Digital strategy: Are you meeting your prospects online?

    part of your digital strategy means hanging out where your prospects are online

    Digital strategy: Are you meeting your prospects online?

    A recently released report has highlighted the growing importance of online content creation in the form of blogs, videos and SEO-driven content in business-to-business (B2B) digital strategy.

    The report by Hubspot, entitled “State of Inbound 2017”, reveals leading marketing and sales challenges businesses face today. It also examines new trends and channels that will soon affect the way we all do business.

    Social media is one such channel, and a “necessary evil” for marketers, according to the report for which over 6 000 professionals in 141 countries were surveyed.

    Billions of people are always logged into one of these networks, so businesses have to participate to grow their reach.

    Mastering social media

    Digital strategy and marketing teams are trying to understand which channels their target audiences are using to communicate. And how they can tap into these platforms.

    However, owners and marketing teams alike worry about where they should be focusing their energies next. And, most importantly, what the return on investment will be.

    As one respondent said: “Being able to not only create content but also target it for those various platforms is a constant evolution.”

    Another respondent noted: “Social channels are constantly rolling out new features and metrics. We have to quickly wrap our minds around it if it’s important to our audience . . . it’s very difficult to keep on top of.”

    “If a company is slow to capture a new mode of communication, it might as well stop the business.” – State of Inbound 2017

    Well-respected digital marketer Mark Schaefer argues there’s no glory in being “old school” any longer. He says it’s basically the same as telling people you’re obsolete.

    Schaefer says the right attitude is to be curious about the advantages that new technologies can offer businesses.

    Video leads the way in digital strategy

    It’s no real surprise that video will be a tool that many marketers will turn to in the next 12 months. It has become such a popular medium for connecting with prospects. Video can also be used on a variety of platforms, from websites to social media.

    One of the respondents in the survey noted: “We are looking more into video content and visuals. We also want to get more into podcasting and creating relevant content that consumers enjoy looking at.”

    “Video is just going to get bigger and bigger,” said another. “I think more people want raw, honest connection.”

    Predictably, the main focus for today’s marketers is converting leads into customers and growing traffic to their website.

    As far as inbound marketing goes – where potential customers find you through channels like blogs, search engines, and social media – 61% of respondents said their top priority was to improve their organic (unpaid) rankings on search engines such as Google.

    Messaging apps becoming important in digital strategy

    Some 53% said their focus was on creating blog content that can be found via search. Some 47% said distributing and amplifying this content was a top priority.

    YouTube, Facebook and Instagram remain the top three content distribution channels that marketers will add to their digital strategy documents in the year ahead.

    Facebook video, however, has seen the largest jump from last year’s survey. It was up from 39% to 46% this year.

    Messaging apps such as WhatsApp also seem to be growing in popularity. Some 24% of respondents said they would add this platform to their mix.

    Email remains the preferred communication channel (86%), with face-to-face (60%) and telephone conversations (56%) ranking second and third.

    Interestingly, 31% of respondents said they prefer using traditionally “personal” channels such as social media and messaging apps to communicate professionally

    This figure is only likely to increase in the years to come as businesses begin to adopt these channels for their own marketing efforts.

    Final thoughts on digital strategy

    The big question is: how do we change the way we market and sell to match the way people actually shop and buy?

    The feedback from professionals around the world suggests the following when it comes to digital strategy:

    • meet your prospects where they “live” online
    • figure out which channels work best for your business
    • be open-minded enough to try new technologies to nurture better relationships with your customers

    As Schaefer so eloquently put it: “Nobody is a marketing expert anymore. Everybody is a student.”