We recently celebrated our 13th anniversary as a digital marketing agency. Since our client focus is a B2B company, we know first hand what they all have in common – they all prioritize lead generation above all other results.
There is something else that all B2B companies have in common. The path from getting started, to being wildly successful in digital marketing is a journey. Just ask Rick Short. Rick is one of the most successful B2B marketers I know. He is the mastermind behind Indium’s digital marketing journey. They’ve been at it for about nine years.
The B2B digital marketing journey is like any maturation process. We recently reflected on this journey across our thirteen year history. First, we documented the attributes, then our creative director translated it all into an infographic.
As you review this infographic I want you to know that it is NOT based on research findings. Rather, it is anecdotal based on our experience as a digital marketing agency with a B2B client base. Naturally, I wouldn’t expect the data in the infographic to be applicable to all B2B companies.
This infographic is intended to illustrate the journey with orders of magnitude of results in each stage. Let’s look at each stage…
Whether it’s a new exercise program or a new digital marketing strategy, the early stage is all about learning and getting started. Too often, a company begins the journey with unrealistic expectations. These expectations may be influenced by naive management (from a digital marketing perspective) or simply by inexperience in what it takes to generate leads through digital marketing. In the early stage, a company is generally figuring it out as they go, even if they have help from a capable agency or consultant.
The percentage of marketing budget allocated to digital is generally low in the early stage largely because it is not yet a proven marketing method to the company. This is a challenge. Think “chicken or egg.” This is why a laser focus on relevant content with relevant calls-to-actions are so important in the early stage in order to measure true business results.
The most important metrics to consider in any stage of the journey are the two that move the needle – Visitor to Lead Conversion Rates & Lead to Customer Conversion Rates. These two metrics matter most because they tell the ROI story. It’s important for an early stage company to understand the importance of these two metrics to avoid being distracted by a lot of other data that are not as meaningful to the bottom line.
If these two metrics are not improving quarter over quarter, your digital strategy should be revisited.
After a couple of years of experimenting and making progress, a B2B company is in the mid-stage of their digital marketing journey. Often, we see a marketing department on their second or third generation marketing team since launching their digital strategy. That’s a natural progression as the structure of digital marketing requires more advanced skills. In the mid stage, the company is much more intentional about the content it produces. The company recognizes the value of employee advocacy and the importance of investing in marketing technology and tools. Visitor to Lead and Lead to Customer Conversion rates produce enough ROI to warrant an increased allocation of the marketing budget to digital in comparison to the Early Stage.
The mature stage is usually in the range of 5 + years into the digital marketing journey. Employee advocacy is well adopted. In fact, contribution of content from employees is substantial in the mature stage. The volume of website traffic, calls-to-actions and content produced is substantial both in quantity and quality. A mature stage company also understands the importance of building a proprietary audience. They’ve been building a loyal audience with a laser focus on providing true value, and enjoying loyalty and advocacy in return. Their Visitor to Lead and Lead to Customer Conversion Rates are healthy enough to result in strong alignment between the Marketing and Sales teams. This alignment produces a self-perpetuating collaboration that is considered by many as the holy grail of modern B2B marketing.
These three phases of the B2B digital marketing journey are not quite as black-and-white as I suggest. As stated earlier, the picture painted in our infographic serves to illustrate the path or journey and the potential reward. It is unique to each B2B company and it is influenced by many factors.
By now, you’re wondering where you are on the B2B digital marketing journey. Start by reviewing the infographic and call us to discuss how we can help you on your own B2B Digital Marketing Journey.