While a lot of the conversation about digital marketing tends to focus heavily on the B2C sphere, there are thousands of B2B companies that still need to use digital to bring in new leads, clients, and revenue. Some of those turn to Andrea Cruz, the Senior Digital Marketing Manager at KoMarketing.
KoMarketing has served organizations like Corero Network Security, Machine Finder, John Deere, HP, and the United States Department of Commerce. They do not work with B2C at all, which makes Andrea the perfect expert to ask about the challenges of doing digital marketing for these sorts of organizations.
If you're hoping to break into this space yourself or have clients in the space who you're hoping to serve better, then you won't want to miss today's podcast.
The B2B buyer's journey
Andrea describes the B2B buyer's journey this way: "Horrible, difficult, and long!"
She mentions that according to the Harvard Business Review, the average decision for any B2B sale involves anywhere from five to seven people. "And that number is expected to continue to grow."
She says this complicates everything.
"We don't know where they are in the journey or who they are. We know they are the champions, the influencers, the decision-makers.
So the question is: How do we get to them at the right moment with the right messaging? How do you start tracking when the influencer came in? How do you track where the decision-maker is? Who do you target first? Who saw what, when?"
She says that the journey itself can take up to a year.
"And even 3 months is a long time."
Finding the true decision-makers
She says she starts trying to solve this problem at the initial audit.
"I ask the client basic questions like: tell me about your product, tell me what makes you different, tell me about your personas and your secondary personas."
She says the initial answers are rarely satisfying.
"They will say: oh, we only target IT directors. That's where they live. Secondary audiences? IT Managers and the C-Suite. That's it. That doesn't help anyone."
So she schedules a product demo with the sales team.
"Sales will give you a very different response.
You can ask them: Who is in that first meeting, what are their regular job titles? When you have a follow-up meeting, who is sitting in those? They will give you those different perspectives."
She says sales teams are also invaluable for providing information about pain points, and how they communicate with different people in the organizations they sell to.
Another thing she likes doing is getting the entire email history between the sales team and a successfully signed client.
"I can see who they are and start mapping those personas out. Who they are, what they do, what are their pain points, what moves them? What generates joy in their hearts?"
How the B2B marketing landscape changes and adapts
The B2B digital marketing landscape changes a lot slower than the B2C one does. For example, most B2B searches still happen on desktop, in direct contradiction to B2C where mobile search rules.
In addition, new channels and methods of advertising sometimes take a while to develop. LinkedIn was around 5 years ago, but B2B concerns weren't using it to advertise the same way they are today.
Sometimes Andrea finds herself in the position of having to pitch some non-traditional channels to clients, and she finds it to be a challenge.
"Sometimes they don't even know these channels exist. It's hilarious. They only know Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn, and that's it."
She has her ways though.
"The easiest way to convince someone to do something new in my experience is hey, do you remember that list of customers you gave me when we started working together?
Let's plug in that list and set up a remarketing pixel into one of these new platforms. If your existing customers are there that means that people similar to them are most likely to be on this platform as well.
This has allowed me to test things like Reddit ads for B2B, Quora ads for B2B, Pinterest, and all these other platforms that don't work for every B2B client."
A Quora B2B ad, right in the feed.
The challenges of marketing attribution
Attribution is one of the biggest issues that B2B marketers face.
"Depending on which tools you use they might connect with one another, but you might not get the full picture. Cookies are going away. We have the iOS 14. It's impacting other platforms. We're going back to thinking about the high-level vision and how what you're doing today is impacting the bottom line."
Andrea says she's a big fan of looking at core conversion.
"Step up everything you can. Whenever you can capture an email, follow those people around. If you have them in remarketing lists, gathering some of that information, you can still get a sense of where they are.
Top channel, top conversion paths on Google Analytics, if someone is starting organic and they saw an ad, and then they did this, and this, and they ended up converting.
That can give you a sense of how well your marketing activities are actually impacting the bottom line."
Andrea advises against spending too much energy on last-click attribution.
"You have to see the whole thing, and give value depending on how they impact your actual final bottom line."
How attribution impacts client reporting
Problems tracking attribution can lead to problems with client reporting, but Andrea has answers for that, too.
"Goal setting at the beginning of the program is critical. Most clients will say the same thing. I want more customers, I want clients, I want more money. So we have to talk about other secondary actions people take prior to getting there."
"When talking with sales they'll most likely tell you: they told us they downloaded this guide, or they read for one of our white papers. You start putting those pieces of the puzzle together.
The way I like to go about having meetings with clients and explaining to them how we are progressing towards those goals is to look at how this specific action represents: 25% of these people will then convert into something else.
Show them how that actually maps out. They usually don't know."
She says sometimes you have to go beyond traditional metrics to tell this story.
"Let's talk about impression share, let's talk about time lag, let's talk about assisted conversions, let's talk about secondary and micro conversions and how those can help you get further."
In short? It gets back to client education, something every agency has to engage with. Most of our clients are not marketers, and you have to help them understand what's going on if you're going to be successful.
Becoming a better B2B marketer
Andrea says she likes doing anything new. She also enjoys doing audits.
"Trying to figure out what is broken in the chain."
There is almost always something broken in the chain.
She says in order to stay on top of it, she has to work hard every day to become a better marketer.
"There's something new in digital every single day. You have to be able to go outside of your comfort zone and actually read and think about it and talk about it.
I love Twitter for that. I've learned so much from other people. Same thing with podcasts. If you're okay concentrating while listening to a podcast, go for it.
Sign up for a newsletter that will give you the ten bullets of what's new and actually think about it."
She says sometimes you have to think about how the news you get applies to B2B.
"Nobody's bragging about B2B in depth. It's usually all B2C. You have to go through data, see, and think about where the audience is located and how they can be targeted with this new information you are getting from marketing newsletters and podcasts and piecing that all together.
It will help you be better, more organized, and think outside the box."
Some Twitter accounts she likes:
What’s your right now cause?
Andrea's charity is the American Diabetes Association.
"I actually have diabetes, I've had it almost all my life, and if you're in the United States it's very difficult for some people to get the supplies they need. It's fairly expensive. If you can go in there and support their efforts, they are providing people with the supplies they might be missing, and helping to find a cure."
Connect with Andrea Cruz
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