By Chris Chariton
Smart marketers know that in order to achieve a long-term, healthy pipeline of business, you need a successful plan that’s balanced with the right marketing tactics. While there are many options for marketers, in the last 15 years different tactics have proved to be capable of delivering demonstrable results.
For example, websites have evolved from static pages of general information to robust sites that stimulate interaction with customers. Third-party portals have been created to address the search and information needs of specific industrial audiences, often in targeted verticals. And now, social media is becoming more of a factor in purchasing decisions.
The optimal mix between new and traditional marketing methods varies for companies, due to factors such as industry vertical and customer/prospect demographics. It also differs by objective — whether the marketer is looking to enhance branding, increase qualified sales leads, drive Web traffic, improve awareness of new or existing products or some combination of these and/or other goals.
Here is an outline that provides some proven choices for creating a healthy online marketing mix:
Editorial content Before the Web customers and prospects mostly relied on articles written by journalists for quality information. Today, everyone can be a publisher. Marketers can create quality content to demonstrate knowledge and expertise, and disseminate it through blogs, white papers, newsletters (both email and hard copy) articles, press releases and other media channels.
Banner ads These ads, which appear at the top or sides of a Web page, offer an inexpensive way for marketers to gain regular exposure to and build brand awareness among highly targeted customers and prospects while they are searching for information.
Online Multimedia Visitor engagement is an important goal for marketers. Webinars and webcasts are rapidly growing in popularity among marketers looking to demonstrate thought leadership among a highly qualified and targeted audience through the use of slide presentations and video, allowing prospects to engage with the content being delivered. Another option: online trade shows. Hosted from the convenience of a desktop, these live events bring together suppliers of virtual booths and an audience who clicks through the “showroom floor,” visiting suppliers, attending educational sessions and accessing information.
Social media Social media use among marketers and buyers is growing at a rapid clip. Much of the value of social media outposts is in branding and thought leadership. The low cost and ubiquity of social networks allows marketers to help their audience find them on the Web.
The most popular social network for B2B marketers is LinkedIn. Establishing a LinkedIn group around a company’s products or industry is an excellent way to engage buyers, communicate important information and promote the brand.
Facebook is the largest social network. Although it is primarily used for to share information that is of more of a personal nature, marketers can get prospects and customers to “like” their page and then deliver relevant information to them. Twitter allows companies to microblog and can be used to share breaking news, such as a product launch.
These are just a few of the tools that can be used as leverage in the marketing mix. The key is to test, measure, adjust and repeat. In short order, marketers can find the right balance that builds on both the top and bottom lines.
Chris Chariton is senior VP of product management and supplier marketing for GlobalSpec, a technology services company that serves the technical, industrial and manufacturing sectors. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.