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An Evolution in B2B Marketing

HubSpot’s INBOUND conference was earlier this month. As in previous years, it was an excellent conference with thousands of experienced marketers and sales experts discussing ideas and the evolution of marketing.

This year, I attended both the Hubspot Partner event—a day dedicated to the agencies and creatives serving businesses—and the INBOUND conference. Throughout the week the theme that kept coming up in almost every presentation was the evolution of B2B marketing.

A Structural Shift in B2B Marketing

As marketers in B2B have embraced the Inbound methodology, the funnel has been a standard framework that sales and marketing organization have operated within. The funnel has become a triaging tool to manage prospects and has incited cries all over the world for “more leads!” But the funnel is ultimately broken.

I’ve been sharing this reality with clients, but when Ryan Deiss laid out the math of how broken the inbound funnel has become, it was crystal clear that the tactics we’ve been employing for the last ten years aren’t working like they used to.

  • Over the past 15 years the average click-through-rate for advertising has gone from 78% to .03%.

  • The average email open rate has gone from >50% to only 24.8% (and that includes transactional emails!)

  • Average click-thru-rate is 4.19%

  • The average landing page conversion is 2.35%.

To put that in perspective.

If you’re advertising to 100,000 people, you can expect 30 people to click-through to a landing page.

If, in the same campaign, you’re also driving people to a landing page from email, and you email 10,000 recipients, 2480 people will open your email. With an average 4.19% click-through-rate, only 104 people will reach your landing page from the email.

Let’s break that down.

In this hypothetical campaign, you marketed to 110,000 people, of which 134 of them will reach your landing page and of those, 3….THREE! Will convert on your landing page.

We need to stop investing in old tactics that aren’t working. Things change, and what I love most about marketing is that it’s always evolving, but right now, marketers all over the world are banging their heads against walls trying to make a broken approach work. It’s worked in the past, why isn’t it working now?

Buyers have evolved. Display ads used to be interesting and surprising, now they are ubiquitous, email used to be delightful, now it’s irritating and intrusive. People used to be less protective of their personal information, now, it takes a lot more to build trust with prospects and customers.

So, what is the solution?

A Focus on the Customer Experience

There’s been a lot of discussion about the Customer Experience in the past couple of years. And while “customer experience” is somewhat overused and sometimes obscure, the basic premise is that you treat humans like humans and you take tremendous care in nurturing your customer relationships. This is important for two reasons:

Building Brand Trust

Outside of a business setting, would you repeatedly email a stranger, expecting them to respond? Would you send a message to a friend to share a useful resource, but require them to fill out a 15-field form in order to see the resource? I sure hope not.

Before you create your next marketing campaign or blog post or email, ask yourself the question “Is this creating a great experience for the audience?”

Either you’re building your brand or you’re crushing your brand. Bullying people through email crushes your brand. Creating barriers to your content crushes your brand. Publishing content that isn’t useful crushes your brand.

Instead, treat customers like people. And, acknowledge that the “customer” is everyone.

Growing Your Business

As I mentioned, the “funnel” is broken. In response, HubSpot introduced an alternative, in the form of a flywheel. The difference is a larger focus on customers. As suggested in this blog post, “Funnels produce customers, but don’t consider how those customers help you grow.”

hubspot-flywheel

By shifting the model to a flywheel, with customers at the center, it forces a focus on the customer experience, which ultimately supports some of the best-performing marketing channels there are—WOM and referrals.

It’s harder than ever before to attract and build trust with prospects who don’t know you. The best path to building trust is through your existing customers and the only way to do that, is to truly provide the best service, products, and marketing to your existing customers.

The flywheel prioritizes the customer relationship and creates a clearer path to customer marketing.

This “new” model isn’t so new—many marketers have been thinking about and devoting their strategies to customer marketing and the customer experience for decades. What makes me excited about this new version of the model, is it gives marketers the framework to begin to educate our sales partners on a shift of focus toward a more sustainable and long-term strategy versus the constant focus on pulling net new leads into the funnel.

Want to talk to us about HubSpot and the funnel vs. flywheel models? Contact us!