There is arguably nothing more important than figuring out the best way to reach your customers. Figuring out the most effective platform / method to communicate takes time, patience and a lot of testing (that’s the fun part!). Here’s a quick snapshot of a few, keeping in mind my personal context comes mostly from B2B marketing.
- Social media platforms – Facebook and Linkedin in particular for B2B
- Review sites / Software Directories – Capterra, G2, TrustRadius
- Search – GoogleAds, BingAds
- Industry Associations – associations often offer compelling ad packages
- Email marketing – either through your own opt-in list or leveraging lists from others – the best performing 3rd party lists I’ve found have been opt-in association lists
- Live events – nothing beats a live event for being able to qualify potential buyers
- Virtual events – webinars or fireside chat type events can work quite well
- Community – either creating your own or participating actively in one where your buyers participate
Regardless of where you start the important thing is to remember that choosing the channel is just the first step. The next steps are making sure the message is compelling and the offer has incredible value. Let’s dive a bit deeper into some of the channels you might select.
There are a lot of different options when it comes to social platforms. It’s important to make sure that your company account is set up and that’ve fleshed out your profile so it’s exactly the way you want to present your brand and messaging. Also start posting organically at a regular cadence so potential customers can get to know you better once they start on the path of discovering more about what you do.
As an example, have a look at Hubspot’s profile on Linkedin. It’s completely fleshed-out with most of the information you’d find on their website, but enables the Linkedin user to learn more without having to navigate away from Linkedin.
Once you’ve set up your presence, then diving into paid advertising will let you hone in on your audience and ensure you broaden your reach. If you have a limited number of followers you can also use the platform to grow your follower list.
Review Sites / Directory Listings
Platforms like G2 and Capterra can be great for getting in front of customers who are researching ways to solve their problems. What’s happened over the years with these platforms is that they’ve become highly competitive. Both price their offerings quite differently, G2 is expensive for a small business right out of the gate and Capterra, while you can spend whatever you want, is so flooded with vendors you can be paying exorbitant amounts of money just to get a click.
The thing that is a bit funny about these platforms too is that they work off of placement in a category. You can be placed in multiple categories but if you have product that doesn’t fit neatly into their categorization, it’ll be tough to get the return you’re looking for on those platforms.
Search is a huge topic, so I’ll just touch on it here. One of the things that is great about search is that whether you are trying to rank organically or you are placing paid ads, the search engines reward you for doing your job well. They want to provide the most relevant results for their searchers so if your landing page and ad closely match what their users are typing into the search bar, and you’ve constructed your assets well, you can gain real traction.
To go a bit deeper on constructing your assets well, make sure you’ve done the following:
- Landing page: Ensure the meta data is bang on:
- Title tag – tells the search engines what your page is about
- Meta description – this is what will show up in your organic search result
- Meta keywords – most people don’t think this plays into search results any longer but it’s a good reminder to you of what you’re trying to rank for on this page
- H1 and H2 tags – these tell the search engines which headings are important with regards to what the page is about
- Keyword density – if you’re trying to rank for a certain keyword, it has to appear a number of times on the page in a natural way (don’t try and scam) for the search engines to understand how relevant the page is
- Alt image tags – this let’s search engines know what the images are of and why they are relevant to the page
- Ad Copy: If it’s a paid ad, ensure the copy in the ad matches the keyword your bidding on and the landing page that you’re sending people to
- Offer: The offer you make in the ad (download free, get a demo, buy now), should match the offer on the landing page and it should be easy for users to understand how to get the offer (fill in form, call, email etc)
Associations are great to tap into for a number of different reasons:
- You know you target audience is present
- They often offer marketing opportunities like dedicated email blasts, listings in newsletters, democasts, webinar sponsorships, article writing and website presence with several options for targeting
- They typically have an annual conference where, if you’ve taken advantage of the other marketing activities, you’ll have a sense of familiarity with the market
Whether you use your own internal list or go through industry associations for email marketing, this remains one of the best ways to communicate directly with your audience. It’s a particularly strong channel for content distribution and positioning yourself as a though leader (as long as you’re producing amazing content, that is). This is also a great way to test the topics, pain points and value messages that resonate with our customers.
A lot of marketers have a love / hate relationship with live events. I lean towards the love side, surprisingly. Mostly because you can get a ton of information in a short amount of time. The other thing that you get from a live event that you don’t get from digital channels is being able to see a response. Sure there are digital signals with your online programs, but at a tradeshow you can see people slow down, and read the messaging at your booth. You can intervene if it seems like they’ll walk on past, and figure out what was missing in your messaging (because obviously they need what you have!).
Live events also give you the opportunity to suss out the competition or adjacent offerings so you have a better understanding of what you are up against. It may also inspire ideas for partnerships and provide a forum to move those partnerships foward.
One of the other huge benefits is being able to see your existing customers live. And if all goes well, they can evangelize your product to your prospects while you are at the event.
Virtual events hosted by another company (say an industry association), can be tough to get value from. Virtual participants aren’t as invested in the programming and rarely take a day off work to participate in all the session and interact with vendors. Where virtual events can be powerful is more on the hosted, interactive fireside chats – where attendees can actually participate and live webinars. Sponsored webinars can work very well if you are careful about selecting your topic and speaker.
Participation or creation of a community for your potential customers is another great way to provide value to the market and help your audience get to know you better. There are a few different ways to get involved in the community.
- Participating in or leading workshops and webinars hosted by community owners
- Being a subject matter expert in existing communities that your audience is participating in
- Creating your own community – make no mistake, this takes time and effort, the last thing you want to do is invite a bunch of people into a slack community that you don’t have a plan for and they leave and don’t come back
- Starting with a small community of existing customers who want to interact with one another
These are just a few different ways you might decide to get your message out. I’ll dive a bit deeper into them in future blogs given most of my comments in this post just barely scratch the surface!