5 CRM Best Practices for B2Bs Integrating AI

Like most entrepreneurs looking to increase their business’s efficiency, it may be tempting to jump at the first shiny new technology that comes along. For instance, 64% of B2B marketers consider artificial intelligence (AI) a valuable part of their sales and marketing strategies. With AI proving to be highly beneficial to B2B companies, it’s no wonder why they are looking for ways to integrate it into their CRM to help them with their B2B customer relationship management strategy.

Can AI Be Implemented into Your CRM?

While you might be skeptical of AI’s ability to help your brand, it’s essential to realize that AI can be used for different things. You might be wondering what exactly you can use AI for in your CRM. Some of the most common uses of AI include:

  • Data Discovery: AI can be used to find data that you never knew existed. It can then use this data to make predictions and generate insights that you would never have thought of on your own.
  • Data Enhancement: AI can be used to enhance your existing data by adding more accurate information or removing incomplete information.
  • Data Insights: AI can be used to give you insights that you would never have thought of on your own. These insights can help you to better understand your customers and what they want from your brand.
  • Data Prediction: AI can be used to predict data about your customers that you would never have been able to otherwise.
  • Customer Service: AI can automate customer service by answering basic questions and providing customers with the information they request.
  • Marketing Automation: AI can be used to help you automate your marketing campaigns. For example, it can help you to customize your marketing strategies based on the information that it has learned about your customers.
  • Sales and Lead Generation: AI can help you reach out to prospects more effectively. It can tailor your sales and lead generation efforts to your prospects’ specific needs.

AI is a powerful tool that can help you to improve your B2B customer relationship management strategy. It’s possible to integrate it into your CRM, but to do so successfully, you’ll want to consider some of the most important B2B CRM best practices.

5 B2B CRM Best Practices You’ll Need to Pay Attention To

When you’re looking to integrate AI into your B2B CRM, there are a few best practices that you’ll need to pay particular attention to. These best practices will help you ensure that you’re using AI in the most effective way possible.

1. Identify/Define Your Goals

One of the most essential B2B CRM best practices you’ll need to pay attention to is identifying your goals. You’ll want to make sure that you’re using AI to help you achieve your business goals and not just to make your life easier. You’ll also want to make sure that you’re using the right kind of AI for the job.

For example, some of the most common types of AI include machine learning, artificial general intelligence, and natural language processing. You can use these different types of AI to help you to achieve different things. For instance, machine learning can help you identify patterns in your data, while natural language processing can help you create a more personalized customer experience.

2. Ensure That Your Sales and Marketing Teams are on the Same Page

If you want to integrate AI into your CRM successfully, you’ll want to make sure that your sales and marketing teams work together. If they aren’t, your AI could end up providing conflicting information.

In a worst-case scenario, your AI might be telling your sales team to try to sell a specific product to a particular customer. However, your AI might also be telling your marketing team to focus on selling a different product to that same customer. This can lead to much confusion and might even result in your company losing out on sales.

3. Synchronize Your Data

Another critical B2B CRM best practice is to ensure that your data is synchronized. If your data isn’t synchronized, your AI will have a hard time learning about your customers. It can also lead to your AI providing inaccurate information.

For example, if your AI doesn’t have access to all information about a customer, it might assume that they are interested in a product they actually aren’t. This can lead to your brand losing out on sales that you could have otherwise made.

4. Set Up Your AI to Deliver Predictive Insights

You will also need to ensure that you set up your AI to deliver predictive insights. AI can help you to make predictions. For instance, it can help you identify when a customer is likely to purchase or cancel their subscription.

Predictive insights can help you to reach out to your customers more effectively. They can also help you to create marketing campaigns that are more likely to resonate with your customers.

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Hushly  

5. Set Up Your AI to Deliver Personalized Experiences

It’s essential to set up your AI to deliver personalized experiences. 77% of B2B sales and marketing professionals believe that personalization contributes to better customer relationships. Personalized experiences can help you to improve loyalty among your B2B audience and then help you increase your overall conversion rates.

For example, your AI might be able to identify the specific needs of one of your customers. It can then use this information to personalize your customer’s next sales and marketing experience.

Utilizing AI to Create a Personalized Customer Experience with Hushly

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Hushly provides a variety of tools to help you personalize every touchpoint on your website with custom offers, pricing, and more.

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5 Steps to Create Winning B2B Lead Nurturing Strategies in 2021

With such importance placed on nurturing leads, it’s quite surprising that 65% of marketers are not taking the time to do so.

That means that over half of marketing teams miss out on the benefits of creating long-lasting, trusting relationships with their audience. They are also decreasing the chances of a sale and reducing the overall size of sales. That’s because companies that prioritize nurturing leads tend to generate 50% more sales-ready leads. Also, nurtured leads tend to make 47% larger purchases than unnurtured leads.

So how can you make sure that you’re not missing out on the potential of your lead nurturing campaign? It starts by knowing how to create effective B2B lead nurturing strategies.

5 Steps to Building Successful B2B Lead Nurturing Strategies

It doesn’t matter what your end goals are. If you aren’t prioritizing your customer’s journey and making it the most seamless experience possible, you’re going to miss out on some valuable opportunities.

The good news? Building a successful B2B lead nurturing strategy isn’t nearly as challenging as you may think. The most difficult part is finding that sweet spot between providing value and building a community of genuinely interested individuals.

Here’s what you need to know to get started:

1. Know Your Audience

You simply can’t expect to build a relationship with someone you don’t know. That goes double for trying to get someone to do business with you.

Before you can create an effective nurturing strategy, you need to know whom you’re targeting.

  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • Where are they in their purchase cycle?
  • What kinds of questions and problems do they have?
  • What information are they seeking to help them make a decision?
  • What kind of content are they sharing with their peers?

By taking the time to get to know these answers, you can create a nurturing strategy that will truly resonate with your ideal audience, get them actively engaging with your brand, and, in the end, making a confident purchase.

2. Prioritize UX Web Design

Your website is likely the first touchpoint for your audience.

A lead nurturing strategy that doesn’t consider the user experience is a waste of time and money. Studies show that 91% of B2B buyers want a seamless user experience on websites. That means you need to prioritize the user experience of your website to make it accessible, simple, and easy for leads to find and consume the content that will help them make a decision.

It’s easy to forget that the purpose of your website is to help your audience make a decision. If you haven’t designed your website with this in mind, you’re leaving leads vulnerable to the competition.

Strategies for updating your website for the user include:

  • Ensure your website is mobile-friendly and responsive.
  • Make your content scannable and easy to read.
  • Remove unnecessary features.
  • Make it easy for leads to subscribe to your email list and stay informed on the latest information.

3. Create Empowering Content

If you want your lead nurturing strategies to be successful, you need to actively engage your audience.

You can achieve this by creating information-packed content that is both valuable and entertaining. Content that empowers your audience will help you build trust, an emotional connection, and a sense of community.

Consider the following types of content that you can use to create an empowering experience for your audience:

  • Educational Blogs/Articles
  • Case Studies
  • Tips & Tricks
  • Webinars
  • Infographics

Empowering content is designed to help your audience accomplish a goal or learn something new. This type of content provides value to the reader, making them more likely to engage with your brand.

B2B consumers want to be educated – not sold to. That means your content marketing needs to revolve around data. It needs to be researched, and it needs to prove that you are a thought leader in your industry. Show your audience that you have the knowledge to guide them in the right direction.

4. Personalize Content Distribution

Personalized content distribution has the power to transform the way a lead feels about your brand. By targeting your audience with content that is relevant to them, you’re building trust and helping them feel valued.

When you tailor your content to your audience, you’re not only providing them with what they need, you’re also sending a message that you understand their needs and that you’re here to help them.

Now, there is a lot of back and forth about the effectiveness of personalized content distribution and how much time is spent on collecting data to personalize communications. The good news? 80% of B2B businesses state that content personalization effectively draws in and nurtures new leads.

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Neil Patel

5. Ungate Valuable Content

This may sound counterintuitive – after all, you want to encourage your audience to sign up for the perks of being a part of your community, right?

Here’s the thing: nobody wants to fill out a form when they are simply looking for information.

If you are asking your audience to fill out a form before they can access valuable content, you’re wasting their time and making it less likely that they will engage with your brand.

Leads want to see the value of joining your community before sharing their personal information.

If you want to be successful in your lead nurturing strategy, you need to make sure that the content you are offering is valuable enough for your audience to want to sign up for more.

Make the Most of Your Lead’s with Hushly’s Lead Management System

Establishing B2B lead nurturing strategies that work doesn’t have to be a complicated process. The key is having the proper lead nurturing tools at your disposal.

Hushly’s lead management system not only helps you get to know who your audience is, but also provides you with analytics-backed practical business insights to help you stay organized and make important content and marketing decisions.

Get your customized lead management experience today.

What Can Artificial Intelligence Do for Security?

Criminals and attackers have figured out how valuable artificial intelligence is for breaching cybersecurity and exploiting loopholes.

Meanwhile, cybersecurity software and programs often remain one step behind – patching holes and fixing bugs as they appear.

Cyber crimes will cost an estimated $6 trillion globally this year.

No one thinks they need security until an attack hits them. Besides, 59% of buyers say they’ll avoid doing business with any company that suffered an attack within the past year.

Attackers use artificial intelligence to do some considerable damage, too: manipulating machine learning in bots to make mistakes, cracking passwords or bypassing system protections with Generative Adversarial Networks, data poisoning, and much more.

Artificial intelligence should be a staple both in your cybersecurity company’s general product or service as well as your marketing strategy.

You know your AI system works. You might hire ethical hackers, run daily tests, show off how many attacks you’ve stopped each day.

No matter how transparent you are, your leads and customers still can’t see that you’re using AI to its fullest potential behind the scenes if you don’t show it off in the open.

How do you show it off in the open? Your content marketing strategy.

Artificial Intelligence is Finally Becoming a Central Theme in Security

Whether AI in the military will end up as a force for good or bad is another question. However, only recently has the Pentagon decided to finally step up its adaptation and research of AI – at least publicly.

Back in 2018, DARPA announced a $2 billion investment in human-AI collaborative systems. Anyone familiar with DARPA knows that its highly secretive nature likely means that AI research in DARPA goes back much farther than 2018.

It’s important to remember that most U.S. defense technology, after development in DARPA, goes out to private defense contractors for manufacturing. In fact, many of the computer networking systems and technology we use as consumers today comes from DARPA.

The bottom line is that with DARPA and the Pentagon doubling down on artificial intelligence in security, we can expect the possibilities to widen.

AI isn’t an outlier behind closed doors anymore. It’s the main strategy out in the open.

Examples of AI in Cybersecurity and How to Use It

Remember, you want to show off your AI capabilities both through your product or service and through your website experience.

Adopting front-end AI personalization technologies shows visitors and leads that you care about the customer experience and you’re committed to the most innovative AI available.

1. Identifying Malware and Phishing Attacks

Artificial intelligence and machine learning can help you stay proactive instead of constantly reacting to potential attacks.

AI scans reports on malware and phishing attacks to look for patterns in file sizes, code strings, contents, metadata, and more.

Set up seamless algorithms with machine learning elements to constantly improve as you feed them new information from professional sources on the latest attacks.

2. Sending Out Automated Threat Alerts

WordFence, a cybersecurity plugin for WordPress, sends out automated emails to users after their technology identifies vulnerabilities in other plugins.

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Gmail

Emails like this are easy to set up with the right technology. However, they go miles toward building better relationships with your customers. Now, WordFence customers can immediately know if they might have been exposed to a vulnerability and check.

3. Analyzing an Organization’s Likelihood of Attack

No one wants to think they’re at risk of an attack, but the fact is, we’re all vulnerable. It just depends on the security we have in place and how valuable we’d be as a target.

Most cybersecurity companies offer free risk analysis, but leads want to research on their own without committing to human interaction.

Instead, use AI to develop an interactive form where leads can plug in their company’s basic information along with any existing strategy. The algorithms will scan their data and let them know how likely they are to suffer an attack and what kind.

Plus, machine learning lets you develop an analysis algorithm like this that improves over time the more people use it or feed it information.

4. Account-Based Marketing for Cybersecurity Products

Account-based marketing is a must for an industry like cybersecurity where supplying personalized content is critical.

No one thinks they need cyber security products or services. An ABM strategy lets you create the most relevant content possible for each account so it will always hit home without feeling exploitative.

Consider either one-on-one ABM for individual companies or clusters for specific verticals. Use AI-powered campaign pages to personalize your offers, configurations, case studies, and more.

5. Artificial Intelligence-Powered Security Software

Empower your customers and leads to take control of their own cybersecurity protection with AI-powered tools.

Software, website plugins, Chrome extensions, and phone apps are all excellent routes to work freemium AI-powered technology into your marketing and sales strategies.

Go beyond the competitors. Provide ongoing tips, threat alerts, monthly analysis, or anything else you think would stand you out.

6. Analyzing and Understanding Typical User Behavior

Artificial intelligence in security is especially useful for studying and analyzing typical user behavior across company networks or real-world locations.

Using badges, metadata, IP information, or facial recognition, you can implement AI algorithms with machine learning to follow secure emails, payroll departments, or anything sensitive. If something seems off, AI can lock an individual out until someone resets the system.

This is an excellent strategy for keeping out phishing attempts.

Show Off Your AI with a Personalized Content Experience

Hushly makes it easy to add AI and ML-powered personalization to your website’s content experience, lead forms, account-based marketing, and more.

Check Point Software, for example, got started with Hushly to improve their lead data and protect forms from fake information. Once they noticed the results, Check Point adopted Hushly’s AI and ML-powered content experience engine.

Overall, Check Point enjoyed 93% more leads, 54% better lead quality, and 240% more content engagement.

See the full Check Point Software case study to see which Hushly tools they used and how they worked.

5 Costly Mistakes with Your Lead Generation Form (and What to Do Instead)

Lead forms are one of the most frustrating parts of the user experience.

As a user yourself, you understand this.

Imagine you’re browsing a website. You click on a blog or piece of research. Suddenly, a lead generation form appears on your screen asking for detailed information about your job and company.

You don’t really want to give this website all your information to browse their site, so you either hit the back button or give them fake information.

We all do this, so why don’t more B2B marketers understand that this happens to their lead forms, too?

In fact, fake or incorrect lead information is one of the biggest problems holding back your marketing campaigns and personalization strategies.

That’s why Gartner expects 80% of marketers will abandon their data-driven personalization by 2025.

Fortunately, you can nip the problem in the bud with better lead form UX and etiquette.

What’s Wrong with Your Lead Generation Form? 5 Costly Mistakes Most B2Bs Make

Instead of talking about what makes a lead generation form’s UX good, let’s talk about what makes it intrusive, annoying, and inefficient.

1. Fully Gating All Your Content Behind a Lead Form

Most B2Bs don’t approach inbound marketing the right way. They invest so much time and money into content production, then hide it behind an invasive lead form.

They figure the best way to drive value from their content is to force leads to hand over information to access it.

This plan always backfires. You end up with a database riddled with fake information while driving away genuine leads.

Instead, the best strategy is to find a happy medium. Provide everyone with a content sample of a few hundred words so they can decide if it’s worth trading an email to download it.

Plus, freeing up your content allows leads to self-nurture as they browse. By the time they find something worth downloading, they’ll be further along in the funnel and you’ll have a better understanding of their needs.

2. Too Many Lead Generation Form Fields

As Nielsen-Norman notes, people don’t read form instructions and those that do forget what the instructions say.

Your lead generation form shouldn’t have so many fields that you have to mark things required/optional and include instructions.

You should only have the minimum number of required fields, ideally a business email address and country location. Don’t ask strangers for details about their company or job role. When you do, you’re literally asking them to do work.

No one wants to work to read content. Stick with the bare minimum.

3. Your Lead Generation Form Isn’t Mobile Friendly

Like it or not, your B2B buyers are young and browsing your site from their mobile devices. Lead generation forms are generally the opposite of mobile friendly.

Not only do forms interfere with your traffic and lead conversions, but they might also soon screw up your overall SEO rankings.

Google will start factoring user experience into its ranking algorithm soon. Mobile friendliness, which already played a large role in rankings, will matter even more – as will other general user experience elements.

You’re much better off ungating some of your content and trimming down your lead forms.

4. Allowing Unverified Data to Enter Your System

A third of all B2B marketers say low-quality data is the biggest hurdle standing in their way of improving their website’s user experience.

Most say siloed and incomplete data are the biggest problems.

Well, bad data starts with your lead form. By requiring every website visitor to fill out a form, you’re begging for fake lead data to enter your system. Missing, outdated, and false information end up costing you more than you realize in dead-end personalization strategies and marketing campaigns.

That’s why it’s so important to employ lead verification systems as you collect data through your forms – not only when you need to clean up your system.

5. Not Vetting Entries to Weed Out Free Domains

Aside from missing and fake information, free domains and role-based emails are a big issue you might not realize is throwing off your lead database.

If someone can’t supply a business email address, they aren’t a genuine lead, and they shouldn’t enter your system. It’s that simple.

All those Gmail addresses, even when the rest of the information is 100% correct, do nothing but throw off your overall marketing strategy.

Instead, use AI features to vet every email as it enters your system. Make sure it’s real, belongs to a business domain, and isn’t role-based.

Hushly

Make the Switch to Micro Smart Lead Generation Forms

Ideally, you want to do the opposite of everything mentioned above – but how? Artificial intelligence and machine learning. AI-powered tools let you scale back your use of lead forms, improve the overall interface, and make a much more pleasant browsing experience.

Swapping out your standard lead generation form for a smart micro form is an easy way to instantly improve your website metrics like traffic, engagement, and conversion. Plus, they stop the bad data issue directly at the source: your forms.

Micro smart lead forms only ask for a business email and country location. This allows you to:

  • Stop fully gating content, offering a sample of a few hundred words instead
  • Provide a mobile-friendly browsing experience without lead forms popping up to interfere with content
  • Automate the vetting process by cross-referencing the lead’s business email with public information on LinkedIn and other sources
  • Build complete firmographic profiles based on a single email address
  • Maintain a clean lead database free from fake lead info, incomplete fields, and outdated information
  • Let leads browse your content freely without intrusive forms, encouraging self-nurturing and content bingeing
  • Put leads in control of the experience and empower them with relevant information

It’s a win-win: You can still collect accurate lead data, and visitors can browse your site’s content without intrusive forms everywhere.

Plus, these AI tools increase lead conversions by 51% and lead quality by 59%. They optimize the experience for both your visitors and your marketing team.

See how an AI-powered smart micro form can improve your website experience.

How to Use Personalized Content Marketing at 7 Touchpoints

Regardless of their feelings on data collection, most consumers and business buyers all expect a personalized experience from brands today.

In fact, 83% of consumers said they’re willing to trade some of their data privacy in exchange for a more relevant experience – so long as transparency is priority number one.

Unfortunately, Gartner predicts that 80% of B2B marketers will abandon their data-driven personalization by 2025.

Businesses must solve the bad data problem before they ever invest in content or try to personalize the experience.

How can you understand where buyers might interact with your brand if you aren’t collecting accurate data on your audience?

The good news is that you can make some educated guesses about where your buyers might hang out online and personalize your content marketing to meet them where they’re at.

7 Touchpoints Along the Buyer’s Journey to Personalize Your Content Marketing

Not every attempt to personalize your content marketing needs to be data-driven with a hyper-granular element. You can still personalize the experience with some basic information about where your buyers hang out and what kind of content would help them at each touchpoint.

1. LinkedIn Retargeting with Personalized Content Marketing

You can easily personalize LinkedIn ads with relevant content from your website even if you don’t know much else about your leads.

This is why you need to start with niche comprehensive content. Once someone views a specific case study, blog, or eBook, you can build a decent understanding of their firmographics, pain points, and stage of the funnel.

Just plug one of those URLs with targeted content into the LinkedIn retargeting ad tool and build a relevant post with the next piece of content to nudge them down the funnel – maybe a comparison or whitepaper.

Make sure to keep the content helpful and not promotional or salesy. Your goal is to empower buyers with information.

2. Targeted Facebook Ads with Personalized Content

Facebook is another useful place for sharing highly targeted advertisements. Who says you need to use your own page though?

Build relationships with relevant influencers and pages within your niche. Partner with them to run retargeting ads or relevant ads to segments of their audience.

These types of partnerships are a go-to strategy for smart consumer companies, and there’s no reason B2Bs shouldn’t reap their benefits, too. Just look for influencers or partner pages with audiences that overlap your existing customer base.

3. Industry-Relevant Subreddits

Reddit is tricky because users and mods can smell promotion from a mile away. Always follow the rules of the subs you intend to post or comment and don’t use any sales tactics – nope, none.

Instead, focus on being helpful. Answer questions in comment sections. Point to relevant solutions and product comparisons when people ask.

The SaaS subreddit, for example, is fairly active and discusses some interesting topics:

Reddit

With Reddit, you also get the added benefit of increased honesty from the anonymity – both for yourself and other users.

4. Funnel-Based PPC Ads

PPC ads can drain a serious hole in your budget if you’re not careful. Make sure to choose small groups of relevant keywords along different stages of the sales funnel.

At each stage, offer a relevant piece of content like an eBook, whitepaper, or case study – rather than a convert-now CTA.

No one likes to feel bullied into buying anything. You’re much more likely to deliver better results from your PPC campaigns personalized with content marketing for empowerment at each stage of the journey than just demanding visitors close a sale.

5. Site-Wide Web Content Personalization

With artificial intelligence and machine learning, you don’t need massive data sets to personalize your website content for each visitor. Instead, just start with personalized content for each account, segment, stage, pain point, vertical, or firmographic.

AI will analyze the visitor’s behavior on your website and offer personalized content recommendations like relevant blogs, eBooks, case studies, and more.

Leads can self-nurture without ever filling out a lead magnet form. That’s why B2Bs who use AI to personalize their content marketing enjoy 51% more lead conversions and 59% better lead quality. It’s incredible what you can accomplish when you make the user experience better instead of more challenging.

6. Relevant Review Websites

There’s a reason the latest post in the SaaS subreddit asked about the best review websites. Reviews are an important part of the sales process for both consumers and business buyers.

Each review website has its own unique audience, requirements, and expectations.

Make sure your brand shows up in all the top places like Trust Pilot, G2, Capterra. Set up a free account and ask your customers to leave a review. Let them know you value their business and you could use their help to spread the word.

Even a few in-depth reviews from happy customers are better than absolutely nothing.

7. Strategic Guest Blogging with Personalized Content Marketing

Guest blogging gets a bad reputation, but that’s because most marketers don’t take it as seriously as they should.

Hold yourself to the same integrity and standard as you would with your own website’s content. It’s easy to tell when someone’s just writing generic content for the exposure to a wide audience.

Don’t contribute to the noise. Pick a relevant nuanced topic based on the current environment in your industry and write a comprehensive thought leadership piece to flex your muscles and explain your position.

Remember, your name is attached to guest blogging content forever, so don’t take it lightly – assume your piece will rank at the top of the results for your keyword.

Streamline Personalized Content Marketing Across Your Website

Nailing down each touchpoint along the buyer’s journey is a massive challenge but personalizing your website’s content experience doesn’t have to be.

Artificial intelligence makes it easy to offer a Netflix-style experience to your B2B buyers. Algorithms study their behavior, compare each visitor to prior visitors, integrate intent data, and gently guide leads down the sales funnel.

You can focus more on producing excellent content and less on ensuring everyone finds the most relevant content for their current needs.

Learn how to take personalized content marketing to the next level with AI-powered experiences.

How to Plan a Flexible B2B Digital Marketing Budget Plan [2021 Tips]

B2B marketing budgets are extremely fluid and uncertain right now.

In response to the pandemic’s changes, 30% of marketers report no change to their overall budget. Meanwhile, others have noticed a drop and some say their budgets have increased.

Unsurprisingly, 63% say the pandemic made marketing initiatives more important.

Marketing budgets seem dynamic right now because companies aren’t sure what to trim without sacrificing results.

That’s why today, we’ll break down the general shifts in B2B marketing budget plans while covering a few routes to trim your budget and maximize results.

What’s Changed in Typical Marketing Budget Plans?

For starters, most B2B marketers have realized that annual budgets aren’t ideal anymore.

Digital marketing has wildly changed how marketing campaigns operate, compared to TV and print, yet budget planning hasn’t changed. Sure, we’ve changed where we devote our budgets. But we haven’t changed how often we evaluate the results of our budget and adjust where the funds go.

Marketers and stakeholders should adjust marketing budget plans on a quarterly basis, if possible.

Likewise, quarterly budgets give marketers more room to experiment with different campaign ideas without committing to anything long-term. If something radical doesn’t work, you can adjust the budget after three months and move the portion elsewhere.

Marketers should also devote more budget to improving the experience for existing customers. Customer service experience provides a perfect leeway into account-based marketing. Just identify your key existing accounts, look for personalized ways to engage them, track the results, and expand.

Plus, you’ll be set up for improved customer loyalty as you earn new leads.

How to Create Your B2B Marketing Budget Plan for 2021

Most marketing teams can stand to trim their budget without sacrificing results or jobs. The right tools and optimization can free up funds from redundancies while making everyone’s experience a little better.

Audit Your Martech for Efficiency and Budget

Before slashing budget allocation from tactics you know work well, audit your existing martech stack. Most B2Bs run bloated martech stacks full of tools they barely use yet spend a fortune on each year.

Evaluate how much you’re spending in total on martech. Look for overlapping features among tools you barely use. Go for all-in-one tools with a range of features that have fast learning curves so everyone on the team can use them ASAP.

Factor Hybrid Events into Your Marketing Budget Plan

Hybrid event strategies should be in everyone’s B2B marketing budget plan for 2021. Love them or hate them, the benefits of virtual events are real, and in-person-only events won’t be the way of the future.

You should assume that your competition will be optimizing their hybrid events over the next year. Set aside budget for research and testing. Give yourself room to try new event niches and figure out what type of events work for your brand.

Include Marketing Budget Allocation for User Experience

Google will start looking at core web vitals and overall user experience this year as it evaluates search rankings. First, it was all about mobile but today, it’s all about user experience.

Unsurprisingly, marketers say about 10% of their overall marketing budget plan will go straight to user experience these days.

If you haven’t yet, start with your content experience. AI tools make it easy to personalize your content with similar algorithms that Netflix and Spotify use. Each visitor gets personalized content recommendations based on their behavior, vertical, account, or stage of the buyer’s journey.

Look for Marketing Processes to Automate

Look for areas you can trim up marketing and sales inefficiencies with automation – like lead scoring, analytics, lead vetting. You’ll be set up to maximize your budget and labor power.

AI tools are remarkably effective when you add machine learning into the mix. Plus, they can finish analytics tasks much faster and more effectively than humans ever could.

Your marketing team can focus more on growth-related tasks instead of spinning their wheels with inefficient processes.

Consider Lean and Scalable Account-Based Marketing

92% of B2B marketers say they’re running some kind of account-based marketing strategy today. These strategies are young too, under five years for most companies.

Salesforce

ABM works because it’s flexible and scalable. You have several options for adjusting your marketing budget plan and tactics based on which accounts you need to target at any point in time.

Plus, ABM fits with the important trend of improving customer loyalty by engaging the accounts you already have with ABM tactics. The right AI-powered tools can make personalized ABM a breeze.

Evaluate Your Content Marketing Strategy

Only 12% of B2Bs said they planned to decrease their content marketing budgets in 2021. This is good news because content is such a vital part of every successful marketing strategy today.

Your key accounts, leads, and customers need engaging and, most importantly, useful content every step of the way.

Instead of trimming your content marketing budget, audit it for results. Most B2Bs could stand to publish a little less frequently and instead focus on quality and thoroughness. Make sure you’re only publishing content within your expertise – don’t try to be an expert in everything.

Audit Your PPC Costs and Results

Pay-per-click ads like Google’s take up massive portions of most brand’s marketing budget plans. While PPC certainly can serve a purpose, it can also create a huge money pit.

Start with an audit of your search query history through Google Ads. This will tell you exactly which search terms you’re paying for and what you’re spending each month. You might be surprised.

Most brands can trim hundreds, or even thousands, from their budget each month just by setting a strict PPC keyword plan and adding some negative keywords to tell Google what you don’t want to rank for.

Choose the Right Martech to Stretch Your Marketing Budget Allocation

Martech can either be the most cost-effective element of your marketing budget plan or the biggest leech. Most B2Bs spend far more than they need on martech with overlapping features they never use.

An all-in-one AI-powered tool can help you streamline your marketing budget with scalable features for content personalization, account-based marketing, lead nurturing, lead vetting, and more.

Make sure everyone is trained on a tool’s full range of features as well so they’re prepared to use its full capabilities and reap the best ROI.

Learn why so many companies choose Hushly for their all-in-one content experience tool.

7 Areas Ripe for B2B Marketing Automation Integration

Artificial intelligence is a normal part of our daily lives these days.

We get personalized shopping recommendations via Amazon and automated shipping for our consumables.

We ask our Alexa or Google Home for personalized and automated weather and news headlines.

Despite its pervasiveness in our daily lives, many businesses still haven’t integrated automation into their daily processes and marketing.

As of 2020, 84% of B2B marketers say they’re using AI in some way. Meanwhile, less than half of marketing managers say they have a defined AI strategy.

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Salesforce

Fortunately, marketing automation integration doesn’t need to be a massive challenge. Start with these simple areas.

7 Easy Areas for B2B Marketing Automation Integration with the Right Tools

Marketing automation gets easier when you start with some goals. Which processes are slowing your growth or sales down?

Lead scoring, marketing and sales cooperation, nurturing, ABM, the buyer’s journey – these are all common areas for B2Bs to identify specific inefficiencies and automate certain processes.

1. Efficient and Effective Lead Scoring

Lead scoring is one of the biggest challenges leading to rifts and miscommunications between marketing and sales. It’s a tedious process with plenty of room for something to go wrong.

Artificial intelligence can identify subtle patterns and make connections better and faster than any human. That’s why lead scoring is one of the best places to integrate marketing automation.

Plus, machine learning means that lead scoring tools improve over time. You don’t have to put the AI in total control at first. Let your marketing or sales team audit the results and provide feedback. Over time, the AI will learn what works and what doesn’t.

2. Personalized Email Marketing Automation Integration

Email is one of the easiest places to learn about automation and personalization. Most email marketing tools are filled with cutting-edge AI, segmentation, and personalization tools.

Start by segmenting your email subscriber list into groups based on vertical, industry, firmographic, or account.

Once you have some segments, create personalized campaigns or triggered journeys for each one. Line up your most relevant content for each group. Meanwhile, machine learning will note which links each subscriber clicks and place them in the most relevant campaign journey based on the feedback.

Use the information you learn via email metrics to create content, organize your website content, and tweak your other marketing campaigns.

3. Website Content Personalization Marketing Automation Integration

Adding personalized content recommendations like Netflix or Spotify to your B2B website isn’t as complicated as you might think. Tools like Hushly are user-friendly with a plug-and-play interface.

All you need is relevant content for each vertical, account, industry, and stage of the sales funnel. Remember, most buyers consume at least 13 pieces of content during the buying journey – such as case studies, product descriptions, and tutorials.

Start with relevant content and organize it by pain point and vertical. Once a visitor starts reading, the AI system notes what content they like, compares them to previous visitors, and integrates intent data. Using that info, the AI algorithms offer personalized recommendations that gently nudge the visitor down the sales funnel.

4. Aligning Marketing and Sales with CRM Automation

The biggest benefit of CRMs comes from their ability to unite sales, marketing, and even customer service. However, contact relationship management systems are only as effective as the data you feed them and the tools you integrate.

That’s why CRM automation is such an important part of any successful marketing automation integration.

AI can instantly sync your data from multiple sources so every department can unlock comprehensive insights on leads, customers, and prospects. Again, give the AI time to learn and do its job properly. Make sure sales and marketing are auditing the results and providing feedback.

5. Understanding the Buyer’s Journey for Your Brand

Most B2Bs take the entirely wrong approach to understanding the buyer’s journey. They try to identify the journey each buyer takes, much of which is totally out of their control.

Instead, try to understand patterns in the specific journey associated with your brand. Which touchpoints do buyers interact with as they find your brand’s content? Which touchpoints are you missing?

Where do buyers abandon your brand’s content for a competitor?

AI automation and marketing integrations can help you identify these weak links and strengthen elements of the buyer’s journey within your control.

6. Personalizing Campaign Pages for ABM with Marketing Automation Integration

Did you know you can provide a unique campaign page for each of your key accounts with relevant configurations, case studies, offers, and a dedicated sales rep?

That’s right. AI can detect which account a visitor belongs to and dynamically adjust the landing page with brand-specific information.

You can use this AI tool to create thousands of one-on-one campaign pages for key accounts or as clusters for various verticals and industries. Try starting with clusters based on vertical, then breaking each down into one-on-one pages for important accounts or existing customers.

Either way, this use of AI is vital for running an efficient and successful ABM strategy.

7. Marketing Automation Integration for Self-Nurturing Landing Pages

As part of your content personalization, you can use AI to implement self-nurturing landing pages.

Most leads would rather research on their own than contact your sales team. They want empowering content and experiences.

Self-nurturing landing pages make content discovery easy for them and nurturing seamless for you. Personalized recommendations based on behavior, intent data, and similar prior visitors gently guide them down the sales funnel – with endless bingeable content.

Serious leads can provide an email when they’re ready. That’s why these tools improve lead quality by 59%.

Integrate Marketing Automation into Your Content Experience

AI and machine learning make it easy to personalize your website and content experience with minimal effort. All you have to do is focus on creating the best content possible.

Hushly’s special algorithms along with intent data and behavioral data offer personalized recommendations, implement content bingeing features, and dynamically adjust ABM campaign pages based on account or cluster.

Learn how to automate your account-based marketing experience with personalized landing pages.

8 B2B SaaS Marketing Best Practices for 2021

Software as a service isn’t an easy industry to market anymore – if it ever was.

First, the challenge was getting businesses to understand the value of SaaS. These days, however, the market is saturated with thousands of options.

Estimates put SaaS as a $157 billion market as of 2020 – and shows no signs of slowing down.

Your audience is out there. You just need the right B2B SaaS marketing strategy to reach and engage them.

8 B2B SaaS Marketing Best Practices You Need to Know for 2021

Most SaaS marketers struggle either because they don’t define their target audience clearly enough or they lack the best content and strategy to engage them.

The best thing you can do is to narrow down your target audience. Once you do that, you can create more relevant content and offer better personalization across all touchpoints.

1. Content Hubs are Your Friend

Did you know buyers are more likely to binge your content when you organize it in an interactive format? That’s just one reason adaptive content hubs are your friend for B2B SaaS content marketing.

68% of buyers say they’d like to see content organized by pain point, while 58% want to see content categorized by industry or vertical.

It’s also smart to organize your content by firmographic if you’ve narrowed down your niche enough to create content for different accounts or job roles.

Add AI and machine learning to the content hub next so each visitor gets personalized recommendations based on their vertical or stage of the funnel.

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Hushly

2. Get Your Brand on Top Review Sites

Companies turn to sites like G2 when they’re searching for new solutions to problems. These sites let them learn about the experiences of companies like theirs so they can find the best fit for their brand.

Make sure to claim your business page on any relevant review hub and optimize your description and meta information for keywords related to your brand.

Your own content matters too, but much of the content buyers consume during the journey comes from third-party independent sources.

3. Maximize Your B2B SaaS Marketing Case Studies

Buyers consume 13 pieces of content during the journey on average. Are you creating the right type of content for your B2B SaaS marketing strategy?

Transparent content that empowers buyers to make smart and efficient decisions during the process is key.

Use content for each vertical or pain point to cover your specifications, comparisons to similar products, success stories, and tutorials. When done well, these are the useful pieces of content that prove your value to specific market segments.

4. Optimize Your Freemium Strategy

Freemium products are tough to get right.

On one hand, you want to give someone a solid understanding of what kind of value your product offers. On the other hand, you don’t want to give so much away that most of your audience doesn’t feel compelled to buy.

More than anything else, you want to prioritize the user experience. Withholding certain features could frustrate your audience. BuzzSumo seems to have a good freemium strategy: limited access to every standard feature for a week.

Study your competition closely here. Is there a way you can outdo them?

Also, make it easy for freemium users to submit suggestions or report bugs. Use that information to optimize the overall strategy.

5. Adjust Your Pricing Structure

There’s no shame in changing your prices based on what’s best for your business and customers. As your business evolves, consider what types of companies use your service and what features matter most to them.

Is there a way you can restructure certain services and features to offer customers exactly what they need at the right price point?

At Hushly, for example, we used to only charge per lead, but as our products progressed and evolved, we adapted our prices to match.

While you never want price to become your differing factor, you do want to stay competitive in the market, so it’s worthwhile to keep an eye on your competition.

6. Make Sure Your B2B SaaS Content Marketing is Targeted

This is an absolute must for every B2B SaaS marketing strategy before you create any piece of content.

Over half of B2B buyers say the content they receive from brands is irrelevant and useless. The best thing you can do is research your market and niche down.

If you don’t, your content will never be relevant enough to resonate with any audience. People will just scroll past. Do some research and figure out which markets other SaaS brands have neglected. Consider your current customers, too.

It’s absolutely worth the effort.

7. Create an Account-Based B2B SaaS Marketing Strategy

Account-based marketing gives SaaS companies an easy way to niche down without neglecting entire market segments.

Thanks to today’s technology, even small and medium businesses can reap the benefits of ABM. Using artificial intelligence, you can design account-specific landing pages complete with relevant offers, assigned sales staff, and account-based content just for them.

Just make sure you have the quality B2B SaaS content marketing ready to back up your ABM: product specifications, comparisons, tutorials, etc. Include anything hyper-relevant to your accounts.

8. Offer Custom Configurations for Different Verticals

As part of an account-based marketing strategy, you can also cluster different verticals for relevant content. Configurations specifically are a smart place to start.

69% of B2B buyers say personalized offers and recommendations can help them draw more value from your product or service.

The point is, don’t wait for them to ask. Figure out what type of relevant custom configurations your audience segments would appreciate and promote them on your landing pages where you know buyers will see them.

Make Sure Your B2B SaaS Marketing Gets the Attention It Deserves

Show your audience you’re tapped into the latest technology to improve their experience with AI-powered personalization.

AI and machine learning algorithms make sure every visitor to your site sees the most relevant piece of content each time based on their behavior, interest, company, pain point, or stage of the buyer’s journey.

Don’t wait for visitors to dig through your backlog for the most relevant content. Provide them with custom recommendations using AI tools.

See how an adaptive content hub can take your B2B SaaS content marketing to the next level.

10 Secrets to Boost Your B2B Video Marketing Strategy

If you’re not taking your B2B video marketing strategy seriously, you’re missing out big time.

People tend to remember 95% of what they learn through video compared to just 10% for text-based content.

Meanwhile on LinkedIn, video content earns 5x more engagement, and live video earns 24x more.

Your buyers want video content to understand your products and company – or just for the entertainment value.

Here’s how to make the most of all your B2B video content ideas.

How to Create the Most Effective B2B Video Marketing Strategy: Best Practices, Tips, Ideas

Starting with a B2B video marketing strategy is good, but it’s not enough. Your content needs special tailoring for each platform, audience, and channel.

Following these tips below will ensure that your video content reaches not only the widest audience but the right viewers for your brand as well.

1. Optimize Your YouTube Videos for Searches

YouTube isn’t just a video platform – it’s also one of the world’s most popular search engines. Like a search engine, you should always optimize every piece of content you upload for searches.

Choose a keyword for each video and pepper it into your title and description. You can find keywords by typing your topic into the YouTube search bar and checking the autocomplete searches or scanning the video results for keywords.

YouTube

2. Follow Best Practices for Facebook Watch

Facebook is also trying to make a name in the video content market, seeing as video shows no signs of slowing down.

First, make sure any video you upload to Facebook is optimized for mobile devices before anything else.

Next, consider the length. Short videos of 30 seconds or less tend to be best for engagement. However, you can share episodic videos of three minutes or more. It really depends on the type of B2B video marketing content you’re sharing.

3. Think Outside the Box with Platforms like Instagram

Consider your audience when you decide where to share your video content. Young or tech-savvy audiences might appreciate seeing your content on platforms like Instagram or TikTok.

TikTok gives you the potential to reach a wide audience quickly if you can create engaging content. Meanwhile, Instagram has multiple features for sharing video content like Stories, Instagram Reels, and IGTV.

Make sure to include relevant hashtags any time a platform gives you the option.

4. Always Include Subtitles and Transcripts in Your B2B Video Marketing Strategy

Subtitles are helpful for video content on social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter where users might keep the volume muted. Plus, subtitles vital for anyone who requires accessibility assistance like hard-of-hearing viewers.

Don’t stop at subtitles though. Transcripts are useful as well when you upload videos onto your website. The transcripts give Google crawlers something to scan so they can understand what your video content is about, your expertise, and how to rank you for different keywords in the video results.

5. Consider the Best Length for Each Platform in Your B2B Video Marketing Strategy

Here’s a smart reason you always want to consider your audience and where you’ll share your videos before you ever dive into creation mode.

For every video you create, the length should depend upon where you plan to upload it. For YouTube, consider other videos in your niche. You can splurge a bit on YouTube since the platform is video-specific.

Twitter videos should be under 30 seconds, so use this platform for teasers and promos.

Instagram, however, offers several types of video sharing options where you can upload between 15 seconds and over 60 minutes of video content.

6. Find a Creative Niche to Explore B2B Video Content Ideas

Episodic videos have really taken off over the past few years – even in B2B. Cisco, for example, has produced several cybersecurity videos that seem more like thriller movies than branded marketing content.

Look for a creative niche to explore in your B2B video marketing strategy. Can you add inspiration or entertainment to the field somehow?

7. Factor LinkedIn into Your B2B Video Marketing Strategy

87% of marketers say LinkedIn video content has proven effective for them. LinkedIn Stories, ads, and live streams all offer incredible engagement returns on your B2B video content marketing.

Don’t take your professional audience for granted though. Stick within your niche, keep most videos short, and add engaging stickers to make sure your videos are as engaging as possible.

8. Choose a Host with an Engaging Personality That Reflects Your Brand

A host should resonate with your audience’s personality while reflecting your brand’s tone and voice perfectly.

Don’t necessarily choose the person you’d want to represent your brand, but who your audience will find relatable.

Likewise, make sure your host’s personality fits with the type of content you plan to produce. Some host voices fit better with narration while others are better suited in front of the camera.

9. High Production Value Isn’t Everything in Video Marketing

Sometimes, the videos that earn the most engagement across any platform are behind-the-scenes videos or those thrown together in the moment without any planning.

While you certainly want to factor high-production-value videos into your B2B video marketing strategy, always leave some room for ad hoc inspiration, too.

10. Make Sure Each Website Visitor Sees the Most Relevant Video Content

What’s the point in pursuing your B2B video content ideas if visitors can’t find the most relevant ones when they arrive at your website?

Artificial intelligence tools use algorithms to hand-choose videos for each visitor. The algorithms use behavioral data and intent data to choose videos based on vertical, stage of the funnel, or pain point that gently educate and nurture leads.

Get the Most from Your B2B Video Marketing Strategy

The right tools on your website can make sure each visitor sees the most relevant video content based on their company, interests, and stage of the buyer’s journey.

Instead of a generic experience, use the power of AI and machine learning to personalize your content experience and make your B2B video marketing strategy work harder. Say goodbye to buried video content lost on your website.

Learn how adding AI to your website’s video experience can boost lead conversions by 51%.

What’s Wrong with Your B2B Content Strategy? 7 Mistakes and How to Fix Them

You hear every day about how important content is for connecting with your audience and generating leads.

You publish relevant blogs, invest your time and money, and climb the SERPs.

You’re doing everything right, but your B2B content strategy isn’t generating the leads, sales, and ROI you were promised.

What’s wrong?

For starters, less than half of B2Bs said they have a documented content marketing strategy as of 2021. If you fall into the no-strategy camp, consider yourself lucky now.

You get to start fresh without making structural adjustments to your strategy.

The truth is most B2Bs approach content marketing the wrong way. They treat their B2B content writing more like a form of traditional marketing: overly promotional, assuming more is better, neglecting their audience, etc.

Content has serious potential as a marketing medium, but you have to give your B2B content writing the respect it deserves.

7 Mistakes with Your B2B Content Strategy and How to Fix Them

Instead of covering what you should do right, let’s start by highlighting some of the most common B2B content strategy mistakes. These are the problems that seriously hold back your content’s potential and keep you spinning your wheels.

1. Covering Too Many Topics in Your B2B Content Writing

You can’t be an expert in everything. When you try to cover every potential keyword slightly related to your brand, you end up pumping out endless generic content. It’s no surprise that over half of B2B buyers say most of the content they receive from brands is totally useless.

What can you do instead?

Pick one or two topic niches – definitely no more than three – and go all in with your B2B content ideas. Your content will be much more relevant to your target audience segments which will deliver better results.

Plus, Google will notice that you’re an expert in these specific areas (rather than just trying to win keywords), and your rankings will improve over time.

2. Not Researching Your Target Audience Enough

Plenty of B2Bs can’t niche out with their content marketing because they don’t even know what their target audience wants – or who their target audience really is.

It really becomes a vicious cycle because then you don’t know precisely which pain points to address, who’s reading your work, and what they want from you.

What can you do instead?

Figure out who your target audience is and follow them. For ABM, this might mean choosing accounts or firmographics.

Develop detailed buyer personas and stay tapped into their day-to-day so you always know what topics to cover and problems to address.

3. Overly Promotional B2B Content Writing

This is a tricky problem to address when you have shareholders to please that don’t understand how your B2B content strategy is supposed to work. However, it’s vital because promotional content just looks like an advertisement.

What can you do instead?

Every piece of content you publish should empower buyers in some way. If you can manage to make their job easier with content like product comparisons, case studies, and tutorials, you’ll be 3x more likely to close bigger deals with less regret from your buyers.

4. Publishing Frequent Low-Quality or Mediocre Content

It’s much more likely that you’re publishing too often than not enough. Lots of marketing teams tend to assume more is better, but it’s really quality that matters.

If you’re just publishing blogs hoping to rank for keywords, Google will notice. Without quality, there’s no reason for anyone to see your blog over another.

What can you do instead?

Stick with your niche topics, where your expertise can truly shine. Publish longer in-depth content around keywords in those niche topics. Always strive to outdo content pieces on the first page of search engine results for your target keyword. Just make sure you’re not contributing to the noise.

5. No Personalized Content Distribution

73% of B2B buyers say they have less time for researching than they’ve had in the past. They don’t have time to dig through your content catalog for case studies relevant to their company. They expect a personalized experience like they find everywhere else online.

What can you do instead?

Use AI-powered tools to hyper-personalize each visitor’s experience based on their behavior. Organize your content by pain point, issue, or vertical. Use interactive features to keep visitors engaged.

Once they start clicking, the AI will offer personalized recommendations.

6. Misdirected Keyword Research for Your B2B Content Strategy

Don’t fall into the trap of trying to rank for every semi-relevant keyword in sight.

Google has billions of choices to display when someone runs a search. The results are designed to only display the top experts in each topic. How can they tell your expertise if you’re publishing content in every arena?

What can you do instead?

Shoot for long-tail keywords, questions, and autocomplete keywords instead of broad primary keywords. Likewise, expand your B2B content strategy keyword research with semantic keywords via the Google search results. Like so:

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Google

7. Gating Your B2B Content Writing Behind Lead Forms

Fully gated content hurts your B2B content strategy for many reasons. First, search engines are less likely to display your content in the top search results.

Second, and most importantly, gated content interrupts the website user experience. No one wants to provide personal information (or information about their company) to an organization they don’t know just to read content. They’ll just go somewhere else.

What can you do instead?

Give visitors a sample of a few hundred words so they can decide if it’s worth providing their details and email to get the full piece. Use micro smart forms that only ask for a business email and country instead of lengthy lead magnet forms.

Make Your B2B Content Strategy Work Harder

The right website experience can make every piece of content you publish work harder. Instead of giving visitors a generic blog interface and expecting them to find what they need, AI-powered tools create an interactive personalized experience.

Using behavioral data and intent data, each visitor sees the most relevant content available on your site instantly. Plus, the algorithms are designed to gently nurture leads and guide them down the funnel before they ever contact your sales team.

Learn how AI-powered personalization can help you leverage your B2B content strategy.