We have come a long way since household access to the internet went mainstream back in the 90’s. Those of us that remember those times may recall having to choose between surfing the web on AOL dial-up or taking a phone call. At that point, there were well under 500 million internet users worldwide. Fast forward to 2017 and it is estimated that roughly 51% of the world population enjoys access to the internet. To a modern marketer that means there are 3.8 billion sets of eyes and ears out there to attract, convert, close and delight.
This interactive chart by OurWorldinData is a great visual of historic internet adoption.
Of course, the total addressable market is significantly smaller with constraints ranging from demographics and geography to just plain preferences. Yet with fantastic advances in digital communication, telecom infrastructure in developing countries, and an increasingly globalized economy many marketers still leave a lot on the table. Geography means less and less as communications technology expands our worldview.
What I’m saying is – don’t think of industries and geographies like Magellan and Columbus, drawing lines on a map to separate each state. Instead, think about how connected and similar firms and individuals are becoming due to globalization. For today’s marketer, focusing on solving problems shared across cultures can open up ways to create efficiencies in their marketing campaigns as well as ways to explore markets they currently do no operate in.
The challenge is two-fold. First, one must identify a shared problem your firm can address. Second, the team must create compelling content that actually gets noticed to generate leads. Today marketers have a plethora of marketing technologies (MarTech) and new corresponding philosophies to help them achieve this.
One of the most effective ways to generate a large number of quality leads is a technique called Inbound marketing. Using this strategy marketers will create an ever-growing portfolio of compelling digital content that helps to educate or solve their customers’ problems. In exchange for valuable content, interested consumers provide the company with their contact information. These leads are then nurtured and funneled down the path through a series of touch points to identify those that are most valuable to the firm. The last step is to hand it off to sales to close the deal. Rinse and repeat.
The beauty of this model is that it both builds trust by allowing the customer to come to you as well as sets up sales for a more comfortable consultative sales experience. This works very well when the company identifies and solves problems that are shared by many so that the content created is shared quickly and often across the web. HubSpot is a well-regarded thought leader in the B2C MarTech space as well as a provider of powerful marketing automation software.
Yet the outcome is only as good as the input. Many companies today still focus on their native markets or on markets that are close and familiar to them. This makes sense in that you should only write about topics you are an expert on, but it is near-sighted in scope. In addition, content is being created at an astounding rate every minute. In short, content must be of high quality, add value, and be flexible across markets. If not, it gets lost in the shuffle.
By creating pieces of content that can be used across different audiences marketers can create economies of scale and scope in marketing investment. Content creation is the most costly part of the process and so using content in more than one way is a great way to maximize ROI. By utilizing marketing automation software and SEO it is possible to place your piece of content in multiple international markets at little cost. This is particularly effective for companies who already sell in multiple market spaces and want to streamline their content creation strategy.
However, the company does not need to be actively selling to the market in which you release content. Revamping content to speak to multiple audiences also creates the ability to test the viability of a product outside of a firms market.
Let’s take an example. A marketer is looking generate leads to sell fashion consulting services in the US and Canada. In order to do so, they create a piece of content at the “Attract” stage of the funnel that instructs consumers on important fashion do’s and don’ts while also providing a quiz on whether or not they are due for a wardrobe upgrade. It could be a beneficial idea to create a version of this content that is targeted to the UK, Mexico, and Japan with slight changes to vernacular, styles, and channel placement. Although the company does not yet sell in these markets, the volume of click-throughs and leads generated from this content could inform decisions to expand business in the future.
Although this example focused on B2C firms, the concept still applies for B2B firms. If done correctly this principle can be applied to increase ROI by focusing marketing efforts on a few firms as if they were their own unique market environments. The approach is called Account Based Marketing or ABM. One thought leader in B2B MarTech and ABM is TechTarget. ABM philosophy encourages marketers to focus only on a few of the most important accounts in their contact list. Once these firms are identified each contact at that company is looked at as a different customer and nurtured on their own through the buyer’s journey. If you want to learn more, TechTarget has a host of resources available covering anything from ABM to leveraging purchase intent in a B2B context.
Today marketers have many digital innovations at their fingertips. Marketing automation platforms put powerful tools into marketers hands to attract, segment, and communicate with customers. Yet these tools are only as powerful as the marketer who can develop digital strategies that utilize philosophies like the inbound methodology or ABM. As a student of these methods, I am fascinated by the psychology behind it all, and the pace at which the industry is evolving. In my opinion, our approach to marketing is changing as much now as it did in the 50’s and tech is behind it all.
So whether this is your first foray into MarTech topics or your an expert already, now is the time to double down on the digital future of marketing.