Word of Mouth Marketing for B2Bs: Let’s Set the Record Straight

Word of Mouth Marketing for B2Bs: Let’s Set the Record Straight

B2B

Word of mouth marketing has been a subject of discussion in inbound marketing circles for quite some time. It’s a particularly challenging subject for B2Bs, who function in niche industries like manufacturing. Many B2Bs feel that word of mouth marketing is the only, best way to get leads. And while we certainly won’t disagree that word of mouth marketing is powerful, we do have some thoughts (and some stats to back them up), about why traditional word of mouth marketing is out, and why modern word of mouth marketing can’t stand on its own if you’re trying to grow your company. 

In this article, we’re going to talk about what word of mouth marketing is, in both the traditional and the modern sense, and we’re going to talk about when you need it, and when you don’t. 

Word of mouth marketing (or WOMM for short) is a big component of many marketing strategies, but we’re here to tell you why it shouldn’t be your only marketing strategy. Let’s start by taking a look at what WOMM is: 

Traditional Word of Mouth Marketing

Traditional word of mouth marketing is exactly what it sounds like. Before the internet exploded in popularity, companies built brand awareness and grew their business primarily from having their customers talk about them to other industry members. 

In B2B applications, especially in the manufacturing industry, this was a major driver of business because the industries are so niche. The best way to get quality leads was to have a quality reputation. When you had that, you could rely on WOMM to get you both the leads that you wanted and the ones you needed. 

Unfortunately, following the internet boom, WOMM has seen a slow decline in success, even for those B2B manufacturers who have relied on it as their primary form of marketing for decades. So why isn’t traditional WOMM working anymore?

Why Traditional Word of Mouth Marketing Doesn’t Cut it Anymore 

The number one answer to that question is the internet. When the internet blew up, it became easy for anyone to find the products, services, and solutions they needed, right from their own computer or smartphone. No need to pick up a phone or talk to a friend — the necessary information was directly at the consumer’s fingertips. 

For B2Bs, and particularly B2B manufacturers, this change happened slowly. These industries are niche, and many manufacturers feel that they know the key players without heading to the web. 

Today, though, as many incoming engineers and manufacturing sales professionals are tech natives, used to finding solutions and products online, manufacturers are realizing the importance of having a web presence and a dedicated marketing team. 

In all honesty, if you’re still relying on traditional WOMM to bring in leads, you’re not going to see the same growth as your competition. 

To continue to grow and be successful as a company, in any industry, a legitimate digital presence is a required qualification. 

Why? Well, that’s where modern word of mouth marketing comes in.

Modern Word of Mouth Marketing

If I had a dime for every time a prospective client said, “oh we get 90% of our leads through referrals. We’re not sure if digital marketing will really move the needle.” I probably wouldn’t be writing these blogs anymore. 

Guess what? They’re almost always wrong. Why?

Because while traditional marketing methods did bring in a whole bunch of leads for a number of B2Bs in the past, in today’s digital world, the internet has flipped the switch. 

Enter modern word of mouth marketing.

What is Modern Word of Mouth Marketing?

Also known as amplified word of mouth marketing, this new, modern version of WOMM takes advantage of all the new technology that has erupted in the past decade or so, like Facebook, Linkedin, and Google. All of these platforms encourage what is essentially a digital form of word of mouth marketing with reviews that can be published and shared

For many companies, this amplified or modern WOMM has taken the place of traditional word of mouth marketing. But it’s better. 

With traditional marketing, you could get referral leads, but usually only from people in your area, who you knew or had talked to at a conference or trade show. 

How Does Modern Word of Mouth Marketing Work?

Modern WOMM eliminates the need for any of that proximity. You get all of the benefits of traditional marketing — the company goodwill, the great reputation, and the warm leads — without the constraints.

Anyone can go online, read your reviews, and make a decision about your company and product. They don’t have to be from the same town or even the same country! 

Studies have shown that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much, or more than personal recommendations. 

According to PowerReviews, 97% of consumers consult product reviews.

You already knew that WOMM was important. These facts just drive home the point that digital reviews have taken the place of traditional word of mouth marketing. 

What’s more, this digital strategy works much harder for you than traditional word of mouth marketing. Take a look:

  • Reviews can be shared, posted, and boosted with social media ad spend
  • Digital reviews make it easier for you to connect with your clients and customers. Easily see who’s left a review, and what they’ve said.
  • Build visible trust. The more positive reviews and comments your company gets, the more trust you’ll have with people just learning about your brand. 
  • The ROI is outstanding. According to IMPACT, word of mouth marketing generates 2x more sales than paid ads. And it doesn’t cost you much if anything at all. 

Why Any Form of WOMM  Alone Won’t Get You Leads

Alright, so modern word of mouth marketing is awesome. I hope we’ve made that clear. At no point would we ever say that word of mouth marketing wasn’t worthwhile, for any company in any industry. 

With that in mind, it is important, especially for my B2Bs out there to remember that modern WOMM isn’t going to help your company grow on its own. To explain why, let’s go back to a statement I made about traditional word of mouth marketing earlier.

“The best way to get quality leads was to have a quality reputation.”

That’s still true of modern word of mouth marketing. 

In today’s world, you can’t have a quality reputation without a quality digital presence. 

Anyone who hears about an awesome company, whether you manufacture parts for automobiles or you develop excellent machine test technology, is going to head to the company’s website first. 

If your website is shitty and from 2001, that lead won’t stick around. 

For the sake of example, let’s say you have an awesome new website. That lead is interested in your company. 

But, when they start clicking through your website, they can’t figure out how your products are priced. There’s no pricing sheet for them to download, or even a content offer explaining to them the differences between your products and product models. Or worse, maybe they can’t figure out how to contact you. 

You’ve lost that lead again. 

WOMM is Best Used in Conjunction with a Solid Digital Marketing Strategy

There are a lot more examples I could use, but I think you’ve probably gotten the point. In today’s digital era, WOMM on its own isn’t going to help your company grow. 

While modern WOMM — with reviews and comments that can be shared, liked, and interacted with — is a useful and proven tool, it should not be the only way you expect to generate leads

If you’re a manufacturing company that’s lived off of word of mouth referrals for decades, it’s important to realize that the times are changing. Even with excellent referrals, you’re not going to see the growth you could be capitalizing on if you don’t invest in a comprehensive digital marketing strategy. Things like:

  1. A website optimized for search engines
  2. Calls to action
  3. Unique landing pages that capture leads
  4. Well-ranking content that puts you ahead of the competition
  5. A professional presence on social media platforms

All of these are factors that will help boost your modern word of mouth marketing potential, and help your company grow as a whole. 

Digital marketing works best when it is applied in a comprehensive fashion. 

Just one or two strategies aren’t going to help your company grow. 

While word of mouth marketing is important for your B2B company, it’s important to realize that there are so many other strategies out there that could be helping you get more word of mouth leads, and just more leads in general. 

If you’re still not sure what I’m talking about, or if you’re convinced that digital marketing isn’t going to put you that much farther ahead than the referrals you’re already getting, I invite you to check out the case study below. 

In it, we’ve outlined with clarity how a comprehensive digital marketing strategy has put this cleanroom manufacturer ahead of the competition and helped them grow significantly throughout our partnership. 

New call-to-action
hbspt.cta.load(1553625, '5af25414-8849-4ade-89cc-522960266ab8', {});

And if you’ve got more questions about word of mouth marketing for B2Bs, or if you’re interested to see how a full digital marketing strategy could put you ahead of those manufacturers who still rely solely on word of mouth, please get in touch. We’re here and we’re more than happy to help.

Marketing and Sales Alignment Strategies That Cut Wasted Time and Boost Business Growth

Marketing and Sales Alignment Strategies That Cut Wasted Time and Boost Business Growth

You know that old saying, “work smarter, not harder”? It’s safe to say that’s an idea we can all get behind. No one wants to spend hours of their day working on a project that won’t produce results.

Unfortunately, in the case of many businesses who do not have aligned sales and marketing teams, the concept of working harder on projects that might not ever see the light of day is an everyday reality.

In fact, misalignment between sales and marketing teams has been shown to cost B2B companies 10% or more of their revenue every year.

This SlideShare from The TAS Group states, “lost sales productivity and wasted marketing budget costs companies at least $1 trillion a year.”

Both of those stats offer up compelling arguments for making a change to sales and marketing alignment. Beyond just saving your sales and marketing teams wasted effort and budget though, sales and marketing alignment can actually offer some benefits to your company, delivering pretty impressive returns when implemented properly:

Aligning your sales and marketing teams is one perfect example of working smarter, not harder.  When your sales and marketing teams are aligned, everyone does less work to obtain a higher quantity of better, more targeted clients. Then, you can allocate all of that additional time and energy into inbound marketing and sales strategies that you know will help your company generate revenue and grow.

So, how do you get there?

Sure, sales and marketing alignment sounds nice, but can you actually make it happen, and how much work will it take?

Honestly, it depends on your company.

If you already have both sales and marketing teams onsite, you can get started by just getting everyone in the same room every week or so. If you’re a larger company with sales and marketing teams that work remotely or on different campuses, it might take a bit more effort. And if your company doesn’t really have a marketing team, you could have a still longer road ahead of you. (Or, you can hire a marketing team to help you out. More info on that here.)

No matter where you are, aligning your sales and marketing teams will take work. But with a potential return of 208% more revenue, it should feel like the work is worth it. Click To Tweet

If you’re interested in aligning your marketing and sales teams to boost revenue and cut out wasted time, we support you. In fact, we’re going to give you six sales and marketing alignment strategies to help you do it. Check ’em out:

via GIPHY

Communicate

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: communication will always be the key to successful marketing and sales alignment. The first and best way to get your sales and marketing teams on the first page is to get them in the same room, chatting about their wins and challenges.

Too often, it feels like sales and marketing are pitted against each other. Sales isn’t happy about the quality of leads marketing is sending over, and marketing feels frustrated that sales didn’t follow up with all of the leads they’re sending over.

Getting your two teams in the same room is the first step to getting them to work together. Once you know what everyone is frustrated about, and also what they’re cool with, you can start making a little bit of headway towards alignment.

Consider Cross-Departmental Training or Shadowing

One great marketing and sales alignment strategy is to put each team in the others’ shoes for a day or even a week. When they have the opportunity to see how the other team works, what their day looks like, and what challenges they face regularly, they’ll be able to function together more efficiently.

We get that this is an easy way to disrupt your regular business flow, so start slow. Take one team member at a time, and have them shadow someone from the other team for an afternoon. Make sure the team members you choose are both excited about the potential benefits that alignment can provide, and you’ll find that both parties will learn something from the experience.

When the afternoon is up, your salesperson can report back to their team what they learned, and the marketing person can their team what struggles the sales team is having that they could help with.  

Encourage Sales Input on Content Development

According to Forbes, 60% of B2B content never gets used. Whether the sales team doesn’t feel like it fits their individual client’s pain points, or they don’t even know it exists, sales input is an invaluable resource when it comes to content development.

Your sales team has an intimate, one-on-one relationship with each buyer. They speak to them personally and they understand their specific, unique challenges and goals for the future. This alone should make them your marketing team’s number one resource for content development.  

If you’re not sure how to implement more sales input on marketing content development without seriously slowing down your publishing schedule, start by having the sales team take a look at your content calendar. (You do have a content calendar, right?)

They can tell you which content they’ll really be able to use, and offer a few key points to include for each upcoming post that will help you speak specifically to your target buyer’s challenges and goals.  

Work Together To Establish A Common Language

Marketing and sales haven’t historically worked together all that much, especially in more traditional industries like manufacturing. Traditionally, marketing works to create brand awareness, get the word out there, and make sure everyone knows what your company has to offer. In that older business model, sales either take the leads that come in or (more likely) they go around looking for (read: cold calling) those perfect leads themselves.

This disjointed approach to sales and marketing as separate entities has fostered two different languages for both teams. They have different definitions of leads, they don’t have the same understanding of what makes a good lead, and they have fundamentally different goals.

Sales and marketing alignment strategies start by working to establish a common language that makes sense to both teams. Click To TweetWith that set in place, your marketing team can work to bring in the leads your sales team actually wants, and your sales team can focus their efforts on selling, rather than cold-calling.

To establish a common language that works for both teams, sales and marketing have to come up with the same definitions for these three things:

  • What A Lead Is
  • How You Score Leads
  • A Quality Service Level Agreement

What A Lead Is

It’s important that your sales and marketing teams both understand what makes a lead a good lead. And as you probably know, there are two types of leads: Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs). It’s possible that you’ve even defined these in the past.

But have your sales and marketing teams defined them together?

Both marketing and sales should offer input on the definitions of MQLs and SQLs, so that both teams understand what qualifications are necessary for both lead types. One clear definition, for both teams, will help with the lead handoff process, and it will help both teams understand which leads and prospects need what specific service or lead nurturing content.

With a solid foundation in place, everyone can move forward more confidently towards a tight alignment between sales and marketing that cuts out wasted time and boosts revenue.

How You Score Leads

Traditionally, the sales team has developed a process for determining which leads might be more valuable to your company than others. This process is called lead scoring.

If your goal is to get sales and marketing teams aligned for better business growth, it’s important to have your marketing team in on the lead scoring calculation. They need to know what makes a lead most attractive to sales, and why.

With that information, marketing can determine which leads could use more nurturing through the marketing process, and they can better streamline their efforts to influence target buyers in the markets that offer the highest return. By bringing the marketing team into the lead scoring conversation, you help them understand what to look for in a quality lead that shows they are likely to close.

Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

One of the biggest killers of marketing sales alignment is unbalanced reporting and goals. Too often, the sales team feels like they’re under the microscope to close sales, and the marketing team feels that the sales team isn’t acting on all of the leads they’re passing along. A service level agreement, (SLA) is the solution to this reporting imbalance.

A Service Level Agreement is a sort of contract that helps clear up some of this misdirected pressure, while still holding both teams accountable to goals that further your company’s overall revenue and growth goals. For example, with a quality SLA, your marketing team may be responsible for delivering a certain number of quality leads each month. Then, your sales team may be responsible for converting a certain percentage of those quality leads each month.

This agreement makes it clear what each team is accountable for, while still framing it in the light of one overall company goal — to produce more revenue and long-lasting clients for the company by converting highly qualified leads.

Every company’s SLA will look a little different. What’s important is that you get the sales and marketing teams together to agree on an SLA that’s fair and contributes to your company’s growth goals. When both teams understand what they’re accountable for, and that accountability feels fair to both sides, you’ll get a lot more out of everyone.

Leverage Sales Enablement Tools

It’s easy to forget that the sales team can benefit from inbound methodology tools as much as your marketing team can. Many of your favorite marketing platforms and CRMs are designed to help your sales team as much as they are your marketing team.

Encourage your sales team to use tools like email sequences and CRMs that implement lead scoring systems for you. The information they put in the CRM, and the data they generate helps them make better selling decisions, and it offers valuable information for the marketing team to move forward and optimize with as well.

When your sales team is comfortable with enablement tools, it’s also easier for your them to reach out to marketing and ask for content that will help them close deals.

Case studies, whitepapers, and ebooks about your product or service are all assets that are traditionally created by marketing. When sales is empowered to ask specifically for the content they know will help them close deals, marketing can focus their efforts on just the content that sales knows will be powerful and impactful to your buyer personas.

And again, that’s an effort that cuts down on wasted time, while still promoting the targeted lead nurturing tasks that will help your company grow.

Keep a Common Goal in Mind

Finally, one of the hands-down best sales and marketing alignment strategies is to set a common goal. Even though sales and marketing do different things and have different processes, they’re both on the same team. When they’re both working towards the same goal, it’s so much easier to see that they’re on the same team. Make that overarching goal clear to both teams, and you’ll see the results that marketing and sales alignment can deliver.

The more closely your sales and marketing teams are aligned, the more efficient your company will be in identifying qualified leads and closing deals. And when you close deals efficiently, you work smarter, and you grow.

If you’re looking for more sales and marketing alignment strategies, tools, or tricks, we’d love to help. As a digital marketing agency, we often align with B2B sales teams to promote overall company growth, and we also train companies with existing sales and marketing teams how to align for better results. To learn more about what we do, get in touch.

zeeland-lumber-ctas


5 Reasons Why Your B2B Website Isn’t Generating Leads

5 Reasons Why Your B2B Website Isn’t Generating Leads

The primary goal of any business activity is to increase profit, and your digital presence is no exception. Your B2B website exists to market your company, products, and services to potential future customers and convert them into leads. For many B2Bs, those visitors and conversions aren’t appearing. Here are five reasons why your B2B website isn’t generating any leads:

#1 Your Website Isn’t Mobile Friendly

Teens aren’t the only ones addicted to their cell phones. Nearly everyone is accessing the internet from mobile devices rather than desktop computers. What this means is that people are seeing your site on a variety of different screen sizes, and your website needs to be adaptable to any size screen. If not, your site will be too difficult to access and people are going to quickly navigate away.

#2 Your Website Is Old and Outdated

You’d think that at some point, we could stop saying it, but that day has never come: there are a lot of B2B websites that are old and out of date. Your website needs to be more than just a digital version of your current marketing materials, a few static pages with no way to get in contact except your phone number.

To create a site that generates leads, you need beautiful and functional user-friendly design, mobile responsivity, regularly updated content (get a blog!), and lots of content for visitors and search engines to read. Click To Tweet (Learn more about making your website an actual tool for success here.)

#3 Your Website Doesn’t Have Any Calls-To-Action

If you never ask your website visitors to become leads, you can’t convert them to leads. That’s why you need calls-to-action (a.k.a. CTAs) all over your site. A CTA is often a button or link that asks the reader to do something, to “request a quote” or “contact us.”

These calls to action need to address the content they are surrounded by as well as the stage of the buyer’s journey that your potential lead is in. Some prospects might not be ready to give your sales team a call—but they might be interested in an ebook with more information on the topic you addressed in your most recent blog, and gladly give you their email address in exchange for it.

#4 Your Website Doesn’t Use Any Landing Pages

If your paid search and PPC ads are directing clicks to your website’s home page, you’re missing out on huge opportunities to convert visitors to leads. Landing pages ensure that visitors who click on specific ads are seeing the specific content that is relevant to them.

Additionally, landing pages are essentially one big CTA—they limit options for the visitors to navigate away from the page, offer them the information they want, and include forms for visitors to enter their contact information and convert. They’re also crucial for tracking analytics and gating your content offers. Learn more in our post Landing Pages: Why Your B2B Manufacturing Website Needs Them.

#5 Your Site Content Wasn’t Written With SEO and Inbound Marketing Best Practices In Mind

Like we’ve said before: print marketing copy does not website copy make. Click To TweetYour website content needs to incorporate strategically chosen keywords related to your products, services, and desired clients’ needs. Your site should also incorporate various types of content, including page content, blog posts, and content offers such as ebooks, PDFs, and whitepages. Read here for a more in-depth look at optimizing your B2B manufacturing website page content.

HA Digital Marketing is a growth agency: lead generation is what we do. If you’re looking to generate more leads with your company’s website through proven best practices, it’s time you get in touch.

Not convinced? Read how to make your B2B manufacturing website a lead generation machine, or schedule time with John to hear firsthand how we’ve worked with other industrial manufacturers to drive significant growth. 
heritage-senior-communities-ctas

PPC for B2B Manufacturers: Everything You Need to Know

PPC for B2B Manufacturers: Everything You Need to Know

PPC advertisement is one of the quickest, most efficient, and most effective methods of getting your company name in front of prospective customers, driving traffic to your website, and converting leads. If you’re marketing your B2B in the digital space, you need to have a PPC strategy. Here’s what you need to know about PPC for B2Bs.

First of All, What is PPC?

PPC stands for pay-per-click advertising, which is pretty straightforward: it is digital advertising for which you’re charged every time someone clicks on your ad. Most of the ads you see online every day are PPC ads. There are three major kinds of PPC ads: search network (a.k.a. paid search) ads, digital network ads, and social media (e.g., Facebook and LinkedIn) ads. Click To Tweet

How Do PPC Ads Work?

Paid search ads make your site a top result when people search for your chosen keywords—these are the sponsored links you’ve undoubtedly seen before when searching for something on Google. You select the keywords for which you want to be a top search result and the area in which you want to be the top result (local, regional, national, etc.), and your link is in the top results for people using those search terms, which drives clients to your site or landing pages. (New to paid search? Freshen up on the basics in our Complete Guide to Outbound Marketing.)

Display network ads are text and image ads purchased through a specific network (like Google) and are displayed on affiliate sites, garnering lots of relevant views. These affiliates can include local news sites, mobile apps, or other popular sites.

Social media ads are effectively targeted ads, as native advertisements or sidebar ads, on a specific social media platform. Because the users of social media platforms provide so much demographic information, you can easily target your ads to your ideal client type.

For B2B manufacturers, LinkedIn ads are one of the most effective types of PPC ads. LinkedIn a) has tons of users, b) allows you to target users by industry, company, job title, and job function so you can specifically target your ideal customers, and c) provides stats on who clicked on your ads so you can determine whether your ads are effective. (Read more on LinkedIn Ads and B2B Marketing here.)

How Can I Use PPC Ads Effectively for My B2B Manufacturing Company?

First, know that you should be using PPC ads. Then, develop a keyword strategy. You need to determine the keywords that are relevant to your business and industry, the search terms your potential customers use when looking for your products or services, and the keywords that your competitors are using.

You can use that information to create ad campaigns that take advantage of certain keywords strategically, and to deploy PPC campaigns for those strategic keywords across relevant platforms.

For more manufacturing PPC tips, be sure to check out 5 Easy Ways to Maximize your B2B’s PPC Budget, which has lots of useful information on how to bid on brand, optimize deployment, and otherwise get the most bang for your PPC-ad-spend-buck.

If PPC for B2Bs is too many acronyms for you, HA Digital Marketing can help. We create and deploy optimized PPC campaigns that will generate leads for your B2B manufacturing company and increase your marketing ROI — that’s an acronym we know you love. If you’re ready to expand your digital marketing strategy to include PPC advertising, get in touch.

esafety-ctas