Digital marketing comes with a lot of promises. More leads. Better engagement with customers. And ultimately, more sales. But the problem with digital marketing, especially in the B2B world, is that many of those promises never become reality.
That’s not for a lack of time, money, and effort. In some cases, a lot of each. And for many unsuccessful digital marketing efforts, that’s where the first problem is: You are trying to do too many things and moving too fast.
The key to digital marketing isn’t necessarily the perfect message or the right downloadable asset, although both of those are critically important. It’s having the patience to let the process work.
Digital marketing isn’t a magic bullet
B2B executive, here’s a truth to remember: Your sales cycle is your sales cycle. If it takes your sales team months or years to close a deal, then a digital deal isn’t going to close in mere weeks.
This is one area where B2C marketing teams have an advantage. Whether they are selling shoes, a packet of chewing gum or something as equally disposable, it’s easier for them to make a sale. The size of the deal is smaller. The purchase is less scrutinized. And there are fewer people needed to approve the spend—often just one. For those B2C brands, there’s no such thing as a nurture path, nor a need for one. Often a single email message can lead to sales.
Those kinds of success stories can leave B2B leaders scratching their heads when they’ve sent a couple emails and received, at best, only a handful of interactions. So they ditch that campaign. They shift tactics and go with a new approach. A couple emails in—with, once again, only a handful of interactions—they shift once more. And on and on, sabotaged repeatedly by the power of unreasonable expectations.
The reality? Digital marketing isn’t necessarily faster. If your traditional sales cycle is measured in months, then a digital sales cycle should be, too. You have to give your digital campaigns the time they need to work.
The benefit of digital marketing is that it doesn’t require your sales team to turn a contact from a cold call into a warm lead. With the right marketing automation platform, that whole process can become software driven, making it virtually hands free. But it still requires time and patience to work.
Digital marketing isn’t necessarily a volume game
Other marketing organizations have the opposite problem. They start a million campaigns, shotgunning their digital marketing efforts and hoping that something finds traction with an audience. They spend all of their time spinning up new campaigns. They have no time to determine if yesterday’s campaigns are actually working, and that’s just as detrimental to the digital marketing process as abandoning efforts too quickly.
One of the most valuable things about a digital marketing program is that it’s a living thing. You can watch what works and do more of that. You can see what’s not working and make necessary changes. You can fine tune a program to maximize its efficiency. But it’s very hard to do that if you are running a million campaigns at once and always starting more.
These kinds of iterations require collecting data, and data takes time to analyze. It’s a thoughtful exercise that, when done right, pays dividends. Not just for today’s campaign, but for the myriad campaigns you’ll run in the future. Why? Because what you learn on each campaign tells you more about your audience than you knew before. By taking the time to analyze this campaign, your next one can be more effective from the start. You won’t spend time unknowingly making the same mistakes.
Again, this all requires time—and patience—if it’s to yield real, measurable results. Yes, there are ways to get some quick wins, but for digital marketing to really work for you, you have to give it that time. For some companies, that’s months. For others it’s longer. But it can work, if you don’t try to move too fast.
Jarrett is responsible for the creation and implementation of client content strategy, ensuring not only is the right message being communicated but that it's being communicated in the right places using the right methods.