May 10, 2018

10 Signs Your B2B Needs Digital

“Digital, schmigital!”

Though this exact phrase isn’t as common as it should be, there are still many B2B organizations that have yet to embrace the full power of digital marketing, even in 2018! Of course, undertaking any new initiative can be daunting, and the intrinsic hurdles of revamping an established digital strategy will always be there. These hurdles can become even greater when your leadership is more old school in their thinking, or whenever all your marketing decisions are made under a tight budgetary implications-and-ROI microscope.

A close-up shot of the front side of an open MacBook laptop

Regardless of your hurdles, there’s an ever-increasing number of signs that it’s time to get serious about investing in digital marketing, whether it’s through technical web development initiatives or more internal efforts like social media administration and management.

From red flag emergencies to critical warning signs to general tips and advice, here’s everything you need to know about when to ramp up your strategic digital marketing in the B2B space.

Red Flag Emergencies

These signs can come in many forms, but below are some of the red flag emergencies you should never ignore if you want your B2B efforts to become—or remain—relevant.

#1 You Don’t Have a Website

This should go without saying, but if you still don’t have a website—seriously, just get one. Like, immediately.

There’s no other way around it: functional, intuitive, and user-friendly websites are 100% essential for any modern business, regardless of its size or industry.

#2 You Don’t Have a CMS

Having a website is certainly the bare minimum in the digital world, but it should also be accompanied by a user-friendly content management system (CMS). A CMS is essentially a platform that helps you manage all your content that displays on the front end of your website, which encompasses everything from words to images to videos to links.

If your B2B company marketers lack the ability to easily access and edit the back end of your website’s content, then you’re extremely limited in what you can actually accomplish online…and how quickly you can accomplish it.

#3 You Don’t Have a Digital Strategy to Speak of

Even if your B2B already has a sprinkling of digital marketing, a bare-bones website and some social media profiles, putting all these elements together into a cohesive, objective-oriented strategy is an essential first step towards better online marketing. After all, creating a strategy helps set clear tasks that will guide your marketers on the path to success, but that success should always tie directly into your overall organizational goals.

On the other hand, if you already have a marketing plan or strategy…great! Modifying it to incorporate digital elements won’t be as painful or expensive as you might expect, especially if you just want to dip your toes in to get the ball rolling.

To put it simply: one way or another, you need a marketing strategy that is specific to digital and the web. That’s where all the other B2B’s and their (aka: your) customers are hanging out these days.

#4 You Aren’t Emailing

It’s no secret that email marketing has become one of the most effective and popular means for B2B marketers to generate leads, communicate with their followers, increase brand awareness and even directly generate revenue. In fact, 59% of B2B marketers say email is their most effective channel in terms of revenue generation.

Whether it’s a weekly or monthly initiative, if you’re not regularly emailing your customers, prospects, advocates and even employees, then you’re quickly falling behind. Think about it: the majority of your competitors are likely not only emailing already, but also refining their approach with every send by optimizing their messaging, email opens and click conversions—all things that help quantify success. If that’s the case, then optimizing an email campaign today might be the only thing that can stop your competitors from gaining world domination. Be the hero that your B2B needs!

#5 Your Online Info is Outdated or Wrong

It goes without saying, but today’s top search engines and various online directories are replacing traditional phone books and old-school directories. If you’ve never provided Mr. Google, Mrs. Bing, or Dr. Yahoo! the basics about your business, then there’s no telling what type of information is floating around out there.

Any and all B2B companies need to have complete control and adequate management of the information that search engines and online directories are displaying, including your business locations, social accounts, your website URL and more. Otherwise, it could be duplicative, outdated or flat out wrong. Your company’s online presence is either controlled by you, or controlled by the masses, the gossipers and the competition, the latter of which aren’t above hijacking your unclaimed digital presence and using it to harm you. In essence, it’s your job to build your own narrative—or somebody else will.

#6 Your Website is Not Mobile Responsive

Not only is the web accessed by billions of people a day, but the majority of those people are accessing the internet on a mobile device or tablet instead of on a traditional desktop or laptop computer. Last year (in 2017) worldwide mobile website traffic surpassed desktop traffic, a trend that is expected to continue as the availability and popularity of usage of mobile devices continues to surge in popularity.

Mobile-friendly websites have come a long way in relatively short time span. Modern sites are thoughtfully condensed and simplified to work on smaller-screen device, while also loading quicker and accommodating users who are browsing with their fingers instead of a mouse.

Additionally, Google’s latest search algorithm places a bigger emphasis on mobile traffic, speed and user experience—even more so than desktop. If your site isn’t user friendly or easily accessible on a mobile device or tablet, then you’re probably being penalized by Google and the other search engines, ranking low and missing out on a ton of traffic.

Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore

#7 You’re Not Measuring Things

You might be able to get by without tracking and measuring digital metrics, but you’ll never really know how successful your efforts are without some sort of data to back it up.

Numbers help you see which initiatives are effective and which are a total failure. With practice and refinement, you’ll learn where you should spend your time and resources, and eventually start to generate more results as you hone in on the things that positively impact your business.

By the way…you know who likes to see positive ROI? Your boss.

#8 You Have No Social Profiles / Social Media

It’s 2018, so it’s probably say to say it: social media has survived the test of time. It’s no longer just a social thing for technically-savvy college kids, or a place to house random Harlem Shake videos.

In reality, the term “Social Media” has grown to encompass everything that could be considered modern journalism (for better and for worse). It represents a massive portion of the web where every user stands on equal ground and is empowered to share opinions and engage in open discussions about anything or with anyone—especially businesses. As such, many B2B organizations have already embraced social media as a viable way of staying in front of potential customers, joining in on conversations and presenting a more human element to their brand.

Somewhere, at this very moment, your target customers are likely engaged in an ongoing discussion about something relevant to your business (or maybe even a discussion about your business). The best way to get in front of them is to be present and helpful when those conversations take place, and that simply can’t occur if you don’t have any social account to join in with.

#9 You Are Questioning Your Distributor Model

In the past, generating retail sales, whether in brick-and-mortar stores or through online alternatives, was much more challenging. First, you had to find the stores and shops willing to sell your product, then you had to work with distributors to get the products to the stores and finally, you had to either market everything yourself…or pay someone else to do it.

Flash forward—it’s now the present day. Virtually all of those stores are online now, and your distributors are also most likely selling direct as well. Sites like Amazon, Ebay and other free-for-all ecommerce sites have not only provided an incredibly convenient platform for selling directly to consumers, but they’ve also empowered others to create their own ecommerce-enabled sites. If you jump in the game yourself, then you are also in a unique position to undercut the competition, and potentially open up a whole new (and incredibly lucrative) direct-to-consumer channel for your business.

#10 You Lack Online Conversions

A great website, creative PPC ads, innovative landing pages and the most advanced SEO tactics in the world can get you pretty far—but what happens next? Ultimately, none of this can really be considered “success” unless it generates sales, leads or both. And, in general, to make a sale or gain a lead, the user needs to take some sort of action, whether it’s clicking a “Buy Now” button or entering an email address to receive more information.

To convert a digital user or visitor into a customer or consumer that actually makes you money, there should always be a clear and simple path for them to follow. If your website, landing pages, email messages or digital outreach is lacking in user-friendly conversion opportunities, that’s a clear sign it’s time to refresh your approach.

Signs That Could Get You Lost

The signs are everywhere—and, if you know what you’re looking for, then a lot of those signs will let you know whether or not your B2B strategy is heading in the right direction. For example, here are some of the biggest warning signs to look out for when it comes to digital marketing in the B2B space, especially if you already have a digital presence that you want to maintain or enhance.

  • Warning Sign 1: Your brand doesn’t translate digitally. If your logo looks awkward, your colors aren’t ADA compliant or your brand imagery is grainy and pixelated, then these are signs that it’s time for a digital-friendly brand refresh.
  • Warning Sign 2: Your website isn’t optimized for search. Search engines have become the main internet entry point for online users. Google, Bing and the others are where virtually everyone starts his or her quest to find the content, products, services or information that they seek. As such, your website should be search friendly and easy to find.
  • Warning Sign 3: You Don’t Have a Keyword Strategy. A vitally important aspect of any SEO undertakings, and also one of the most valuable metrics for quantifying your success over time, is a well-thought out keyword strategy. Without one, it’s hard to focus your content, copy and other online efforts around the keywords or phrases that real-life users are actually typing in to find you or your competitors.

Bonus: Your industry or niche is not very competitive. Okay, this is actually more of a huge opportunity than a warning sign, but it’s still very much worth addressing! If you do exist in a particularly niche or non-competitive industry, then you have an invaluable chance to differentiate yourself from others in your market by tapping into a unique online audience.

Ready to Break the Mold?

Whether you want to refine your keyword strategy, optimize a user experience or build a brand new website or logo, the Blackstone Media team is here to help. Or, if you don’t know what you want to do or where to start, but you do see the potential in harnessing digital platforms to expand your business, we’ll be happy to work together to come up with the perfect plan. Getting starting is as easy as dropping us an email!