The most successful marketing teams around today know that if their business sits still, it will quickly be left behind. They are therefore always looking at ways to improve, to innovate, to expand their reach and increase their impact – continually offering customers something new.
But with all the advances being made in technology and the way that strategies and methods of best practice are evolving, what is the secret to achieving marketing excellence in 2018?
We’ve scoured the latest industry reports and pulled out the top tips and key learnings that every ambitious marketer needs to know about – from maximizing the effectiveness of content marketing plans, to optimizing the company website and SEO, and using social media to its full potential.
Sit back, be inspired and reflect on your own plans and strategies, to spot where positive enhancements could be made.
Technology continues to present one of the biggest opportunities for marketing teams in 2018. According to SmartInsight, effectively integrating technology to increase the contribution of digital marketing will be a key trend.
Its report also found that marketers believe big data and AI, along with content marketing, are the top three marketing activities poised to make the biggest commercial impact for businesses in 2018.
But what else are the top teams doing, when it comes to excellence in strategizing?
- The most successful teams know what is working and aren’t afraid to act on things that aren’t
Go over your marketing campaigns and delve deeper to pinpoint the campaigns and tactics that are working well. Invest more in them and reduce or stop anything that is proving ineffective. Spend your time and effort where it is most likely to generate results.
- Top teams make decisions based on data, not assumption
Always try to base your decisions on fact and data, rather than guesswork. Use A/B testing to confirm any assumptions. The more traffic and leads you are generating, the more important this will be. Sometimes, making just a small adjustment can lead to big differences. Always have a reason for doing something, then test, evaluate and decide whether you’ll continue with it or not.
A well designed website, especially when used as a hub for content marketing campaigns, can quickly become a valuable member of the team in its own right. An outstanding B2B website should be working hard for you at all times – being not just a ‘nice to have’ and often forgotten about tool, but a ‘must have’ that’s looked at every day.
- Top teams understand the importance of having a customer-centric website
Review your website regularly from the point of view of a target user. Ensure it is focused on the customer and the information they will want to see, not what you want to talk about. Note down what’s working and want needs to be changed. If the list of updates is long, then consider whether an overhaul is needed.
- They use topic clusters to aid SEO
Best practice for achieving positive SEO for a B2B website nowadays, is about mastering topic clusters. If you’re not yet aware of the concept and how it works, then it’s time for an overhaul. Check you have the tools and mechanisms in place that you need.
- They use video content
More and more video is now being consumed and it is also far easier to produce it. Consider how you might start using video on your website. Mix up your content plans with a range of content across different mediums. Repurpose any content you can and think where video and more visually-based types of media might be used for the greatest effect.
Content marketing continues to grow in popularity and is now one of the top ranked activities undertaken by marketing teams across the globe. The latest benchmark report produced by the Content Marketing Institute reveals that 65% of B2B marketers are consistently achieving better results with the tactic, year-on-year.
So, what are the top teams doing?
- The most successful teams are focused on building audiences
While hitting the ‘big numbers’ may seem like an obvious goal here, you want to be building the right kind of audience. Having 1000 active audience members will be far more beneficial than 10,000 inactive ones.
- They mine leads from a strong subscriber base
There is a key difference between a subscriber (who actively opts in to future communication from you) and a lead. Many teams will have a lead generation strategy in place but focusing on building a subscriber base and then mining leads from it will result in hotter leads, who are more likely to convert.
- They will have a solid content production process
Deliver content frequently and consistently – but not just any content. Always go for quality over quantity with your content production. You need to commit fully to your content marketing and be realistic about what it can help you achieve. Make sure you have a documented content marketing strategy in place and always give it enough time to start producing results for you. Get our free Success Guide for Content Marketers for practical tips on how to deliver great results with your content marketing.
- Top teams focus on doing what works (and ditch what doesn’t)
If something works, then do more of it. If it doesn’t, then drop it. To do this successfully you need good analytics in place. Make sure you test, test and test again. Align your goals and metrics correctly and remember, always have a reason for doing something, then test, evaluate and decide whether to continue with it or not.
- They regularly review the key pieces of the puzzle
Look over all the existing pieces of the puzzle and check they are still valid.
- Have your buyer personas or the buyer journey changed in any way?
- Are your calls to action (CTAs) all relevant to the target audience? Are they working, do they convert well? What could be improved?
- Ask the same questions of all your landing pages – Are they working? What could be done better?
- Review your workflows – What are your goals? Are they up to date? How effective are the workflows?
- Review your automations – Are they relevant and all working well?
Social media continues to be a big deal, with new channels entering the mix and the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram continuing to command massive audiences.
Knowing where and how your audience is active on social media has become increasingly important. The secret of success here is to be where your target audiences are and to use those channels extremely well.
Also, spend time working out how best to leverage other people’s platforms. Many companies are missing a trick here, as if you do it well, it can lead to incredible results.
- Top teams stay abreast of changes and innovations and can turn them to their advantage
It’s important to keep an eye on any changes being made and to consider any new innovations being introduced and how you might make the most of them. For example:
Facebook is changing from “providing relevant content” for users to “focusing on meaningful interactions”. What this means in practice is that communication and interaction with an audience is becoming even more important. If you haven’t already, then you need to ensure you understand this concept and have adapted your strategy to reflect it.
Twitter has increased the character limit set for tweets and has also introduced a way to thread an initial post. This presents an opportunity for specific story telling that doesn’t work on any other platform.
Investigate if they could work for you, as they already do for many B2Bs. They can be a great way to start a conversation with a potential customer and immediately answer any questions or concerns they may have, encouraging them to stick around and not shoot off to a competitor.
Livestreaming has taken the world by storm since its introduction in 2016. It has been shown to appeal to a broad audience, with 80% of people preferring to watch live video from a brand than to read a blog. It’s a medium that really shouldn’t be ignored, so think how you might integrate it within your marketing and content plans.
And if you do nothing else….
Review your process of measurement and analysis. The only way to truly make positive and effective enhancements that will put you on the path towards marketing excellence, is to understand what is currently happening. Monitor, analyze the results and adjust what you’re doing based on what the data is telling you. Test, test and test again and never sit still.
Find out what you need to be preparing for in 2018 and what marketing and sales teams will be focusing in 2018 in our brand new B2B Sales and Marketing Benchmark Report below.