Thu, Nov 3, 2016

Growth Hacking and Digital Marketing Trends in 2017


Growth Hacking for B2B

When it comes to B2B endeavors, the use of digital marketing strategies or growth driven tactics for demand generation and acquiring new customers -such as Inbound Marketing- may produce a mental block to any startup or expanding company.

We realize that prospects can be discouraging in B2B companies looking to expand. Coming from a small economy like Chile, it’s categoric: if you don’t grow you may die. That is why we suggest looking for growth driven digital marketing experts – or growth hackers, to contribute generating more leads and close more deals.

While Inbound Marketing focuses on giving solutions by digital content creation, demand generation, lead nurturing and SEO optimization, Growth Hacking invites visitors to become promoters quickly using marketing techniques to promote usage and retention.

Growth hackers, using their knowledge of product and distribution, find ingenious, technology-based, avenues for growth that sometimes push the bounds of what is expected or advised.”

Neil Patel

But B2B companies often ask themselves… what’s in it for me? pointing that they’re different from B2C:

  • Hyper segmented customer profiles.
  • Longer sales process and cycles
  • Fewer resources for marketing.

They claim their industry is quite technical and they sell quite a “boring product”, and don’t consider they can try  out  and innovate in digital marketing strategies  to trigger that “growth spur”. They feel they couldn’t afford it: the difference between a successful and a failed year may be only ONE customer having their product.

Those reservations about B2B marketing are precisely the reason they are perfect for growth hacking.

Don’t mix growth driven marketing with crowd driven marketing.

One is cost effective, the other one is not.

1. Focus digital marketing on growth

Yes, that’s obvious, or is it? Growth Hacking expert Neil Patel complains that traditional marketers have a very broad focus, instead of centering on growth above all else. Branding, design, copywriting or distribution must serve growth and not the other way around.  

2. Use social media analytics to expand your target group

B2B customers are not just other companies. There are people and a complex internal structure behind the corporate logo.  You may be surprised who you may have bypassed on your marketing and sales efforts.

We find companies immersed in aiming at the direct user of their product.  With big data analytics or social media research we may find another buyer persona: it may be a boss in charge of budgeting, or their deputy assistant, who is in charge of research and quotations.  

3. Speak the language of new markets through international SEO

If a company wants to grow to other territories, it needs to speak its digital lingo. That is, how people express their goals on a search engine, a forum or a social media platform locally.

If London based factoring firm promotes “bill collection” in New York, people will think they are collecting money instead of receipts.  

People have different behaviors with digital platforms depending on the culture: in the United States and Canada, an entry-level executive may browse through eBooks; in Latin America, it may be easier to adapt an eBook into a video. Growth hacking explores new streams to attract visitors.

4. Use digital to spread the word-of-mouth

One traditionally links word-of-mouth referrals as an offline marketing tool, and fail to see that at the age of Facebook, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Instagram and LinkedIn they all click. 

  • Referrals may be spread online and your company would need to give it a push, using a spread the word capability.
  • Offline word-of-mouth referrals may not go directly to your sales executive, but want to look at who you are, and how do you approach the service they need.

4. Educate

Google  and  Millward Brown Digital found out that 71% of B2B researchers start looking for general information instead of approaching directly a product or a brand.

A B2B sales cycle can be long and thoughtful, and companies must consider well if the products they’re offered are a good fit- if they are aware that they may need your product, that is.

5. Repurpose your content strategy

This may sound like a common (and misinterpreted) definition of hacking: cheating. But it’s not.

Second, you may have given a brilliant presentation at an industry event, but it doesn’t have to end there. You can turn it into educational content to send around those who weren’t at the presentation.

The same goes to email marketing campaigns. You may be presenting the same features to three different buyer personas or markets: customize them, as each of them will want to know what’s in it for them: ROI? Better operations? Improved management?

Google  and  Millward Brown Digital found that 70% of B2B buyers and researchers look at videos during their decision process. Why not turn it into one?

In 2017, we’ll see increases in experimentation, visual content, new social media channels and artificial intelligence to engage and service customers.

6. Join, develop and foster virtual communities around your solutions

We’re at an age of collaboration. Many B2B start small: serving a specific branch of a company, or an individual department of a corporation, then they work their way up and expand. At the same time, there are industries working in clusters helping each other.

According to Gartner, the three most influential B2B marketing activities are direct interaction with the provider, references and events (both virtual and physical).  Finding your way on social media forums or even creating your own network in one of them can help you touch base with both existing and potential customers, and  work their way up.

7. Test and iterate

Google and Millward Brown Digital found that 42% of B2B researches use mobile devices during their consideration. Did you forget to be mobile responsive?

Marketers are using iterations to test online how can an email campaign copywriting and design get more leads through A/B testing, how can the user experience turn the website design into a conversion tool, and how can be fine tune our message to specific buyer personas using keyword analysis and research.

8. Automate to scale up and retain a personal touch

Automation helps segmentation and personalization. You can’t send the same email to a corporate CEO and its head of acquisitions. You need to keep in touch with your existing customers, but you shouldn’t send them the same content than a potential buyer.

9. Reverse engineer your metrics

It’s one of the beauties of marketing and engineering working together. It’s essential to any strategy: find the issue and work your way back to the cause.

You may want to focus specifically on Growth driven metrics, as  HubSpot puts it:  

  • Acquisition: how do users find you?
  • Activation: do users have a great first experience?
  • Retention: do users come back?
  • Revenue: do you make money?
  • Referral: do users tell others?

Where would your company want to grow? Is it considering using a growth hacking approach?

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Ismail Aly
Ismail Aly    

Inbound Marketing & Sales Enablement Consultant, HubSpot User Group Leader, HubSpot Platinum Partner