Any marketing campaign has several factors, from strategy to execution that can make or break the campaign; this is especially true in the realm of B2G.
In an environment where interactions are regulated and touch points are at a premium, every detail must be considered for your campaign to be effective.
Therefore, what better way to focus on those details than to go back to the basics — the ABC’s of government marketing.
So, here they are, letters A-Z of the ABC’s of government marketing:
A: Automation – Being able to automate e-mails, landing pages and responses based on analytics and the engagement of your target audience has become fundamental to the success of any campaign. Eloqua and Marketo are just two of the many powerful marketing automation tools out there that can enhance the success rates of your marketing campaigns. They help you understand what content specific government audiences want to see so you can give them more of it. This is important when trying reach an audience base like this that can be highly selective of what content to trust.
B: Blog – Blogs are a valuable piece to any content marketing strategy when you’re targeting a government audience. These platforms should be used to position your company as a thought leader, but more importantly, blogs should provide tangible value to your audience. Whether you’re targeting a technical or a buyer persona, give them something immediately actionable from each blog post you write and they’ll keep coming back.
C: Content – Developing a marketing strategy without placing an emphasis on quality content is like trying to run a marathon without shoes or water. Any sustainment goals you have for your campaign will fall by the wayside very quickly. Content has become a crucial pillar to any touch point you have with your government audience and MUST bring value to the reader. Great content ideas include: blogs, whitepapers, on-demand webinars, slideshows, info graphics, and more.
D: Delivery – Often marketers focus purely on the content asset and forget that without proper delivery, the asset will not get consumed. While the marketing industry has seen bounce rates decrease with government targeted messaging, it is still important to diversify your delivery drivers. Finding the right delivery platform (e-mail, social media, Google Adwords etc.) and optimize the messaging for that specific platform as it is crucial to any campaign’s success. Always make sure the vehicle, landing page, and content asset are aligned from a messaging perspective and the delivery of your asset will have the best chance for success.
E: Evergreen Content – Evergreen content pertains to assets that are not perishable and continuously provide value regardless of when your audience comes across it. Great examples of evergreen content include evidence-based case studies and assets built around best practices because they tend to reference experiences that can be replicated for long periods of time. However, it is important to interject content that is perishable within your marketing strategy because there is more urgency around those assets. Finding the right balance is key.
F: Funnel – The journey a buyer goes through during the government procurement process is often referred to as the buyer’s funnel. Mapping your content to the different areas of this process is important to ensure your prospects continues down this funnel. Providing the content out of order can change their perspective about your product and could ultimately leads to losing sales opportunities.
G: Google – Google can be a massive driver in your marketing strategy. By incorporating targeted keywords in your landing pages — for your audience— you are using Search Engine Optimization to increase you visibility on the web. How your pages rank on Google, based on SEO, will help with your visibility within the search terms, but can also be a money-saver if you use Google AdWords. If your government audience can find your page organically, instead of through artificially-promoted links, you will save money which can then be used to target other keywords and search terms.
H: #Hashtag – Do you use hashtags? Do you know how to use them strategically? Hashtags are everywhere these days. You see them on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, and most recently, Facebook. As a marketer, you can’t ignore them. You need to know how to strategically implement these tagged topics. Hashtags can expand your content reach, amplify your brand, target your market, get your content found, improve your SEO, and more.
I: Info graphics – Visual content marketing is growing in popularity. Graphics, photos, charts and graphs are great way at getting your message out. People adopt info graphics in their marketing strategy to convey complex information in concise, visual pieces that are compelling, entertaining and easy-to-consume. This adoption can help you in increasing traffic to your content and information. Posting info graphics on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter can attract more followers. There’s a lot of chatter on social media daily. Info graphics can give your brand a powerful mouthpiece.
J: Jargon – Segmenting your message to the appropriate target audiences is an important pillar in creating a marketing strategy, but once you know your targets, you have to speak their language. Getting an understanding of technical jargon used by target audience and utilizing it in a campaign can go a long way in creating that relationship with the buyer or influencer. Understand what keeps them up at night and tailor your message to how your product/service can help with their pain points.
K: Keywords – Targeting keywords, whether with SEO or SEM, has become an integral part of any government-focused campaign. As buyers have gotten smarter, the usage of long-tail search has increased and has made it more important for marketers to be knowledgeable about the nuances of their market and product. There are several free SaaS tools online that can help you dissect your keywords and find what your audience is searching for including long-tail. If you are a Google AdWords user, here is a tool Google provides to help you find the right keywords for your campaigns.
L: LookBooks – With 67%+ of the buyer’s journey happening digitally, your busy prospects need the best possible experience with your content. And you need to better control and ability to track what they see and read. LookBooks let marketing and sales aggregate and sequence the parts of your buyer’s journey into an engaging, trackable experience that tells you who is ready to buy. This platform is a great way to make sure that your content investment is amplified to your audience.
M: Mobile – Within government mobile devices have been prevalent for some time. It is very important that your content marketing campaigns are optimized for these platforms. The government audience behaves differently on smartphones and tablets, which have varying functionalities and capabilities. Marketers need to analyze behavior and experiences across the entire purchase funnel to understand the best move for their content marketing mobile strategy.
N: Nurture – Nurturing leads is about building relationships and establishing trust with your prospects in a way that is both consistent and relevant. Even if you have already implemented lead nurturing, there are still ways you can increase your engagement throughout the campaign. For example, look to segment your assets by persona and create multiple drips throughout your content map. While this can be more work on the front-end, it will pay dividends when evaluating your campaign performance.
O: Optimization – Optimization can be tedious and exhausting. Most marketers have little to zero bandwidth leftover once they are done designing a marketing strategy, creating content, and striving to reach lead generation goals. However, optimizing what you have in place is vital to the success of your existing campaigns. In my opinion, a good place to begin is at the tip of the spear, your campaign landing pages. They directly affect your website’s lead conversion rate and can produce dramatic increases in engagement if they are optimized for the content they are promoting and the individuals they are targeting. Each campaign landing page should logically address a specific concern, and lead your audience down a logical progression to your ultimate goal.
P: Persona – Knowing persona characteristics is a fundamental component as you develop your marketing campaigns and products over time. With personas, businesses can be more strategic in catering to each audience, internalizing the customer that they are trying to attract, and relating to them as human beings. Depending on how you sell to the government (direct vs. indirect) your personas will vary, but understanding their core needs and pain points is key to your marketing campaign’s success. If you are having trouble reaching your customers in a way that is valuable to your company, you might consider doing some research and building some personas.
Q: Qualifying – Not all sales leads hold the potential for becoming “qualified”, and there can be many reasons for this. Your qualified leads are the individuals who have shown the intent and the ability to make a purchasing decision within a reasonable timeframe. But, each organization defines what they deem to be “qualified” based on the engagement scores or grades assigned to them resulting from certain actions. It is important to not just have gated content (i.e. forms) spanning across your entire website and place the same value on any content that’s lead gated. Understand the types of personas downloading each content asset, set the appropriate form-friction level, and assign each download an engagement score. Setting up this system will help you develop a more strategic qualifying system leading to higher conversion rates.
R: Response Rate – Many B2G marketers struggle to get desired response rates making their digital marketing initiatives successful. However, there are a few things your can do right now to improve your response rate and your campaign’s overall success. Firstly — and the most important in my opinion— is to target the correct personas, and in the right way; this is vital to generating responses from your digital marketing efforts. Secondly, evaluate the content you are sending; this speaks to how well you know your audience because you want to ensure you are offering your personas content they find valuable. Finally— and probably the simplest change— is timing. For example, don’t send an e-mail on a Friday afternoon on a holiday weekend. Make sure to time your offering to ensure the most impressions and engagement possible.
S: Social Media – Get active on social media. Don’t simply use it to push out your content, but when you do share your content, make sure you create a hashtag that enables you and your readers to interact with each other. Take advantage of the broad spectrum of social sites that are out there — yes, LinkedIn and Twitter are top tier social channels, but make sure to perform your due diligence on the merits of using certain platforms over others — specifically those that specialize in content proliferation like SlideShare and YouTube; these are great ways to get your content front and center because prospects are able to more easily find your solutions over your competitors when they are researching online, and you want to ensure your product is communicated in the best light possible.
T: Thought Leadership – Thought leadership is vital to B2G marketers because of the complexity and length of the decision-making process in public sector environments and the large number of people involved. For marketers, Thought Leadership allows us to define the category of our solution in customer terms. I believe branding is all about being associated with the q uestions our target personas are asking. Ultimately, thought leadership assets need to inspire our personas to act, and to take the next step in the buyer’s journey.
U: USP (Unique Selling Proposition) – A unique selling proposition, which defines your company’s unique position in the marketplace, is an often overlooked, but very important element differentiating your solution against a competitor’s. A strong unique selling proposition allows you to stand apart from competitors and actively focus your energy on creating products that cater to your ideal target personas. Most prospects, especially at the beginning of the buyer’s journey, have difficulty deciding which option in the industry is the one that deserves their time, money, and trust. As marketers, it is our job to assist them by making the unique selling proposition that will differentiate your solution from the rest.
V: Visual Content – Visual content is critical for content marketers who want to catch their prospects’ attention. Sixty-three percent of social media is made up of images; that means nearly two-thirds of social media updates are visual content, according to a report from Citrix. Even more impressive, nearly half of all Internet users have reposted a photo or video they have found online. Invest in content assets like infographics, videos, and data visualizations to help make your content more interesting, be consumed, and likely get shared.
W: Whitepapers – The purpose of a white paper is to promote your product, service, technology or methodology, and to influence current and prospective customers’ decisions. However, very often I see whitepapers misused by companies within the sale’s funnel. Generally, marketers spend countless amounts of time and resources to produce a premier whitepaper and because of this investment, they immediately just push it out everywhere. These assets are better served for your qualified leads that have already decided they are purchasing your technology, which means they would be better suited for the sales funnel later in the buying process. These are valuable assets in your marketing arsenal and you will want to save them for audiences where they will be best consumed.
X: X-Factor – No, not the talent show. X-factor is the edge in your business giving you a significant competitive advantage; it’s the sweet spot, where you achieve perfect synergy between what you’re passionate about, what you can be best at, and what the market really wants and is willing to pay for. As marketers, we are tasked with finding this sweet spot and leveraging it in our marketing campaigns. Identifying your X-factor will provide you with the clarity and energy to produce the best long-term marketing results for your organization.
Y: YouTube – Video assets are great marketing tools, especially when they are short, sweet and to the point. However, if they are not seen, they can’t do their job. Creating a YouTube channel is a great way for your company to get their videos seen. It is important that you fill out the title and descriptions though so your videos will be found in organic search. Remember, YouTube is owned by Google and if people are searching for terms that you have written into those text areas, it increases the likelihood they will show up in Google search as well.
Z: Zeitgeist – What are the people in your industry talking about right now? What are their challenges at the moment? If you’re not answering the Government’s needs then they won’t find you relevant or and will not engage with you. Make sure you make your content and messaging relevant to your customers’ needs and reflecting the pulse of the industry.
– Brian Chidester, Government Sales Insider, immixGroup