Marketers who fail to adopt interactive marketing tactics face increasing competition as sophistication amongst companies grow.
Failing to upgrade their online marketing effoerts will result in firms falling behind in the battle for online buyer acquisition as competitors move ahead with more engaged prospects, according to Forrester Research.
In an online sales environment that is both increasingly competitive and cluttered, business-to-business (B2B) marketers must be able to perform two critically important tasks:
- They must communicate a unique brand identity.
- They must be agile enough to quickly customize lead generation and communication programs to meet their measurable objectives.
These tasks can be especially challenging for small-to-medium-sized B2B firms, as well as for divisions of very large firms. Their sales and marketing organizations often have limited budgets, and their IT departments often are not attuned to marketing.
To meet these challenges, a growing number of firms are turning to sophisticated, but low-cost and high-performance interactive technologies.
The new solutions allow them to create effective yet affordable landing pages and microsites that can be customized, and they avoid the need to involve IT professionals who may be too busy with other corporate requirements.
Microsites are page groups of personalized content that marketers can add to Web sites. As a recent report by Forrester Research notes, they allow "B2B marketers [to] target specific product features or offers to unique buyer segments."
Landing pages and microsites can play a pivotal role in reaching prospects, promoting a B2B marketer's brand awareness, and managing leads in the following ways:
- Promoting brand identity. The most successful landing pages and microsites are an extension of the company's unique brand identity. They resemble the company's main Web site in layout and design.
- Gathering information. Effective landing pages and microsites make it very easy for prospects to supply qualifying information. At the same time, landing pages and microsites can convey the message that any information the marketer asks for is needed solely to better understand and meet the needs of the prospect.
- Providing crucial information. The best landing pages and microsites provide leads with information that is directly relevant to their specific needs. In addition, the data gathered by landing pages and microsites can be used to create personalized marketing collateral, such as personalized URLs (PURLs). That personalized collateral can be used in direct mail, email, and other marketing tools.
Using landing pages and microsites does not, of course, guarantee success. Success depends on speed, customization, and sustainability.
The most effective B2B marketers are able to change their landing pages and microsites quickly to respond to the changing needs of individual customers and the changing contours of marketplace.
Successful marketers can customize landing pages and microsites, using the data they gather to tailor that information to the needs of specific prospects. Moreover, they can use landing pages and microsites to sustain the kind of long-term relationship with a prospect that is often needed to complete a sale.
Opportunities for B2B Marketers
Increasing numbers of marketers are exploring landing pages and microsites because new software solutions have made them affordable and agile.
A recent survey by Forrester Research found that more than half the respondents "are using or piloting microsites aided by technologies, from companies like iNeoMarketing [now PluraPage] and Relevant Works, which help B2B marketers publish buyer-friendly mini-sites without specialized Web skills or information technology (IT) intervention."
These new solutions provide B2B marketers with the following:
- IT independence. The technologies give marketers the ability to create microsites and landing pages without a database administrator, a Web master, or IT support or resources.
- Better response rates. Experience shows that effective landing pages can increase response rates up to 40%.
- Instantaneous live sites and URLs. The technologies give marketers the ability to create new and updated sites and pages and make them immediately available for use.
- CRM integration. The technologies allow marketers to create personalized microsites driven by the data stored in their customer relationship management solutions.
- Response-to-close insight. Microsites and landing pages can incorporate and track responses with the reporting tools already in a marketer's CRM solution.
- Data entry and duplicate elimination. The technologies allow marketers to add new leads or append preexisting contact records.
- Consistent brand use. Microsites and landing pages enable marketers to maintain domain identity, as well as a consistent campaign and Web site look and feel.
- An affordable solution. The technologies usually have incremental campaign costs, because they are offered under a pay-for-conversion pricing model.
TFC, Inc. is a northern-California-based provider of specialty marketing services that executes one-to-one marketing and customer communications programs.
Its client base ranges from Fortune 1,000 to medium-sized companies, with typical annual client spend of about $750,000. Given the size of TFC clients, the sales cycle for new business is usually long and complex. Sales depend on precise, highly personalized outreach.
TFC's marketing director is responsible for creating a large corporate imprint for the firm.
Recently, she planned a campaign to promote a valuable research report through an email outreach program and a postcard direct-mail follow-up. The campaign resulted in an above average response rate of 0.7%.
The marketing director wanted to see whether she could get better results, so she adopted PluraPage Landing Pages solution, combining it with Vertical Response. PluraPage enabled her, working as a team of one, to mass-produce highly personalized landing pages for target customers.
By incorporating PURLs into emails and direct mailings, TFC more than doubled its initial response rate from 0.7% to 1.8%. Moreover, all responses were directly input into Salesforce.
It seems clear that to succeed in an intensely competitive and increasingly cluttered online market small-to-medium-sized B2B firms and divisions of very large firms should explore the new technologies that support landing pages and microsites.
To do so, marketers should:
- Analyze the market and the competition.
- Define the company’s position in the market and the goals.
- Analyze the relationship between the IT department and sales/marketing organizations.
- Interview technology solution vendors.
- Test-drive technology solutions.
- Pilot a marketing and lead management program that uses landing pages and microsites.
By using landing pages and microsites, companies can better reach prospects, promote brand awareness, and more effectively manage leads.
Adapted from article by Joe Rizzo, CEO of PluraPage (www.plurapage.com).