Enterprise Marketing Best Practices for 2018
20% of all market leaders will lose their dominant position to a company founded after the year 2000, due to a lack of digital business advantage. There’s a long way to fall for top companies that don’t adapt to this changing climate, but it’s not too late to take action. If your company is in the precarious position between market leader and losing ground to a competitor, it’s time to push forward.
Consumers and buyers expect to guide themselves through their own purchase decisions, but also to have seamless brand experiences across every channel. In fact, 86% of buyers will actually pay more for a better customer experience, and estimates argue that customer experience will become the key brand differentiator (over price and product) by 2020. Now more than ever, customers expect to be engaged during the purchase process. Gone are the days when mass messaging is enough to increase sales year over year. Customers want to be engaged.
Engagement marketing is the use of strategic, resourceful content to engage your audience and deliver on their expectations. A compelling engagement strategy requires robust content, an omni-channel approach to communication, and a lead scoring partnership with the sales department. These strategies are easier for smaller startups with shorter contact lists, but a sophisticated engagement platform can help scale engagement marketing for enterprise-level organizations.
In this blog, I’ll cover three best practices for enterprise-level companies to win in the Engagement Economy.
Inbound Marketing: Scaling Content for the Enterprise
Content strategy, SEO, and social media are all elements of inbound marketing that can have a great impact on enterprise marketing as a whole. Let’s break down the critical factors for success for each tactic.
It’s hard to deny that, in 2018, one of the most critical marketing efforts for businesses to invest will be content marketing, but creating content within an enterprise organization comes with extra challenges:
- Siloed internal departments—Sometimes, there are just too many cooks in the kitchen. In other cases, the people creating content are too far removed from subject matter experts. In general, enterprise organizations face various difficulties around collaboration.
- Scaling personalization and targeting efforts—It can be challenging to scale account-based marketing (ABM) or content targeting/personalization. Enterprises either aren’t aware of available tools or don’t invest in them.
- Maintaining a nimble strategy—Your audience’s needs and pain points will change, and an effective content strategy needs to keep up. Emerging industries especially develop new terms and advance new ideas, and a content library needs to have answers.
Following best practices for enterprise marketing means:
- Breaking down silos—Using tools and creating a structure around content collaboration, take advantage of all the voices (and expertise) in the company. Collaboration tools mean it doesn’t matter what department or country a contributor is from, and it’s easy to set tasks and communicate next steps for each content piece.
- Using personalization/targeting—Use a marketing automation platform to assist with ABM and content targeting/personalization. Letting technology do some of the work will free up time for other content needs.
- Being flexible—Make use of a content calendar that spans several content assets, so each contributor understands how their piece fits in with others. By planning ahead, you’ll be able to adjust to content needs on the fly.
A robust engagement platform can assist with cross-department collaboration, and content delivery to the most relevant audience—both best practices for today’s enterprise marketing.
Search Engine Optimization
Most enterprise-level companies are investing in some kind of SEO, or at least know they need to. Modern SEO is intimately and irreversibly connected to content, but there are also some technical SEO tasks that remain critically important. Large, growing websites can easily become disorganized, and broken SEO factors can quickly become lost.
Best practices for enterprise-level SEO content include:
- Thorough keyword + user intent research. Make sure you know what your audience really means when they type in a search query.
- Understanding RankBrain’s preferences for your industry. Google’s new machine learning program is learning to identify which ranking factors are important for different industries.
Best practices for enterprise-level, technical SEO include:
- Mobile optimization. Big sites are even more cumbersome on small devices. Make sure yours is easy to navigate on a smartphone.
- Strategic navigation. Growing companies too often tack on new landing pages and website sections without much thought to an overall navigation strategy.
Social media is a battleground where SMBs can easily encroach on a big brand’s market share because their efforts tend to be very grassroots and their strength is in engagement. Smaller companies are usually much more nimble about these things, so enterprise organizations need to figure out how to be human on social channels.
Social media has the power to be extremely timely and it inspires interaction, unlike any other content marketing medium. It’s also a great resource for gaining customer insights.
Best practices for social media include:
- Creating standardized social media guidelines for every employee to follow. If you’re not sure where to start, look through other enterprise company’s social media guidelines.
- Creating a process for responding to customers on social that loops in any relevant team members so that efforts aren’t duplicated. A tool like Sprout Social’s Smart Inbox makes it simple to collaborate across multiple team members and networks. Mention makes it possible to listen to customers that aren’t directly reaching out. As enterprise companies tend to have more social interactions than most, it becomes necessary to create a system for responding, that the entire team (or company!) has access to.
- Be painfully human. It might feel contrary to corporate marketing norms, but people like people—not robots. Wendy’s Twitter account, for example, has been making a splash by being unique and human, saying things other brands wish they had the guts to.
An engagement platform that’s connected with your company’s social accounts will make it easier to strike a chord with your followers, paving the way to a continuous dialog.
Omni-Channel Marketing: Understanding Customers Across Touchpoints
Customers interact with brands across multiple mediums on a regular basis. This can be a weakness for an enterprise if handled incorrectly, without structure or strategy.
Even long-standing enterprise companies are having a hard time keeping up with new channels and creating a seamless brand experience across each one. Nobody has the upper hand, which is why the best enterprises work hard to create it.
Best practices for omni-channel marketing in 2018 include:
- Using all customer touch points to gather data, and storing them in an engagement hub for future communications. Use available data to identify top customers and prospects, and engage with them through marketing and sales efforts.
- Delivering personalized campaigns considerate of both the current channel and a buyer’s activities for maximum conversions. For example, If an individual downloads an ebook on the website, the platform can make sure they don’t get a separate email offering that same content.
Regardless of the specific application, omni-channel marketing delivers a seamless, omni-channel experience for each audience member. An engagement marketing platform, especially one with native AI capabilities, can be helpful in omni-channel marketing because it can follow each consumer or buyer across email, website, social media, and other channels and predict the best next piece of content or offer.
Lead Scoring: Partnering with Sales to Deliver the Best Leads
Most of the buyer’s journey is now in marketing’s territory because buyers are increasingly self-educating. You probably already have some kind of lead nurturing system, but take it up a notch and start lead scoring.
Small companies can do a lot of lead scoring manually, but scaling that effort requires a strategic engagement platform. An automation tool adjusts a numeric “score” for every lead based on actions taken or seasons of inactivity, sizing up each individual prospect behind the scenes while you concentrate on other tasks, and delivering leads to the sales team when they’re ready. If you focus on one thing for sales in your enterprise organization for 2018, make sure it’s adopting a system for lead scoring.
Here are some lead-scoring features to look for in an engagement platform:
- Implicit and explicit scoring
- Demographic and behavioral scoring
- Lead lifecycle management
- Advanced features like product scoring, account scoring, and score degradation
Enterprise Marketing for 2018
Audience expectations are making engagement platforms a requirement for serious marketers. Creating and delivering content, communication across various channels, and scoring a long list of leads can all become full-time jobs at the enterprise level without some automation, data, and organization.
Finding the right engagement marketing platform is no easy task, but make sure you’re looking for something that can:
- Facilitate handle all of your content needs—from distribution to social listening.
- Smoothly deliver an omni-channel strategy by tracking contacts across platforms.
- Score leads according to your company’s unique goals and marketing strategies.
Start by reviewing your company’s current capabilities. How flexible is your content strategy? How human is your social engagement? Can you follow and score individuals across multiple channels? Talk to leaders in your marketing team and set some goals for bringing practices up to par by Q1 of 2018.