A local event here in Silicon Valley, organized by a leading B2B marketing analyst firm, brought together marketers from several leading bay area technology firms this past week. The discussion was around how marketers must plan and execute long-running marketing campaigns, that ran for a year or more. For many marketers in the room, who were used to really short, 1 to 3 month campaign cycles, the very idea of a year long campaign left them scratching their heads.
The key idea here was that you will want to plan on a high level campaign theme that applies across all of the marketing from your company, as a brand. Then break it down into a high level campaign theme that stays consistent across all sub campaigns within each of your solution areas. So if you are a Software company, you would have a first-order campaign theme to promote your overall brand. And if you have 3 solution areas, say around Cloud, Security and Mobile, each of them would have a specific campaign theme, again to push or promote the brand and the specific solution to each of the prospect or audience segments interested in that solution.
From here, as the analysts were recommending, marketers would want to design a series of sub-campaigns – that have a clear goal around one of reputation, demand creation, sales enablement or market intelligence. What was missing in all this, was a discussion around how the different sub-campaigns even within a campaign type, really needed to connect and interlock to each other. Granted there are now technologies such as marketing automation (MAP) which are supposed to make this possible. But today’s MAP technologies allow marketers to make certain connections across their campaigns, so long as the campaigns are executed on their own website pages, or MAP emails.
There are so many different campaigns that marketers need to execute today, even within say just demand creation activities for one or their solution areas. Campaigns can range from white paper syndication to webinars, live events to video downloads. And the channels where marketers can reach and touch a prospect continue to grow. In all the talk of buyer “self education” and “learning” about a company’s solution capabilities, what’s perhaps being forgotten is that it is now possible to have the “digital” equivalent of a good old-fashioned live conversation between a consultative sales person and a buyer. Take any live event. Its human nature to walk up to a concierge, guide or rep, engage in a conversation, and then have them direct us quickly to the right person to talk to. We are all looking for the most value for our time. So we appreciate if we get steered to the subject matter expert, or the right piece of content, so we get our questions answered in the shortest period of time. If this is the experience that is true and tested over time in live event settings, why not offer this experience in the digital world?
Here are at least a few ways you can now engage in digital conversations with buyers:
In emails, drop in rich media polls that are tailored to the individual nurture email, based on who is the target prospect set, and the type of conversation that’s most appropriate. Learn more, gather some specific insights, and present an offer based on expressed interest.
On your landing pages – Cut down your 8 to 14 field form into just the core pieces of data you need to start a digital conversation. Get the first 4 to 5 fields of data you need. Gather the rest through progressive forms that are presented everywhere the prospect might engage with you again (e.g. on a third party website).
On your blog, community site or third party website – Tailor your content offer based on prior interaction history in your MAP system. Have a clear understanding of exactly where the prospect is at, in their engagement with your business. After they accept your content offer, ask for just the right information that will shorten your sales person’s discovery cycle when he/she engages with the prospect.
On display ad placements – It’s time to get beyond dumb ads, that say “Click Me Please!” and ask you to hope for the best. Every ad that you place in front of a prospect can be that much more tailored and specific to who they are, what product or service are they interested in, and what will move the conversation with them further along.
Of course, thinking through your personas, and nurture streams, and how you might extend your nurture streams beyond emails to now include third party websites and display may seem daunting at first. But by taking a step-by-step, methodical approach to thinking it through, you will find you are regularly engaging in digital conversations with your prospects, no matter where they are, all across the web! And nothing could be more enriching to you as a marketer, as you deliver exactly what prospects want, and see your engagement, conversions and sales outpace that of your competition!