Traditionally, the school of thought when it came to marketing was that it was just about TOFU (top of the funnel) initiatives, and it was difficult to tie marketing into an ROI model that showed revenue contribution.
In the B2B marketing world, what could make or break your initiatives boils down to ensuring that both marketing and sales are tightly aligned. This means that they each have processes, tools, and people in place to track and measure the entire buyer journey.
With that also comes a true collaboration between sales and marketing to ensure that quality leads are not being dropped — meaning leads are followed up appropriately and there is a feedback loop. Understanding why a lead doesn’t become a closed sale is critical to also understanding product fit/market fit, common objections and themes, and where improvements might need to be made.
Before we dive in, let’s check out some marketing stats to clearly see the type of success — as well as challenges — to expect with your B2B marketing initiatives:
- Organizations on average are generating over 470,000 website visitors, 1,800 leads, and 300 new customers per month.
- Over 60% of marketers said their CAC has increased in the past three years.
- Ad placement and audience targeting are the top ways that advertisers drive more demand.
- 67% of companies use lead generation as the sole metric to determine content success.
- 43% of sales and marketing people said “lack of accurate/shared data on target accounts and prospects” was the biggest challenge when it comes to aligning sales and marketing departments.
- 78% of salespeople engaged in social selling are outselling their peers who are not.
- Salespeople active on social media report 45% more sales opportunities.
Let’s get started on the five reasons why your B2B marketing efforts aren’t working and what you can do moving forward.
1. No Clear Strategy
A marketing strategy should be a no-brainer; however, developing one and then executing it can be a challenge. Without a clear strategy, you won’t be able to align tactical implementations, let alone figure out how to support the overall business objectives in place.
Here are some key steps I recommend that will help:
OKRs (objective and key results) is a strategic framework, whereas KPIs are measurements that exist within the framework. To be more specific, as defined by ClearPoint Strategy:
OKR is a simplistic, black-and-white approach that uses specific metrics to track the achievement of a goal. Typically, an organization will have three to five high-level objectives and three to five key results per objective. Key results are numerically graded to obtain a clear performance evaluation for the objective. OKRs are:
- Always quantifiable
- Able to be objectively scored on a 0-1 or 0-100 scale
- Ambitious (if you easily achieve your objective, it wasn’t aggressive enough)
Having a place where everyone can clearly see these objectives and how the tasks are divided can really help marketing and sales work cohesively. I like to use Monday for project management because it is fully customizable, whether you are tracking a content calendar, marketing campaigns, or email workflows. Your team can see what the others are doing and coordinate accordingly. This way, everyone is on the same page and working towards your company’s goals together.
KPIs, on the other hand, are more straightforward because they are always tied to the overall objectives, each tactical execution, and measured by performance or lack thereof.
KPIs also help you understand if you’re on the right track to hit the goals you’ve put in place. And as you continue to make progress, you’ll also be able to figure out specific trends that take place — times when you have the most engagement from your target audience and the times it slows down.
Here are some questions worth asking yourself:
- What is the most desired outcome by tracking these KPIs?
- How will these KPIs help the business?
- Which KPIs are going to foster overall growth initiatives?
- How will you define what success really looks like?
For marketing, as an example, looking at open rates, CTRs, CPMs, CPCs, etc. all matter because these metrics allow you to figure out where you may need to optimize your campaigns. As for shared KPIs, the following make the most sense:
- New customers acquired
2. Not Understanding the Buyer Journey
As you develop creative assets to advertise alongside content pieces that are leveraged to drive lead generation, having in-depth knowledge of what really triggers your prospective customers to reach out and actually buy should be a top focus.
Whether you’re pushing something as simple as a “free trial” or app adoption, every sale is the product of a buyer journey that takes users from interested prospects to paying customers.
From the point they realize they have a problem that needs to be solved to the time they’re pulling out their credit card to solve it, every buyer’s journey is filled with unique touchpoints and opportunities to show your prospects why you’re the best choice for their needs.
The concept of a customer journey is simple enough, but putting it on paper can be challenging. In most cases, your customer journey doesn’t flow straight down your sales funnel. There’s a lot of back-and-forths, especially in an omnichannel sales environment. And even though most of the customer journey is now buyer-led rather than salesperson-guided, buying cycles are getting longer and more complex.
People are using more sources and taking more time to research and evaluate their purchases. This makes it more challenging for marketers because they have more pain points to discover and more points of friction to dissolve to keep buyers moving toward a purchase.
Here are some key items to consider as well:
- Nail down your buyer personas
- Focus on 1 (and maybe 2) personas
- List out the different touchpoints you anticipate and know will take place from marketing to sales and with customer success
- Take note of the inventory of resources needed to help (e.g. datasheets, whitepapers, webinars, calls, emails, etc.)
Having a good marketing tool will help you keep track of the buyer’s journey and make sure no one gets left behind. I like to recommend Ontraport because it has so many functionalities and is affordable, even for small businesses. Featuring lead segmentation, automated re-engagement, customer lifecycle automation, and much more, Ontraport has everything you would need to track the buyer’s journey.
3. Lacking Alignment with Sales
An all-too-common scenario in many B2B companies is that sales are constantly complaining that they don’t have enough leads, while marketing feels that the leads they are sending over aren’t being followed up. There is validity to this last point because sales reps are known to ignore 50% of marketing leads. However, when both sales and marketing are in alignment, it can lead to 38% higher sales win rates.
That said, here are key stats to know:
- Organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing functions enjoy 36% higher customer retention rates.
- Sales and marketing alignment can help your company become 67% better at closing deals.
- Aligning both departments can help generate 209% more revenue from marketing.
- Companies with strong sales and marketing alignment achieve a 20% annual growth rate.
- Companies with poor sales and marketing alignment can cost 10% or more in revenue decline.
The most important factor with successful collaboration is that everyone is accountable and that both parties do their part. The friction between sales and marketing arises and can continue when there isn’t accountability because then it’s all about finger-pointing. In turn, this causes teams to pull apart rather than working towards the same vision and goals.
Check out my previous blog post on How Aligning Sales and Marketing Can Generate 209% More Revenue >>
4. Not Leveraging Data to Make Decisions
Knowing the data associated with your digital marketing efforts is one thing, but using that data to tweak your campaigns (or drastically alter them when needed) is where metrics drive actions.
Imagine you are paying someone to manage your social media campaign and suddenly, you’re reviewing traffic to your website and you’re getting a surge in visits via Facebook. Nothing from Twitter or LinkedIn, but FB is taking off.
You can take yourself out to lunch to congratulate yourself on your new hire, or you can set up a meeting with your social marketer to discuss the following questions:
- How might the company mimic the success of one social channel on another?
- What types of posts are driving the most traffic?
- What posts are not hitting the mark and how can they be revised?
- What is the next step in the strategy?
- What can be done with more Facebook ad dollars and is it worth the investment?
Your business should be relying on data in order to make the next round of decisions. If your plans are not building on earlier benchmarks, you don’t necessarily want to throw more money into your campaign before you’re aware of what’s working and what isn’t.
Use the data in order to invest your marketing dollars wisely and make the smart decisions you need to drive your results forward. Hubspot is a fantastic tool if you would like some help keeping track of your data. Hubspot can not only handle complicated email marketing workflows, but you can also send out social media updates within Hubspot and track their progress. Emails, ads, landing pages, and social media posts can all be attributed to the same campaign and then tracked for effectiveness. Hubspot makes it so that you can have all of the data you need right at your fingertips.
Finally, here are a few data-driven stats to be aware of:
- 66% of marketing data is used to better focus on targeting offers, messages, and content.
- Companies that adopt data-driven marketing are more likely to have an advantage over the competition and increase profitability. They are also 6 times more likely to be profitable year-over-year.
- 68% of companies say improving ROI measurability is the most important goal for a data management strategy.
5. Not Making Content a Top Priority
Did you know that content marketing is 3x more cost-effective at lead generation than paid search? Additionally, companies who blog consistently receive 67% more monthly leads than companies who don’t blog regularly. The most successful B2B marketing teams spend 40% of their marketing budget on content marketing.
An all-too-common scenario is companies that will create content without any science behind it — meaning they don’t incorporate SEO tactics to understand which search queries are being searched for by their target customers. They also don’t have a solid process in place, which then hinders their ability to pump out content on a consistent basis.
This then leads to traffic, leads, and sales stalling — making the main channels centered around buying lists, cold outreaches by sales, email marketing, and paid marketing. The key to successful content marketing comes down to being able to integrate it into your entire marketing and sales strategy, having a cadence for fresh content, repurposing your content into multiple pieces of content assets, and then distributing it organically as well as through paid avenues.
Here are three key points to consider:
- The amazing thing about content in general is that you will develop a ton of it and only 1 or 2 really great pieces will go viral — so don’t push for virality in everything you do. Instead, stay true to the problem you’re solving in your specific niche and be clear that you are an expert within that.
- Great content adds value, and as people consume your content, they will be more inclined to buy from you over time. Don’t think of content as transactional.
- Be intentional. Every piece of content you generate should be aligned with the buyer journey and their lifecycle stage. Don’t create new content just for the sake of having new content. Have a purpose behind everything you do.
Don’t have time to blog consistently? You don’t need to. There are many highly qualified freelancers out there who can help you keep your content coming. Check out Fiverr or Flexjobs for freelancers that can write quality content and take content creation off of your plate. Featuring flexible workers and affordable pricing, you can have freelancers write a good deal of your blog posts or just use a freelancer on a particularly busy week.
Over to You
Making sure all of these components are in place and also revisiting them often will keep your executions in check. Everything you report on and do should be guided by the overarching business objectives so that you don’t lose sight of ‘why’ you’re doing what you’re doing.
Another amazing thing about marketing today is that most of it is digital and in doing so, you have the ability to quickly test, gather data, and then make decisions. There’s no waiting around weeks to months or years. Be flexible with your approach and keep testing as often as you can.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links. I only recommend products and services that I use and stand behind, and if you decide to try them, I will earn a commission at no cost to you. Doing so helps me run this blog and provide free content for you, my readers.