Tuesday, May 21, 2024

3 Key Elements to Drive Growth

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A winning B2B tech marketing strategy requires a holistic approach encompassing various elements tailored to the unique dynamics of the industry. We can attest that B2B tech purchases often involve different stakeholders, longer sales cycles, and decision-making processes that vary greatly in complexity. Consequently, marketing B2B technology to decision makers involves understanding each of their motivations and challenges.

Creative strategies based on market insight, accurate data collection, and adoption of emerging technologies are three essential factors for today’s tech B2B marketers to make better-informed decisions, streamline processes, and address the challenges of marketing technology to B2B buyers.

This article covers a number of important considerations within these 3 key elements to keep in mind when developing your digital strategy. But first, it’s important to understand the specifics of the industry.

Types of B2B technology marketing

Annoyingly, not all B2B tech can be marketed in the same way. This is owing to the differences in the types of products that fall under the umbrella of “B2B technology”. In general, three main categories exist:

  1. B2B tech hardware
    Marketing this category involves education about things like technical specifications, compatibility, integrations, costs of maintenance and durability, with winning products often demonstrating a range of benefits across these factors.
  2. B2B enterprise software
    Promoting software to enterprise buyers involves education about new features, and discussion of benefits that outweigh existing systems, tools and processes. Depending on the software’s functionality, decision makers could involve a wide range of job functions and seniorities.
  3. B2B SaaS (Software as a Service)
    Unlike the other two categories, B2B SaaS marketing requires focus on the end user, as initial decisions can be quick and made by an individual, who then sells it internally if the product is successful.

What makes B2B technology marketing different?

Technology purchase decisions involve varied stakeholders in businesses of different sizes. For a small tech business, the purchase decision is often made by the founders, whereas advisers play a crucial role in technology purchases for small non-tech businesses. Mid-sized and large organisations will involve technical and non-techie decision makers.

  • Marketing B2B technology is very often an educational process
  • Products are technical and the end-user is highly educated
  • Compatibility and integration with existing systems is critical
  • The messaging must vary depending on the recipient
  • Channels frequented by tech buyers can be surprisingly different
  • Relations and trust matter a lot more than in regular B2B

Selling to technology buyers in the same way that you’d approach a traditional B2B sale will almost always end in failure. Three key factors determine your success:

Understand the psychology of B2B purchases

For B2B tech firms, a multi-faceted approach to reach and engage with target audiences is essential. For example, companies specialising in SaaS, cloud computing software, or enterprise resource planning solutions will target three very different audience sets. To understand each audience, it is crucial to research the demography and market dynamics where each company intends to operate.

Social media listening

Product engineering
Big tech brands such as Oracle and Salesforce have built their own suite of social media listening tools to monitor mentions of brand names, product names, key executives and relevant keywords on social networks and even in industry-specific forums or communities.

Understanding sentiment about the brand on these platforms helps technology companies assess brand perception and plays an important role for the marketing and sales teams to identify purchase intent and areas for improvement. For example, if your competing SaaS product’s clients often complain on X about a missing feature that your product includes, it’s probably a good idea to shout louder about it!

Competitor analysis

Monitoring your competitors’ marketing activities and mentions will uncover insights into their strategies, product offerings, market positioning and customer feedback. Using keyword research tools can help a B2B tech firm understand what their competitors’ customers are looking for. This competitive intelligence can help refine your own strategies and stay ahead in the market.

A key factor in martech software developer, HubSpot’s success, was their commitment to understanding the needs of their customers and meeting these needs in ways their competitors were failing to do so. Whereas most CMS, CRM and marketing automation tools did only one thing well, and were often difficult to integrate with other solutions, HubSpot placed a strong emphasis on building products and services that made this easy for non-technical marketing folk.

Combine quantitative and qualitative data

Data from your company’s own customer research, content engagement, lead generation, product feedback and pre-sales questions can be used to identify customer motivators. This information can help create a better plan of action to guide customers towards the next step in their buying journey. Since B2B tech marketing is educationally driven, understanding your customers’ needs and pain points allows marketing to continuously improve messaging to inform prospects and answer questions that could derail the sales journey.

When telecoms giant NTT wanted to promote their data centre services, we focused messaging on the educational and thought leadership value of their content, and highlighted the fact that they contained exclusive interviews with data centre specialists. The marketing challenge was to drive the most relevant piece of content to the correct person, when they are most likely to be receptive to it. This required understanding the buyer journey in-depth, which required analysing various customer touchpoints online as well as conversations with sales consultants.

Build tracking & analytics solutions fit for purpose

The long lead times of B2B tech hardware and enterprise software purchases, and the specific needs of B2B SaaS sales present challenges for performance tracking and measurement. All online ad platforms rely on accurate tracking to perform, and modern marketeers rely on analytics to make important decisions.

Implementing robust, reliable data and tracking solutions is therefore a must for all B2B marketers. For SaaS brands, in particular, future-proofing conversion tracking will ensure lead generation and nurturing funnels continue to perform as they were before the demise of third-party cookies.  For hardware and enterprise software brands, the longer lead times require innovative approaches to tracking.

Understanding prospect behaviour

Compared to other B2B sectors, technology firms have distinct marketing requirements. When technology buying decisions are made in large groups with more than one stakeholder from the IT department involved, online tracking can be very challenging. Marketers often don’t reach all the people involved.

Biometric technologyDifferentiation among competitors in this sector is also more difficult – the nuances between one tech company’s solution and its competitors are especially tough to articulate in a single static post. Crafting unique messages and delivering them at the right time and place to decision makers is critical to success. Self-taught tech users are always weighing their options, and vendors need to time content delivery to match the buyer journey.

Understanding and monitoring behavioural indicators is essential for success in tech B2B marketing. Tech marketers may make data-driven judgements and obtain insightful knowledge about marketing initiatives by examining these measures.

Conversion tracking APIs

In a post-third-party cookie world, Conversion APIs bridge the gap between ad platforms and online & offline data, enabling marketeers to measure actions taken on site, sales completed via telephone, or leads generated in-person, where traditional cookie-based solutions may not work. With better tracking capabilities, B2B tech companies can provide more personalised experiences and leverage data from multiple sources (Meta, LinkedIn, Google, TikTok).

Deeper funnel tracking

From SaaS companies with subscription-based models to software developers, B2B technology firms need to have visibility of everything that happens along their conversion funnel and during the customer’s lifetime. Transaction processes and sales funnels are increasingly complex, and without proper tracking infrastructure in place, it will be hard for any tech marketer to analyse entire customer journeys and devise effective marketing plans.

Tracking conversion events beyond the initial lead generation online allows you to measure lead quality and optimise advertising campaigns for higher quality leads with opportunities. You can then identify lead generation channels that deliver qualified leads and retarget these qualified leads (rather than junk leads).

Tracking deeper funnel events also uncovers information about key touchpoints and interactions that lead to conversions, churn rates for customers acquired through different channels, and the potential points of leakage or drop-off within the sales funnel.

Scale B2B technology marketing with AI

There’s no doubt that artificial intelligence is transforming the way we think of marketing products and services, and the B2B tech sector is no exception. AI empowers B2B technology marketers to amplify their efforts by automating tasks, personalising content at scale, and leveraging data-driven insights to optimise campaigns quickly.

B2B marketing’s favourite social network, LinkedIn, is using AI to improve the recruitment process with tools that help hirers find qualified candidates faster, the content creation process for users to re-write posts with generative AI, and the advertising process with recommendations for an end-to-end campaign and automatic optimisations to reach the right B2B audience with engaging creatives.

SEO with AI & automationB2B software

Generative AI, or gen AI, like Google Gemini (formerly Bard), can assist SEO specialists with competitor analysis and keyword research. In just a few milliseconds, these tools can carry out tasks that required hours of manual work. In many respects, AI serves as a springboard for initiating search landscape studies.

IT decision-makers (ITDMs) often consult eight or nine different sources of information. They use four to five sources, on average, as they refine the short list and prepare to approve a sale. One of marketing’s most crucial responsibilities for B2B technology firms is to provide content that informs and guides consumers. Yet producing information that consumers genuinely want to consume is extremely difficult. Here too, generative AI can help with content ideation, preparing content outlines, and even reviewing manually created content to make it more effective.

AI for ad creation

AI-based tools help B2B tech advertisers automate the process of ad design and creative optimisation, enabling the creation and testing of multiple variations quickly and efficiently. Techniques such as A/B testing and multivariate testing, can then be used to quickly answer important questions such as:

  • What delivers better results: a screenshot of the user interface or people using your tool?
  • Which message resonates with your audience: focusing on the benefits or your product features?
  • Whether schedule a demo or start a free trial is a better call-to-action?

Generative AI toolsThese questions will sound familiar to all B2B SaaS marketeers. Of course, the way you use AI with advertising will depend on your product and business model, but considering questions like this when building your campaigns will help you run more effective tests and provide the ad platforms with more data to improve your messaging.

AI for video production

Generative AI can assist in writing scripts and storyboards for marketing videos, based on predefined parameters such as brand voice, messaging objectives, and target audience preferences. Natural language processing (NLP) algorithms can analyse written content and generate coherent scripts that align with the desired tone and style.

With advancement in the field, AI-driven platforms can now help you enhance the storytelling and engagement on your marketing videos by analysing raw footage and selecting the best shots, generating voiceovers and music tracks, or translating captions into different languages. AI video tools can even convert plain text into a video with an AI-generated person speaking your script.

In summary, driving growth in the B2B tech sector requires a considered approach, which including understanding your audience, leveraging accurate data, and implementing new and emerging technologies. The elements mentioned above are just a few to keep in mind when developing a marketing strategy. If you’d like to learn how we’ve implemented these and other tactics with some of our leading B2B tech companies, read our case studies, and drop us a line.

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