The following is a guest post from colleague Howard Deskin, CEO and Internet Marketing Manager at Impression-Marketing. To learn more, read his bio at the end of this article.

The year 2015 seemed to be the year that B2B companies figured they’d better start marketing themselves online or become obsolete. Here are some tactics your company should be focusing on in 2016.

  1. Focus on the user experience – Is your website helping your customer? Are you answering the questions they are asking online? Does your website give them information they are looking for or does it simply talk about your company and how great you are? Is it easy to navigate? Can they easily find out how to get in touch? Is it mobile responsive (squishes up to fit the phone so they aren’t pinching)? Absolutely everything you do should be about engaging a customer and providing the information they are looking for. If you are saying that’s what you do, but your website is outdated and hard to navigate, you are not meeting expectations.

    Providing good customer service is all about providing clients with what they want when they want it. Their entry point is often a digital property such as LinkedIn or a website contact form. So it’s electronic interaction before its human interaction.

  1. Educate potential leads using inbound marketing – More than 70% of the sales process happens before a potential customer ever contacts you. What are they doing? Research. Inbound or content marketing is one way to capture the leads you want. If you are not putting information out there, you can’t get on the radar. For B2B, this means publishing case studies, answering your customer’s questions, making product comparisons, etc. and publishing it on your website blog.

    What are they asking? The sales guys know. You can bet if prospective customers are asking, they are typing it into the Google search bar. The best way to generate good content is to gather ideas from your sales, marketing and yes, engineering & customer service teams.

  1. Nurture your leads – Lead nurturing is a process by which you capture interest and you stay in front of your target audience. How? By engaging them in social media such as LinkedIn, or through an email campaign. It’s another way to promote the information you’ve published on your blog and stay on a customer’s radar. The idea is that some of these subscribers will become customers eventually. Basically, you publish a blog post, share it on LinkedIn and interested parties start “following” your information.

    If your customers have opted into an email list, you can send them relevant information that keeps your brand top of mind and helps convert leads to customers. Email is a proven digital marketing tool that still has the best click through rate of any marketing tactic – nearly 23% and one of the highest ROI. The best email marketing campaigns segment customers into categories and stage emails to be sent within the buyer’s journey. To do this well, it helps to have a marketing automation tool like HubSpot to manage the various lists, set up landing pages, capture contacts, and collect data that says what’s working and what’s not.

  1. Invest in social media marketing Social media is the most-used content marketing tactic among B2B marketers at a rate of 93%.Among this group, for usage & effectiveness, LinkedIn ranks first with Twitter second. People in your industry may research very specific information so if you establish a presence now, you could get a foothold in a market and own it before it becomes oversaturated.
  1. Have a strategy and goals: This is where the marketing automation tool comes in very handy. If you are spending money on marketing, you should be able to track results to see what’s working and what’s not. While you can extrapolate a lot of information from Google analytics, goal setting with something like HubSpot or Marketo allows you to get a snapshot of marketing activity while also helping you track and schedule campaigns. Your website should be a lead generating machine. If it’s not, an audit might be in order to find out where the gaps are.
  1. Create a budget – It’s time to carve out a 2016 marketing budget. If necessary, shift money from other resources like print or trade shows or expand your budget to include more content marketing (inbound marketing). If you want to be found, you need to produce and promote your content (helpful articles and case studies). The return on investment in terms of new leads is robust and well worth the investment. Digital is not going away and just keeps growing. If you are not on board with digital marketing and inbound marketing, you are missing opportunities.
  1. Do not dismiss mobile– More and more people are reading content on their mobile phones. In the 3rd qtr. of 2015, Facebook reported that 78% of their ad revenues came from mobile. While B2B lags behind other categories on mobile visits, it’s rising every bit as fast as retail mobile usage. E-newsletters are primarily read on mobile phones and most people do all their social media on their mobile phone. At the very least, your website should be mobile responsive.
  1. Don’t obsess over keywords – It’s not all about keywords any more. It’s about content and phrases. Most of the phrases people type in to Google are several words long, at least 5-8. If you are supplying the content (information) they are looking for, you’ll come up in search results. Too many companies rely on outdated SEO tactics and focus on keywords they think are important when in fact, potential B2B customers are trying to find solutions to problems.

    Marketing managers sometimes focus solely on keywords they would type when those are not the words or phrases the target audience would use.  If you focus on the information your customers want, your efforts to get found on Google will improve.

  1. Add calls to action – “Ask a Question,” “Schedule a Demo,” “Download the Case Study,” “Get the Specs,” and “Contact Us” are all calls to action. Each blog post (article) or email campaign should have one- guide them to what you want them to do next in the buyer journey.
  1. Get some help – Inbound marketing, data, engagement and tracking is constantly evolving and keeping up with it can be very overwhelming. Since it’s easily trackable, you can get report cards on how your marketing department or agency is doing. For example, Google is currently making 500 algorithm changes per year and each change is intended to help them reach their goal of putting the best information on page one where consumers can find it.  Is that somewhere you’d like to be?

A former CPA with more than 30 years experience managing strategic howard.deskinbusiness and technology initiatives, Howard
spends his time at Impression Marketing doing what he does best: focusing on business growth opportunities for clients, helping them increase both revenues and profits. Howard is active in the local business community, currently serving as Chairperson of the Chesterfield Chamber Professional Development Committee (where his team created The Smarter Business Series of educational sessions), a member of the Virginia Chamber Small Business Committee and board member and recently elected Treasurer of the Midlothian Business Alliance. He is a member of the American Marketing Association, the Content Marketing Institute, the Virginia Society for Healthcare Marketing & PR (VSHMPR), the Virginia Medical Group Management Association (VMGMA) and the Richmond Medical Group Management Association (RMGMA). He currently writes a monthly column on digital marketing for WorkIT, Lynchburg and WorkIT, SOVA.

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Motivational Keynote Speaker & Business Growth Expert, Meridith Elliott Powell works with clients to help them instill ownership at every level to ensure profits at every turn. Meridith is the author of several books, including her latest, Winning In The Trust & Value Economy: a professional’s guide to business and sales success. When not keynoting and leading workshops, she looks for inspiration cycling, golfing or hiking her favorite trail.  https://meridithelliottpowell.com