How Small Businesses Can Use Big Data to Keep Their Message Fresh and on Target

March 30, 2016

By Yariv Drori, VP of programmatic ad operations at MultiView

This is the year B-to-B marketers, many of which are representing small and medium-sized businesses, are supposed to ramp up their digital marketing and close the gap with their B-to-C counterparts. Evidently, the revolution is right on schedule, at least according to a 2015 IAB report that touted the possibilities of tools like programmatic, but conceded that more education was necessary before small businesses and B-to-B marketers could exploit those advances. Now that everyone gets it, there shouldn’t be any questions, right? Right. 

Like anything new, there’s a learning curve. But new technologies don’t change the fundamentals of what effective B-to-B marketers do. 

Adopt a client mindset to start
Knowing your audience has always been a foundation of strong marketing, and digital only underscores the need for a more precise articulation of who that audience is. So rather than trying to be everywhere all at once, one of the best strategies is to think like a buyer and ask yourself where your prospects are likely to look for information about products or services in your category. The more precision you can apply to your audience, the more effectively you’ll be able to use Big Data and programmatic to target the proverbial needle in the haystack. But the B-to-B audience presents a secondary challenge that marketers need to be aware of.

The people who make up the B-to-B audience are both consumers and business professionals. Offline, there’s a clear distinction between the two. But online, that distinction gets fuzzy. Consider your own internet browsing habits. At the office, you may search for a new product, then read some industry news, and then visit a dozen websites that have nothing to do with your industry or who you are as a professional. From a targeting perspective, B-to-B buyers need to be aware that their audience wears multiple hats. 

But from a messaging perspective, it’s important to remember that the people you’re speaking to bring their consumer expectations to work. That means the creative bar for B-to-B ads is the same as the threshold necessary to engage on a consumer level. As consumers, we expect a great online user experience that’s optimized for mobile, compelling emails, catchy banner ads, and videos with good production value. That’s not to say that a B-to-B marketer needs to do all of these things, but rather that whatever you do, you need to put your own consumer hat on and ask if you’re meeting those high expectations. 

Don’t let your website become a dead zone
For a lot of B-to-B marketers, a website feels more like an obligation than an opportunity. Sometimes, the result of that mindset is a bare bones site with nothing more than a company logo and a contact page, or maybe enough content to make a brochure. At the other end of the spectrum, we see sites that have become dumping grounds for case studies and white papers. In truth, it’s not about how much content you have; it’s about surfacing your message so that the targeting work you do has meaning.

One of the best ways to make sure that your website doesn’t become a dead zone is to adapt the best practices of ecommerce. Instead of optimizing for sales, the idea is to use analytics to drive whatever metric is most important to your business, whether it’s increasing inbound calls, the number of email addresses collected, or webinar joins. 

Digitize your trade show
Most B-to-B marketers put the bulk of their energy and money toward trade shows. But to make the most of those important opportunities, B-to-B marketers need to create “digital glue” that connects them with the trade show audience before, during, and after the event.

In all likelihood, your audience has already done enough research to know who you are prior to the event, so there’s an opportunity to get more specific with your messaging through custom landing pages, social campaigns, and targeted ad buys in trade publications. Ideally, you want to direct the audience toward engagement opportunities at the event where they can meet your team and learn more. Once at the event, your marketing needs to become even more targeted because you’re speaking to people who are physically present.

A geo-targeted mobile ad, for example, can direct people to an afternoon presentation or your booth for a demonstration. After the event, you have the opportunity to follow up your leads with content that speaks to the show experience, such as a PowerPoint presentation, a video of the show, or a white paper.

The more effort you put into event targeting, the more value you’ll extract from the trade show. There’s also a larger, virtuous circle at work through the application of Big Data. By quantifying what you learn about buyers at a trade show, you can improve the degree to which you’re able to articulate your audience, and with a more targeted audience, your website will be able to generate better leads. Ultimately, advances like programmatic and Big Data aren’t a replacement for traditional B-to-B marketing strategies; they should help you build on what’s already working.


Yariv Drori is the VP of programmatic ad operations at MultiView


 

The views and opinions expressed in Marketing Maestros are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

 

 


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