It's that time of year again, marketers. We're finalising budgets and plans for the upcoming financial year. This means it's the perfect time to introduce new digital marketing strategy ideas, especially if you feel that your efforts are getting a little stale and results are a bit lacklustre.
To give you a bit of inspiration, here are some of the things we've implemented across our clients recently. Spoiler alert: They are getting great results!
#1 Thought leadership for demand generation
Wait, aren't thought leadership and demand generation two completely different things?
Our Head of Strategy and all-around clever creatrix, Andrea Hoymann, says no.
"Often demand gen and lead gen get mixed up as the same thing. But creating demand isn't just about creating leads - it's the step before that. You have to make the demand first.”
"When you think of it like that, thought leadership fits well within demand gen. It builds awareness and credibility, both incredibly crucial tools for creating demand," she explains.
Now you know where and how thought leadership fits into the marketing landscape - and why it is vital to demand generation - how can it fit into your marketing plans?
Andrea says the key is consistency. But that doesn't mean posting on every channel, every day. Instead, it's about "realistic consistency", meaning the type of consistency you can actually keep up.
That might mean posting on one channel every two weeks. But doing this fortnightly - and doing it with quality content that's engaging, helpful and original - will set the stage for generating leads down the line.
Leadership agree, with more than half of decision-makers saying thought leadership was directly influential in increasing the amount of business they did with a company or leading them to buy a new product or service from a company.
So, who is doing thought leadership right?
You can't say "content marketing" without thinking "Hubspot". At least we can't! So naturally, HubSpot shows us what good thought leadership looks like - riffing on all things inbound and content (including thought leadership!). Former HubSpot CRO Mark Roberge even includes the establishment of an internal thought leadership committee as a crucial step to success in his book Sales Acceleration Formula.
VC fund First Round Capital is behind First Round Review, a content hub chock full of thought leadership pieces, ranging from tips for startups (23 Tactical Company Building Lessons, Learned From Scaling Stripe & Notion) to how to be a better manager (The 25 Micro-Habits of High-Impact Managers). Not only is there content shared via the content hub, but it's also shared across the company's LinkedIn page and by employees on their personal pages - many of whom contribute to the actual thought leadership pieces themselves.
While Salesforce has an extensive article library (the 360 blog), a popular training hub and too many videos to count, what's most impressive is that their employees are posting thousands of times a month! That's a lot of brand awareness, setting the stage for lead generation.
#2 Viral competitions to drive lead generation
The old fashioned competition isn't something often seen in b2b. Neither is the word "viral", for that matter.
Andrea says she doesn't like the term: "it's not a specific or even, a good goal to have".
Instead, virality can happen if the idea, post, or in this case, competition, warrants it.
Recently, we've had some fun success running competitions for a couple of clients using UpViral. You build the landing page and thank you page in the platform, and it collects the leads from all the competition entries. The kicker, though? It boosts the virality of your campaign by encouraging competition entrants to share the competition via email and social media for additional entries. E.g. Share the contest on LinkedIn for ten more entries or Like our Facebook page for five more entries.
Not only do we gain leads this way, but the competition then also boosts social media following and brand awareness. Win-win.
A couple of other things to consider:
Picking your prizes
As a general rule, you want your prize to be something people want - which probably means it's valuable. You also want to link the prize to the client's offering if you can. E.g. for our client Lavazza Business Solutions the prize was a coffee machine. The prize could also be a service. E.g. for our client Higgins Coatings the prize was having a room in a school painted. The prize could also be something highly desirable, like an iPad!
Boosting event marketing
Competitions are a perfect partner for an in-person event. Often it's hard to drive foot traffic at events like trade shows or expos. To boost booth visitor numbers, use a competition where people enter at the booth via a QR code. Support the campaign with signage at the event plus EDMs and social posts before and during.
#3 Revamp your lead nurturing approach
Marketing automation platforms are great. But Andrea says marketers often can get a little over-excited and set up email nurtures for just about everything when they first get started - attempting to map out every decision point a customer might travel. But setting up nurtures for every individual marketing campaign is time-consuming, from the writing to the set-up in your platform. Let alone all the back and forth your marketing technologist will do to ensure customers aren't entered into multiple nurtures...
Andrea also points out, "we can't assume to know exactly where people are in the buyer journey and what content will be relevant for them next."
Andrea asks, "How often have you received a nurture series that goes content piece, case study, CTA to book a call or demo? And then, how many times have you clicked and followed through on that last CTA?"
The truth is, we know that people aren't ready to buy most of the time - research shows us that only 5% of b2b buyers are in-market to buy right now. So we need to stop assuming people are on a linear path (Andrea prefers Ashley Faus of Atlassian's 'content playground' concept) and instead give them all the information they need to get to know our brand. So when they are in the market, we're top of mind.
Question: How can we make lead nurtures work smarter without us having to work harder? Answer: Think about our lead nurturing more strategically.
We've recently revamped a client's nurtures to simplify and drive results. The new nurtures aren't campaign-specific and aim to be future-proof (well, as future-proof as possible!). They are persona-specific and use smart content tags to insert things like the name of the content piece downloaded.
The new nurtures aim to understand the prospects' needs better, continue to build awareness around solutions and move the lead towards a sales conversation when and if it's appropriate.
#4 Try new channels for paid media
Paid media is getting expensive, and leads can be hard to come by.
Andreas explains, "We need to stop thinking about paid media as just a lead gen tool - especially if lead results are getting more expensive.”
"Social is also a brilliant brand awareness tool - and this goes back to the demand gen and thought leadership ideas we were talking about earlier. Brand awareness is crucial to long term success."
That doesn't mean you should forget using paid social altogether or even just for lead generation. It does mean getting a little more creative as to where you're spending your budget.
Instead of defaulting to Facebook and LinkedIn, think about ads on the likes of Spotify or Quora.
Andrea shared a success story about placing Quora ads on answer pages directly related to people's questions about your category. So specific! So niche! So good for results!
Andrea's other hot tip is to think about audio. In 2021 about 5.6 million Australians, that's 26% of the population, were weekly podcast listeners - that's an increase of 53% since 2020. Marketers would be silly to let this opportunity pass them by as more and more people join this growing number.
A final note on paid media - Andrea recommends experimenting, measuring and iterating with new channels and ads to see what work's for your business.
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Brand chemistry is a b2b marketing agency winning your customers' hearts and minds through inbound, brand, content, lead generation and digital strategy. Our marketing specialists achieve stellar results with the latest lead generation techniques.