March 14, 2017
If your B2B organization is like many companies, you probably spent months (sometimes years) and thousands (sometimes millions) of dollars to develop and launch your corporate brand. And if you haven’t embarked on a branding initiative – even a small “refresh” project – in, say, the last five to seven years, chances are your brand’s digital health may not be an accurate reflection of who you are or want to be. Is your B2B brand keeping up in today’s increasingly digital landscape? Even in the B2B space, brands must continue reinventing themselves online to remain relevant and competitive.
Consider this: If your brand position is “nimble and easy to work with,” yet customers can’t figure out where anything is on your website, is your digital footprint really aligned with your corporate brand? Or, if you are known for superior customer service, yet a customer’s tweet asking about a shipment goes unanswered, is that digital experience an accurate reflection of your brand? Today, it’s crucial for B2B companies to align their digital brands with their established (or desired) market position.
Here are five places to conduct a cursory digital brand audit to determine whether your company is keeping up:
Probably the biggest question here is whether your company’s website is optimized for a mobile experience. Consumers – even B2B ones – now expect any and all websites they visit to work on their smartphone or tablet as well as their desktop. I’m surprised how many B2B companies still do not have mobile-friendly sites. If you haven’t optimized your site for a mobile experience, your customers will probably seek product or industry information elsewhere – likely from one of your more digitally advanced competitors. In 2017, there’s no excuse to not have a mobile-friendly site. Put this at the top of this year’s to-do list if you’re behind in this area. If your site is already mobile-friendly, there’s a lot you can learn by really diving into your site’s analytics to identify where there are opportunities to amplify the site’s performance to best align with your brand.
Many B2B companies we work with say they want to be “the” thought leader in their industry, yet they don’t do anything to carve out that position online. If your brand seeks to own the thought leader position in your space, a blog is probably the best platform to serve as the central hub for your content (in the form of posts, videos or graphics), highlight your in-house thought leaders and SMEs (as contributors) and maybe even capture leads (using gated content). Does your organization have a blog? If not, you should probably consider one if “industry thought leader” is part of your brand platform. If yes, you may want to conduct a quick content audit to ensure the content you are publishing aligns with what your brand stands for. Or check your analytics to find out what type of content resonates most – then create more of it!
I know what you’re thinking. Not more email! And it’s (partly) true. We may feel bombarded with email in a seemingly endless cycle of new messages. But the truth is, email marketing can be one of the most effective digital toolsB2Bs can use to reach customers, provided you’re sending meaningful content and not just a bunch of promotional spam. There are many ways to use email effectively – from creating and distributing your own newsletter to putting ad dollars to work by sponsoring third-party e-newsletters. The trick is to continually optimize your newsletter initiatives – from subject lines to ad creative – and to use insights you glean from analytics to make adjustments each and every time before you hit “send.”
4. SOCIAL MEDIA.
For many B2B companies, a strong social media presence acts to not only serve customers but also attract candidates. Many old-line B2B companies are facing a talent drought, as baby boomers approach retirement age and dozens (or hundreds) of jobs open up. Where is your next batch of candidates likely to research your company? Online. Do your LinkedIn or Glassdoor profiles accurately reflect what it’s like to work at your company? Do your Twitter or Facebook accounts provide a glimpse into your corporate culture? Candidates will research your company online, especially on social media. Will what they find make them more – or less – interested in you? Cultivating a strong employer brand on your social channels is one critical way to compete for today’s talent. And, just as important, you’ll need to develop a strategic paid strategy to get in front of those candidates on social media. With social media algorithms continually changing, paid social efforts are a must to ensure you get in front of your most coveted stakeholders.
Smart B2B marketers will dedicate more time and dollars to video initiatives this year. Hubspot estimates video use in email leads to a 200% to 300% increase in click-through rate, and an 80% increase in conversion on a landing page. The best videos help customers solve problems, rather than serving as commercials for your products. Do you have compelling and informative video content? Are your videos housed on your website, YouTube or somewhere else? Are you using your video content across all of your other digital channels – website, blog, email and social media?
Of course, the thread that runs through all of these activities is ANALYTICS. Do you have a reporting process attached to each of your brand’s digital initiatives? It’s one thing to use digital tools. It’s another to use them effectively. While most B2B companies aren’t fortunate enough to have a dedicated analytics team, it’s essential for your team to build analytics and reporting into their routine in order to continually optimize and enhance your brand’s digital presence. (It also helps you prove ROI to the corner office.) Are you tracking how sentiment about your brand shifts over time? Are more people opening (or not opening) your newsletter? Is LinkedIn driving the most engaged visitors to your blog? All of these insights can help you continually evolve and optimize your company’s digital initiatives.
There are many other ways to assess your brand’s digital health and they should all tie back to your company’s specific goals. What are you most concerned about as it relates to your B2B brand’s digital health? Leave a comment, drop me a line or shoot me a tweet and let’s get the conversation going.