5 Budget-Friendly B2B Digital Marketing Tactics for 2019

low cost B2B digital marketing tactics for 2019

5 Budget-Friendly B2B Digital Marketing Tactics for 2019

For many B2B digital marketing leaders, the beginning of a new year is a time for reflection, re-focusing energies, and planning for the road ahead. And for those of us with more modest (or shrinking) budgets, here are some solid B2B digital marketing tactics that will help you do more with less.
low cost B2B digital marketing tactics for 2019

So here we are, 2019. If you’re like me, you spent the better part of Q4 looking at YOY performance and mapping an improved marketing plan for 2019. You may also, like me, be looking to find ways to get more bang for your marketing buck—reducing ineffective marketing spend wherever possible.

Digital marketing can be expensive, but does it have to be?

How many times have you heard the old cliché, “Google loves taking your money?” I’ve probably used that cheesy one-liner more times than I’d care to admit, but in many cases B2B organizations aren’t doing everything they can to get the most out of their marketing budgets.

We see it all the time, from wasted spend on ineffective ads and keywords with low Quality Scores, to plain overbidding on terms that are much too competitive and costly. And these expenses aren’t necessarily so black & white, either.

Think about the amount of time you spent researching and writing blog content and posting daily to your social media channels. Were you working toward a planned objective? Did you develop a winning keyword strategy? Were KPIs established? How’d you do?

Cost/Effort vs. Value

For us marketers, it’s all about finding the most effective digital marketing strategies and tactics that cost the least, and take only as much energy and time as necessary, nothing more.

B2B digital marketing tactics cost vs. value

Looking at the chart above, the goal is to find strategies and digital marketing tactics with the lowest cost/effort that create the most value.

Keep in mind, larger trees may yield more fruit over time, but it’s the smaller trees that bear fruit much sooner.

(And yes, I looked that up.)

5 budget-friendly B2B digital marketing tactics

5 Budget-Friendly B2B Digital Marketing Tactics for 2019

1. Step Up Your LinkedIn Game

When working with B2B clients, it’s rare that LinkedIn doesn’t bubble it’s way up during initial conversations. One of the first rules of social media is to choose your channels carefully—one social network does not fit all. And for business-facing organizations, LinkedIn is where your customers, most certainly, are at.

LinkedIn Website Demographics

Do you know which companies are visiting your site? With LinkedIn Website Demographics enabled, you’ll be able to track which organizations are visiting your site most frequently, which is indispensable information for your sales team (not to mention great intelligence for direct targeting campaigns).

LinkedIn Website Demographics

LinkedIn Advertising

For B2B organizations, LinkedIn can be a much more cost-effective strategy compared to Google AdWords, due generally speaking to better business-targeting features combined with a smaller (more qualified) audience. This targeted landscape means you’re getting in front of the right people, at a lower overall campaign and click cost.

Deep Dive: LinkedIn Ads – Everything You Need to Know to Get Results

2. Tap Into Your Existing Network w/ Email Marketing

Email marketing is an incredible way to reach your customers without having to put in too much manual legwork. With a proper marketing automation setup, you’ll be able to even further reduce time invested.

Organize & Segment

Email content should be tailed to who you’re speaking to. You’re not going to see stellar results by sending the same message to every customer, prospect, or colleague in your digital rolodex. Your communications should be crafted to a specific marketing persona—and better yet, a specific individual.

Keep it Simple

Look, people generally don’t like receiving marketing emails. So how do you drive open rates and make that connection? By keeping things simple and clean. Have a new capability or special offer that might interest your existing or previous customers? Let them know, but don’t feel like you need to cram every bit of info in your email. Highlight the benefits concisely, and include a single CTA to move them along. And be sure to keep subject lines short and personable.

Have a new introductory offer for first-time customers? Perhaps a new blog post providing valuable market insights? Send those resources to your prospect list, but perhaps less often than you would your customers.

Deep Dive: Tips to Increase Your Open Rate

3. Get Noticed w/ Directory Listing Management

One of our key learnings in 2018 is the substantial impact authoritative 3rd party directory listings had on traffic and lead generation. Referral traffic accounted for a substantial portion of our traffic and leads in 2018, especially compared to the previous year. Prominent placement on popular directory listings is a great way to diversify your presence and ensure brand visibility for years to come (not to mention, can assist with organic search rankings).

Free Directory Listings

There are hundreds, thousands of free directory listings out there. Some all-encompassing, others targeted toward specific industries or niches. Starting with the obvious, Google My Business, Facebook, Apple Maps, LinkedIn, Bing, among others.

Paid Placement

As you dive into the wonderful world of directory listing management, you’ll very quickly come to an understanding that not all directories are created equal. Some see disproportionately more traffic than others, and they tend to know it. Some of these directories require payment for premium placement, potentially costing thousands of dollars per month.

However, you may want to consider weighing this cost against other marketing strategies—PPC, for instance. Premium directories tend to include a baked-in audience of sales-ready prospects, which may very well give you more bang for your buck compared to impression-based marketing activities.

Deep Dive: The Ultimate List – 57 Online Local Business Directories

4. Create a Backlink Strategy

No, I’m not necessarily talking about spending hundreds of hours developing content for your blog in hopes of the occasional earned link—I’m talking about starting with the low-hanging fruit. And the first step in a results-driven backlink strategy is understanding what’s already out there.

Link Reclamation

If your organization has been around for any length of time, you’ve probably got a decent amounts of mentions and links scattered across the web. In a nutshell, link reclamation involves auditing of your existing backlink profile, updating URLs to drive consistency, adding links to your website on various owned directory listings, and reaching out to those mentioning your organization (news articles, press releases, blog posts, etc…).

B2B backlink strategy

Existing Partnerships

Do you offer a product or service valuable to the customers of your B2B partners? Are you willing to offer incentives to your business customers to promote your product or service on their website? If so, it might be worth having a conversation with them. Often, your partners will be willing to include a badge or text link on their own website or blog, linking back out to your website. And assuming your customers have authoritative sites, the baked-in industry relevance makes for a double-whammy benefit to your organization’s digital marketing efforts.

Deep Dive: Link-Building for SEO: The Definitive Guide (2019 Update)

5. Good Old Fashioned On-Page SEO

You think I’d put together a budget-friendly digital marketing punch list together without including search engine optimization? Never! SEO, done right, is essentially free traffic and can be a wonderfully effective lead generator.

Revisit Existing Content

One of the easiest things B2B organizations can do to improve their digital presence without spending a ton of time and money is looking at their existing website. Are pages categorized and well-organized inside of logical parent folders? Is your content free of technical and grammatical mistakes? Has it been a while since you’ve updated product or service page content—should you consider adding more content to those pages? By conducting a quality pass on your existing website and adding fresh, relevant content where applicable you can almost instantly improve your position in organic search results.

Deep Dive: How Updating Your Old Content Can Help With Your Rankings

Work Smarter, Not… Costlier.

B2B digital marketing doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective. There are plenty of things us marketers can do to drive results without driving up costs and lobbying for larger and larger ad budgets. Before diving too much further into 2019 marketing initiatives, I’d encourage you to conduct your own cost vs. value analysis.

Are you spending too much money on strategies that haven’t done much for your organization in 2018? Put them on pause. Take a look at the tools you have at your disposal, perhaps incorporating some of the recommendations above, and get that needle moving in 2019!

How to Create a Winning Keyword Strategy in 3 Easy Steps

How to Create a Winning Keyword Strategy in 3 Easy Steps

Today, the water cooler that is organic search is over-crowded with voices vying for attention (and the coveted #1 spot in the search rankings). So how can you create a winning keyword strategy that works?

Do You Feel Lucky?

Picking the right keywords for incorporation in your content strategy is a practice that, to a large extent, has failed to evolve adequately over time. Too often, organizations focus on search volume to create a winning keyword strategy, not considering the time and energy it takes to apply best practices and rank prominently for highly coveted search queries.

For example, if you’re a national steel manufacturing company looking to kick-start your organic visibility, you might say to yourself, “hey, we need to start ranking for ‘steel manufacturing.'”

Right? Think again.

The Right Formula

So, contrary to what you might think – the formula for ranking prominently in Google’s search results isn’t:

Content + SEO = Page 1 Rankings

It’s actually more like:

[Really really] Uniquely Good Content + Proper On-Page SEO + Website Relevance + Engagement Signals + Website Performance & Accessibility + Authoritative Backlinks + [Lots of] Time + 198 other ranking signals = Page 1 Rankings

It’s why you’ve struggled to get on page 1 among your top competitors. It’s the reason why your 1-blog-post-per-month strategy isn’t working. It’s why this imaginary steel manufacturing company will have a hard time getting to page 1 for the highly competitive term, “steel manufacturing.”

You see, Google will only rank content that is uniquely qualified to earn the top spot for user search queries, not just those that are littered with the right keywords.

So what’s a business focused on creating Digital Growth to do?

The following best practices will aid in achieving (read: not ensuring) a top spot Google’s organic rankings.

1. Do Your Homework

One of the first things you should be doing when attempting to rank organically for a keyword or phrase important to your business, is spend a few (valuable) minutes doing some research.

Conduct a Google search for your target phrase and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Has this been done before?
  • Is there a realistic opportunity to rank for this keyword?
  • What types of search results are currently ranking? Competitors? Informational resources?

This process will help you determine how realistic your goals are, or if you need to re-evaluate your strategy. If Google’s first page is displaying tons of informational knowledge graph snippets and informational resources like Wikipedia, you may find yourself up against a wall.

On the other hand, if Google appears to be display sales-oriented organic results (for example, peer organizations or direct competitors) that aren’t producing content that matches up directly with your desired keyword/phrase, you may have a good shot.

2. Have Something to Say

Great rankings will always begin with great content. Your content is doomed to obscurity if it doesn’t connect with your target audience. As a matter of fact, you can have great content that ranks really, really well without paying much attention to SEO whatsoever.

Your first step when embarking upon a content strategy should include research and discovery of which topics your target personas would find useful, interesting, and engaging.

Bonus: If content is so important, do you even need to worry about SEO? Good question.

3. Exploit the Long Tail

This is where the magic happens. Remember our imaginary steel manufacturing company from the beginning of this article? They, along with many business owners who “want it all and want it now” make a critical mistake of going for the gold (and likely falling flat).

The magic is in specificity and qualification—in other words, identifying the right long-tail search queries and crafting high-quality content aimed at being the #1 resource for that query.

Only after that’s been established and your content has been carefully crafted to be truly informative and helpful, can you focus on crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s of technical on-page optimization (title tags, descriptions, headings, links, etc…)

Google’s Analytics Intelligence Feature: Have We Reached the Singularity?

Google’s Analytics Intelligence Feature: Have We Reached the Singularity?

Google recently launched a new feature in its Analytics platform, simply referred to as “Intelligence.” This feature brings the power of machine learning and artificial intelligence together to deliver actionable insights in the blink of a cybernetic ocular implant.

About Google’s Analytics Intelligence Feature

Ok, well Google may not be in a position to trigger a Skynet-level apocalypse (yet), but it’s AI tech is becoming pretty impressive.

Recently, our team stumbled upon Google’s new “Intelligence” feature in Analytics, aimed at making insights more accessible to brands and marketers—and boy were we excited about the possibilities. From strategy to reporting, there are plenty of practical time-saving and valuable applications for this new feature.

More is Less

You see, historically Google’s powerful Analytics platform has eluded or been severely underutilized by many brands and business owners. The sheer volume of data across dozens of specialized reports can make it very difficult to find meaning and distill raw information into a story that can be used to impact larger business objectives.

Putting it to Work

According to Google, the new Intelligence feature is pretty… intelligent.

How it works

Metrics and dimensions are the building blocks of reports, and you can ask about them in Analytics Intelligence using natural language. Learn more about how metrics and dimensions work.

Let’s walk through an example:

  • Country is a dimension, and New Users is a metric.
  • In Analytics Intelligence, you can ask, “Which countries are most new users from?”
  • However, you don’t necessarily need to use the exact Analytics terminology when talking to Analytics Intelligence. You could also ask, “Which locations are new customers from?”. Analytics Intelligence will understand that “location” probably refers to the Country dimension, and “new customers” probably refers to New Users.

So is Analytics Intelligence the magic bullet brands and marketers need to draw actionable insights out of a sea of data?

Let the Testing Begin!

Scenario: Collecting Audience Data

We’ll keep it simple for starters. We asked Google to give us information about various audience attributes, including Demographics, Location, Device, and Frequency. Here are the results:

Query: “visitor demographics”

Google successfully pulled a report of Top Gender by Users—by default, reporting data from the last 7 days. By appending “year to date” at the end of the same search query, we saw the same report with the appropriately adjusted dates. Pretty cool!

Query: “top locations over the past 12 months”

By default, Google pulls the top countries, with the correct date range. By replacing the word “locations” with “cities,” we were presented with a deeper table-style report showing top metro areas (cities) by Session.

Another one in the win column for Google.

Scenario: Collecting Acquisition Data

Often, marketing professionals and business owners want to develop a deeper understanding of where website traffic is coming from, so they can both build on any momentum their seeing, but also find ways to tailor content to specific audiences.

For this next series of tests, we’ll dive into Google’s ability to tell us about incoming traffic.

Query: “top channels over the last quarter”

And we have a winner. Google pulled a Top Medium by Sessions report for the entirety of Q2, 2018.

Time to turn the heat up.

Query: “show me which pages saw the most traffic from Google last week”

Let’s dissect this search query for a moment. In a nutshell, I’ve baked in a few different requests into this search. I’ve asked Google to fetch data on:

  1. Specific pages
  2. From a specific source
  3. Within a fixed span of time.

And Google wins again. The report it pulled was Top Page by Sessions for Source of “Google.” Awesome.

Query: “which marketing channel is most effective?”

Alright, we’ve reached a limitation, and for good reason. According to Google’s knowledge base quote above, Analytics Intelligence only understands explicit metrics and dimensions such as City, Medium, Conversion Rate, etc…

In the example above, we saw very conveniently that “marketing” and “effective” are reported as terms that were not clear enough to produce a result.

The Verdict? Pretty Neat!

Google’s Analytics Intelligence feature may not be a perfect replacement for good old-fashioned data analysis, but I think it does a pretty good job at pulling simple-to-relatively-complex data in an instant.

Who’s It For?

This feature is tailor-made for entry to mid-level marketers, savvy business owners, and stakeholders in other departments who want to be more in-tune with how a client’s (or their own) website is performing.

Overall, I expect more and more teams to take advantage of this tool in a variety of contexts—from reporting to internal strategy sessions and client meetings.

I’ll certainly be encouraging some of our Marketing and Sales staff to give it a test run.

Mingling & Digital Marketing Mastery: Happy 20th Anniversary, MightyBytes!

Mingling & Digital Marketing Mastery: Happy 20th Anniversary, MightyBytes!

It’s always a special occasion when we’re given the opportunity to meet and get together with some of our Chicago agency peers—and a recent trip to the Ravenswood neighborhood and MightyBytes HQ is certainly no exception.

A few weeks ago, the Solid Digital Marketing team took a field trip to attend MightBytes’ “Digital Marketing Masterclass & 20th Birthday Do & Brew” at their Ravenswood office, a quick Uber ride away from our own in the Willis Tower.

Go Forth and Prosper

As a fast-growing web design and digital marketing agency relatively new to the scene in downtown Chicago, we’re eager to get out there, rub shoulders, and shake hands. When this workshop/networking celebration appeared on our radar, we jumped at the chance.

It was also a great opportunity for our budding marketing team to get out of the office, switch up the environment, and learn a few new things together, something I see as a critical component of team-building (post-event shots help, too).

Getting to Know MightyBytes
To our surprise, we learned that MightyBytes is a certified B-Corp—meaning their organization adheres to and maintains a high social and environmental standard, working toward becoming “a better digital agency for people and planet.”

Attendees also received a visit from their local composting representative, who proudly pointed out which hors d-oeuvres plates could be composted, and which needed to be recycled. Pretty neat!

Digital Marketing Masterclass

The training session itself was valuable and informative—chock full of best practices on marketing, SEO, design, conversion optimization, accessibility, and more.

Particularly interesting was an introduction of their approach to a strategic planning methodology called The 5 Why’s, which aims to drive effective decision making for complex marketing and design challenges through iterative question-asking and reasoning.

The class concluded with a handy self-evaluation worksheet, giving attendees—local agencies and small business owners alike—an opportunity to rate their own digital marketing efficacy.

Community

The big theme of our daytime trek was the importance of fostering community. Not only in how businesses contribute meaningfully to immediate surroundings and neighbors, or how peer agencies come together from time to time to share drinks, challenges, and important learnings—but how community is supported within our own organizations.

Are our individual personalities, goals, and aspirations aligned with company objectives? Is there a thriving, inclusive culture that encourages the personal and professional growth of every team member?

Community is the bedrock that allows for great things to manifest—within our cities and our organizations—and we’re glad to have been reminded of this important lesson by our new friends at MightyBytes.

The Digital Service Revolution at your Front Door

The Digital Service Revolution at your Front Door

In the age of acceleration, innovation, transparency, iteration are key to success. To address evolving consumer demands, Amazon pushes to meet growing customer expectations for accurate information (with some seriously impressive mobile app updates).

Growing Customer Expectations

With the rapid advancement of mobile app technology, we’re accelerating into the new service economy faster than ever. You can pick up groceries, catch a ride to the airport, or even have a 6-pack delivered effortlessly—all in an instant, without having to interact with a single human being. But bells, whistles, and one-click checkouts are no substitute for a flawless experience and top-notch customer service.

Proactive Service

According to Harvard Business Review in their delightfully provocative article, Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers:

“First, delighting customers doesn’t build loyalty; reducing their effort—the work they must do to get their problem solved—does. Second, acting deliberately on this insight can help improve customer service, reduce customer service costs, and decrease customer churn.”
Source: Harvard Business Review

And Amazon’s no slouch when it comes to customer service. The occasional package delivery error aside (which is more often the carrier’s fault than Amazon’s), my experience in getting those issues resolved has been seamless and simple.

But I’m delighted to say that Amazon has recently solidified their place in the forefront of this growing service revolution—with a combination of their Amazon Logistics “Photo on Delivery” service and some incredibly customer-centric mobile app features.

• • •

It all started with the order of a delicate piece of electronic musical equipment. Embattled by a particularly blustery Chicago winter cold front, I’d opted to stay home and receive the package in person. Being an otherwise typical work day, I’d been in several hours of meetings while I attentively awaited the chime of the doorbell.

Halfway through one said meeting, I opened the Amazon App Delivery Status screen which, to my amazement, introduced an Uber-esque, real-time map view of my delivery driver’s location—giving me just the advanced notice I needed to gracefully step away and save my package from its fate as a popsicle.

But wait, there’s more.

Before I was two steps out of my office, I received another notification. This time, a picture of my package and its location on my front porch.

Perhaps I’m easily amused—but I was so blown away I felt the need to take a screenshot (and eventually write this piece).

The Future

So I think there are a couple of interesting lessons here for service-based businesses to think about:

  1. Truly understanding and anticipating your customers’ needs is critical for securing your place in this new-age, digital service economy.
  2. Actively investing in customer experience improvements, such as iterative app updates and experimental features can help give you the edge you need over fierce competition.

The spectacular fall of Toys ‘R’ Us was just the latest unfortunate example of seemingly invincible brands neglecting consumer demands and bypassing emerging technological leg-ups to improve accessibility and customer experience…

…And so begs the question:

Is your business on the front lines of the digital service revolution?

Clean Dishes and the Virtues of “Above and Beyond-ness”

Clean Dishes and the Virtues of “Above and Beyond-ness”

Who do I strive to be in my organization? Who on my team do I want to spend time and energy developing? Who do I see being a long-term cultural fit?

Who do I strive to be in my organization? Who on my team do I want to spend time and energy developing? Who do I see being a long-term cultural fit vs. someone who might jump ship for the next shiny opportunity?

The dishwasher.

Within every organization there exists an invisible barrier — a barrier dictating how much someone is willing to give of themselves each day:

“Am I going to stay an extra 45 minutes to knock out that client proposal?”

“Do I care enough about my team’s challenges to sit down with someone in a different department and help them think through solutions?”

“Am I going to raise my hand and take the lead on this project, or hope someone else handles it?”

The Thing About Barriers

I suppose the most common manifestation of this sentiment is the dreaded “that’s not my job.” Oh boy… As a leader, when’s the last time you heard an employee say that and said to yourself, “You know, I really respect your stance on boundaries.” Likely not very often…

The thing about barriers is that they’re often (properly) associated with negativity. If you’re building a powerful and capable team, you’re going to want barrier-breakers.

Now, back to dirty dishes.

(I’ve got a gift for segues)

You see, the simple action of cleaning up the office kitchen may seem inconsequential, but it’s actually kind of profound.

Not convinced? Here’s what I mean:

  • You’re action-oriented. This mentality is valuable in many key roles within an organization. Put simply, you get s#!t done.
  • You’re self-motivated. You don’t need anyone telling you something needs doing. You’re not going to walk out of the kitchen thinking, “meh, someone else will get to it eventually.”
  • You’re a craftsperson. You take pride in a tidy environment. You appreciate things being in their proper places.
  • You’re respectful. You respect your work environment and maintain a sense of pride.
  • You’re a team player. Perhaps most importantly, you’re outward-facing. You’re team-conscious and conscientious.

Takeaway

Now—I’m not suggesting you head off to the nearest Red Lobster and start poaching kitchen staff. That’s not likely to do Red Lobster (nor your organization) any favors.

Instead, actively seek out and recognize these qualities of proactivity and “above and beyond-ness” in your team. And this isn’t exclusive to scrubbing plates, either. Think about the last person who brought in snacks for the office. Or the individual selflessly giving advice to help another succeed.

These easily missable behaviors, more often than not, represent a certain level of dedication to your organization—or at the very least, provide some sort of insight into important characteristic traits. And that’s worth noting.