So many posts this time of year talk about all those things you should be doing in 2018, with many of those being fairly obvious, or a continuation of what you are doing already. So I thought I’d take a look at some B2B marketing things you should stop doing in 2018.
Don’t favour quantity over quality
A few years ago, content was all about posting as often as you could, anywhere you could. Many inbound marketing advocates pointed to data that showed the more you posted, the more traffic you would get and therefore more leads. One of the key statistics came from HubSpot; “B2B companies that blogged 11+ times per month got about 1.75X as many leads as those blogging 6 - 10 times per month, and about 3.75X as many leads as those blogging 0 - 3 times per month.” B2B companies rushed to get out content, commissioning it if necessary from all sorts of sources.
Whist there is no denying it worked for a time, we are now in an era where there is too much content. Content shock is real. Your prospects and customers have less and less time, and they have to be really selective about what they spend that valuable time on. They are more discerning than ever before, valuing quality content that is really useful to them, in their situation.
So it’s time to stop rushing out as many posts as you can, no matter what, and concentrate on quality, not quantity. Today, longer, in depth posts are more successful at engagement and attracting leads. Posts that are less general and more specific to your audiences needs, issues and questions.
That’s not to say that creating more quality content is not better than less quality content – it certainly is; it’s just that you should concentrate resources on creating high value content, as often as you can, rather than pushing out any old content as quickly as you can.
When you look at the major content providers such as TechCrunch, Mashable and HubSpot, they have a lot more resources to play with, so they have the luxury of being able to follow any strategy they like – quantity, quality, or quantity AND quality. Take a look at this in-depth analysis that HubSpot carried out for an insight into their thinking.
Don’t think social is only for marketing
Social media is a unique channel that is so much more than just a channel for distributing marketing content – it has many other uses as well; such as customer support, product and competitor research, product feedback, training and more. So you should stop thinking of it as only a channel for marketing.
Actually, let’s stop there for a minute. What you really need to do, is to stop thinking about marketing as just disseminating content and gathering leads. You need to think about the whole customer experience.
Now, if that sounds familiar, it isn’t surprising as it’s what many marketing gurus have been saying for a while. Marketing should encompass the whole gamut of customer interactions. It needs to have a guiding hand and an attentive eye on customer support, product and competitor research, product feedback, training and more.
What this means in practice for social media at least, is to use the tools and channels out there to monitor social media and communicate in new ways with your customers and prospects. As an example, many millennials use WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger extensively, and you should therefore have a WhatsApp account for answering customer and prospect queries, and make it easy for Facebook users to message you. The great thing about using tools like Facebook messenger with your Facebook page or website, is that you can identify who these people are without getting them to even fill in a form, making lead gathering painless. (Although don’t forget that the new GDPR legislation will require you to properly opt in any prospect whose information you are storing).
Don’t follow automation and data blindly
Whilst automation using artificial intelligence is being hyped at the moment as a possible solution to a whole range of marketing challenges, remember that it is still in relatively early stages. Also remember that although it may seem like a perfect way to deliver the other well-hyped topic – personalisation – it also has the capacity to turn your marketing cold and inhuman if you are not careful.
So although personalisation is good; creepy, inappropriate machine-led personalisation is very bad. One way to approach this is to think of targeting, rather than personalisation. In other words, create focussed content that is targeted precisely at your buyer personas and target prospects.
In a similar vein, chatbots have been lauded as the answer to customer service, but again, only if used in the right way at the right time. Incorrect use of many of these automation technologies will deter interaction in an unfortunate and potentially disastrous manner. Remember the old saying – “To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer.” In other words, computers have a tendency to rapidly magnify any errors, making what would normally be manageable issues, spiral out of control.
A high level of care and attention is also needed when working with data. It is all too easy to misinterpret, or miscalculate when using large sets of data. This again can result in a strategy or campaign heading off in entirely the wrong direction.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating not using automation and data – far from it, I’m just suggesting that it needs setting up carefully and with a human touch, then monitoring, and rapid adjustment if it’s not right.
Don’t rush to use the latest hyped thing – trends not fads
That brings me on to a brief note about trends vs fads. The marketing industry is always talking about the latest development or the next best thing, as it should. An awareness of what is coming should inform your strategic thinking. But make sure that when you act, it is based on trends and not fads.
Don’t try the newest tactic or the latest software system without some assessment or some feedback from others who have actually used it. History has shown that the winners in any technological race are not often the very first developers or users, it is often the second wave that succeeds, learning form the first wave’s mistakes. That success is often down to a maturity of use and strategy – employing the new development with a clear purpose – rather than rushing to use the latest thing.
Don’t do too much
Yes, my last choice is to stop doing too much. Now, I’m not talking about working less hard – taking a nap in the middle of the day or longer holidays (though that might actually make you more productive in the long run), no, I am talking about dissipating your marketing efforts by a strategy that goes off in too many directions.
Over the past few years it’s become apparent that a focussed approach to B2B content marketing yields the best results. In fact the current trend towards Account Based Marketing (ABM) epitomises this – focussing all your efforts on a few key accounts. You should also take a careful look at all the channels you are using and evaluate their effectiveness. Reduce them if necessary as it’s far better to be very good at one or two channels, than barely effective across a great number.
2018 may bring many things, and I hope it brings you great marketing success – paying attention to these five issues will definitely help.