No marketer is immune. We've all been there. We've all chased the hottest latest greatest trend - whether it's social media today or search marketing in 2002. It can certainly seem easier/more fun/less daunting than developing a creative, effective strategy for optimizing current programs.
But in an era of shifting sales cycles, reduced budgets and staff cut-backs, marketers need to monitor the effectiveness of every tactic. We need to look critically at the new and old ways to generate leads and steward existing clients. We have to consistently ask ourselves why we are doing things a certain way.
This hit home earlier in the week for our team while reviewing the results of a recent email test. Now you may be thinking: email??? Email is sooo 1990s. It isn't nearly as sexy as Twitter or video or mobile right this very second. But there's no denying: email is still effective. In fact, according to BtoB Magazine, it is critical to the ultimate success of all those cool social media efforts that have everyone atwitter.
Back to our email test: we found a significant lift in open rate on a day that in the past has been deemed a no-no for email sends. A simple finding, yes. But one that could have a big impact on conversion and retention for Business.com.
Our team instantly began devising theories. One favorite? If last year's email guru report proclaimed a certain day of the week was the best to target, did all good email marketers start sending on the same day, ultimately creating more competition? It's certainly possible. It's also possible that the economic downturn has changed user behaviors: who isn't getting good at ignoring the increasing number of e-solicitations? It's even possible that all the new social media outlets could be affecting how users interact with email: why email colleagues when you can tweet?
Here are simple but nevertheless vital reminders for B2B marketers looking to move the needle in 2009 and beyond:
- Adopt an integrated approach. Test the new. Test the old. Test the new with the old. Testing will be the key to finding your competitive edge in the brave new world of online marketing.
- Re-evaluate best practices you've applied in the past. Find out what works best for your audience in today's market. If you're not sure, ask them. Send surveys, hold focus groups, have your sales team reach out to clients, include key questions in customer service scripts.
- Stay on top of new trends for old strategies. Bottom line: New tools won't serve you very well if the foundation of your online marketing program isn't strong in the first place. Here are some recent tips we found for email marketing, landing page optimization and lead nurturing during a recession.
How are you finding success right now? Are you mixing hot new tactics with your tried-and-true marketing efforts? Share your thoughts and tips for B2B marketing in 2009!