5 Pitfalls to Avoid When Generating Demand in B2B

September 8, 2014

In the B2B buy process, prospects control the pace, self-educate via online research, and keep vendor sales reps at arms reach until they’re just about ready to buy. Against this backdrop, the burden is increasingly on the marketing team to keep our brands, messaging, and content in front of our target prospects early and often throughout the process to help shape the purchase decision.

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As it happens, there are more than a few challenges to getting in front of the right people and nurturing them over a long B2B purchase process.

Here are five pitfalls to be on the lookout for:

1. Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity.

Marketing needs to get in front of the right people, early in the B2B buy process. But, historically it’s been really expensive to reach a targeted set of prospects at any kind of scale. This is because many of the channels commonly used by the B2B marketer are untargeted. When choosing marketing channels to invest in, don’t spend a lot of budget on audiences that just don’t matter to your business. Make sure every marketing activity you do, no matter how top of funnel, is aimed at getting you in front of prospects you care about.

2. Stop overfishing at the bottom of the funnel.

Perhaps because reaching audiences early in the buy process has been historically a tough nut to crack, B2B marketers are investing disproportionately in lower funnel programs like SEO, SEM, and email. Don’t get me wrong. These channels are extremely useful for reaching potential prospects that looking for solutions to problems, or evaluating vendors - today. But, the problem is marketers may be overfishing in these lower funnel waters.

The challenge with relying too heavily on these bottom-funnel channels is that there are relatively few prospects actively looking to solve a problem or seek out a solution today. Therefore, the math doesn’t work when you try to double or triple investments down funnel. There are just not enough prospects biting yet down there so the only way to scale the effort is to take a diversified, full-funnel marketing approach to your program investments.

3. Identify (and plug) the leaks in your marketing funnel.

Here’s the hard truth we must face: most website visitors leave without converting. In fact, on the average B2B website, only five of every hundred visitors will fill out a web form, and provide their email address to set up the opportunity to continue nurturing them through email. Given all the dollars we’re collectively investing to drive targeted prospects to our websites, a 5 percent conversion implies a pretty massive leak of untapped value, and a big opportunity to take steps to plug the leak.

4. Don’t be happy with a 20 percent email open rate.

So, let’s say that 5 percent of web visitors do provide an email address, allowing you to use marketing automation and email marketing to programmatically nurture them. Things are looking up, right? Well, the challenge we all face is that on a great day, maybe 20 percent of the email we send out is actually opened. This translates to a huge part of our database effectively locked-up and dormant. Don’t fall into the trap of accepting 20 percent open rate as sufficient engagement. Always strive to engage your known prospects beyond the email inbox, using channels such as display and social advertising.

5. Be a data-driven marketer, but don’t let data drive you crazy.

We’re all now using a range of platforms and tools to support our marketing programs effort. These platforms are kicking out a hurricane of valuable data that we can use to optimize how we target our programs, how we message our creative, and the content offers we choose to put in front of prospects. But, there’s just so much data. Encourage your entire team to find the time to push the pause button long enough to learn, to optimize, to leverage insights to do things better, smarter. This way, you can avoid the risk of having to do more, spend more, and hire more to scale our impact on the business.

Nobody said B2B marketing was easy! But, yesterday’s challenges shine a bright light on tomorrow’s opportunities.

This post was originally published on the Bizo blog. In July 2014, LinkedIn + Bizo joined forces to build the most robust B2B marketing platform available to marketers. To learn more, check out David Thacker, VP of Product at LinkedIn’s announcement blog post.

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