Are you struggling with growth and trying to determine which marketing strategies are most effective? If so, this article should be helpful by providing an overview of the top strategies. Keep in mind; these strategies may vary from business to business but should be an excellent guideline to get started or to refocus your efforts.
1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is not black magic, but the marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. SEO includes both the technical and creative aspects required to improve your website's rankings with search engines.
SEO is not just about structuring your site for search engines, but it's also about creating informative content focused on your audience. To be effective with SEO, it's all about a combination of many details that include:
- Understanding how search engines work
- Finding the right keywords and phrases used by your audiences
- Structuring your site and pages with search engines in mind
- Creating high quality informative content on a consistent basis
Takeaways for Search Engine Optimization:
- There's no silver bullet to SEO success
- SEO takes time and effort to produce lasting results
- Steer clear of anyone who guarantees page one results
- Research and understand the myths and misconceptions of SEO
- Google will penalize sites that break the rules with banned practices
- Great SEO reference overview from Ahrefs
2. Industry Trade Shows and Events
For many marketers, trade shows are still very much alive and an effective way to showcase your company. Not only are they a good venue to meet with existing customers, but also an excellent place to get exposure to new prospects, industry leaders, trade organizations and other contacts who share your common interest.
To maximize your ROI, don't just wait for the event. Make the time to define your trade show goals and plan some outreach campaigns that generate buzz and interest in the event. Well in advance, recommend speakers, learning sessions, and activities to your prospective customers, plus personally extend invitations to your booth and other activities.
With a relatively high concentration of competitors and related businesses, industry trade shows are a great opportunity for doing research on competitors, learning about industry trends, and meeting potential partners.
Takeaways for Trade Shows:
- High concentration of prospective customers with similar needs
- Opportunity to build your brand and make a lasting impression
- Concentrated venue to gather competitive insight and learn industry trends
- Pursue opportunities to speak and sponsor events to gain exposure
- Low budgets and poor planning can limit results and damage your brand
- Without the right event, can be costly with limited exposure to real buyers
3. Referral and Advocate Programs
For good reason, customer referral programs and advocate marketing are a revenue lifeline for many companies. With the explosion of social media and review sites, businesses have the platform for igniting advocates and sales growth from referrals.
- Over 33% of people come to a brand through a recommendation, and customer referred by loyal customers have a 37% higher retention rate (Deloitte)
- Word of mouth is a primary factor driving up to 50% of all buying decisions, especially when considering a first-time purchase or something relatively expensive (McKinsey)
However you decide to structure it, referral, advocate, and partner marketing programs offer a real opportunity to leverage loyal customers by creating instant credibility with prospective buyers. Understand what incentives will motivate your advocates to refer friends and colleagues to your brand?
Takeaways for Referral Marketing:
- Talk to sales to understand referral rates and their value
- Consider the average value for each customer referral
- Choose the right incentives - cash and discounts are not always necessary to motivate loyal customers
- Find the right medium to communicate your referral program
4. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Search Engine Marketing or SEM is a set of tactics that companies use to drive traffic, branding and sales through search engines. Essentially it means promoting your business, brand, product, or service online via paid and free (organic) channels. SEM typically includes keyword research, search engine optimization, paid advertising, and organic referrals from search engines like Google.
Pay-per-click (PPC), or PPC advertising (Google Adwords) is one the most common and most effective forms of SEM. With PPC you use keywords strategies to bid on keyword phrases that trigger ad placements in the sponsored ad sections on search results pages.
Make no mistake, PPC works. In 2014, Google's ad revenue accounted for over 85% of their total revenues ($59.06 billion), with nearly 70% market share in the U.S.
Takeaways from Search Engine Marketing:
- PPC captures searchers at the time they're looking to make a purchase
- When managed well, PPC can be extremely effective
- PPC can show results very quickly but can also be complex to manage
- Can be extremely expensive and not a longterm strategy for some
- Make sure your plan includes analytics to measure your efforts
5. Retargeting and Remarketing
Unfortunately, most visitors to your website are not ready to make a purchase. Today most buyers perform research via Google searches and visit many sites as they form an opinion on what to buy. Marketers need to help buyers through their convoluted research process and that's where retargeting can come into play.
Also known as remarketing, retargeting is a form of paid online advertising (PPC). Unlike normal paid banner ads, retargeting is a form of online advertising that targets only people who have previously visited your website or are in your contact database.
Most companies use retargeting in one of two ways depending on their goals:
- Building awareness
- Generating conversions (clicks)
Awareness campaigns are most useful when trying to re-engage website visitors with information about relevant products, services, or information. In this case, the goal is building awareness for your business so ad impressions and engagement are acceptable metrics to track, while the end goal is eventually a conversion.
On the other hand, conversions are just that -- you want people to click your ad and take the next step in their journey to make a purchase.
Takeaways for Retargeting:
- There are many third-party platforms, so choose carefully based on your audience, goals, and budget
- Retargeting is available on Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and more
- Always understand how you will track results to maximize return and minimize ad spend
6. Content Marketing
Content marketing is all about your audience, not your company. More importantly, it is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing informative, relevant, and consistent content that will attract and retain the interest of your carefully defined buyers. Ultimately, the goal is to get your prospective audience to engage with the content as they search for the best solutions and answers to their problems.
The foundation of successful content marketing is based on a well-defined audience or buyer persona. Based on actual research and interviews rather than assumptions, buyer personas will help build a road map to produce and deliver the right content while increasing your visibility in search engines.
Takeaways for Content Marketing:
- Content must be driven by clearly defined buyer personas
- Content should be unique, relevant, and valued by the buyer
- Quality content leads to links and visibility in search results
- Content creates credibility with your audience and search engines
- Without content, your visibility in search is limited or non-existent
7. Social Media Marketing
Unfortunately, many B2B companies have either ignored or simply claimed social media does not work in their niche. While that may be the case in a few situations, their lack of a strategy and inadequate resources are more often the reason for limited success.
First off, you need to understand what platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Slideshare, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.) your buyers use and how they use it? With more than 1 billion people on social media, it's not just for consumer products like clothing, celebrities, or beauty companies.
Companies that have been successful share a number of common practices that you should carefully consider:
- Research and understand what platforms are relevant
- Make it about your audience, not your business
- Focus on your buyer's problems and needs, not self-promotion
- Understand what your competitors are doing
Takeaways for Social Media Marketing:
- Put the right people in charge of social media and hold them accountable
- Invest in social media marketing training and tools
- Create a written plan and include how you will measure efforts
8. Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing is the practice of using most of the strategies outlined in this article to draw potential buyers to your website or company. In contrast to outbound or traditional marketing, it is not about fighting for the buyer's attention via disruptive tactics like direct mail, print ads, telemarketing, etc.
With the exponential growth of online information and resources, buyers are doing most of their own research before contacting a sales person or company. Given this change in the typical B2B buyer's behavior, inbound marketing has rapidly grown as a proven strategy for lead generation and sales growth.
Takeaways for Inbound Marketing:
- Provides resources to help buyers make an informed decision
- Helps your company become more visible and credible online
- Content type and delivery methods are tailored to your audience
- Can be leveraged by most companies regardless of their size
- Is much more measurable than traditional outbound methods
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