b2b marketing series: q4 strategies to close the gap

Q4 is a critical time for B2B organizations and marketers. With the natural ebb and flow of performance throughout the year, B2B marketers understand that Q4 is a make or break time. It’s the time of the year when annual goals are hit or missed – which can either lead to a strong foundation going into next year or leave you wondering what could have been.

So, have you been meeting your business and marketing goals, or are you off target and need to close the gap?

As part of our B2B Marketing video series, this month’s video focuses on helping you get back on track in hitting your marks and goals for the year. The video below discusses the process of not only identifying why you’re missing your marks, but more importantly, actionable ways to counter that trend for maximum Q4 performance.

We work with a wide variety of B2B organizations and verticals that have different target markets, business models, and conversion funnels. At the end of the day, there is no “one size fits all” model of advertising and marketing to fill each stage of your marketing funnel.

That said, B2B marketers need to take into account the entire funnel and how each stage impacts the next, including the deals and revenue that we’re ultimately measured on. This is why it is so important to dig in and identify the area of the funnel that is having the greatest impact on you missing your marks. Once you’ve unlocked that mystery, expanding and scaling your best performing content and campaigns to close that gap will hopefully be a piece of cake.

Editor’s Note: This is the first video in our monthly B2B Marketing series, which focuses on topics any B2B marketer and organization encounters in their everyday jobs. The goal of this series is to not only educate, but provide actionable next steps for our fellow B2B marketers in driving growth for their organizations. To stay up to date with this series, we encourage you to subscribe today

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q4 strategies to close the gap video transcript

Have you been hitting your marks this year and achieving your marketing and business goals? Are you off target need to close the gap?

Hi I’m Andy Groller, VP of digital advertising at Dragon360, a New York-based marketing agency. In today’s B2B marketing video we’re going to be discussing the process of identifying why you’re missing your mark.

After that, we’re going to then discuss ways in which to really expand and scale so that you hit your goals for the rest of the year.

Before we dig into any data though, it’s important that we really look at the goals that you set out the beginning of the year against where you stand today. A good exercise to do this is just opening up an Excel document and creating two columns. One for the goal and one for the reality.

Besides your goal of business growth, it’s important to look at stages that make up your marketing funnel as well. In that first column, list out each of those stages. One of the most commonly used marketing funnels include: Revenue, Deals, Sales Qualified Leads – SQLs, Marketing Qualified Leads – MQLs, Marketing Engaged Leads MELs, and New Logos. Also, you should mark down your conversion rates from MEL to MQL, MQL to SQL, and ultimately SQL to Deal.

After the goals column is filled in it’s now time to look at the reality of the situation by filling in that second column.

Once both columns are filled out it will become evident what stages are off their marks and could be the culprits behind you missing your targets. If conversion rates of MQLs to SQLs and SQLs to Deals are fairly normal then turn your attention to MQLs. Is this your most glaring difference of a comparison? If so you may have a bottom of the funnel issue. If not, then look at MELs and New Logos are these the greatest areas of difference? If so, you may have a volume issue that’s more at the top and the middle of the funnel. Next, let’s dig into some data to provide context around ways to really focus on improving those targets.

It’s now time to dig into the stages that are falling short. The first place to look at your CRM. Whether you are using Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, or any other CRM, there a couple of reports that want to focus on. A funnel report, a pipeline report, a time to close report, and a plinko report. A plinko report is a report that shows all the touches that influence the B2B deal to happen. It is one of the most valuable reports that you can look at.

If you have identified more of a volume issue turn your attention to Google Analytics. Look at traffic and conversion reports. Is traffic down or are conversions down?  Why? By how much and when did that start?

Lastly, talk to your sales team, they’ll be able to give you insights into the quality of the leads that they’re talking to and the context of those conversations. You’ll be able to understand what are the pain points of your prospects and leads, what features are they looking for and so much more that’s going to help you scale and have a great Q4.

After you start to paint the larger picture of where the problem lies and why it’s occurring, it’s time to start fixing it. Dig back into some of those same reports within your CRM or Google Analytics with the intent to find the best-performing content and campaigns specific to the stages or metrics that are off-target. Also, look at the least impactful content and campaigns for those same stages and metrics. Don’t just focus on last-click data though. While a piece of content or campaign may provide a lift in MELs, those leads still need to progress to the rest of the marketing funnel. Dig in and evaluate originated vs influence data within that plinko report, multi-channel conversion path reports and view-through conversions. The goal here is to find the content and the campaigns that we can expand and scale for maximum Q4 performance.

Lastly, check out time to close reports with a focus on creating and close dates from an original and influential perspective. We want to focus our expansion efforts on the content and campaigns that will have the most immediate impact on revenue and deals over the next three months.

We have now identified what content and campaigns had the most and least impact to date so it’s time to expand and scale for maximum Q4 performance.

Digital advertising should be the focus of these efforts due to its immediacy and results. If you’ve identified a bottom of the funnel problem there are a couple tactics you should pursue. Paid search, account-based marketing, and retargeting. With paid search, you’re actively targeting somebody looking for your services and products. With account-based marketing, you’re targeting accounts that are already in your CRM with the intent of moving them down the funnel into becoming a customer. With re-targeting you can do either pixel or email-based re-targeting.

Now if you don’t have re-targeting pixels already on your site, that’s okay because you have an entire database of emails that you can export from your CRM. You can then take those lists and upload them into the appropriate advertising platforms to target against. If you have a volume problem that’s near the top and middle of the funnel, then the channels that you should pursue include: LinkedIn sponsored updates, account-based marketing again, and also re-targeting.

LinkedIn sponsored updates are a channel we typically see between 10 to 20% conversion rates and cost per lead between $40 and $60 dollars depending on the content that’s being promoted. With account-based marketing in this solution, we’re focused on accounts that are not already in your CRM, and the same kind of concept evolves around retargeting in this solution. We want to focus on people that are higher up in the funnel or they have just visited your site. We want to ensure that we are targeting people based on what they’ve already consumed with the next logical call to action. So not everybody that visits the site is going to be served by now call to action. Instead, align your audiences with your content and your marketing stages.

With re-targeting also don’t forget to really look outside of Google re-targeting. Tryout Twitter and Facebook and Perfect Audience and Criteo and other re-targeting platforms that are out there.

Now there are also some new and upcoming releases that you should definitely take advantage of in Q4. The first of which is Google Expanded Text Ads. This new ad type allows for more characters to be used within your paid search ads. That means larger ads and the ability to push more features, more benefits, and more value props.

Sticking with AdWords there are also two additional extensions you should use, structured snippets and price extensions. Price extensions are perfect if you’re a B2B e-commerce store or have a tiered pricing model.

Moving over to LinkedIn, we’re told that re-targeting is on the roadmap for release in Q4. Now we’ll see if and when that’s actually released but you can start preparing for it today. Get the LinkedIn insights tag on your site and start tagging people for down the road. We anticipate LinkedIn re-targeting when released to be a primary component of all of our B2B client’s marketing strategies.

Lastly, there are two tracking updates you should take advantage of for providing greater insight into performance. If you use Salesforce as your CRM, you can now connect that to AdWords and you can push Salesforce data into AdWords. Also, you should enable cross-device tracking wherever possible. You want to gain greater insight into how mobile behavior influences desktop behavior.

As you can see there are many opportunities that exist to get back on track for Q4, as well as set yourself up for success into next year. It’s important to determine what areas of the funnel to focus on before you start expanding and scaling though. We all know that Q4 is a major time of investment by B2B buyers so it’s our job as B2B marketers to maximize the impact of that seasonality. Seasonality is a huge driver performance for Q4 and beyond into next year. As a result, it needs to be taken into account when it comes time to budgeting and planning for next year.

Tune in to next month’s B2B marketing video where we talk about the things to analyze the conversation to have in preparation for planning and budgeting.

If you have any questions about what we talked about here today definitely reach out to us via email at hello at dragon360.com . You can also stay up-to-date with the latest releases of our B2B marketing videos by subscribing.

Thank you for tuning in today. We hope today’s video will help you get back on track in hitting your targets.

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