Data from Marketo ranks several B2B marketing strategies for conversion rates, what tops the list might surprise you. What’s more, this B2B marketing cash cow might even be missing from your marketing plan.
While no one likes to think they might have missed out, the good news is that it’s an opportunity to redirect energy and effort into channels that may produce more marketing ROI, strategies that could well be cash cows.
What is a cash cow?
In business, a cash cow is something that keeps on producing good returns over time, well in excess of the resources that it consumes, and even after no additional resources are being channeled its way. Investopedia.com explains, “This term is a metaphor for a dairy cow that produces milk over the course of its life and requires little maintenance. A dairy cow is an example of a cash cow, as after the initial capital outlay has been paid off, the animal continues to produce milk for many years to come.”
B2B Marketing Strategies: Follow the Money
Including responses from 5,000 marketing professionals worldwide, Salesforce’ 2015 State of Marketing report listed the most pressing business challenges as:
- 27% – new business development
- 27% – quality of leads
- 27% – remaining up to date with marketing technology and trends
- 26% – customer acquisition
- 25% – quantifying marketing’s return on investment
- 25% – integration of marketing tools and systems
Obviously, generating new leads and turning leads into customers is sort of the point of marketing, right? So it comes as no surprise to find that marketers are focused on these activities, including investments of both time and money. In fact, almost nine in ten marketers said they were planning to spend more on marketing in 2015, especially in these five areas:
- 70% – Social media advertising
- 70% – Social media marketing
- 67% – Social media engagement
- 67% – Location-based mobile tracking
- 66% – Mobile apps
Given that many marketers and small business owners struggle to connect marketing ROI to social marketing efforts, it is perhaps not surprising (or even a bad idea) that they plan to channel time and money into ensuring that social media advertising and marketing become effective tools in their marketing arsenal. While there is nothing wrong with the list above, it may be representative of the scenario we referenced in our introduction. Marketers may be putting most of their time and money into marketing channels which are likely to produce only a fraction of the leads and conversions they could be getting from their cash cow.
What is the Cash Cow of B2B Marketing Strategies?
Among Marketo’s list of top-converting B2B marketing strategies are social media, paid marketing, inbound marketing (including content marketing) and partners, with partner marketing channels coming in second but still at less than half the conversion rate of Marketo’s top B2B marketing strategy (and thus, it’s cash cow) which is… drum roll please… referrals.
It begs the question: How many marketers are spending big money on paid social, search, display and retargeting, hiring teams of social media specialists, and wringing every last bit of intelligence out of big data, small data and all data sizes in between, while neglecting the biggest potential lead generator of all: referrals.
It’s so uncomplicated. In fact, we can sum it up in one sentence, overheard in the salon, when a hairstylist handed her client a business card and said: “I am taking on a few new clients, and I want more clients like you.”
Unless you have somehow managed to attract a stable-full of clients who don’t really need what you sell or you have radically changed your product and service offerings, there is a pretty good chance that your current customers are representative of the type of leads you want to attract. There is also a fairly good chance that your clients network with other companies that align well with your ideal client types and buyer personas. They are in peer networks with them. They are on the golf course with them. They are doing business with them.
If you never ask, you’ll never know.
If you don’t have a formal referral marketing strategy, it should be a top priority. If you have a referral marketing program but it is not producing leads, and leads that convert, finding out why and retooling this tactic so that it begins producing should be a top priority. If your organization’s conversion success among referred contacts could be more than twice that of the next best marketing channel, you would be crazy not to make design or redesign of a B2B referral marketing program a top priority in the months to come.
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