Professional services marketing presents a unique set of challenges. Contracts tend to be much larger, so the sales process typically takes longer and requires more deliberation. More people are involved in a given purchase — a typical B2B client could have anywhere from five to a dozen decision makers who need to be convinced. And while the business is technically the customer, those decision makers are human beings who have the same need for communication and knowledgeability as any B2C customer.
Our recent professional services client, a regional accounting firm with locations in ten states, came to us requiring a full marketing overhaul. Brand awareness was low, limiting lead volume and quantity. Their existing marketing spend was noteworthy, but wasn’t landing in front of the right people or attracting enough customers, so their brand wasn’t memorable.
As a result of poor SEO and a lack of brand awareness, market share had suffered. Business accounting is a difficult industry to stand out in, since many firms offer essentially the same services, and our client wasn’t setting itself apart.
These issues combined to create significant problems with leads. Lead quality was low — with so few leads coming in, the client couldn’t afford to be picky. The cost of each lead was unsustainably high, since the client’s marketing wasn’t hitting its mark. And average customer value was low. Low-quality leads require more attention and churn more frequently, leading to low retention.
We started from the bottom with an entire integrated marketing strategy, addressing every step of the decision making process from awareness to decision. With better data and keyword analysis, we could serve ads and marketing materials to prospective customers who were much more likely to convert. Components included:
- Search and display ads
- Connected TV
- Social media, both organic and paid engagements
- SEO, both onsite and in content
- Email marketing
- Lead nurturing with advanced workflows
- Content marketing — blogs, podcasts, videos to establish thought leadership and expertise
In addition, we implemented a comprehensive referral program integrated with the delivery team. Referrals are an especially valuable form of warm lead generation in the B2B world — Forbes rates them as the second-most valuable source of qualified leads — so engaging the client’s existing customers to bring in their peers was a high priority.
We also began an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy, including events and strategic sponsorships, to seek out the specific target accounts that would fit our client’s offerings the best. By narrowing down results according to company size, revenue, job title, and even internal structure, we could guarantee that leads generated through ABM would be of the best possible quality.
Finally, we developed cross-sell and upsell campaigns to existing customers. We knew that existing customers were one of our client’s most valuable resources, but the client wasn’t properly taking advantage of the relationships they’d been cultivating. By offering additional services to customers who might not have known about them, we could tap into that untapped market.
Once the client’s goals, brand, foundation, and strategy were unified and consistent, the results were immediate and significant.
In the first year of working with this client, we saw an increase in marketing-qualified leads of 135%, more than doubling their previous mark. Of those, sales-qualified leads also increased by 96%. With more leads (and better leads) coming in, the client could choose to pursue only the best leads, which resulted in an increase in average annual customer value of 70%.
When leads are of higher quality, their compatibility with the company also improves. Their needs are met more effectively and the client relationship improves significantly. As a result, we saw an improvement in net promoter score (NPS) of 30%.
Finally, thanks to more effective targeting of marketing and advertising efforts, cost per lead dropped from $596 to $295, cutting acquisition costs by more than half. B2B marketing will always be a tricky process, but by applying sound fundamentals of inbound marketing, we were able to improve our client’s standing in their industry — and with their customers — substantially.
Your company’s marketing should be the secret sauce, ever elusive unicorn, and magic bullet that your company has been waiting for. Bottom line, it should be bringing you that money.