There is no shortage of information telling business leaders how to take advantage of multichannel marketing techniques. Unfortunately, the vast majority of published advice favors B2C relationships and relatively short sales cycles. As a result, companies who sell only to other businesses may not recognize the relevance of multichannel strategies to their organizations. That could be a mistake.
Much of the guidance put forth by multichannel experts is suitable for the B2B world; it just needs adjusting.
Where’s the Mail?
Much of the published information about multichannel marketing focuses entirely on digital communication methods. They do not discuss direct mail. Digital and mobile are components of B2B strategies, but companies should not neglect the advantages of physical mail. Connecting with businesspeople through the mail is often the most reliable way to make sure decision-makers see the material.
Unlike email which must get past corporate spam filters and firewalls, physical mail delivered to a business almost always finds its way to someone’s desk. Sales cycles are longer in B2B, increasing the chance that key contacts may not remain constant throughout the process. If a marketer sends mail to an individual to who has left the company, the corporate mail center routes physical mailpieces to the employee’s successor. In contrast, emails to departed individuals go to unmonitored accounts or they bounce back to the sender.
Companies block pop-ups, employee access to social networks, or certain types of content as a precaution against computer viruses. The intended audience may never see marketing material delivered to a corporation via these channels. Direct mail bypasses these hurdles. Personalized or dimensional mail can make those communications stand out among the hundreds of digital messages business executives encounter every day.
No Memes, Please
Businesses should avoid wasting the time of B2B contacts by delivering irrelevant material or meaningless quizzes and contests. To see what happens if B2B companies violate this rule, observe the negative reactions to Facebook-style time-wasters posted on LinkedIn, a social network for businesspeople. LinkedIn members are offended when too many of these items show up in their timelines. B2B companies should avoid publishing content that disrespects the value of their prospect’s time. Stick to more serious subjects that deliver value to message recipients.
E-Commerce Opportunities Limited
Multichannel marketing strategies that skip steps in the sales process are unlikely to be successful. In a B2B environment, marketers monitor contact activities and nurture prospects as they spend time in phases such as interest, consideration, and evaluation. B2B companies use techniques such as lead scoring to control the nature of communications between company and prospect throughout the sales cycle.
Many B2B companies will never sell their product or service to anyone online. Face-to-face meetings happen first. B2B organizations focus on leading prospects through the steps that always occur before a sale. They do not attempt to automate a path from awareness right to closing with no human contact, as is sometimes suggested.
B2B companies develop relationships with multiple entities within a single customer account. The content directed to key individuals must apply to each identified persona. Messaging directed to a CFO, for example, would differ from the content seen by an IT manager or a marketing director. This makes the marketing plan and automation techniques more complex than those typically designed for B2C situations.
The keys to success with B2B multichannel marketing include choosing the most effective channels and developing a plan that supports the marketer’s lead nurturing strategy. With these objectives in mind, B2B companies can create effective multichannel marketing plans that produce results.
If your plan includes collateral or mailed marketing materials, please contact us. We will make sure the printed components of your strategy support your goals.