The Top 4 Lessons for Software Marketers from the MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum

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Last month I was lucky enough to attend B2B Marketing Forum 2015, the annual conference from MarketingProfs. Anyone who’s anyone in the B2B space knows that this is the place to be to learn more about B2B marketing and network with fellow marketers.

After attending for the first time, I have to say that it absolutely lives up to the hype! This year’s theme was all about “making marketing magic” and every single attendee, speaker, and MarketingProfs employee contributed to create a truly magical event.

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With over 40 informative, compelling sessions, and three fascinating keynotes, I left Boston with a plethora of new marketing insights and exciting ideas for both Capterra and our community of software marketers.

I’m excited to share what I think are the top takeaways from this conference, specifically for B2B software marketers like you!

1. Forget About the Sales Funnel

At the opening keynote, Avinash Kaushik, Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google, said, “I hate funnels. And I hate you if you like them.” Well if that doesn’t make you reevaluate the classic sales funnel, I don’t know what will!

During my favorite keynote of the event, Kaushik ripped the traditional cone-shaped sales funnel, and presented a new way to look at acquiring, nurturing, and closing leads into customers. He calls it the “Intent Cluster,” and outlined exactly what it means for the modern B2B marketer.

There are four main behavioral actions associated with the Intent Cluster:

  1. See – largest addressable qualified audience
  2. Think – largest addressable qualified audience with weak commercial intent
  3. Do – largest addressable qualified audience with strong commercial intent
  4. Care – current customers

You should be tailoring your ad campaigns, content promotion, and all other marketing efforts to each level of intent.  

When he says “qualified audience,” Kaushik is describing a target group of buyers that have the potential to be a customer, not every single person who has ever been on the Internet. From there, he narrows the audience further by classifying if they have weak or strong intentions to actually purchase your product, as your marketing strategy should differ based on the prospect’s intent. For example, Capterra would be considered a Do intent strategy, because the vast majority of web visitors we receive are actively looking for business software and are comparing their options on our site with the intention of selecting one of those products.  

Finally, he emphasizes the importance of not just ignoring your customer after they’ve made a purchase. Are there other purchases they could make? How can they use your software product better? The necessary care and attention towards customers was also a huge point of interest discussed throughout the entire conference.

Source: Kingman Ink

Source: Kingman Ink

How software marketers can use the Intent Cluster: Take a look at your target audience; who would be qualified as See intent? How about Think and Do? Then, decide what kind of marketing tactics apply to each intent group. For example, your See audience should be exposed to content related to brand awareness, like YouTube videos and Facebook posts on your company page.

For Think and Do, you should focus on tactics like SEO, PPC, and more targeted display or retargeting campaigns. Based on if you’re targeting a Think or Do audience, the actual ad copy and CTAs should differ. Prospects with a Do intent are more likely to be in the market for your type of software, so your ad campaigns should focus on optimizing conversion rates, while click-throughs and engagement are seen as success metrics for Think intent campaigns.

Kaushik recommends, when putting together your Intent Cluster strategy, start with creating the content for each intent level, so you have something to actually promote and serve to your target audiences. He also says that you should start with Do first, then Think, then See, since your Do intent prospects are the most valuable and are the ones closest to the final purchase.             

2. The Importance of the User Experience

I attended a session that focused on user experience specifically, but the importance of how people use and interact with your website was seen across all sessions. Matt Grant, Director of Content Strategy at Aberdeen Group, presented this session, and emphasized just how crucial it is to give your users an optimal website experience. I think he explained it best when he said, “don’t make your customers cry!” If they can’t figure out how to navigate your website and find exactly what they’re looking for without getting frustrated, how can you expect them to make any kind of purchase?    

Oli Gardner, co-founder of Unbounce, spoke about creating high-performing landing pages, which included a discussion on design best practices. Even if it’s the biggest trend in software website design, don’t apply a new feature to your site if it hurts your user experience and drives potential customers away.

Source: TopRank Marketing

How software marketers can improve their user experience: Focus on becoming more user-centric in 2016. Find out which types of design positively affect your success metrics, such as return visits or conversion rate, depending on the goal of your campaigns. How can you do this? Testing of course! Does a bolder button color increase clicks and conversions? How does a new website design affect bounce rates? The best way to figure out what type of user experience works best is with help from your actual users.  

3. Maintain a Healthy Relationship Between Sales and Marketing

Tension between the sales and marketing teams isn’t a new issue for the B2B industry. But almost every session at this conference continued to drive home the fact that more than ever Sales and Marketing need to work together.

During his session, Grant discussed some great tips for marketers for improving the sales and marketing alignment. He suggested “empathizing with Sales” and truly trying to understand their issues and how exactly Marketing can help. What’s the most common barrier to closing a sale and how can Marketing decrease that resistance? What are prospects asking about the most and what can Marketing do to answer any common concern? One great idea Grant had that I will definitely be doing myself is sitting in on a sales call. What better way to truly understand the prospect than to actually hear how they talk to your sales team?

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How software marketers can improve their relationship with sales: I have a hard time believing you if you say your sales and marketing alignment is perfect. One way or another, there’s always something you can do to improve that relationship. Other than listening to their phone pitches, I also recommend having a regular meeting between Sales and Marketing. It doesn’t have to be weekly, but I think no less than quarterly would be an ideal meeting schedule to improve the efforts and strategies of both the Sales and Marketing teams.   

4. What About the Customer?

Congratulations! You’ve just closed a sale and have a new customer! Now what happens to them? You certainly don’t ignore them and just get in touch during renewal time!

This is what Kaushik is talking about when he discusses the Care intent: the relationship building between you and the customer doesn’t end when the invoice goes through. What other benefits can you provide to the people who are already sold on your product? Promote a secondary line of products, with specific cases pointing to the benefits of each for your current customers. Provide educational content that can help to improve their use of your product and services. The possibilities truly are endless once you’ve overcome the challenge of actually acquiring a customer.

Source: Sean Callahan

Source: Sean Callahan

How software marketers can focus on the customer: Most of your new customers are probably using your typeof software for the first time. Take advantage of that lack of knowledge and provide them with all the answers they need! Do you sell marketing automation software? Offer them a one-on-one call to explain the importance of lead scoring and how to set it up. Are you an LMS vendor? Send all your new customers a how-to video on creating their first set of courses. Focus on providing an excellent level of customer service so when the time comes to renew their contract, they can’t imagine a life without the expertise your company provides!  

Your experience?

Did you attend this year’s MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum? What were your biggest takeaways as a software marketer?  

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About the Author

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Caroline Malamut

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Caroline is the Vendor Marketing Manager at Capterra. Her love of marketing began while growing up in Philadelphia and has only grown since attending the University of Pittsburgh. In her free time she enjoys reading, spending time with friends and family, and cheering on her Philly and Pitt sports teams.

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