Cross-media marketing has always been considered a key factor in ensuring the effectiveness of a corporate communication strategy. But how to set up a multichannel marketing strategy, especially in a sector like B2B, which is dominated by more complex promotion, sales and purchasing dynamics? How to choose the online and offline channels that best suit our needs? Here are the steps to put this into practice.
The digital transformation has completely revolutionized consumer habits and the ways in which companies manage their marketing and sales activities.
And if this revolution has swept over the B2C sector, made of companies that sell products or services directly to the end user, B2B, which instead refers to the commercial relationships that exist between companies located in different points of the production chain, stood by and watched, perhaps due to its very technical and specialized nature, which often requires a more conventional approach to selling and buying.
But digital transformation was not (nor will it be) the only event that changed the way we communicate.
In fact, the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic has led us to an almost paradoxical reflection: if on the one hand digital transformation is the future, on the other digital and non-traditional means of communication are actually still essential today and the desire for a return to the past and to forms of communication capable of filling the informational gap perceived online and widened with the pandemic, prevails.
From newsletters to podcasts, from technical and specialized magazines up to trade fairs and events: what we thought we could easily replace with increasingly advanced, almost futuristic forms of digitization, still plays a very important role and it is destined to continue to do so in the future, as we have already discussed when we analysed the 2021 social trends.
What to do then? How to set up a marketing strategy in such a particular sector as B2B by combining digital transformation with more traditional forms?
The answer is simpler than one would think: by setting up a multi-channel strategy, that is, by identifying the tools necessary to achieve the goals we have set ourselves and creating a synergy between digital and conventional marketing.
So, let’s see what are the steps to take to define and manage a successful cross-media marketing strategy.
1. Define the goals
The first step to take to set up any marketing strategy aimed at the business development of a company is to define the goals to be achieved. To be effective, these objectives should be SMART – an acronym that encompasses the five fundamental qualities that a goal should have:
- SPECIFIC: the goal must be well defined and tangible and should answer the questions what, how and why we want to achieve it;
- MEASURABLE: in order to verify the achievement of the goal – in the long or short term – it must be measurable. For example, we could express it numerically: “I will respond to requests from my customers in less than 48 hours” or “I will end a task tomorrow at 10.00”;
- ACHIEVABLE: the goal must be realistic and appropriate to the resources we have;
- RELEVANT: before spending time, money and resources, we must carefully evaluate the benefits we will get from our project, to make sure it’s worth it;
- TIME-BASED: foresee a deadline for each goal in order to define all the necessary steps to be carried out in a predefined time frame.
2. Define the target through the buyer personas
A good marketing strategy should put the customer and his needs at the centre.
Firstly, let’s think about who our potential customers could be and what their needs are, then let’s ask ourselves how our company can meet these needs.
To do this, we can create Buyer Personas: fictional but realistic figures through which we can identify the needs, even unexpressed, of our potential customers. In a nutshell, let’s identify with our potential customers and ask ourselves who they are, what needs and desires they have. Let’s give them a name, a face, a personal and work experience to make them as realistic as possible.
Creating these identikits allows us to understand our customers better and get closer to their mentality: the more we know our target, the more we have the opportunity to tell them the right thing.
3. Identify the channels on which to set up your marketing strategy
Although there are some companies (a few, fortunately) that have not yet landed on the web, most B2B companies communicate through their website: whether you get there through search engines, a business card or social profiles, the website is one of the fundamental touchpoints for any business, and in all likelihood the first source of information about a company, its products and services.
However, simply having a website is not enough: we have to make it functional for both users and search engines. Therefore, organizing and structuring the contents, also from an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) perspective, is essential not only to offer users who browse the site all the information they need in a clear and direct way, but also to position ourselves better on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page), both against our competitors and for the most relevant keywords to our business.
Once we have created a website that is effective in terms website navigation of both visitors and search engine crawlers, the benefits we can obtain are numerous. Here are the main ones.
Reputation and authority, primarily of the brand, are two fundamental factors both offline and online. A well-structured and positioned website can help us increase awareness of the brand and all the values associated with it. This will not only encourage interaction with our audience but can also significantly affect purchasing choices.
Both in the online and offline world, it is increasingly difficult to collect high quality leads: we have to optimize communication activities on all our channels – from the website to email marketing, up to social media – to attract contacts who are really interested in our company, products and services. Lead magnets can also come to our rescue. They can be free, useful content or incentives that attract the attention of the public with the aim of convincing our audience to leave the email or any other personal information necessary to create a contact list.
Positioning ourselves as an authoritative source
Regularly publishing valuable content that can help our customers deepen the potential of our products and services – perhaps through a blog – or sharing customer success stories can help us engage our audience and cultivate a solid and long lasting relationships with our target.
One of the most effective, popular and cheapest digital tools for staying in touch with your audience is email marketing, which is one of the most traditional digital tools. Creating a marketing strategy that includes periodic newsletters allows us to retain our target and constantly communicate with our customers/suppliers, keeping them up-to-date on new products, offers, initiatives and activities carried out by our company. It also allows us to generate traffic on the website and promote our brand at the same time.
Consistency and quality are the main success factors: we must not overwhelm our audience, especially if our communications do not offer added value. However, neither can we send out a newsletter every 2 months: with 2.9 billion emails sent every day, our audience could forget about us, not open the newsletter or, even worse, decide to unsubscribe.
Creating a calendar and identifying possible topics to be discussed is the first step for setting up an effective email marketing strategy. To learn more, read our complete guide on how to create a successful newsletter.
Although social media weren’t created as a business promotion channel, over time companies have been able to obtain an increasingly functional and complete space on most platforms.
This has helped to make social media an essential tool for any company, a new touchpoint, like a website or a booth at the fair. In fact, 75% of B2B buyers, early on their buying journey, use social media to find the ideal supplier.
Therefore, these channels represent an excellent showcase for companies, as well as a way to get in touch with potential customers and maintain direct contact with existing ones.
However, not all social networks are right for us in terms of target and type of content.
How to choose the right platforms
The most popular and widely used social network in the B2B industry is LinkedIn. With over 675 million professionals, LinkedIn was created with the aim of connecting professionals from all over the world.
During the registration phase, each user can enter their background and career experience, and connect with other professionals in order to build a highly specialized network of contacts. Furthermore, on LinkedIn it is possible to create a company page through which presenting our products and services to all the social network users.
In second place among the most used social networks in B2B we find Twitter, the social media known for the brevity of the messages that can be posted (max. 280 characters) and which boasts 330 million active users and 500 million Tweets per day. Many B2B companies have decided to use this platform to speed up the Customer Care service and provide users with quick answers to solve problems and doubts.
In third place, we find Facebook, used by about two sevenths of the world population and which strength is represented by the possibility of favouring direct interaction and strengthening the sense of community through textual posts, images, videos, links, chatbots and instant messaging.
In fourth place there is YouTube, Google’s social network that best responds to the need to communicate in depth the characteristics and uses of products and services through explanatory videos, guides or tutorials of any duration.
Finally, we find Instagram, perhaps the social media with the highest visual impact, which allows us to share photos and videos and take advantage of very trendy formats such as Stories, Reels and Live.
Another conventional but highly effective mean of communication, especially in B2B, is technical press, which has evolved over time, implementing both more traditional forms, such as printed copies, and digital tools and channels.
Just as LinkedIn is the social network on which it is easier to meet a professional target because it was created with this purpose, technical magazines are the most direct mean to reach a highly specialized target, precisely because they are created to represent a particular sector, they “speak the language” of that industry (often very technical and specialized) and are perceived as authoritative within the sector.
For a company, relying on the technical press at an editorial and advertising level can be an opportunity to really reach its target, promote its brand and present its technologies and products in an in-depth way, certain that those who read that content will be able to fully understand and appreciate it.
Being present in sector magazines allows us to exploit the editorial material not only to create content for digital platforms (social media, newsletters, website) but also for direct meeting contexts such as fairs and events, during which editorial material can be used as a tangible and comprehensive promotional tool.
Fairs and events
Event marketing, which includes all the activities of planning, organization and participation in an event (both in person and online) in order to promote a brand, a service or a product, played and still plays a fundamental role.
Despite the difficulties of the period, which caused many cancellations and a completely different approach to events, being present in conventions, seminars or conferences is still one of the most effective ways for B2B companies to get in touch and build a direct relationship with potential buyers, create greater brand awareness and generate leads and sales.
Therefore, we must take events into consideration to create an effective cross-marketing strategy: it is on this very occasion, when we shake the hand of our potential customer, that everything that we have built in terms of communication converges.
4. Monitor the performance
The last step to take when it comes to multichannel marketing is the constant monitoring of the performance.
To do that, we can use monitoring platforms such as Google Analytics, analyse the data offered by social networks and the various newsletter tools but, above all, we have to listen to our audience, both online and offline.
One does not exclude the other
In this article we talked about four fundamental steps to develop a B2B marketing strategy, starting from the analysis of the goals and target, choosing the right channels up to the monitoring of the performance.
The message that I hope you have grasped by reading this article is the following: if we want to create a truly effective marketing strategy, we cannot think of communication as a dichotomy between old and new, between conventional and innovative.
In marketing, not only are there no certain formulas, but also what we label as outdated can rise again, just as what is trendy does not necessarily entail a good return on investment.
This happened with podcasts, which disappeared ten years ago only to rise again now, so much so that the number of podcast listeners on Spotify has doubled since the start of 2019. It happens with Twitter, which is often declared dead or in decline but that is still today one of the most used platforms together with Facebook and Instagram. It happens with TikTok, an innovative, fun and absolutely trendy platform to which many have subscribed without so much as a second thought but also without getting the desired results, especially in terms of business opportunities and ROI.
It is therefore good to pause and carefully analyse the situation so as not to make the mistake of excluding some communication channels in favour of others and in order to identify those that best suit our communication and sales objectives.
Contact us to learn more about our communication consulting services.