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How to improve B2B marketing campaigns

Before giving up on unsuccessful marketing campaigns for your healthcare product, discover a framework to help you assess what’s working and what isn’t.

Current economic conditions are putting pressure on businesses as inflation raises the cost of doing business. In response, business leaders are looking for both short-term wins that will keep them above water as well as long-term strategies that will increase profitability and help them roll with the changing tides.

An influx and then sharp decline in emergency pandemic funding — plus rapid innovations in technology — has led to an unpredictable and highly competitive market. The margin of error when launching new products is thin.

When your sales team is under internal pressure and up against competitors, your marketing campaigns need to cut through the noise and resonate with your target audience.

More of the same is not the answer.

B2B marketing campaigns are a big investment. If they aren’t hitting the mark quickly, you simply can’t afford to put on the blinders and stay the course, hoping to eke out results eventually. That won’t help you reach your audience. Rethinking and revising your campaign will.

What happens when a B2B campaign falls short

When an underperforming campaign is allowed to simply run its course, you can’t expect anything other than underwhelming results.

An uninspiring campaign gives your competitors an opportunity to gain an edge. When pressure is high and margins are narrow, every bit of market share is vital to your success. If you don’t connect with your audience, you leave open the door for them to connect with your competitors instead.

In addition, a poorly run campaign can cause internal tensions between your marketing and sales teams. For example, leads from an underperforming marketing campaign might not be the best qualified for your sales team. Sales may find following up on these leads is a waste of time, making it harder to hit their targets. This can lead to a deteriorating relationship where neither party trusts the other. In turn, that atmosphere can derail future successes — and that’s frustrating for everyone.

But with some creativity, and a strong focus on your audience, you might be able to improve results of a campaign that’s already running.

Contextualize metrics before jumping to conclusions

Your metrics dashboard tells a story, but it’s important to contextualize it. The clicks, views, and conversions you track are from real people — your audience — and they need to connect with your campaign, and your brand. Sluggish numbers equate to diminished awareness, reduced brand loyalty, and ultimately, lost sales.

Before you start making any changes to your campaigns, you need to understand the “why” behind your results. It’s important to have a strategy to track, analyze, and measure your campaign outcomes. From there, you need to align these key performance indicators (KPIs) and your business goals to truly understand success. Misalignment between measurements and goals is a common hurdle, but it can be overcome.

A campaign can fail when your expectations and goals are out of sync with the data you have to track and measure — and you also need to analyze the right data.

For example, in an introductory or awareness campaign, metrics like reach, impressions, and clicks might be valuable to track success. But for a campaign more focused on the bottom of the funnel, demo sign-ups, form fill-outs, and cost-per-lead are better barometers for success.

3 reasons for underwhelming B2B campaign performance

B2B product and service launches and campaigns are often lengthy, costly endeavors, and overhauling them is a scary proposition.

Adjusting an expansive (and expensive) campaign that’s running across regions, channels, and audiences is a tough call to make. It’s easy to get caught in a cycle of “what if.” What if the adjustments derail the campaign further? What if optimizing helps one audience, but loses another?

By carefully considering where your campaign needs improvement and focusing on a framework built on incremental analysis and changes, you can let go of those anxieties.

Here are three scenarios where making changes are likely to improve your results:

1. Your campaign is getting drowned out

Perhaps your brand’s voice is getting lost in a sea of similar messaging. You might be running campaigns the way you’ve always done them. But sticking to the status quo won’t move the needle.

There’s a great deal of noise in B2B industries, and many of these campaigns are self-serving and not focused on their audiences' pain points. They sometimes focus on awards, or "features" or “the latest technology,” but they don’t say anything that stands out.

You can do better. Empathy, relatable creative strategies, and audience-centric messaging can push your initiatives forward and make your brand stand out.

2. Your campaign is on autopilot

Your campaign may be hitting all the right metrics, but if your new product isn’t getting the adoption you forecasted, or increasing your market share, something may be amiss. Ask yourself: are these goals too easy? Should we have aimed higher or different? Are we optimizing along the way?

If you are just going with the flow, and doing things how you’ve always done them, a hard look at what your KPIs are really measuring; a change of course can positively impact your results.

3. Your campaign doesn’t listen to your audience or your buyer

Outside-the-box thinking and innovative campaigns can lead your product launches to new heights. But if you feel like your strategies are falling flat, it may be because your audience isn’t connecting with your message.

It’s important for you to listen to your audience and craft a campaign centered around them to gain their attention and interest.

If not, your campaign could be falling short. That’s because instead of focusing on the people your product ultimately will help, your messages focus on how great your product is. And that just doesn't resonate.

4 steps to reimagine your campaign (and improve results)

Rethinking and reimagining a campaign starts with analyzing four of its foundational aspects. Each strategic area progresses like a ladder — typically, you will find making a change in one necessitates a change elsewhere. Starting with the simplest and most straightforward tweaks, and then working up to larger scale adjustments and changes is a surefire way to isolate issues and get your campaign back on track.

Step 1: Analyze your deployment strategies

The first area to revisit is the simplest: where and how your campaign is deployed. Deployment refers to the technical details of your campaign — what channels you’re leveraging, how you’ve set your targeting parameters, what time your ads are running, or how often you are sending emails, for example.

These factors are typically the easiest to isolate and adjust, because they are the very last step of executing your campaign.

Step 2: Make sure you’re speaking to the right audience

B2B marketing campaigns often have complex audiences. There's usually a pipeline of people that influence decision making within most organizations. First, there’s the actual end-user of the product. Next, there’s the influencers. These could also be product users, but sometimes they are in purchasing, finance, or a supervisor whose role is somewhere in between. Last, there’s the actual decision makers, almost always the person or group in charge of the budget.

The chain of command and relationships between users, influencers, and decision makers varies from organization to organization. But targeting the correct subset within a wider audience is key. Remember, you may need different tactics to reach different subsets.

Step 3: Revisit your campaign’s core messaging

Next, take a look at your messaging strategy. It’s important that you view your messaging through an audience-focused lens, because your messaging and your audience can’t be separated. Any combination of the wrong message to the right audience, or the right message to the wrong audience will lead to disappointing results.

Your messaging needs to focus on your audience and what matters to them. Let’s say you’re marketing an automated service that accurately transcribes dictated notes from service calls. You could run campaigns extolling its ease of use, but the ultimate value to the organization might be the increased efficiency of day-to-day operations and the ability to improve revenue cycle through speed and accuracy.

Your messages should connect the dots for your audience. Don’t leave it up to them to determine what's important. Show them that you understand how it will make their jobs easier, increase revenues or decrease costs.

Step 4: Re-evaluate your value proposition

The last part of your campaign you should reimagine before a complete overhaul is your value proposition. Typically, value proposition work is done at the front end of the campaign and includes messaging, audience, deployment, and positioning. Making a change here will set off a domino effect that requires more adjustments to be made to your messaging, audience, and deployment strategies.

Put a picture together using metrics, industry standards, and an expert’s perspective. Consider the values you are appealing to in your messaging and determine if your product is positioned appropriately. Any missing pieces here could be the key to improving your campaign performance across the board.

Thoughtful adjustments make all the difference

Course correcting your campaigns is hard. In fact, it can almost seem easier to go with one of the extremes: start from scratch or just let it run its course. But both of those options incur major costs, whether that means the opportunity cost of lost sales or the actual cost of overhauling the campaign.

Adjusting mid-campaign feels harder because it requires a deep understanding of the nuances of the industry and the values of the audience you want to reach.

When you notice your campaign isn’t achieving the performance you planned, take a moment: dive deep to figure out what’s broken and how you can fix it. To get back on track and see results, your campaigns need to focus on what matters.

Download the checklist now.

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