As business leaders we are tasked with making difficult decisions, the Pandemic has thrown up many subject areas which we have to suddenly become experts on.

I recall back in March when working from home was new to many people, now it's what we do.  But as the Pandemic continues there are more subject areas we have to get our heads around such as what do we do with our offices?  Are we looking after our employees? Are we generating the cash flow we need as a business?

Before Covid19 we were often able to run the business with a "one size fits all" methodology, now we are needing to have multiple strands to any policy.

While we have always run a "virtual" business, if you have offices, what are you going to do with them?  As there are clearly people who can work from home.  But there are people that work better in the office.

For those people working from home, do people have the right environment?  If you had one office and 1,000 people you have shifted to 1,000 offices.

Talking to Influencer, Jo Peterson, she says that offices will change.  It used to be 80% of the people in the office and 20% travelling or remote.  She says it will flip the other way.  80% at home and 20% in the office.

With so many people online, we are all now "used" to it.  My mother, whose 82, runs her wine groups online.  So how has this impacted sales and marketing? 

Has Covid19 Changed sales and Marketing

We meet many CMOs and the number one thing they say to us is that "marketing isn't working anymore".

When I tell this to some CMOs they reply "their marketing isn't working anymore".  I wonder how much of that is a reflex or a defence position?  As a leader are you probing at the Board meetings?  If people are not saying things are changing, maybe they don't feel empowered to speak out?  Are you doing what you can to support teams, where we know life will be different?

It takes a brave CMO to stand up and explain the current situation to the Board .... the Board, after all, must know that things have changed under the pandemic and "what got you here, what get you there".

In this article I'm going to walk you through the current position of digital marketing, not based on what I think, but based on research from the likes of Hubspot and Gartner.  I am also going to talk about how you can use social, to achieve what you do right now, but with a better response.  I am trying to build a bridge from the old world to the new world, but using all the same terminology and measures you use now.

Let's Summarise Where We Are With Marketing Today

Digital Advertising

Yesterday I had a fascinating conversation with a Martin Lucas for an up and coming #TimTalk (my podcast) and the following figures are engagement rates for digital advertising.

1.61% Facebook

1.91% Google

0.35% Programmatic (this is where ads follow you around when you browse)

That means that digital advertising has a 98.81% failure rate and based on the amount of money that is spent on digital advertising, that means that $265 Billion is wasted on digital advertising every year.  Let's move to email marketing and the latest research (during the pandemic) from Hubspot.

Email Marketing

According to Hubspot, the response rate to emails fell to a record low of 2.1% in April 2020. Said differently, 98% of our efforts to reach new prospects failed.

Hubspot say in the report "Sales teams are sending about 50% more email to prospects than they were pre-COVID, but responses continue to drop. Last week, sales response rates hit an all-time low for 2020 at 2.1%, a lower response rate than Christmas week 2019."

Diagram above, from Hubspot showing the number of emails being sent going up and the response reducing. 

Hubspot also said "These trends tell an important story. Email prospecting, to put it bluntly, is out of control. It's easy to send thousands of emails with just a few clicks, and in a chaotic time, we understand why sales teams are sending so many. But volume and quality is a tradeoff — the time a team saves by sending out email blasts is wasted if that outreach isn't personalized, relevant, and helpful. These gaps are clear in the data."

What Does Gartner Say About Marketing and Digital?

Interesting article by Gartner, here are some of the highlights

"Over the next five years, an even greater rise in digital interactions between buyers and suppliers will break traditional sales models."

"The Gartner Future of Sales 2025 report predicts that by 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels. Chief sales officers (CSOs) and other senior sales leaders must accept that buying preferences have permanently changed and, as a result, so too will the role of sellers."

 "Sales organizations must be able to sell to customers everywhere the customer expects to engage, interact and transact with suppliers"

"Gartner defines the future of sales as the permanent transformation of organizations’ sales strategies, processes and allocation of resources, moving from a seller-centric to a buyer-centric orientation and shifting from analog sales processes to ....  digital-first engagement with customers."

"Gartner research shows buyers typically only spend 17% of their time meeting with potential suppliers when considering a purchase. With less and less customer face time, virtual selling via digital channels will predominate."

"B2B sales reps need to embrace ... a new manner of engaging customers, matching their sales activity to their customers’ buying practices and information-collecting needs."

This is the type of research that Boards must be aware of and using to inform their decision making.  If you teams are not raising this with you, something must be wrong. 

Let's Get Brave

It's time to admit that the Interruption methods of the past, advertising, cold calling and email marketing results are getting less and less.

This is where we need to get brave.  We admit that, and realise it's time to jump to something else.

What is that something else?

Let me make a suggestion, social media.

Businesses Are Switching to Social Media

In this report by Simon Kemp he outlines the extent that social media has become part of our lives.  4.57 Billion People, 60% of the world's population use the internet and 3.96 Billion people are active on social media.  4.57 Billion is 51% of the world, so there is now a tipping point that there are now more people on social, than not on social.

Drilling down in this report, Simon says and this is the important part for CMOs.

"Given the broadening role of social media in people’s lives, it’s important that marketers and communicators think more broadly about where social media fits in their plans.

Critically, social media is increasingly a ‘layer’ that permeates almost every aspect of our audiences’ daily lives, rather than being a distinct ‘destination’ with a more siloed sphere of influence.

The trick to making the most of social media today is to understand how these platforms can complement and augment all of our marketing and communication activities.

My advice would be to think less about populating a content calendar, and focus more on identifying and initiating the conversations that matter most to you and the audiences that you care about."

Let's Talk About Initiating Conversations

The reason why digital marketing, email marketing and cold calling no longer works is that it's based on interruption and people are fed up of it.  What creates meetings is conversations and the only thing you have as a CMO right now, with all of your customer online and on social to create conversations .... is social.

Social will enable you to create a constant stream of conversations and therefore proposal and therefore sales.

This Isn't About Social Selling, This is About Social Marketing

Traditional marketing is, you pay for ads to create awareness, you probably have some "hero content" on your website, that you drive people to.  To get the content they have to give you emails, you build an email list, which you send newsletters to.

In the past, you had conferences, where you would collect business cards, which gave you emails.

Either way, there is some sort of "awareness", you collect emails and you run nurture campaigns.  In marketing terminology, this is impressions, engagement and clicks.  Let’s explore them in more detail.

Impressions - On Linkedin, if I scroll through my timeline and your advert is seen on my timeline then that is an “impression”.

Engagement is where you might “hover” over the ad, or dwell, this is engagement.

Clicks are were you might click on an ad, there will be some sort of call to action (CTA) at which point you are probably harvesting emails and adding a name to a database.

How To Get Impressions, Engagement and Clicks Using Earned media

What you do is empower your sales team, maybe empower the people in marketing, maybe empower the employees to be active on social.

They have "great profiles" what I mean by that is they are approachable, like a buyer might want to talk to them.

They build a network.  Currently most people on Linkedin if you analyzed their network, it would be built from x colleagues and recruitment consultants.  This isn't really much help when you need to try and spread your message into target accounts, prospects and customers.  I'm talking here about proactively connecting with people in your target accounts, in your prospects and in your customers.

The old way of collecting emails and nurturing them is based on chance and as we see from the figures from Hubspot a lot of it is based on Hope. We all know hope isn't a strategy.

Form a connection on Linkedin and you have direct access to these people (prospects, customers etc,) by sharing content, you are able to "nurture" the contacts, not on an interrupt basis, but on a permission basis.  My advice is that the content is insightful and educational.  Material that people will want to read, material that people would read if they were doing research to buy, what you sell. 

Bonus Tip: When you contact with people on social, you can even try and open up a conversation, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. 

We meet so many companies that are saying "we are promoting posts, we are cold calling, it will work out in the end".  I'm really sorry to say, it won't.

If you are like me, and you think the world has changed and maybe you should try something new .... and are brave enough, then we should have a chat. 

You can get me here or one of the DLA Ignite team here