At the beginning of 2022, Gartner predicted that “CMOs [will] face a perfect storm of budget cuts, operational disruption, and social unrest.”
Their prediction was spot on as we move towards the 4th quarter of the year. Unfortunately, the year has been full of unexpected complications. The risk level of COVID-19 has fluctuated throughout the year, with some areas returning to a near pre-pandemic level of normalcy while others have faced new lockdowns. In addition, inflation has increased, leaving businesses and consumers scrambling to determine what they can afford.
It’s been a challenging and confusing year to be a marketer. Both your workforce and customers have new expectations and challenges that they are facing. So don't take it personally if you’ve struggled to hit your goals.
With effective and flexible marketing strategies, you can weather the storm. You can still see successful revenue growth by continuing to keep up the fundamentals, plan and customize the customer journey, and reinvest in team alignment.
Let’s dive into it!
1. Continue to Keep Up the Fundamentals
During economic turbulence, the instinctual move is to cut back on spending. With inflation, people have to cut back – whether they want to. While you don’t want to waste money on marketing efforts with poor ROI, you want to avoid cutting as little marketing spending as possible.
The marketing budget can be an easy target for cuts. Marketing is at the start of the customer’s journey, and connecting marketing campaigns to deals won directly has been an eternal struggle. The reality is most B2B customers don’t move towards buying because of a single marketing event. If you asked someone why they decided to demo your product, they’re unlikely to mention a particular ad, social media post, or blog article. They might bring up a case study or webinar as piquing their interest, but that likely wasn’t the first time they heard of you.
Marketing journeys depend on a multitude of small touch points and reminders. You can’t cut back on content creation, ad spending, and events and expect your previously high-performing email campaigns still to bring in the same number of sales-ready leads.
Suppose you continue to invest in the fundamentals of digital marketing. In that case, you’ll continue to find business, and you’ll be prepared for when the economy switches back into an upturn, significantly if your competition cuts back while you don’t. Continue to follow best practices for:
- Digital advertising
- Social media
- Content marketing
- Landing pages
In their marketing trends for 2022, Hubspot predicts and recommends traditional link-building and keyword optimization, using short-form videos, working with micro-influencers on social media, and continuing to create high-quality blog content. Let’s expand on those four ideas as tweaks you can make to your strategy to keep your marketing relevant.
Google isn’t going anywhere, and Google still uses backlinks to rank the quality of content. So keep going after guest posts and links on high-ranked sites to boost your position in the search results. Continue to base content around SEO keyword reports ensuring you’re supplying relevant in-demand information. Is it slow work? Yep. Will you ever see an immediate boost? Unlikely. But if you keep going, you’ll get a boost to all your other inbound marketing activities.
For digital advertising, you’ll still want Google Ads, but if you’re using YouTube (a smart bet) or trying out TikTok (results may vary in the B2B space), you’ll want to have short-form video ads. You only have a few seconds before your audience will click skip or swipe away. Have the viewer know your name and what you do within 6 seconds. That’s likely all the viewing time you’ll get, but every view builds awareness. Of course paid ads in any context can get costly if you aren’t analyzing how they perform and optimizing campaigns accordingly. Using a Google Ads reporting platform to achieve this is wise, and the same goes for other platforms.
With organic social media and content marketing, you’ll want to focus on going viral and constantly working with other people in the space. To increase your chances of going viral, you’ll want your content to be well-researched, unique, and shareable.
Otherwise, consider working with micro-influencers. Micro-influencers are common even in the B2B space. While they have smaller audiences, they have a lower cost for building a relationship. As a result, their audience has a higher engagement rate than more prominent influencers or company social media accounts.
No matter what, don’t forget the fundamentals of digital marketing and try to maintain as many required or positive ROI campaigns as possible.
2. Plan and Customize the Customer Journey
When you make a product, you have an audience in mind for it. Of course, you might need to tweak that persona as you go along, but you always have someone as your target audience.
Instead of waiting for your ideal customers to find you, Account-Based Marketing (ABM) has focused on going after your specific, best-fit customers. By deciding the exact companies for your marketing and sales targeting, you can plan out and customize the whole customer journey for them. Over 80% of companies using ABM report higher win rates, larger average deal sizes, and higher ROI than other marketing strategies.
If you adopt an ABM approach, you should build your ideal customer profile. Your ideal customer should be based on current and successful partnerships and what you would like your customers to look like. Then, you can use a contact and company data provider to find companies that match your profile based on firmographic and technographic data.
The following infographic explains why you should consider an ABM approach and how in-depth data is essential to ABM success.
Since you know who you’re targeting, why you’re targeting them, and how you’re targeting them, you can personalize the journey for each prospect or prospect segment. For example, you may target individual companies or narrow segments of similar companies depending on your market and industry.
Either way, you’ll want to have a small number of high-priority targets to receive complete care and attention. These companies can be personalized down to the specific individuals in the company with buying power. Next, pick segments most similar to your ideal customers and plan to give them moderate attention and planning, such as personalized campaigns to a specific role, industry, and size.
You also have a broader target audience that still receives personalization on the level of industry or role but isn’t receiving the same level of attention as the above segments. For example, suppose you use a data provider with intent data. You can discover prospects in the bottom tier who are already interested in your company and bump them to the next tier of personal attention.
By laser-targeting your messaging and being considerate and intentional with your outreach, you’ll cut through the generic marketing noise people are used to hearing and winning your prospect’s attention.
3. Reinvest in Team Alignment
Let’s break down what it means to reinvest in team alignment. The last few years have been isolating and rocky. Your separate teams (and at-home team members!) likely feel more disconnected than ever. If there is no reliable and frequent communication between sales, marketing, CX, and RevOps, no one will be able to do their best because they all rely on each other.
Before focusing on getting the teams to connect, bond, and communicate with each other, you first need to make sure you’re taking care of your employees. With the continued pandemic, employees require new and additional engagement and caretaking from management. Provide remote and flexible work-hour options and ensure no one feels they would face adverse treatment for working in the best way for them.
You’ll likely need to build a positive remote company culture. Be flexible. Be open. Managers will likely need to be more intentional and curious about how their team is doing. Don’t micromanage, but have regular one-on-one meetings and ask questions beyond the standard, “How’s it going? Doing alright?” With remote work, managers cannot pick up on more subtle signs that an employee needs help, so leaders may need to be more considerate and caring during virtual meetings to put their team at ease.
On the team level, you need to build trust between the teams. Take the time to educate everyone on the roles of each team and the proper processes for everything from passing leads over to sales, to customer retention campaigns, to product adjustments. When someone has an idea or an issue with something outside their realm of responsibility, they should know exactly who to contact and trust that they will be heard.
On the technical side, make use of your chat and video clients. Have spaces where people can chat about television, sports, music, or other non-work activities. Don’t expect or push for socialization outside of work hours –work/life balance is essential. Instead, take some time out of the workday for something fun digitally.
If everyone feels at ease communicating, they are more likely to collaborate on work projects. Extra time spent investing in defining responsibilities, how everyone can work together, and setting up communication channels is necessary with remote work. You can expect better results and culture as everyone becomes more knowledgeable and comfortable.
Bring Everything Together
To build an effective marketing strategy in 2022, don’t cut corners and toss out the fundamentals; consider an ABM approach and additional care for prospects; and create a positive remote company culture. Not easy tasks, but by making these your priorities, you’ll find a solid foundation– a happy team, happy customers, and everything you need to keep the ball rolling.
Author Bio: Joshua Loomis is a Marketing Specialist partnered with SalesIntel. He started as an intern for a B2B SaaS marketing team seven years ago and has taken on every task in the digital marketing toolbox.