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B2B marketing channels: do they have a sell-by date?

Social media ebbs and flows...

And when the new hot thing comes along, you need to jump on it, or you’ll be left behind like everyone on MySpace circa 2005.

But what does that mean for your current social marketing strategies?

Like fashion and pop culture, they follow the same laws.

Which often means you have no choice but to follow your audience into the dark unknown.

This article looks at the lifespan of B2B marketing channels and the strategies you need to equip yourself with if you want to get ahead of the game and maintain success.

Topics we cover include:

The inevitable decline of marketing channels | Defining underpriced attention | The dark side of B2B marketing | Tips to stay ahead of the game | Rev up your marketing with Revenue Champions

Click a topic ☝️ to head straight there or scroll 👇 to start reading.

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The inevitable decline of marketing channels 📉

B2B marketing channels thrive because we give them attention.

More so to the ones that give us the best results.

And, it’s because of this that the lifespan of a B2B marketing channel can’t be guaranteed.

With new tech being invented, key updates rolling in and better, more interesting platforms being launched on a daily basis, there are bound to be casualties.

Which is why we need to focus on a dual-channel approach to our marketing.

And, we need to monitor the health of our strategies so we can better predict when it might be time to abandon ship.

Gary Vaynerchuk, Chairman of VaynerX and CEO of VaynerMedia, believes that we are in the early stages of social media’s macro decline and that in a few years, it will erupt in communication warfare:

“We’ll separate as organisations into the haves and the have-nots. Over the next decade, many will retrench or restructure their businesses to bring in journalists, videographers, designers, cartoonists, animators.”

“Most especially, math-oriented individuals that understand how to navigate organic and paid distribution in whatever the top marketing channel of the moment is.”

So, we should probably take his words seriously.

But, it’s not all doom and gloom.

Just look at how MySpace was taken down by Facebook and the growing popularity of TikTok among Gen Z.

There will always be marketing channels at our disposal; we just need to jump on them as soon as possible.

Defining underpriced attention 🌟

In 2002 Google Adwords had 350 customers who only paid per thousand impressions.

In 2003 email open rates used to be 60+%.

And, in 2005, you could get 1M views on an unedited YouTube video filmed on an ancient camcorder with no special lights or mics.

Since they grew in popularity, you're unlikely to get these results anymore, and eventually, something new will come along, and the level of engagement will drop.

Your job is to jump on the new thing and master it before everyone else.

It might not sound like a great plan.

Why would you want to go where no one else is yet?

It’s called underpriced attention, and here’s how it works, according to
Gary:

“If you took all 300 million Americans and asked them to sell bottled water, and they had a budget of one million dollars, how would they sell it? I believe 90 percent of Americans would make a TV commercial. Or do a billboard.”

“What I would do with my money is give it to a bunch of influencers on Instagram. Then, I would make one or two great, three minute long videos for TikTok.”

As marketers, we see commercials and billboards as established advertising channels, but you need a massive budget for them.

Using social media, even if it’s paid, is a lot cheaper, and if you can get a few influencers on board or even just get a few thousand views on TikTok through organic reach - you’re gaining more attention for a lot less.

And that’s what underpriced attention is.

Or in simpler terms:

Underpriced attention are channels marketers don’t understand yet, and so the costs are low.

At the moment, LinkedIn and TikTok are the platforms with the most underpriced attention, as Gary explains:

“You could have no social media presence other than LinkedIn where you publish an article that offers value to someone. By the time you wake up the next morning, complete strangers on all platforms have now heard of you.”

He also believes that Super Bowl commercials like the one Gong did are the most underpriced adverts in the world:

“If I had 25 million dollars to sell something, I would buy a Super Bowl ad first. Then, I would look at Facebook because then I’d have all of America’s attention. You can either watch a commercial on YouTube, or you can watch it during the game, and YouTube’s new preroll based on people’s search is really interesting; it’s one thing to run a video of a sports highlight, it’s another thing to run a video in front of someone who searched for Knicks tickets last week.”

You just need to keep an eye on value and attention.

Find out where people's attention is, and offer them value there, and you’re set to win.

The dark side of B2B marketing 🌃

One of the key influences of underpriced attention are the untrackable actions taken by your buyers.

Things like sharing your content via direct messages and word of mouth referrals.

Diving deeper into the dark channels of B2B marketing can keep you one step ahead of all your competitors and on top of channels with the most underpriced attention.

Dark social

The term ‘dark social’ was coined by Alexis Madrigal, a writer for The Atlantic.

Simply put, it encapsulates all the shares that can’t be tracked through private channels like messaging apps, email and text.

For example, when you find a great article online and text the link to your friend, then you’re using dark social.

The dark funnel

Coined by 6Sense, the dark funnel of B2B marketing refers to all the places your buyers are giving their attention and making important buying decisions that you can’t track.

These include word of mouth, podcasts, events and organic social.  

To make the most of the dark funnel, you’ll have to think out of the box when trying to track them.

We suggest the following:

1 - Self-reported attribution

A favourite of Chris Walker, CEO of Refine Labs. Sometimes if you need the answer to a question, all you need to do is ask, and that’s just what he does! Chris has started adding a ‘where did you hear about us’ question on all his forms and has seen great results from it.

You can also give your closed-won-deals a follow-up call and ask them how they heard about you.

2 - Use sticky share buttons

Make sure your website includes share buttons that can be differentiated from your follow buttons. Then sign up for a tool like ShareThis to help you track shares via dark social.

3 - Add tracking codes

Adding tracking codes to your links is a great idea. However, they can be removed before being shared.

To avoid this, try a link shortener like Bitly or Owly. They can both sync analytics to your CRM to help with your metric tracking.  

4 - Add a segment to Google

Dark marketing channels can sometimes appear on attribution software, but not accurately. To find out the percentage of traffic attributed to the wrong source, you can add dark social segments to Google Analytics.

Tips to stay ahead of the game 🎮

Social media is a highly saturated lead source, and even if you’re the first to hop on new trends, you can still get lost in a sea of other brands who are doing the same.

Here are five tips to help you stand out and stay relevant on all channels:

1 - Add value

Speak to your audience, whether it's a phone call, a DM, a reply to a comment or a quick survey. Find out what they value.

You'll be surprised to find that what you think they need might not be what they want, and once you know, you can start tailoring your content to please them and keep them coming back for more.

2 - Embrace distribution

Distribution is a relatively new concept for many companies. When you create content worth sharing, share it!

Gating content is fast becoming outdated, and it's easier to share a valuable article and gain new followers than to ask them to fill in a form to get it.

Just keep in mind that you need to adapt your content to suit each platform.  

For instance, you can't share a webinar clip on TikTok and expect people to like it. Instead, you need to create something new that suits the platform’s trends to really stand out.

3 - Copy is more important than you realise

What some brands fail to realise is that copy is everything when it comes to their marketing channels. You can have a great image, but a terrible headline will have your audience scrolling right past.

Write like you talk! Speak to your audience like a human and not a robot. Keep your copy short and easy to read - there's no reason to overcomplicate it.

4 - Prioritise brand

Demand generation is important, but building your brand and getting good reviews is just as vital.

And a big part of this is being authentic on your channels - saying one thing and sticking to it, and entertaining/providing value to your audience in a way that's true to your brand.

This won't only get you great reviews, more followers and more shares, but your audience won’t hesitate in referring you to someone who might become your future customer.

5 - Unite sales and marketing

Stop working in silos! B2B sales and marketing can accomplish so much more when they team up rather than leaving each other to work alone.

And it starts with communication. Hold team meetings and be transparent in what both sides are working on. You might find that one team has some valuable insight for the other to help you each reach your shared revenue targets.

Closing thoughts 💭

Whether brimming with users or new to the market, a specific marketing channel won’t always be what’s best for what you’re selling.

You’ll need to experiment, take risks and learn to find the best B2B lead generation channel for your business, and once you do, you’re all set to win in your space.

And remember, stay alert to where your audience’s attention is so you can stay one step ahead of your competitors.

Sometimes you’ll find that the right channel for you is the one with the most underpriced attention, and it won’t take a huge budget to stand out.

Look for those channels, implement the above ☝️ and you can’t lose.

Rev up your marketing with Revenue Champions 🎧

Enjoyed this article?

Listen to Chris Walker and Cognism, CMO, Alice de Courcy, discuss it here 👇

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