back to the value they generate. How many clients and new prospects did that conference you sponsored generate at the end of the day? Not knowing the answer is a lost opportunity and a costly mistake.

In general, what we’ve found time and again is that running or sponsoring conferences has a very low ROI. They certainly serve a purpose – your presence at industry events helps to build brand awareness and increase your “touchpoints” with prospects. But if you run attribution analysis, you would likely find that you are getting pennies back on the dollars spent on your events. What generates a high ROI in B2B marketing? Content. Authentic, value-additive, engaging content is by far the highest ROI that your marketing dollars can bring.  But don’t take our word for it. Calculate the ROI yourself.

Thinking that one whitepaper is good enough

We can’t blame you, this is a common one. I personally made this mistake myself when writing my first white paper for an analytics company I co-founded, Novus Partners. It is so tempting to think that this particular piece of content you are creating will generate hundreds of leads and help with conversions.

While one white paper is better than none, it is essential to remember that you must engage your leads over a long sales cycle, and most of your leads are not yet ready to convert, even after reading one great piece of content. The best content is targeted, not only to the stage of the funnel the reader is in but also to their role and organization. Ask yourself this question: Am I speaking to all my potential prospects with this whitepaper? Have you considered other roles or organizations that may need a different perspective? It is tough to write one single white paper that can speak to all your different prospects.

Even if your target audience is interested in the topic you are covering, one piece of content is almost never enough. Just like building a personal relationship, you need to have multiple interactions with your prospect. In marketing terms, these are called touchpoints. Having one white paper is just a single touch point – and your prospect needs more to form a strong understanding of your brand, company, product and service.

An excellent white paper is an arrow in your quiver, but it can’t win the battle alone. It must fit into a larger strategy that nurtures and converts your leads into paying clients.

Missing the “Nurture” phase of your customer journey

Long sales cycles mean that B2B marketers need to be patient and persistent in their efforts. However, many organizations make two crucial mistakes after generating a lead. They either neglect their leads leaving them to explore other alternatives, or they sell too hard to their leads, hoping they are ready to convert. Both mistakes ignore an essential part of your marketing funnel: the nurture phase, also known as the “Engage” stage.

It is clear that leads are more likely to convert when they have been nurtured over time. B2B organizations should focus on building relationships with their leads by providing them with valuable content, preferably targeted to their particular role in the organization as well as their readiness to make a purchase decision.

The Nurture phase of your funnel should consist of long-form articles that deal with the specific challenges of your clients or prospects, and yet the content should not push your products as the immediate solution. They should be engaging enough and offer enough value for your reader to take the next step that leads to just another touch point with your company.

This phase is also used to collect information on your prospects (via a simple form before downloading an article) and contribute to the scoring of the lead. The more content your prospects interact with, the higher their lead quality score.

Organizations can avoid these mistakes by focusing on the right marketing channels, nurturing leads, aligning sales and marketing efforts, and understanding the customer journey. By doing so, they can improve their chances of generating quality leads, nurturing them, and finally closing deals.

Continue to Part Two...

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