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How do you market a B2B product?

This is a cross-post of my answer to a question on Quora:

How do you start marketing a B2B company?

My answer:

Here is a possible framework and some ideas for thinking about a marketing plan.  This will need to line up with your sales strategy for the leads that your marketing programs will hopefully bring you.

High level, when I think about the goals of marketing, I think about a funnel of customers through a product.  At the top are new or unengaged customers.  In the middle are current customers.  At the bottom are disengaged/lost customers.

The goal of maximizing reach is to increase the size of the top of the funnel. The goal of maximizing engagement/retention is to widen the middle of the funnel.  I think of retention as engaging customers to  keep using and buying your product. The goal of resurrection, at the bottom of the funnel, is to reactive customers that have dropped off.

I would be interested in not only coming up with ways of getting new customers, but also ways of getting them to engage more with your product (in the case of paying customers, getting them to spend more on your product or line of products).  I would also be interested in ways of reengaging customers that have tried your product before, and aren’t using it anymore.   Retention and resurrection are important.   Most marketers focus on reach– but  imagine the revenue you could drive to your business if you could do a few small things to get more spend from the customers you already have in your pipeline or resurrect a % of the profitable accounts that you know have dropped off?

Reach
As far as ideas for increasing the size of the top of the funnel, this would be a pure acquisition play– I would be driving customers to your product (or website for your product).  Here are some collateral I would create for that:

  • Blogposts
  • Announcements and ad integrations on the company’s website
  • Posts on social sites- Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Landing experience for this new product with clear benefits written on it and a strong call to action
  • Integrations or ads on your other product(s) to help you upsell this product to your current consumer base, if appropriate
  • Direct email campaigns
  • If this is a particularly high revenue-driving product- send postcards, and other direct mail to a laser-targeted list of people that in your estimation would find your product interesting or a compelling proposition – and would benefit from it
  • PR- leverage connections to bloggers you know who have relevant followers
  • Create decks for sales training about the product and how to sell it (if you have a sales department)
  • Talking points for executives
  • If you have a professionals program like Adwords professionals or Quickbooks Pro Advisors, reach out to to encourage those professionals to share news of the product with others.  Consider using an incentive
  • Videos- on Youtube, social sites, or other channels mentioned above.  This is not necessary– but it is useful if your product is particularly complex and requires explanation
  • Add virality to the product or the user flow at sign up, if possible– through social integrations, etc.

Engagement/retention
As far as encouraging customers to use the product more, my approach would begin with thinking about why people use/buy your product.

If, for example, if you’re Google, and you’re selling Adwords for SMBs, there would be several reasons why your customers are buying your product– but I’d say that a major one is to reach users at the moment they are ready to buy.  How can you help customers experience that benefit?  When are customers really locked in?  Answer: when they start seeing real impact on their bottom line.  Ask yourself:  How do we get them there?  How can we help them start getting and seeing the results right away?  In many cases, this means:

Training your customer to use your product effectively for their business:

  • Videos
  • Case studies
  • Seminars (online or not)
  • When users are setting up their account, run them through a wizard, or use feature cues and step by step instructions that pop up on the page telling the customer exactly what they need to do, step-by-step, to set up properly
  • Tips sent via email

Making sure that your customers are supported:

  • Training for  customer care reps
  • FAQs and how-to pages

Making sure your customers see the benefits right away:

  • Send new account holders some customized reports on the results of their campaign/etc. right away with some language about what they could do to improve their results (or what works for your business)

Resurrection
What about the users that you’ve lost?  I would segment those folks and come up with ideas for targeted ways to reengage them.

Back to the Adwords example–there may be old Adwords users that had spent a lot of money on Adwords and then quit, or people that started setting up an account and then stopped before setting up payments.  Find out why they disengaged and offer a solve. Some ideas–

  • If they disengaged because they didn’t understand Adwords and didn’t set up the account, offer them $30 to try Adwords Express
  • If they disengaged because they didn’t get great results, send them an email with tips on how to improve their website quality score or add negative keywords
  • If they spent a lot of money on Adwords and then quit, send them an email to ask for feedback and ask them if they would like a customer care rep to talk with them and solve their difficulties.  Consider the LTV of a high-spend customer—could it make sense to do something like a live training event for them and people like them?

Some more ideas:

Communicate with interesting infographics that salespeople can share with their clients and that you can share with the press.  For example, you could communicate how much better an average customer’s performance in X area would be with this product over a competing one

Put slide decks on Slideshare.  When folks make the presentation a favorite, you’ll know that they’re interested. Have salespeople look them up on LinkedIn and contact them

Use  case studies. This is compelling validation of your product.  It’s basically   anecdotal evidence to back up your case.  It also puts an interesting spotlight on the benefits of using your product

Have executives at the company engage with your audience.  See if you can get them booked as guest bloggers.  Use them in guest appearances on your Twitter and Facebook accounts to answer questions—this will not only bring people closer to the brand– it will get people engaged and talking about the product in social media and the press

Try display ads on LinkedIn

Don’t forget to leverage recommendations

Quantify.  If you can help customers quantify the savings or revenue you can help them get with calculators or other tools, go ahead and leverage those tools

If this is a mobile product directed to SMBs, you might want to look at this: https://als355.wordpress.com/2012/09/04/how-do-you-market-a-mobile-app/

Note: Paid acquisition– no, I didn’t forget this.  This could be a whole other post in and of itself– do you want to pay for search leads through Google Adwords?  Do you want to try display ads (which can be expensive), etc.  Best thing to do is try a few different paid techniques and shut down any that don’t provide more value than their cost.  Try just a few at a time to avoid becoming overwhelmed or blowing your budget.

Hope this helps!

What is Zynga’s approach to user acquisition and growth?

This is a cross-post of my answer to a question posted on Quora:

Zynga: Why does Zynga lead its competitors by an 80 million plus monthly active users margin?

My Answer:

Zynga’s approach is to leverage its scale, organic retention, virality, metrics, and infrastructure.

Zynga spends more than most gaming companies to acquire users (its acquisition costs are currently estimated at an average $120/user).  Once a user is acquired, Zynga makes a significant effort to retain the user in the product (through  in-product retention tactics and game mechanics) and in its portfolio of games (through cross-game promotions).

It also  embraces virality as an acquisition tool to acquire “free” users through through its current users in-game (for example, when Facebook created its real-time streaming feature, Zynga was one of the first to design a communications platform around it to ensure that game play status updates would appear).

An added advantage is its custom infrastructure to leverage data.  Zynga built many of its own systems including its own ad bidding system for Facebook to maximize ROI on paid social ads.  Zynga also built its own analytics and data systems to capture and leverage over 1 pentabyte of data daily on its games.

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Mobile Games: What are some user retention strategies for mobile games?

This is a cross-post of my answer to a question posted on Quora:

Mobile Games: What are some user retention strategies for mobile games?

It’s  important to understand what attracts your users to your game in the first place (why users are playing your game).  Try to apply retention strategies, game mechanics, and tactics that enable users to enjoy that aspect of your game as soon as possible in gameplay.

Here are a few related tactics and game mechanics that you can think about applying to retain and engage your users:

Making a quality product (obviously the most important thing on this list).

Increasing difficulty. Make it easy to level up at the beginning of the game, and then make it increasingly harder and take longer.  This will make the game more challenging.  This is also a monetization technique because users will buy coins, etc. to speed up gameplay.

Mobile push notifications. Remind users to to log back into the game when you publish new content, or when they need to take an action (feed a pet, etc.).

Energy. If users need energy to keep going, they will either buy energy or wait and come back several times a day.

Providing deep content. Publish new themed content on a regular basis.

Seasonal content.  Offer content specific to the season or holidays.  For example, Tiny Zoo recently offered special animals for Father’s Day and decorations for the Queen’s Jubilee, and Zynga launched an entire new version of CityVille for the winter holidays.

Collection completion.  Users will repeat actions to complete collections or gain a new skill.

Story development/Quest unlocks.  Users are incentivized to engage in the game—or pay for coins/energy/gems– to advance an interesting story/plot.  Zynga is very weak in this area, but it’s getting better.

Identity development.  Users can develop a sense of identity through playing a game.  An example is Vampire Wars, which was very attractive and engaging to young people interested in goth culture/fashion.

Building a hardcore community. You can do this with wikis, Facebook pages, and other social platforms, or more sophisticated custom solutions.

Offering shareable power.  Players help other players.  Tiny Zoo and Tiny Village both offer this with tips– users can leave tips for other players after they visit others zoos/villages.  You can see another example of shareable power in Mafia Wars—users can “save” a player/friend that’s losing in a fight.

Care obligation/Tamagotchi (users will log in to take care of characters in the game).  Tiny Zoo uses this technique with babies that must be placed in their pens before they get “sick,” requiring users to log back into the game to take care of them.  One of the earliest examples of Tamagotchi are those virtual pets on keychains sold by Bandai (below).

Announcements of new content in-game. At game launch, when leveling up, etc., announce the latest animals or content themes.

Daily rewards for returning. There is some argument about the effectiveness of daily rewards, so you may want to read up about this or run your own A/B test.

User Generated Content (UGC). A great engagement tool, both for content creators and content consumers.

User profiles.  This allows users to develop a sense of identity in the game (more essential in social mobile games)– it also generates a sense of investment in the game.  The more sophisticated, the better.

Network effects (users are drawn to the product because their friends are already there).  Truly social games like Draw Something rely on network effects to both attract and retain users.

Engagement loops with organic notifications from other users’ actions.  For example, receiving an email from Facebook when a friend posts a picture of you and tags you.  The message from Facebook is something like “Your friend has posted a picture of you on Facebook.”  Even if you’re not an active Facebook user, you will be compelled to log in.  This essentially draws you into the network via your friends.

Stat boosts/ skill specialization (users buy or earn points that give them a specific kind of skill in the game).  This was used in Mafia wars, where users could become specific kinds of mobsters with specific skills if they earned enough points.  This is also a form of identity development.

For ideas about organic (in-game) user acquisition: Annabell Satterfield’s answer to Mobile Games: What are some of the best techniques to increase virality in mobile games?

Hope this is helpful!

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