I hope I have your attention, because this is important, and we’ve been talking about it for way too long.
In the B2B landscape, we live and die by the campaign. But why? First, let’s take a look at what the heck that word even means: “Campaign: 1. A series of military operations undertaken to achieve a large-scale objective during a war; 2. An operation or series of operations energetically pursued to accomplish a purpose.” While some of our clients might be at war with their competitors, we’re likely to be more focused on the second meaning, so let’s dig in deeper there.
While everyone might not agree here, I am confident in saying that all B2B marketers have the same purpose with their marketing activities (dare I say, CAMPAIGNS). What is it you ask? To increase revenue and market share, of course! Sure, we call it “awareness” (with a goal of leads, am I right?!) or “demand”, but at the end of the day, those are simply a means to an end.
With that being said, we’re still largely planning in a vacuum when it comes to campaign-based initiatives. The brand as a whole gets pushed to the side and all dollars get focused on individual products or messages, usually in the name of budget constraints. But in reality, the bootstrapped B2B marketer can actually achieve this cohesion with an “always on” approach instead of running a series of siloed activities throughout the year.
Nonsense, you say? Take a step back for a moment and think about what is needed from a holistic digital media perspective: awareness, consistent presence, and a unifying tone/voice tying it all together. Through a strategic mix of programmatic buying/private marketplaces, SEM, social and native/content, you can support individual and brand-wide goals outside the confines of a traditional campaign.
- Programmatic: You have specific target audiences, which you can segment out by leveraging some of the most advanced data available, from Intent to Firmographics to Named Accounts, and everything in between. Boom – consistent presence achieved!
- Private Marketplaces: These are the branded properties you know you need to invest with, but might not be able to continually invest with directly. So you set up a private marketplace deal with these vendors (or white list when not available) and set aside a monthly budget that you’re comfortable with. Now you have both consistent presence and premium brand alignment on top contextually relevant sites with high composition of audience! #Winning
- SEM: This is an absolute no brainer. Capture all searchers through non-branded campaigns, ensuring presence on all of the most relevant terms as these users just begin to enter the funnel.
- Social: So often overlooked in B2B with the classic dismissal of, “I don’t consume work content in Facebook”. Here’s a secret, your audience does, and we have the data to prove it. Leverage all platforms where possible, and know what works best where. A blog might not perform well in LinkedIn, but it sure would in Facebook! Driving whitepaper registrations through Twitter may not be the best tactic. BUT, Facebook and LinkedIn have the potential to drive leads and engagement. Use your editorial calendar (we’ll get there, next!) as a playbook and work with your agency (plug alert) to optimize accordingly. Now you’re starting a conversation, keeping it going, and engaging your audience as a result.
- Content/Native: Start to think like a publisher, if you don’t already. First, know your brand’s voice and identity. From there, set up an annual editorial calendar to map out various product releases that are known along with any key topics or big events. You’d be surprised at how much you have to talk about. Next, map your 6 month old or newer content to those topics so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Identify gaps in content type knowing that you should aim to have a variety of content for each theme and stage in the buying cycle. You can also repurpose gated assets and long-form articles into more snackable content. Then you can realistically map out what needs to be created from scratch in order to react to current events or changing trends throughout the year. All the while, ensure that you have performance-oriented content that helps move a user toward your gated gems. The final step is rotating in this content to a native program where you can efficiently drive targeted traffic to ungated pieces, ultimately building your inbound engine!
What about leads?! This one is easy. I promise. Let’s take a look:
- Optimize: All above programs have been found to deliver efficient leads in some way or another. These leads are typically higher quality than content syndication can deliver, as a user is more proactively raising their hand to register. Tracking issues from view-through traffic exist, though, so it’s important to note that closed-loop reporting is more of a challenge no matter how solid your UTM coding and Marketing Automation/CRM integrations are.
- Lead Management Platform: Folks like Integrate can help ensure that the quality of the data going in on the front end is solid, while enabling smooth closed-loop reporting on the back end. This can empower more effective optimization of your guaranteed lead programs. The technical set up can be challenging, but the end result is worth it!
- Content Syndication: Provide a predictable flow of new contacts into the nurture stream you worked so hard to set up. Knowing what to look for in your partner mix (publisher, networks, and lead generation specialists/telemarketers) and ensuring you know where your leads are truly coming from is probably a new concept to most. Spoiler alert, a bulk of your guaranteed leads from syndication programs are coming from 3rd parties, telemarketing and single click registration through email campaigns…not active research on a publisher/network of sites!
Sure, this looks like a ton of steps, but each tactic can be used to support and inform the next. Start with low hanging fruit, slowly dipping into new techniques as you become comfortable with the models at play. From there when you have “campaign” ideas and budget to support them (new product launch, etc) you can simply change your messaging (keeping the consistent voice, though!) and heavy up the vehicles that have proven performance against your KPIs in your always on efforts.
It’s really that simple…right?
Just Media, Inc.
 American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.