How to Find and Connect with Your B2B Customers in 2019
December 20, 2018 | Elizabeth Rivelli
How will you reach new customers in 2019? Are you going to do things a little differently…or keep them the same?
Hopefully, you plan to shake things up a bit. We all know how fast demand generation evolves, and we need to evolve with it.
To give you some inspiration – or maybe just to back up what you’ve already decided to do – we’ve assembled ten proven tactics for demand generation success in 2019.
1. Do Your Audience Research
Want to connect with your ideal buyers? Then it’s essential to know who they are, what they want, and what their pain points are.
In other words, it’s essential to do audience research.
In fact, research indicates that successful marketers are 242 percent more likely to report conducting audience research quarterly, whereas 56 percent of elite marketers conduct research once or more per month.
Doing more audience research is a particularly nice opportunity to gain an edge on your competition. That’s because most marketers – 65 percent in fact – are not conducting much, if any, audience research.
When you think about it, trying to do demand generation (or any marketing) without really knowing your audience is kind of like trying to hit a target blindfolded.
2. Think Beyond Personas (B2B customers are B2C customers, too)
Don’t get us wrong – personas are an effective way to better understand your audience. But taken too far, personas can blind us to the individual needs of our customers and prospects. Personas also distort an important reality of B2B marketing – there is rarely just one person making the buying decision.
That said, personas are a practical way to deliver more relevant information to people. They are basically “the middle ground” between marketing to everybody at once and doing one-to-one marketing (more about that in a moment).
But don’t get too caught up in your persona definitions. Just because a lead fits a persona (has the right title, works at the right company, etc.), doesn’t mean they’re an MQL. It might be wise to get them to answer a few sales-qualifying questions before you hand them over to sales.
One way to do that is with interactive PDFs like this:
3. Personalize Where Possible
Personalization has been a priority for most B2B marketers for the last few years. That’s not going to change in 2019. If anything, it will just move up priority lists.
And it should. Most business buyers – 72 percent – say “I expect vendors to personalize engagement to my needs.”
That’s not an isolated finding, either. As we wrote in a previous post, “3 Reasons Why B2B Demand Gen Efforts Need Personalization”:
- 59 percent of customers say personalization influences their buying decisions.
- 74 percent of customers feel frustrated if a brand’s website content isn’t personalized.
- Over 78 percent of consumers will only engage with offers that have been personalized to their previous engagements made with a brand.
- 62 percent of customers want content that speaks to their unique needs and pain points.
If customers expect that much personalization, B2B marketers need to get on board…and fast.
4. Create Voice-Optimized Content
Voice search isn’t just a far-off marketing prediction; it’s here. Just ask Google or Alexa. Or ComScore, who predicts that more than 50 percent of searches will be voice-based by 2020 – which is less than 13 months away.
So, what should B2B marketers do? Here’s how to optimize your content for voice search in a nutshell:
- Optimize for longer tail keywords. Voice searches tend to use more words than text-based searches.
- Optimize for questions. We tend to ask questions when we use voice search. So, if you can start to embed questions (and pithy answers) into your content, that will help.
- Optimize for Featured Snippets. Featured Snippets are often what Google uses to answer voice search queries.
5. Seek Out Micro-Influencers
When done right, influencer marketing is a proven way to find and connect with almost any B2B customer. And when you focus in on micro-influencers, the results get even better. About seven times better in fact:
Follower-for-follower, micro-influencers get far more engagement than larger influencers. But that’s not the only reason to work with them. There’s also an advantage in:
If you don’t have an influencer marketing strategy in place, it’s smart to start small. Even if you have done influencer marketing before, smaller influencers often net a much higher ROI.
Most B2B marketers work in small, well-defined industries. So while it might sound cool to get Richard Branson to mention your new product, you might actually get as much cred with the people who will actually make the buying decision by working with a smaller but more relevant influencer.
Availability and Flexibility
Micro influencers don’t get 300 pitches a day. This means they might actually be available to work with you and they are more likely to be flexible about the terms of that work.
See more tips about how B2B marketers can work with micro-influencers in Kirsten Lyons’ post, “What Are Micro-Influencers and How Are They Different?”
6. Create Share-Worthy Interactive Content
Interactive content addresses a lot of the challenges in demand gen today. First, it allows for personalized content, which we know is critical to buyers. Second, it’s great for engagement. Even research-driven B2B buyers can numb out after too much text-based content, and interactive content connects buyers with what they want, faster. Third, interactive content is often reformatted from successful text-based content or research. This makes it more affordable to create, and more likely to succeed because it’s being reworked from a content piece that has already proven itself.
When used as part of a comprehensive marketing program, interactive content also helps evenly distribute content across the buyer’s journey. Depending on which content format you choose, you can have a nice lead-generating content piece tailored to the top, middle, or bottom of your sales funnel.
7. Leverage Events (Digital and In-Person)
Webinars – as we’re sure you know – are one of the best ways to attract and nurture B2B leads.
According to Demand Gen, B2B marketers actually say events are the most effective tactic they use to generate qualified leads at the top of their marketing funnel.
For more ideas on how to implement an event marketing program in 2019, see Kara Widdison’s post, “How to Better Leverage Events in Your Demand Generation Strategies.”
8. Go Mobile
There’s still time to gain a competitive advantage with mobile. Most of your B2B peers still haven’t gotten it figured out: 45 percent of marketers are still unclear about what role mobile marketing will play in their marketing plans.
Maybe it’s time for you to get ahead of them. That could take the form of an app, some SMS marketing, mobile advertising, or making your existing content, products or services more mobile-friendly.
9. Invest in Lead Nurturing
Remember how we mentioned that marketers now prioritize lead quality over lead quantity? If that’s true, then lead nurturing should be the belle of the ball for demand generation.
And it is – almost every B2B marketer does some sort of lead nurturing work, even if it’s just a simple email blast sent out once a week.
Hopefully you’re doing way more than that, though. Maybe you’ve got some behavior-triggered drip campaigns running, you’re segmenting email sends, or you’ve got a marketing automation system in place so you can see which prospects are getting which messages. We also hope you’re putting on in-person events, and many of the other tactics mentioned here, all in an effort to nurture prospects into repeat customers.
But even if you’ve gone that far, 2019 might be the year to kick things up a notch.
The benefits are proven. As Kirsten Lyons writes in her roundup of demand gen statistics:
- The most effective lead nurturing programs result in a 50 percent increase in sales-ready leads and 33 percent lower costs.
- Bundled nurturing content within a resource hub (rather than multiple emails) produced a 3X increase in lead to pipeline ratio.
We’re not saying you have to invest millions into tuning up your lead nurturing. But it would be easy to use some of the other tactics mentioned here, like interactive content, to add some interest and personalization to what you’re already doing.
Speaking of other tactics… do you know what goes great with lead nurturing? Video. 66 percent of marketers are already using video in their lead nurturing campaigns.
10. Do More Video
You’ve probably already gotten an earful about video. You might have even heard the stat that 70 percent of B2B marketers claim that videos are more effective than other content when it comes to converting users to qualified leads.
If you’ve been holding back on doing video, know this: “doing video” doesn’t necessarily mean that you – or anyone else – has to appear on screen. There are plenty of tools that can make text, video, and footage-based short videos in an hour or less.
And don’t dismiss short-form video, either. It won first prize as the most effective content format in a recent eMarketer survey of B2B marketers:
As usual, there is no shortage of things you could do to expand your demand generation program. The question is which things you should do.
Leveraging these ten demand gen tactics can help you identify target audiences, spark interest, bring leads into the funnel, and nurture more of them to conversion. However, every business is different. It’s important that you find the right combination of tactics and incorporate them into a demand gen strategy unique to your business.
For additional ideas on how to use these ten demand gen tactics, take a look at our demand gen marketer’s guide to interactive content. It’s packed with tips and tricks on how to use interactive content to supercharge marketing efforts across your demand gen strategy.