Business is increasingly taking place online. As we move in and out of COVID-19 lockdowns around the globe, this trend has intensified and thrust digital marketing strategies to the forefront of many marketer’s minds. The battle to engage audiences via on-screen experiences has intensified, and along with it, the competition to create personalised online experiences for consumers.

Reflecting on some of our work with large B2Bs such as AWS, Microsoft, and Lenovo, we’d like to share some insights and strategies for leveraging digital marketing, from improving sales enablement tools to adopting full digital pipelines.

1. Omnichannel strategies

Omnichannel, but all digital? Yes, this is a thing. Where traditional omnichannel strategies would mix online and offline activity to create the illusion of being everywhere, digital omnichannel strategies recognise that customers travel in different modes online too. And many B2Bs are consistently seeing a significant increase in returns from their digital marketing by ensuring that wherever customers go online, they are there too with a contextual message about their product or service.

We helped Lenovo deliver an omnichannel marketing campaign to promote Lenovo’s effective collaboration with Microsoft. Together, Lenovo Cloud Solutions and the Microsoft 365 productivity suite have a compelling offering, our role was to breathe life into the campaign with a creative approach for Lenovo CSP Managed Services. We developed a key insight – that the scalability and flexibility of the Microsoft product offering can be tailored to any business – into the kernel of our creative idea. Working with a Melbourne-based artist, we created miniature workplace and warehouse interiors, complete with tiny Lenovo hardware.

Using a mix of digital outreach and remarketing, we created a hum of online activity across search, social, and email outreach. With assets created that targeted different decision makers in the IT procurement process and a simultaneous campaign to engage and enable resellers, we were able to build a carefully crafted journey to conversion, no matter where in the digital environment that customer’s journey began.

2. Filling your digital pipelines from the top

B2B marketing is on the cusp of a new era of digital communications. While you can still choose whether or not you want to employ digital into your marketing strategy, more often than not, many marketers are starting with digital first, and then considering whether or not to bring in traditional channels as well.

This makes sense for many B2Bs, as consumption of digital media, including social, has skyrocketed. Whether that’s the proliferation of online content, increased trust in digital sources, or simply the way rich digital media is now readily available on portable devices wherever we are, full-digital pipelines have been shown to grow sales in B2B.

More people working from home means fewer people on the road, and fewer eyeballs on those billboards, bus shelters and other out-of-home tactics.

With a variety of restrictions and disruptions still in play across the world due to the pandemic, the effectiveness of some traditional methods of marketing has been blunted. More people working from home means fewer people on the road, and fewer eyeballs on those billboards, bus shelters and other out-of-home tactics. Direct mail is more complex with people not receiving their work post at home. Events like trade shows and exhibitions are only just starting to make a comeback with physical attendance, but difficulties traveling and restrictions on numbers of people allowed in indoor spaces continues to limit the size of the audiences reached at these events.

This places a greater significance on having a robust B2B digital strategy that’s focused on filling the funnel from the top, much like a traditional outdoor campaign might reach a wider audience with those interested steered down a path to an eventual sale.

In our work with AWS Training and Certification, we created a series of HTML display ads and video ads for top-of-funnel awareness. Popping up on tech-focused sites, but also mainstream media sites and apps, this activity was designed to keep the funnel full of prospects, who could then be nurtured down a more personalised path. Yes, personalisation is a great strength of digital marketing, but considering that you now may also have to run your brand awareness via digital channels too, changes the context.

Replacing out-of-home or mainstream media coverage with strong awareness online, when your brand tries personalised engagement with a prospect, they will already have the background familiarity that helps them along their journey to a click. Then, leveraging the power of data, the benefits of personalised digital marketing can be truly brought to bear, including through account based marketing which is increasingly showing strong ROI in the large enterprise environment.

3. Digital storytelling

Creating and telling stories around your product or service is powerful. Stories can capture attention, make people curious and are easier to relate to than simple fact / benefit messaging. Stories can help regular marketing to land better by filling in the reality that surrounds the elevator pitch messaging, and leveraging the power of third-party endorsement. Despite the popularity and effectiveness of digital storytelling in the B2C marketing space, this medium continues to be overlooked by some B2Bs.

Stories can help regular marketing to land better by filling in the reality that surrounds the elevator pitch messaging, and leveraging the power of third-party endorsement.

We worked with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to produce a series of SMB customer story videos that showcased the value of the AWS Cloud by creating a more human brand story. Cloud technology can seem impenetrable to those that aren’t inherently technical, and because it is so versatile, it can also be hard to picture how the power of the cloud can be made to work for specific business cases, especially in the SMB space – where there is a notion that cloud innovation is reserved for the bigger players. Our stories captured cloud successes across a range of industries, including retail, healthcare and agriculture, which demonstrated the versatility of the AWS Cloud, and how its agility and power to scale can be crucial to the growth of an SMB.

By sharing customer stories, marketers can bring audiences closer to the real life business cases for their product or service, whether they’re on the other side of the country, or the world. It’s a humanising approach to delivering relatable messages about a complex technical capability, allowing businesses to connect with customers on a different, more personal level. With online consumption of video at an all-time high and growing, a compelling customer story could be just what your next customer chooses to watch on their phone on the train home.

4. Digital sales enablement

Sales enablement is all about providing an organisation with the tools that sales teams need to market its business effectively to consumers. Good alignment between sales and marketing bridges gaps in the customer experience, building trust by ensuring they encounter consistent messaging across the marketing and sales environments.

We worked with Lenovo to support both internal and channel resellers with sales enablement assets to ensure the experience was cohesive from initial awareness to sales and onboarding. Lenovo has a huge network of reseller business partners who empower each other through the tools and knowledge required to sell Lenovo’s offerings to their customers. As part of our campaign to help deliver ROI for CSP Managed Services, we created a variety of digital sales enablement assets. The pack included:

  • Training videos, to help sales people understand exactly how the program worked, both from a customer and backend perspective
  • A campaign flyer to get them familiar with the messaging that customers would be responding too
  • Sales guides to ensure that understanding of the offer was complete
  • Conversation guides to help the sales team present consistent messaging to customers and interrogate the right topics to lead to a sale
  • Sales email templates to enable quick and consistent follow up

In addition, there was regular marketing outreach provided to channel partners with spaces for co-branding, so that they could use the collateral as their own, further enhancing the consistency of the messaging to a broad market.

This material was all made available to resellers via a digital repository within the Lenovo Partner Hub. This makes it not only easy to keep up-to-date, but with many sales teams continuing to work remotely, it’s easy for them to access via digital channels.

The power of digital in a distributed world

More so in the pandemic-affected world than ever, digital marketing plays an integral role in every business’s marketing strategy. However, with the increased complexity and intense competition, it can be hard to know where to begin. From implementing omnichannel digital strategies to communicating with customers via digital storytelling, businesses can elevate their customers’ experiences online and recreate their full marketing experience from awareness to purchase via users’ devices.

Need some help with an existing strategy? Want to try something new? We’ll help guide your digital marketing strategy so that you can start seeing real results and ROI (or return on imagination, as we like to say).