Growing outside referrals: Ready to level-up your marketing game?

Author: Marcio Moerbeck, Director, Worldwide Channel Marketing, Citrix

If you’re looking to grow your B2B sales organically, there is nothing more valuable than customer referrals. A customer telling a prospect how amazing you are will always be more credible than an ad campaign. But, what if you’re looking to expand farther or faster than organic growth can take you? You’ll need to look to other strategies.

Digital profiling, behavioral targeting, marketing automation tools, and digital marketing programs can help you reach a world of new potential customers—tapping the right people, at the right moment when your message will resonate most. And, while all of this can be highly effective, it’s a big leap from where most B2B companies are today.

Is your business ready to invest to grow beyond referrals? And if so, where should you start?

Know your marketing database

Let’s start with the basics: beefing up your marketing database.

This is where you keep everything you know about your customers and prospects, and it should be the foundation of your marketing approach. There’s a goldmine of data out there you could be using to build out your database, but most B2B companies still rely heavily (often entirely) on “explicit” data. That is, basic demographic information like names, titles, email addresses, and anything else provided intentionally by your buyers.

Many B2B companies focus so much on building up email lists, they don’t spend the time to make sure they’re sending out the right offers. Ideally, you want to profile and segment prospects, so you can reach them with the best message, at the moment in the buying journey when it’s most likely to lead to conversions. To get to that level of sophistication, you must go beyond demographics to capture as much “implicit” data about prospects as possible.

Implicit data encompasses everything you can accumulate to more narrowly target your message (sales data, customer profiling, segmentation, online behavior, psychographics) and usually comes from external data tools that digitally track prospects’ online activity. This use of behavioral targeting arguably represents the biggest change in marketing over the past 20 years, as it gives companies the ability to build detailed profiles of what prospects are doing online to predict future behavior. As we all know, behavior, and online behavior in particular, reveals much more about what we’re thinking than anything we might say.

Read buying signals to drive marketing efficiency

When you combine explicit data with implicit data and segmentation, you have a powerful way to target prospects.

Now, you can:

  • Augment demographic information with real-time behavioral tracking.
  • Combine data about prospects from both online and offline touchpoints.
  • Start to see buying signals throughout the customer journey.
  • Identify keywords that represent high or low intent.
  • See what a given prospect has been reading and searching for over the past 10 days .
  • Identify accounts that have the most buying momentum—for example, seeing when one person in a company is researching virtual desktops, versus when multiple people in that account are researching them.

Marketing automation tools combine all of these signals to feed lead scoring models. They use those insights to trigger marketing actions. By stitching implicit behavioral data patterns together with explicit buyer personas and profiles, these platforms optimize and automate your marketing efforts based on real-world customer signals. They also increase the likelihood you’re reaching out to customers at the moment when they’ll be most receptive to your message.

Behavioral targeting, or using buying signals to forecast buying intent, can dramatically help you in prioritizing selling time. If you’re paying salespeople to drive non-organic growth, you can put a price tag on every hour they’re on the phone. Wouldn’t it be nice if they were calling only those prospects displaying specific intent signals? Or from a pool of targets that’s been segmented to respond to your specific message at that specific time?

Use the right tools

If all of this sounds highly sophisticated, it is.

This is not something you can hash out yourself with a spreadsheet and Google Analytics – you’ll need to use automated, real-time digital marketing tools. After all, online behavior is ephemeral, and data quickly gets stale if you don’t use it. You have to be able to harness the right digital clues at the right time, and be able to feed that information into your customer relationship management (CRM) or marketing automation platform.

There are options out there for different budgets and levels of sophistication. If you don’t have sophisticated in-house marketing resources, your best bet is likely to work with an agency who understands behavioral marketing, who can help you get these kinds of campaigns up and running.

Does behavioral marketing make sense for you?

Before you jump into these more sophisticated (and expensive) mechanisms to expand sales outside of referrals, think carefully about how they fit within your larger business strategy. At the end of the day, the power of behavioral marketing is micro-segmentation—the ability to narrow down your marketing efforts to, ideally, an audience of one. But that only makes sense when you have a relatively mature marketing strategy, with multiple core capabilities in place and relevant content ready to reach out to that audience of one.

Micro-segmentation assumes that you have the basics covered. You have a modern, effective digital presence. You’re already using search engine optimization (SEO) effectively to position your business and drive traffic to your site. You’re not just posting ads, but continually developing relevant, informative content (infographics, white papers, eBooks, blogs, videos) that underscore your business’ role as thought leaders in your space.

Behavioral marketing—and marketing automation in general—requires investment. There are low-cost ways to start collecting implicit marketing data with a relatively small budget. But in general, behavioral marketing is a “Phase 2” activity. If you’re still at Phase 1—trying to build up your online presence, modernize your website, generate relevant marketing content for your customers—then your marketing dollars are better spent beefing up those parts of your business.

Once you have the basics in place, and you have the budget and desire to grow beyond referrals, then you can start to see where modern behavioral marketing tools can take you.

Find out more

Want to learn concrete tips from marketing experts on how to build up your marketing database and grow your online presence?

Check out this Citrix Partner Kickstart Webinar on-demand recording: Grow your database and your business outside referrals. We’ll cover:

  • Building a robust database of customers and prospects
  • Using your website as a demand generation engine
  • Understanding how to effectively use social media to build your database
  • Leveraging online and offline events to gather new prospects

Check out these additional articles to learn more about improving your digital marketing strategy:

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