The UK freight and logistics market is worth over £100 billion to the economy and has been seriously impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Heightened demand has been felt in food distribution, drugs, chemicals and reagents, PPE and other essential supplies. But other mainstream shipments have disappeared overnight.
Companies who come out of the crisis on top will be those who have the cash to survive, adapt quickly and nail three marketing trends.
Not forgetting our ABC
Before I share the three key marketing trends successful transport and logistics companies need to nail, let’s not forget the traditional sector challenges that aren't going away.
- Lead generation and business growth is just as important as ever. However, traditional outbound marketing is ‘on stop’ because conventional external sales team activity is largely curtailed.
- Retaining and growing customers looks different too. In the coming weeks, over 100,000 SMEs are expected to go out of business and freight and logistics companies are focused largely on which of their customers are still open, trading and cash positive.
- Talent acquisition and management team development is largely on hold too pending the economic uncertainty and the need to redefine the sales pipeline and order book.
- Driver shortages remain but this is coupled with a new UK phenomenon – furloughing.
- Inefficient existing distribution networks – connectivity, route capacity and unhelpful fee structures do not always support growth and ‘Can Do’.
Required sales and marketing-led growth tactics for the future
When governments around the world start to get economies and society moving again by lifting restricted movement of goods and people, transport and logistics companies will be one of the first to need to respond.
But the local (regional) markets they once enjoyed are unlikely to be exactly as they once were. Transport and logistics companies who have adapted and invested in preparation strategies, will be best placed to attract, win and service demand when it comes.
Three marketing and business growth trends are likely to be significant:
- Customer centric marketing strategies
- A focus on more qualified sales lead generation
- Account Based Marketing will be increasingly important
Let’s examine each in turn in slightly more detail.
1. Improving customer loyalty and the customer experience
Loyalty is defined as a positive belief, generated over the course of multiple transactions, in the value that a company, product or service provides - which leads to continued interactions and purchases over time regardless of price.
Here are three arresting statistics:
- About 50% of customers who considered themselves loyal have left a company for a competitor who better conveyed their relevance (Inmoment, 2018)
- A 5% increase in customer retention correlates with at least a 25% increase in profit (Bain & Company)
- Customers with an emotional relationship with a brand have a 306% higher lifetime value and will recommend the company at a rate of 71% compared to an average of 45% (Motista, 2020)
Forward-thinking transport and logistics companies are starting to leverage sales, marketing, service and data to proactively drive customer experience, underline value and produce contextual content. This allows them to ‘speak’ to the right customer, in the right way, at the right time.
To achieve this, organisations require smart technology and to reconsider all ‘touch’ points and workflows across the sales process, marketing outreach and service desks. This is where chat bots and sales bots come in to play. One Sales Director recently described these as “a game-changer in how we see, talk and engage with our customers”.
Keep in mind, 82% of customers rate an immediate response (30 minutes or less) as important or very important when they have a marketing or sales question. This rises to 90% over a service question. You need smart technology to be able to meet rising expectations.
2. Focus on more qualified sales lead generation
61% of B2B marketers say generating leads is their top digital priority. A majority are seeking specialist outsourcing help. Why? Because traditional outbound sales strategies have long been yielding diminishing ROI.
Top priorities will be enhancing brand awareness, leveraging video marketing, targeting advertising and creating more personalised customer journeys. Collectively, this means both more sales leads and better qualified lead generation.
Savvy marketers are also now focused much more on SEO (including long tail keywords) because they recognise the importance of ranking and search engines. SEO also plays a major role in the development of effective content and the effective utilisation of it to achieve the desired effect on your site.
Technical SEO is increasingly important as well to deliver the best customer experience, ensure your website is easy to navigate and operates appropriately. It also paves the way for contextual marketing, another key tool in the marketing toolbox in delivering higher quality lead generation.
3. Implement Account Based Marketing tactics
Account Based Marketing (ABM) has been around for years. Matt Heinz put it beautifully:
“Account Based Marketing is simply instead of fishing with nets, you’re fishing with spears. You identify exactly the prospects you want to do business with because they are integral to desired growth. Then you market very precisely and narrowly to them.”
Sounds simple, right? Especially since 84% of businesses who have implemented ABM say it delivers higher ROI than traditional digital marketing.
However, ABM is much more than a marketing strategy. It is a “way of life” for organisations who want to win big by taking long term investment decisions focussed on getting big, close and personal with ideal prospects and staying close until they are ready to engage on their terms.
So how do you proceed? To be successful, organisations need strong alignment between marketing, sales and service teams. And you need a technology stack that joins it all together and supports effective CRM.
Good ABM is more than just choosing between “Strategic ABM”, “Lite ABM” or “Pragmatic ABM” strategies. It is about implementing marketing-led, totally aligned sales and service support that optimises near-term results and shapes the future of a company’s growth.
Transport and logistics companies who get it right, will be those who apply ABM holistically to dramatically transform their businesses – sales cycle length, customer retention, top of the funnel awareness and ability to close big deals when prospects are hungry.