Marginal gains: the key to B2B marketing success

21/04/2017
Blog posted by Tom Pepper
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Tom Pepper, Director at LinkedIn Marketing Solutions UK on how marginal gains are a key factor in success in B2B marketing.

From the minute they wake up, consumers across the UK are bombarded thousands of advertising messages every single day. In today’s digital age, brands’ routes to reach audiences are increasing, yet consumers are becoming savvier to brand attention, less loyal and marketers are facing increased competition, continually fighting to be heard. Often this resorts to who shouts loudest, wins.

But when it comes to B2B, the same rules simply don’t apply. The process of buying a multi-million-pound IT system or a new fleet of electric vehicles,is so much more complicated. It takes time and leads need to be nurtured. This often comes down to smoothing out the buying journey, sometimes over years, rather than hoping for a seismic breakthrough.

Sweating the small stuff

In fact, the devil is often in the detail. Focussing on getting the small things right contributes to much bigger business results over time. Take the very well-known example of the England Rugby Team, under the management of Sir Clive Woodward. His emphasis on the importance of ‘critical non-essentials’ was undoubtedly key to the team’s 2003 success - small changes which built into a World Cup win.

The idea of marginal gains is equally applicable to B2B marketing and more often than not it comes down to making things more simple - making it easier for audiences to access content and the product; and making it easier for brands to measure and capture the impact. 

The role of publishers

This can often come down to the type of tools being used and it’s one of the reasons that publishers like us are continually evolving and developing our platform. Sometimes this entails new capabilities and products - like Conversion Tracking which launched last year to help marketers track leads from their campaigns and better understand ROI - and other times it’s making existing capabilities work harder.

Lead Gen Forms, which launched earlier this month, is just one example of this. It’s a new tool which enables marketers to break down one more barrier: gated content. Recent research by LinkedIn exploring the tech buying committee shows that gated content is one of the biggest barriers for marketers, with 81% of those surveyed deciding against downloading content due to its gated nature. By providing an auto-complete function for forms required to download content on mobile, LinkedIn is making it even easier for marketers to convert leads.

Tools alone will only get you so far, however, it often comes down to the small changes in a culture too. For marketers, this often means having a closer working relationship with the sales teams. Businesses whose sales and marketing teams aren’t closely aligned are not only missing out financially, they could even be damaging their all-round customer experience.

I’m not necessarily talking about creating a new vision statement or buying a load of bean bags, but taking steps each day to work more collaboratively. This could start with scheduling in a regular coffee with your sales or marketing colleague, or dedicating a bit of time each week to better understand your peers’ role and how they go about it each day. Anything which puts metrics that the sales team “get” into the hands of marketers, i.e. leads, will help grease the wheels for better collaboration.

In an increasingly competitive marketplace, marginal gains are crucial for any B2B marketer looking to carve out a niche and boost the bottom line. It’s not about looking for a breakthrough moment, but instead nurturing every element that’s within your control. By focussing on the small things, boosting the success of the tools you use and the relationships you have, the bigger business impact will come.;

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