How B2B marketers can win the battle for attention

  • How do you increase customer engagement? Columnist Peter Isaacson discusses some key tactics to help you turn prospects into sales opportunities.


    We’re all competing to capture the attention of our best prospects and customers, and, let’s face it — that’s no easy feat. We’re bombarded daily with information from all sides and individually choose to let in what we care about in the moment and block out anything that just creates overload.

    With research and buying habits from our personal lives bleeding into and influencing our professional lives, there’s a battle for attention that’s getting tougher to fight every day. Just like we disregard a commercial on TV or an ad in a magazine due to its lack of relevance to us, we also block out communications from brands that don’t resonate or address challenges we’re facing.

    Engagement is the new currency for B2B marketers. When we can capture and hold the attention of our audience, we have a real opportunity to nurture and mature our relationships.

    Here are four things to consider when trying to build trust with your audience:

    Focus your efforts on those you want to engage

    The notion of mass communication has been proven to reduce engagement and ultimately dilute performance. Getting tons of people to read your latest e-book or visit your website is great, but if none of them have the potential to turn into customers, have you really achieved anything?

    A better way is to get specific with whom you want to reach. An Account-Based Marketing (ABM) strategy can help focus your efforts on targeted audiences that have the highest propensity to engage with your message and turn prospects into customers at a higher rate.

    Target for engagement

    To target for engagement, you first need to build your target account list with your sales team. In doing so, you should answer these questions:

    • What companies are most important to achieving your revenue for the year?
    • Who are the 20 percent that are going to drive 80 percent of your results?

    You can take a few different approaches to build this list: Hire a predictive analytics company; identify the vertical industries the sales and marketing teams are already targeting; or understand how sales is aligned and ensure their strategic accounts are included in your target account list.

    Whatever path or combination of paths you choose, you need to collaborate with your sales team along the way and ensure they provide insight on the list based on their experience in the field.

    Once you have your target account list, begin marketing to these accounts to increase your awareness among them. You can’t control when those accounts will evaluate solutions like yours, but you can make sure that you are top of mind when they do and that you deliver relevant, contextual content that keeps them engaged and helps throughout their journey.

    Consider always-on campaigns that will keep you in the game, but reduce waste through specific targeting.

    • Account-Based Advertising is a great way to keep your message always in front of target accounts without wasting valuable ad dollars on unintended recipients.
    • Also, consider more responsive approaches like Account-Based Retargeting (retargeting only to valued account visitors) or always-on nurturing, which gives the target the ability to self-select a prospect’s journey and information consumption process.

    Measure by engagement

    Most marketers want to focus on an attribution model that shows revenue optimizing for channel and assets — and that’s a good thing. But don’t lose sight on upstream indicators that can provide key insights into what drives that downstream attribution.

    Before you begin your engagement-focused campaigns, take a benchmark for 30 days to understand how your accounts are currently engaging with your campaigns. This will be imperative to understanding the impact of your marketing on those accounts.

    Then, as your campaigns launch and complete, measure the engagement you achieved with your target accounts. The accounts that increased the most represent the lowest-hanging fruit for deeper-funnel campaigns that drive those directly attributed results.

    Enable sales to identify and take action on engagement

    At Demandbase, my employer, we see that approximately 80 percent of website visitors aren’t from accounts that are likely to buy our solutions. Just as we have to cut out the noise from around our targets, we have to help the sales team rise above the din to focus on what matters most to them: accounts that are engaged and most likely to turn into sales opportunities.

    When there are spikes in engagement from an important audience segment (aka a target account), sales has to be made aware immediately to capitalize on and convert that engagement into business results. This can be fairly easy to do when you have known people in your database, but it proves trickier when those triggers are anonymous.

    It’s critical to be able to identify both types of spikes and power sales with the intelligence they need to get ahead of the competition.

    Leads alone are no longer adequate for your sales team. With limited attention spans, we have to be able to drive deeper engagement with our target accounts and turn that engagement into actionable insights.

    Then, we can determine our campaign performance and enable sales teams to take action. Engagement — through relevance, timing and enablement — is how we’re delivering on this shift.

    Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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