B2B events – an important piece in the membership offering puzzle

Over the past 18 months we’ve seen many B2B media and events businesses choosing to create integrated product offerings where annual flagship conferences and/or a series of smaller events are integrated with digital information membership/subscriptions, and given the label of ‘membership’. Often, these memberships also include access to online communities and in some cases also ‘micro-communities’ – carefully curated matchmaking to bring together peers with very specific challenges they can work on solving together.

One of the main drivers for this move to integrated offerings comes down to generating more recurring revenue from event audiences. Another is building more engaged audiences to then sell on to sponsors. How well this will actually work for all businesses remains to be seen..

If we work through the logic of turning ‘event revenue’ into ‘membership revenue’, it is important to look at the data. Based on MPG’s benchmarks, at a company level, event organisers of well run and valuable annual events should typically expect to see a 40-50% YOY retention rate of attendees. At an individual level this is 20-30%. A good membership offering will provide year-round relevant and valuable content and networking opportunities. Therefore, one would expect more invested and engaged customers who then renew at a higher rate – typically over 60%. Well established, high value and usually enterprise level memberships can expect 80%+ renewal rates, and the most successful membership offerings have over 100% ‘renewal to value’ rates, where upsell and cross-sell delivers more revenue from a member base that renews at 90%+ at volume level.

There are three main ways we are seeing annual flagship events being integrated into digital information membership offerings:

  1. Including ‘all access’ tickets to annual flagship events as part of a premium membership product. These tickets cover in-person attendance and access to all digital event content.
  2. Preferential rates for members who want to buy a ticket to an annual flagship event – with the discount being a membership benefit.
  3. Member only events – where customers can only access the event if they buy a membership.

What does this mean for your marketing?

When it comes to creating your marketing strategy, you can apply MPG’s community marketing model to your events and membership offering to identify marketing activities to grow both membership and event revenue. As customers move up levels, they become ‘higher value’ based on their level of engagement and therefore likely retention rate increases. It is important to focus marketing on moving customers up levels, ensuring the highest value customers are engaging well, and that engagement at all levels is growing over time.

Level #1 – Lurkers:

These are your unknowns – people who are visiting your membership or event site .You don’t have their data. They are consumers of your free content. You want to attract these ‘lurkers’ through inbound (e.g. SEO, PPC, social media, advocacy marketing) and ensure your website is optimised to get them to convert to contacts (level 2).

Level #2 – Contacts:

These are the known, relevant contacts on the database. You want to track engagement accurately with this segment and hit them with targeted messaging, strong product marketing messaging and content marketing to effectively engage them so they convert into leads and buyers.

Level #3 – Leads / Freemium:

These are contacts who are more committed and are engaging with your content in a free capacity e.g. signing up to a free newsletter, attending a free webinar, downloading your event agendas or post event reports. Again, your goal here is to increase levels of engagement by encouraging more customer interaction with your content and products e.g. encouraging them to attend more free events or to sign up for a membership trial. And here you want to start paying close attention to what they are consuming, and what they value most in the free content you are pushing out. We recommend using nurturing campaigns and remarketing to keep these leads warm.

Level #4 – Transactionals:

These are your paying customers that have made one-off purchases e.g. they have bought a single delegate pass or a lower priced membership. These are the customers you want to convert into higher value, recurring revenue memberships. It is important, at this stage, to pay close attention to what content and networking people are willing to pay for and in what formats – and how much they will pay. For these lower value members, you might want to start offering discounts for your events to encourage them to engage with more products in your mix and become ever more familiar with your brand and the overall value it offers.

Level #5 – Loyalists:

These are your paying customers who make larger purchases of renewing products. These can be members or the delegates who attend your events every year, usually with large group bookings. Typically, these loyal event customers offer the best opportunities for conversion to your high value annual memberships. This is the group you want to focus on growing fastest, retaining and upselling. Here you need some well targeted, well coordinated marketing and sales approaches, supported by well set up tech and automation.

Level #6 – Leaders:

Even if this group is smaller than groups at other levels (and it is likely to be), these are your most important customers. They are typically community leaders and also enterprise-level customers who make purchases for whole teams to access renewing products. These high profile, repeat attendees and speakers should also be the strongest advocates for your brand.

You want to encourage them to share news about your events and the benefits of membership with their network – within their organisations and externally. Make sure you leverage their advocacy in your own social channels by tagging them in social posts.

Use your event speakers as advocates for your membership products. Provide them with membership access and encourage them to share the membership benefits with their networks. Tag them in social posts as users of your membership offering.

Getting this model right so that you can create those high renewal rates takes time and a lot of hard, complex work. A well skilled and well organised marketing team is essential , and is likely to look quite different from a traditional event marketing team. MPG recommends the following as the ideal marketing department structure:

  • Acquisition marketing team: will need to focus on reaching high volumes of potential customers via inbound marketing and data acquisition. This ‘one to many’ approach is essential to reach enough potential relevant customers and to move purchasers down your marketing funnel – either to purchase your event product or your membership offering.

    The target audience for this team will consist of both individuals who are not members but their colleagues are, or individuals who have no affiliation with the membership offering. It will also contain your traditional event contacts – leads, attendees etc.

    Once you have converted one of these leads to a customer of your membership offering, they should be handed over to your retention team who should start the renewal process on day 1 of their membership! (See MPG’s relevant blog on this important subject!)

  • Retention marketing team: should be completely focussed on keeping your customers engaged to ensure high renewal, cross-sell and upsell rates. When you have events integrated into your product mix, this retention marketing is not just focussed on renewing memberships, but also ensuring members that have signed up to your events actually turn up! Your members who turn up to your events are more likely to renew their membership, and so the virtuous upward circle continues.

An important note about martech and data…

This cross selling, and cross pollination of your product mix can only take place when you fully understand the relationship customers already have with your brand. Are they a newsletter subscriber? Have they purchased an event (and turned up)? Have they taken out a free trial?

This holistic, single view of your customers behavioural / engagement data comes from a well set up sales and marketing tech stack – backed up by bomb-proof processes and workflows.

It is an exciting time to be a marketer! But, it’s not an easy time as marketing has become much more complex and in many ways more technical, requiring an ‘engineers brain’ to do some of the problem-solving that pops up every day.

It is also a time that demands a significant ‘upgrade’ in terms of marketers’ strategic thinking, knowledge, skills, confidence and profile within their organisations. The future will belong to those who are bold and knuckle down – moving fast into new ways of doing things. And unfortunately, some marketers and companies will be left behind. I will be watching with interest how this future unfolds!


I was very impressed with the marketing strategy MPG developed for Environment Analyst. The level of thinking that went into this strategy and how it was delivered has created great value for our business. My marketing manager and I now look forward to working with MPG to execute great marketing together.

Julian Rose, Director & Co-Founder, Environment Analyst


If creating strong recurring membership revenues with integrated events is a strategic focus for you, MPG can help.

Our team of marketing specialists can create, and execute on, a robust membership marketing strategy for you, incorporating event marketing to secure the revenue growth and profitability you need as we move forward into a post-pandemic world. Find out more about our approach – get in touch.

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A practical guide to building a robust B2B membership acquisition strategy

Effective member acquisition (sometimes referred to as member recruitment) depends on the fine art of building an integrated marketing and sales strategy that creates a pipeline of relevant, engaged prospects who then convert to members.

The holy grail of membership marketing is to achieve strong member retention to build high value, recurring revenues, but it all has to start with strong membership acquisition.

Through our work with companies offering memberships to their customers, MPG has developed a methodology for creating strong member acquisition strategies. Here we share with you our tried and tested 5 step approach.

5 steps to developing a strong acquisition strategy for B2B membership growth

#1 Reach your target audience – build routes to market

An essential first step to your acquisition strategy is to understand which of your market segments has the best potential for delivering the desired member growth. To do this, you will need a deep understanding of the composition of your end-user market.

Market mapping and sizing is essential to understanding what the gap is between your high growth segment and your existing database. Depending on the size of the gap, you can work out how to deploy your inbound channels, and you might need a database build project.

You can read more about MPG’s recommended market mapping and sizing approach in this related article.

#2 Create your outreach marcomms strategy

Your next step in the pursuit of new, high quality members is to build your marcomms strategy.

Creating a well structured outreach strategy is centred around getting the right messages to the right people at the right time. To make this effective based on a fully integrated communications plan, you will need to consider:

  • Brand and tone of voice – have you documented these to ensure your marketing and sales people are fully aligned? This also ensures they stay top of mind
  • Core communications and channels – not only will you determine which communications will be used in which channel, and the frequency of those communications (ideally largely automated), you will need to factor in how often these will be reviewed and revised to suit your members’ changing needs and life cycle maturity
  • Content – what pieces will resonate with your potential members, which channels you’ll be using to distribute and amplify your content, and when this content will be released? How can you customise this based on the specific profile and interests of your targeted members?
  • Quantified, measurable objectives – do you have clear objectives for each communication piece? And have you specified how performance will be measured against each of those objectives?

#3 Communicate effectively for awareness and interest

Now that you’ve defined your outreach strategy, you should turn your focus back to ensuring you deploy the most impactful, relevant messaging for each target audience group. This means articulating your membership USPs (unique selling points), and membership benefits considering the specific motivations, needs, challenges and opportunities that your product addresses, and are being faced by your target persona’s.

There is now more noise than ever with competition from your traditional competitors, and also from disruptors and new entrants who are taking advantage of rapid digitalisation to move into your space. As your competition and the noise everyone is making escalates, attracting, engaging and converting your target customers will require highly relevant and carefully crafted messaging.

If you are not sure where to start with your messaging strategy, have a look at our step-by-step guide for building a winning messaging strategy to steer you through the process.

#4 Engage and convert

You’ve grown your database, defined your target segments and relevant messaging, and built your outreach strategy. The next priority is to get those prospects to convert to leads and ultimately sales.

You need to ensure your entire customer journey is mapped out and optimised to drive those coveted conversions. A fundamental element in this customer journey is your website – you need to get more of the right people to visit your website, complete forms and ultimately sign up to your membership offering.

Investing in your website is critical to ensure all your marketing works. Good SEO and a seamless user experience, with intelligent lead generation and calls to action (CTAs) that drive conversions are all a must.

There are many factors that will impact how well optimised your website is, and in this article we share the top 4 things you should be doing for a high performance website.

#5 Measure ROI and improve

If you’ve been reading our blogs for a while, you know how much emphasis we put on the importance of tracking and analysing results to adjust and optimise your marketing approach in a responsive and agile way for the best outcomes.

It’s so important in fact we’ve dedicated articles to measuring membership marketing success and the 15 metrics that really matter in digital marketing for B2B.

When it comes to marketing metrics, it’s easy to go down the rabbit hole and lose focus on what really matters. The below areas are an essential starting point when measuring the success of your membership acquisition marketing:

  • Database size and growth
  • Marketing qualified leads (MQLs)
  • Sales qualified leads (SQLs)
  • Sales achieved
  • Length of sales Cycle
  • Revenue achieved
  • Average yield

DOWNLOAD MEMBERSHIP MAKRETING KPIS


Coming soon…

In the final installment of our membership marketing series to be published later this summer, we’ll be looking at the best way to build events (in all forms) into your membership offering. Not every events business needs a membership offering, and not every membership offering needs events (or at least large, in-person events). But when your product portfolio includes membership and events it is very important to tie them together in various ways to ensure your events support member retention and acquisition for steady member revenue growth.

So, if you have not already signed up to MPG Insights – now is a good time! Subscribe here to get an email in your inbox every time we publish a new blog like this one, or create a resource (e.g. webinar, guide or report) that will help you achieve high performance B2B marketing.


MPG’s marketing strategists provided us with clear direction on how to establish strong brand positioning. Their work for Outsmart Insight included a thorough competitor analysis, customer persona development, messaging strategy development, branding upgrade and website design & functionality recommendations. Having MPG as collaborative and creative marketing partners, focused on delivering marketing assets we could immediately put into action and gain ROI from really helped us move forward as a business.

Alex Ayad, Manging Director & Founder, Outsmart Insight


If growing membership revenue is a strategic focus for you, MPG can help.

Our team of marketing specialists can create, and execute on, a robust membership marketing strategy for you. Find out more about our approach – get in touch.

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How to get the ‘recurring’ into high value, B2B membership revenues

It is now quite common knowledge that a strong, validated high value B2B membership proposition is of great interest to senior executives in B2B media/events businesses. Strong recurring revenues generated by memberships are usually equally interesting and exciting to both existing and potential new investors.

But, it is important to keep an eye on the key word here, which is ‘recurring’. Successfully launching a new membership product that your customers are willing to pay quite a lot to access doesn’t guarantee the revenue will be recurring.

If you are not able to consistently retain your paying members at the same or higher annual yield, you will need to continually ‘top up’ with new members. This ongoing push to acquire new members can be costly and unpredictable.

Don’t get me wrong: member acquisitions are an important part of a membership growth story. But, without the renewals (and ideally upsell) piece working well, your growth is likely to be unsustainable at best, and negative at worst.

According to The Membership Guys, “it costs 7-10 times more on average to win a new member than it does to hold on to an existing one”.

So, when do you prepare your member retention marketing and sales strategy? This must be done before you even start your member acquisition campaigns! One of the biggest mistakes businesses make when launching a membership product is only paying attention to member retention a couple of months before the renewal date – or sometimes even later. To secure properly recurring revenues your investors will love (and expect!) starts the day your member is acquired.


MPG focuses very much on marketing to grow membership revenue, but as marketing, sales, product, account management and customer experience need to be well integrated for member retention to be successful, this blog looks at all of these aspects.

Here are the 5 key areas MPG recommends for focus to achieve good retention of high value, B2B members – to achieve that much sought after consistently recurring, and growing membership revenue:

 

#1 Onboarding

Once your customer has taken that all important step and decided to purchase a membership, you need to remind your new member why they made this purchase and how to get the most out of their investment. So, you need a ‘member onboarding programme’, which should be the first step in member retention.

Here are three things to consider when putting this together.

  • Send a highly relevant welcome email: this is your first opportunity to delight a new member, so don’t waste it with a generic welcome email that makes them feel like they’re just being pushed into your production line. Wherever possible, personalise this communication. Ideally have a real person they’re likely to engage with in future (their account manager, or customer success manager) compiling and sending this email, which should include a product tour or demo video (even if they’ve already seen it) and signposting to relevant content and product features they can immediately start benefiting from.
  • New member interview: make sure you really understand what ‘success’ looks like for every new member i.e. why did they decide to spend the money on the membership? What would a good return on investment look like for the member, and in what timeframe? This is likely to differ by customer and is especially important in the early stages of your membership product life cycle as you gather valuable customer insight. This intelligence is essential to help you further refine and enhance the membership value proposition, while also engaging with every precious new member on a personal level in a way that is likely to be perceived by the member as very good customer care.
  • Keep it simple for your new member! Don’t bombard your new member with an excessive amount of communication and requests for their time and attention. Consider how you give your new members the required amount of time and balanced support to explore your membership offering at a comfortable pace and ‘self-serve’ as much as possible, so they are fully enabled and empowered to make the most of what they have bought.

 

#2 Content

Your content is likely to be one of the main reasons a member signs up. The membership is seen as a means to solve a problem, or a series of problems. These usually include at least two of the following: acquiring new skills, getting valuable intelligence, and accessing a precious, highly relevant network. If you consider these as ‘content’ – joined up and served up in an easy-to-use way, you’re thinking in the right way!

Strong, regular member engagement with your content is important to ensure members get the level of value that is likely to make them renew.

To ensure you are serving up the right content, at the right time, in the right formats for your members, consider how you incorporate the following into your workflow and offering.

  • Relevant, visible, timely content calendar: make sure what you are serving up is relevant and timely to your member’s ‘jobs to be done’ (e.g. an annual planning and budgeting process) and also make sure your members can see what is coming up. Keep reminding them of what they will get in future at critical times so they see their membership as a  key part of their own workflow.
  • Choice/flexibility: not every member will want to consume your content in the same way, so serve it up in a variety of formats. For example, an intelligence report can be delivered as a PDF, with a highlights video, an accompanying webinar and a Q&A session in an online chat group. Not only will this mean different preferences are catered for, but it also means your high-quality content is likely to work harder for you as it is repurposed. This also helps you achieve the ‘quality over quantity’ balance right, making the quantity look & feel substantial enough, while ensuring the quality content is highly accessible.
  • Ongoing member research: ask questions as members use the product to find out what they like and don’t like about how you have packaged up membership features and benefits, and what they find most valuable and useful – and why. If you can combine a series of automated mini-surveys with personalised conversations to work out if your members are achieving their work goals via your membership, you’re likely to get the best kind of intelligence that will help you have exactly the right kinds of sales conversations to retain and upsell members, and improve the product as you go along.

“The closer you can align the way you package your value to the goal that your customer has, the more likely your customer is to trust you for the long term.”
Robbie Kellman Baxter – Membership/subscriptions advisor & best-selling author

 

#3 Engagement

Having the right content is just one piece of the retention puzzle. The next piece is ensuring members engage with the content. Here are a few ways to do this:

  • Nurturing: using email nurture campaigns, personalised to the members’ content needs, are a great way to boost engagement, and therefore retention.
  • Incentives: if you can find a way to gamify membership usage in a way that rewards your most highly engaged members, you’re on to a winner. Maybe you could unlock some exclusive content or higher value features for members who ‘give the most’ to using their membership?
  • Engagement scoring: this is simply a way to categorise your members from least engaged through to highly engaged based on specific actions that they take. You want as many members as possible to be within the highly engaged category, as these members have the highest probability of renewing and probably also buying a bigger package e.g. with more users/seats in their licence or a multi-year deal. Those that are least engaged will need some extra attention well before their renewal date.
  • Data insights & analytics: using analytics tools can provide you with insights into what content your members are most engaged with and also how they are using your content and platform. Insights around your top performing pages and site navigation can provide you with ways to improve platform design to quickly help your members get what they need – faster and in a better format. The easier your membership product is to use, the more your members are to use and get value from it!

 

#4 Pricing

Overly complicated membership pricing plans can often lead to higher member churn. You need to ensure your members are aware of what it is they are signing up for. There should be no nasty surprises in terms of what is expected and then included – or not.

When considering renewals, there a few options and considerations to build into the initial planning and evolution of your pricing:

  • Upgrades: consider how members can move up the value chain over time – in terms of what they can access and how much they pay. A strong upgrade path may attract more members and enable longer term revenue growth.
  • Downgrades: having a cheaper version of your membership, with less access to certain features or content, is a great way to retain members who may struggle to justify or afford a full renewal every year.
  • Pauses: if you can enable a pause to a membership, your customers will thank you. Giving them the option to pause rather than cancel, can be better for overall retention.
  • Auto renewals: having an auto renewal in place that is properly communicated at the time of signing up helps by removing any friction in the renewal process. The member doesn’t need to do anything to renew and only needs to act if they want to cancel at renewal stage.
  • Mid-term upgrades: you don’t need to wait until a membership is about to expire to offer upgrades. This can be done anywhere in the membership cycle. The members that engage well from the start may present your best opportunities for upgrades ahead of the official renewal date. This could be individual users with high engagement scores or companies that have multiple members on your platform.
  • Incentives: building incentives into your membership marketing strategy can help secure early renewals. In an annual renewal cycle, an incentive scheme can start from as early as 3 months out from your expiry date. Types of incentives you can offer include: remaining membership period for free on renewal; access to exclusive pieces of content; or invitations to community roundtables or networking events. Incentives are not just for current members, they can also be a useful tool for re-engaging with lapsed members.

 

#5 Measurement

As with all other marketing efforts, keeping a close eye on the metrics that matter most is essential!

We recently published a blog on the key strategic KPIs for membership marketing and sales – presenting the core metrics for both acquisition and retention. Below are the main areas your retention metrics should be focussed on:

  • Onboarding
  • Engagement
  • Sales
  • Renewal cycle/timing

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY OF THE FULL STRATEGIC KPIS

Whether you have recently launched a membership, already have a strong membership offering, or you are in the early stages of planning, we have some upcoming blogs in the series that will provide you with practical approaches for your membership marketing strategy:

  • The ideal member acquisition process: how to build a marketing and sales funnel that becomes a powerful feeder of new business – to achieve strong membership growth over an extended period of time.
  • The best way to build events (in all forms) into your membership offering: to achieve strong member retention rates and to act as a reliable growth engine for membership revenue.

So, if you have not already signed up to MPG Insights – now is a good time! Subscribe here to get an email every time we publish a new blog like this one, or create another resource (e.g. webinar or report) that you will benefit from.


Launching a new membership offering or wanting to grow strong recurring revenue for an existing product?

Team MPG creates and executes on robust membership marketing strategies that support both acquisition and retention growth. Find out more about our approach – get in touch.

 


“I was very impressed with the marketing strategy MPG developed for Environment Analyst. The level of thinking that went into this strategy and how it was delivered has created great value for our business. My marketing manager and I now look forward to working with MPG to execute great marketing together.”

Julian Rose, Director & Co-Founder, Environment Analyst

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ABM: Looking beyond the buzzword!

Account Based Marketing (ABM) is not a new concept in B2B marketing. However, as an important integrated B2B marketing and sales approach, we don’t think it is widely understood or used as it should be in B2B media/events businesses and professional membership organisations. 

Regardless of the size of your organisation, product types, or the sectors you serve, every senior business leader and marketer should be embracing ABM and integrating it as part of their overall marketing strategy.  

If you’re keen to learn more about ABM – what it is, why it is important and how you put it into practice, read on! 

This article is ‘part 1’ of MPG’s 2 part blog series, created to guide you through a strategic approach to ABM implementation. Next week we will publish part 2, which will be focused on a step-by-step approach to doing ABM well. 

 

What is Account Based Marketing (ABM)?

Simply put, ABM is a marketing strategy to identify, target and engage a specific set of high-value accounts by creating highly personalised messaging and customer experiences for key individuals within these accounts. 

ABM can also be viewed as a practical application of the Pareto Principle (or 80/20 rule), whereby 80% of your sales comes from 20% of your customers. The return on investment from this form of marketing is delivered through:

  • Higher conversion rates: of prospect to lead, and lead to sale, within your most valuable accounts (i.e. those likely to also renew and deliver a strong lifetime value).
  • Shorter sales cycles: your sales team can be more efficient as they have less work to do to convince all decision makers and influencers to sign off on a deal. Alternatively, if an e-commerce deal, this should happen faster due to quicker internal approvals. 
  • Higher average order values: because all decision makers and influencers are well persuaded by very relevant marketing that their purchase will deliver good value.

Many marketers are already conducting a form of ABM, without calling it that! Sending targeted messaging to specific market segments/data sets via email applies the basic principles of ABM. Recipients get more personalised messaging that addresses their specific challenges and needs. ‘Proper’ ABM is about applying this practice more extensively, and across more channels.

ABM typically has the greatest impact for high-value sponsorships, memberships or subscriptions products, or where you need to have specific companies in your audience and/or at your event to satisfy sponsors. It can also apply to acquiring new sponsors/clients for your events or marketing programmes. 

 

Why is ABM more relevant now that before the pandemic?

Several factors have driven the increased importance, and usage, of ABM in recent months. Unsurprisingly, the seismic shifts seen over the past 14 months is the common thread.

Here are the main factors at play:

#1: As many marketing budgets are reduced and marketing teams are smaller, marketers are under significant pressure to deliver campaigns that positively and visibly impact revenue generation. ABM focuses marketers on the accounts that are going to give them the highest return, and as ABM can shorten the sales cycle, in the shortest possible time frame. 

#2: Increased investment in tech and data management, typically to facilitate virtual events and other online offerings, has the knock-on effect of making ABM far more viable and easy (as possible!) to deploy. Successful ABM relies on well organised customer data within a digital infrastructure that enables automation; as well as engage individuals and groups across digital channels, cohesively. 

#3: ABM has filled the gaps left by live events. Crucial in-person touchpoints have, by necessity, been replaced by deeper, multi-channel digital engagement within well-engineered and creative campaigns.  

#4: Across the board, marketing is becoming more important. Marketing is now playing a much more important role in the rapid digital pivots of brands, products and communities, and overall digital transformation organisations. Marketing is also leading the charge in defining the sales and operations strategies – a role reversal from just a few years ago. Organisations have realised that investment in marketing is essential to building and monetising engaged audiences. This was already happening before the pandemic, but has been thrown into the ‘Covid-19 accelerator’ for full disruption mode!

 

Why ABM is key for customer experience 

ABM allows you to deliver more consistent and compelling customer experiences for your most coveted accounts. In very crowded markets, where there is so much digital noise, ABM can make all the difference in securing the customers you need via a compelling and relevant journey towards your brand and product. 

At its core, ABM is about making marketing and sales even more aligned. By defining and actively targeting high-value accounts, and making this integral to both your marketing and sales strategies, you can make your conversion funnel more efficient and cost-effective. Most importantly, your customers will have a much better and streamlined experience as they hurtle towards the bottom of your funnel. 

 

How should ABM be put into practice? 

In part 2 of this blog series, we’ll be sharing a step-by-step guide to implementing ABM in your marketing. Subscribe to MPG Insights to be notified when it’s released.

 


MPG have been a valuable marketing strategy partner to Kademy’s leadership team. They have helped us decide how best to invest in marketing based on the stage we’re at with our business, and have also given us very practical advice on various marketing initiatives around ABM, content marketing, social media, PPC and website optimisation. Having MPG’s marketing expertise plugged in to our business gives me confidence we’re moving our marketing function forward in the right way.

Alex Hentschel, Managing Director & Co-Founder, Kademy

 


Do you need help developing your ABM marketing strategy? 

Team MPG can help you work out how best to use ABM and deploy this approach for maximum impact. Here are the reasons clients choose MPG for ABM:

  • As experts in all things B2B marketing, Team MPG has the toolkit to ensure your sales team gets focused support to target and convert your most coveted customers.
  • MPG will also help you better integrate your sales & marketing. When using ABM, processes need to be well mapped out and joined up for ABM to have a consistently positive impact on your revenue growth.

Team MPG will develop your bespoke, robust strategy, and set up martech/salestech & processes for ABM success. We can also help you execute ABM campaigns for best impact, and measure this impact with MPG’s unique marketing performance dashboards.

Get in touch

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5 Strategic investments being made in B2B marketing in 2021

Team MPG has unique insight into how leadership teams are choosing to invest in marketing at any point in time.

Right now, we can see first-hand how the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed marketing to the forefront of the ‘bounce back’ strategies for B2B brands, and how transformation of marketing in organisations of all sizes has been accelerated.

This article covers 5 areas of marketing where we’re seeing the greatest focus and investment at this time.

 


The state of B2B marketing in May 2021

As parts of the world start emerging from the devastating Covid-19 pandemic, senior executives  are seeing that making strategic investments in marketing now is essential – not only to recover lost revenues, but (more importantly), to take advantage of the new opportunities our ‘new world’ presents.

Organisations focused on serving and monetising professional communities have a particular set of opportunities to go after: building strong, engaged communities online and offline; growing high quality, engaged, paying subscriptions & memberships; and delivering a strong portfolio of events year round in digital, in-person and hybrid formats. Marketing budgets that were previously being locked down are now being released, but with this spend being focused in areas previously ignored or under-valued.

The work Team MPG does with a range of organisations globally (B2B media, B2B events & professional associations), and the ongoing conversations we have with the community, gives us a strong viewpoint on where B2B leaders are placing their marketing bets.

Here are five investment areas that have dominated these conversations:

Investment #1: Marketing strategy development

In the pre-pandemic times, many marketing functions mostly (or only) delivered tactical marketing. The job of marketing was to just ‘get campaigns out’ – at speed and scale.

But the events of the past 14 months have forced senior executives to carefully evaluate the role of marketing in their organisations. At the start of the pandemic, those who believed their marketing had mostly tactical value swiftly cut their marketing budgets when faced with a prolonged period of risk and uncertainty.

As the pandemic fog lifts, it seems there are two types of organisations that are emerging well:

  1. Those that put their marketing function at the heart of their pivot – leveraging the digital expertise marketers have to create and execute their strategies to survive & thrive. These organisations understood that marketing is all about putting the customers’ needs and pain points first, which has been a common trait for organisations coming out of the pandemic in good shape.
  2. Those that realised after a few months of trying to work out what to do next, that a strategic marketing approach is critical for future-proofing their organisations. These organisations have started the process of rebuilding their marketing functions in a deliberate, thoughtful and sustainable way.

I urge you to reflect on your own organisation. Are you one of the above types of organisations? Or do you still see marketing as a cost to be reduced, rather than an investment to be managed and optimised?

If you’re aiming to be more strategic in your marketing approach, here are a few points for you to ponder:

  • The bedrock of every successful marketing strategy is understanding the composition of your market, or your community. This all begins with a robust and up to date market map.
  • Community marketing is coming to the fore. It is important to understand what this means for your organisation. The recent MPG Insights blog on how B2B communities work and our webinar exploring community marketing strategies and MPG’s community marketing model have been some of our most read and watched to date.
  • Once the market or community you are serving has been properly analysed, you need to find a way to cut through the noise in a very competitive space to grab and keep attention (i.e. get good engagement!). This requires a strong messaging strategy.
  • Having the right combination of strong marketing skills in your team is essential. Marketing is complex and the skills you need are varied – from very analytical and technical, to those strong in creative and communications. These are very rarely found in one person. Here are a couple of relevant MPG Insights blog articles:

Get in touch to find out how MPG can help you develop a future-proof marketing strategy.

Investment #2: Marketing technology stack optimisation 

The reality is that many organisations have martech challenges – usually including one or more of the following: the wrong tech tools; martech not implemented well in terms of system set up or new process adoption, and now needing remedial action; missing or misfiring integrations and data flows; or key pieces of tech missing altogether. Any one of these issues will mean what should be automated is painfully and expensively manual and slow.

A key opportunity cost of not having a fit-for-purpose martech stack is a poor customer experience – which is something no organisation can afford in what is becoming a very competitive digital world with lower barriers to entry and fewer ways to differentiate.

So, smart business leaders have spent much of the lockdown getting their martech stack in order. Rather than slashing marketing spend altogether, they spotted a gap to make strategic, impactful investments in getting their martech stack working well to monetise and scale their audiences and offerings in a more digital world.

And they have also recognised this is not a ‘one off’ exercise. Martech stacks need ongoing maintenance and regular tweaks and upgrades as new tech emerges and their businesses grow.

Good things will come to those who have fully embraced martech and invested well, and continue to invest well, in this area. Well done if that’s you.

Get in touch to find out how MPG can help you get, and keep, your martech stack in good order

 

Investment #3: Stronger marketing databases

Marketing databases are often neglected for three reasons:

  1. They’re not well understood
  2. They’re hard to manage well
  3. They’re not as exciting and visible as the creative parts of marketing

But, having a strong marketing database that is always growing, and is well maintained, is essential to B2B marketing success. The best creative comms in the world won’t work if you’re not getting them in front of the right people – and this is where your database comes in.

We’ve seen a definite trend in senior leaders suddenly paying attention to their marketing databases. They have recognised that being more digital requires good database management. 

Marketing automation, which is critical for effective monetisation and scale, just isn’t possible if your marketing database is not well set up and well managed on an ongoing basis. This was particularly important for virtual and hybrid events, where a much larger pool of potential customers and marketing automation is needed to achieve good attendance rates.

It is therefore no surprise that many of my recent conversations with CEOs have been about how best to invest in their databases, and MPG’s database and marketing automation experts have been in high demand.

What is also clear is that organisations of all sizes have similar needs and require a similar approach when it comes to setting up, growing and maintaining their databases. Over the past 12 months, MPG has worked with very large and very small organisations (and all sizes in-between) to successfully implement the tried & tested database development methodology we’ve used since we launched MPG in 2014. Even back then it was GDPR-proof!

We’re hoping to release an ‘explainer video’ soon about MPG’s database development methodology. So, make sure you subscribe for MPG Insights emails to be notified when this resource is available!

Get in touch if you’d like to have a chat with MPG about your database.  We love all things data!!

 

Investment #4: High performance websites optimised for search engines and conversions

Large parts of our lives have been lived online over the past 14 months. And a legacy of the pandemic is that most of us are likely to stay more ‘digitised’ in behaviours and preferences.

Having a marketing website that is substandard in any way is therefore no longer an option. Your customers will judge you on how your marketing website looks and works – fact!

Your brand, messaging, content, lead generation mechanisms and, in many cases, sales – are now hosted mostly on your website. And all your other marketing channels drive traffic to your site. So, if your website is not optimised for search engines and conversions – on an ongoing basis – then you have a big problem.

What has been interesting about conversations I have had with CEOs about their websites in recent months, is that they now understand how important it is to plan, build and optimise a website with a strategic marketing mindset. Before the pandemic, websites were often largely left to the tech team, with tech people making key decisions about how a website should look and work.

Let’s hope the change to treating websites as the most important digital marketing channel is one that sticks!

MPG can help you optimise your existing website, or build a new one that works really well, to drive high performance marketing. Get in touch to find out how.

 

Investment #5: Pay-per-click (PPC) via Google and social channels

PPC is a category of marketing tactics where MPG has seen definite increased investment. To fund this investment increase, it seems marketing spend is shifting from direct mail, and in some cases ‘cold calling’ sales – to Google Ads and paid advertising on social media.

However, this seems to be poorly served by dedicated PPC agencies at present as marketers are switching regularly from one agency to another, and in many cases pulling PPC in-house.

I believe the reason PPC is not working as it should – even with more investment – is that too much attention and money is going into clicks spend, rather than strategy and planning.

Once again, as per Investment #1 in this newsletter, you need a strong marketing strategy to make your PPC work well. PPC needs to be well integrated with all other channels and it needs to be carefully measured, and performance analysed in the context of the full marketing mix. This is where most PPC agencies go wrong:  they just focus on tactics and clicks spend, rather than delivering PPC services that are an integrated part of a robust marketing strategy.

My advice: don’t spend a penny or a cent on clicks if you have not yet invested in an overall marketing strategy, followed by an aligned, robust PPC strategy. Otherwise you’re just making Google, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn even richer – without anything to show for it. Short term, this will be an irritating waste of money. Long term, this is a massive missed opportunity.

Don’t get fixated on ‘in-house versus agency’, and don’t get bamboozled by very slick PPC agency sales people. Focus on making sure your marketers:

  • Understand where PPC strategically fits in your marketing mix
  • Set clear PPC objectives
  • Have the tracking and analysis tools in place to measure PPC ROI

…and only then look for good digital marketers to set up and manage your campaigns – whether in-house or outsourced.

If your organisation runs virtual events, we recently published a step by step guide to PPC for B2B virtual events, so make sure to have a read of that!

Get in touch to find out how MPG’s digital marketers can give your PPC a boost!


And that’s a wrap – five important areas for investment that just 14 months ago were not getting anywhere near enough attention from most B2B organisations.

And as a final note: thank you so much for being part of MPG’s community!

If you would like to be even more involved by speaking at our webinars or being a guest blogger, we’d love to hear from you on info@mpg.biz

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Build a winning messaging strategy:
a step-by-step guide

As competition intensifies in an already very crowded digital world, demonstrating a deep understanding of your customers’ pain points and motivations, and effectively communicating your products’ relevant value, is more important than ever.

But, like many aspects of marketing – this is easier spoken about than done well! In MPG’s recent blog, we shared some uncomfortable ‘home truths’ about why your marketing probably isn’t working as well as it should – due to poor messaging. This issue usually boils down to 2 things: your marketer lacks deep enough knowledge of your customers, and/or your marketer is not able to identify, articulate or lacks confidence in the USPs and benefits of your offering.

Good messaging is not simply about having good copywriters on hand. As with almost all aspects of marketing, a robust, integrated strategy makes all the difference.

So, here we’re sharing with you MPG’s tried and tested strategic approach to creating and deploying strong, on-point, impactful messaging.

 

Build and deploy your winning messaging strategy – in 5 steps

For every product, you should have a messaging strategy documented that outlines what you want to say and how you want to say it – informed by your product’s USPs, and your audience’s needs.

This is often missing from the marketing toolkit of those put in charge of marketing your events, memberships, subscriptions and growing your engaged communities. Or if this kind of documentation does exist, it is often over-complicated – so doesn’t lead to practical, efficient and impactful execution. Or it is under-developed, missing key pieces of the puzzle.

 

Here are the 5 steps MPG recommends you take to create your well documented messaging strategy:

Step #1: Map your market and identify key market segments

When you create your market map, you proactively define and size your market. This is essential to gain a better understanding of the composition of your audience, and to identify the most important market segments to focus on for growth.

 

Step #2: Identify and articulate key ‘needs to be met’ and ‘jobs to be done’

Note down the specific needs your product is meeting for key market segments, as well as jobs they are getting done by using your product. Also work out, and capture in your document, how your product is meeting these needs and helping them do the key jobs they need to.

 

Step #3: Define USPs and benefits for key market segments

Using the insight gained from steps 1 & 2 above, do two things:

  • Identify what makes your product different from the competition – in the most important way that your customers value. This is your all-important USP that needs to shine through in all your marcomms.
  • State the specific benefits your product delivers by solving important problems and helping your customers get important jobs done. Keep asking yourself ‘so what’ to find the benefit in amongst all your product features – and capture the benefits in a way that is specifically relevant to your most important target market segments.

 

Step #4: Write your core copy

Using what is produced in Step 3, add the following to your messaging document:

  • A strap-line that incorporates your USP
  • A series of succinct bullet points focused on your benefits

This becomes the core copy you should then repeatedly use in various creative ways in multiple channels – ensuring all channels are well aligned.

 

Step #5: Execute – down the whole funnel

Using your messaging strategy document as your ‘bible’, start building out messaging using copy, images and content at the top of your funnel that consistently and repeatedly communicate your USP and benefits.

As your customers move down the funnel and become more engaged, you should share more detailed and persuasive pieces with them, expanding on the key needs to be met, problems to be solved and jobs to be done, and how your products USP and benefits match these. This is what creates the ‘desire and action’ you need from your customers – making them enquire or buy.

 

Well planned and executed marketing messaging is not optional – it’s essential.

B2B business leaders who don’t invest well in marketing messaging are effectively throwing money away on things like martech and data. Without the right messages reaching your audience, the money you put into your marketing systems and digital platforms won’t deliver a strong enough return.

So don’t delay – get your marketers to follow the steps above as soon as possible. And if you’re working with a marketing consultant or agency to develop your messaging, make sure they are following an equally robust process to earn their keep!


 

Do you need better marketing to unlock revenue growth in your business?

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Our marketing strategists, marketing operations experts, and digital marketers form MPG’s well-oiled marketing machine that has delivered strong results for our clients since 2014.

If you would like to find out more about working with MPG, please get in touch.

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Working closely with our internal team, MPG developed a strong marketing strategy focused on achieving revenue growth for a key product in our portfolio – including recommendations for a virtual offering. We were impressed by the science and rigour they put into the process. I would recommend MPG as a good strategic marketing partner for a B2B brand.

Anna Knight, VP Licensing, Informa Markets

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The next big thing in B2B marketing is…communities!

The rise of digital communities has been accelerated through necessity due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, however it’s a trend that many forward-thinking organisations had already embraced pre-COVID.

One of MPG’s long standing and much respected friends, Ashley Friedlein, was a thought leader and pioneer in the space of building membership communities for B2B brands with his first business, Econsultancy. Those in the know will also have been watching closely how Ashley’s tech start-up Guild has grown to become a leading online networking and messaging platform for professional communities.

Ashley was recently invited to present at the B2B Marketing event, Get Stacked, where he spoke about why digital communities are the next big thing in B2B marketing, shared his top tips for B2B community building and discussed the role that Community Based Marketing (CBM) plays in the marketing funnel.

Ashley included in this presentation MPG’s own Community Development Model – which you can learn more about by downloading the content pack from our March 2021 Strategy Chats webinar series.

Ashley has kindly agreed for MPG to share the Guild presentation with you.

VIEW GUILD PRESENTATION

Included in Ashley’s Get Stacked keynote, MPG’s Community Development Model provides a simple method of categorising your community members by both their level of engagement, as well as their monetary value to you and your sponsors. You can read more about how this model can be applied in our recent blog on taking a strategic approach to community marketing.

VIEW GUILD COMMUNITIES PRESENTATION


Do you need a robust B2B community marketing strategy?

If you have a B2B community that you need to engage, monetise and scale, MPG can help you develop and execute a strong marketing strategy to build a valuable community.

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Train your team on community marketing strategies and tactics

As part of MPG Academy, we run a dedicated B2B Community Marketing Masterclass. This course covers everything from what a community is, how to apply frameworks to your marketing, as well as the tactical channel-specific approaches you should take.

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Topics:

The Marketing Mix | The Best of MPG

At MPG’s ‘virtual HQ’, we’ve been working hard at creating and sharing the resources we believe are essential for:

  • Transforming your marketing function – to give you the most ‘future-fit’ marketing team possible
  • Turbocharging your marketing performance – so that your marketing investments deliver a strong ROI

Your free MPG Insights blogs, webinars, e-books and guides have hopefully helped you grow your B2B audience engagement, while also enabling strong monetisation via events, memberships and subscriptions.

We’ve created every resource to deliver actionable and practical insights and tips to make your marketing work better.

This newsletter collates for you The Best of MPG – a summary of all of our most popular blogs and resources into one easy to read email digest. Please pass this on to your colleagues and friends!

We’re also delighted to let you know about our free Strategy Chats Webinar Series, taking place on the first 3 Fridays in March. Joined by an exceptional line up of guest speakers, these quick-fire briefings will cover ‘all things marketing strategy’ for B2B Communities, B2B Memberships and B2B Events. Register for free today.


Our top MPG Insights Blogs


Useful Resources


Not to be missed – upcoming webinar series


FREE WEBINAR SERIES
MPG Strategy Chats: Marketing for B2B Media and Events
5th, 12th & 19th March 2021

March will see MPG hosting a series of free webinars focused on strategies, ROI metrics and key success factors for B2B community marketing, B2B membership marketing and B2B event marketing.

To find out how to ensure marketing is a key success driver in your business, come along to this ground-breaking, 3-part Strategy Chats series.

MPG’s marketing strategists will be joined by the following expert guest speakers:

  • Andrew Brown – Co-Founder & Chairman, FUTURE INSIGHTS NETWORK
  • Mike Hepburn – MD, FT Forums & Board Director Programmes, FINANCIAL TIMES
  • Anna Knight – VP Licensing, INFORMA
  • Tania Marshall – Global Marketing Director, FINANCIAL TIMES LIVE
  • James Mayes – Co-Founder & CEO, MIND THE PRODUCT
  • Laura McQueen – Managing Director, LEADERS IN SPORT
  • Carolyn Morgan – Managing Consultant, SPECIALL MEDIA
  • Simon Murray – Head of Marketing, Money 20/20, ASCENTIAL
  • Julian Rose – Director & Co-Founder, ENVIRONMENT ANALYST

FIND OUT MORE AND REGISTER


Get essential marketing training for your team

Whether you’re looking to upskill your whole team through tailored, in-house training, or want to join fellow marketers from around the world on one of our open courses, MPG Academy has a training solution to fit your needs.

MPG recently delivered very relevant training for me – helping me a lot with my marketing planning and practical implementation of best practice marketing. The course materials they provided were phenomenal.

Claire Clilverd, Global Head of Commercial Marketing, INFOPRO DIGITAL


Your B2B Marketing Partner

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Our Areas of Marketing Expertise

Delivering winning marketing strategies, outsourced marketing and training to help B2B-community focused organisers engage, monetise and scale their target markets, audiences and customer base.

  • Marketing strategy
  • Audience acquisition & development
  • Database optimisation
  • Marketing technology
  • Online event technology
  • Marketing performance analytics & reporting
  • Website build and optimisation
  • Messaging and copywriting
  • Lead generation
  • Branding and design
  • Marketing automation
  • Email marketing
  • Pay-per-click advertising
  • Social media
  • Content marketing
  • Advocacy marketing
  • Media partnerships
  • Account based marketing
  • Direct mail
  • Telesales campaign management

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MPG are true experts in their field. The work they have done for our business to date has been of tremendous value.

Robert Stead, Managing Director, SENSE MEDIA

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B2B Community Marketing:
MPG’s Strategic Approach

Strategy-led organisations will usually have a chosen set of models or frameworks to guide their thinking and execution. For those of us focused on marketing strategy, MPG has created some straightforward frameworks to contextualise the marketing that goes in to engaging, monetising and scaling B2B communities – specifically for B2B media brands and event organisers.

And here they are!

 

MPG’s Engage, Monetise, Scale Model

Engage is the first and most important step. This is where marketing works it’s magic by identifying, attracting and keeping the attention of the most relevant people to your community. There are many channels and techniques for achieving this, but the end goal is always to grow your engaged community, as well as the level of that engagement.

Monetisation relies on engagement to be effective – or even possible at all. You cannot progress to this stage until you have a sufficiently good quality, engaged audience.

The engage phase is essential for identifying what your community members most value and are therefore willing to pay for. Knowing what your audience finds most valuable creates opportunities to monetise existing and future content, events, research and other solutions you deliver for your community – via payments by the readers/audience/participants.

Another key way to monetise your community could be via sponsorship – depending on your business strategy and model. This relies on having an engaged community of the right size and profile so that your sponsors can hit their mark when paying to advertise via your channels.

Scale is the final stage of the model. As with monetisation, the preceding phases are important to consider first. You only want to scale an audience you’re confident you understand and can engage with, and you want to be scaling a monetisation model that you believe has sustainable, long-term potential.

Once you have these in place, you can begin investing in the processes, automations and resources that will increase your profit margin.

Hyperscale is an extension of scale and occurs when your scaling efforts reach a point of exponential growth. At this point, your community model becomes effectively self-sustaining in its growth. The more effectively the prior three steps are implemented, the more likely it is that ‘hyperscale’ will kick in.

 

MPG’s Community Development Model

This model provides a simple method of categorising your community members by both their level of engagement, and their monetary value to you and your sponsors. You can use it to understand how your community is spread across these levels, with your objective being to move as many people as far up the levels as possible.

To make full use of this framework, overlay other segmentation such as company type, job function and seniority – to get a full picture of your community.

Level 1 – Lurkers: consumers of free content (blogs, social media) via website and social channels. At this stage, you do not have the user’s data.

Level 2 – Contacts: known contacts in your database. This allows you to track engagement more accurately and also target with email and other direct marketing comms to increase engagement.

Level 3 – Freemium: committed contacts in a free capacity – e.g. signing up to a free newsletter or attending a webinar. Again, your goal here is to increase levels of engagement. And here you want to start paying close attention to what they are consuming, and value the most, in the free content you are pushing out. 

Level 4 – Transactionals: paying customers who have made one-off, relatively low value purchases e.g. a training course or a report. You really want to pay close attention now to what content people are willing to pay for – and how much. 

Level 5 – Loyalists: paying customers who make larger purchases of renewing products. This is the group you want to focus on growing fastest, retaining and upselling. This relies on marketing and sales automation and integration. 

Level 6 – Leaders: enterprise-level customers who make purchases for whole teams/departments/businesses to access renewing products. The nirvana of B2B media! If you’ve cracked this level, you’re well in to scale, with hyperscale on the horizon…

 

Where Does Sponsorship Fit In?

This model demonstrates a simple concept: sponsors are likely to be willing to pay more to reach your more engaged community members (assuming they are of the right profile).

Viewing sponsorship opportunities via this model will also allow you to consider the different companies that will likely be interested in each audience. A SaaS tool provider may be more interested in reaching a high volume of your community to generate awareness and leads – so levels 3, 4 and 5 in your community (e.g via newsletters adverts or sponsored webinars or reports) may be their best ‘hunting grounds’. An advisory firm on the other hand may value more the intimate conversations in smaller groups with level 6 Leaders – where round-table-style events (online or offline) seem to have an evergreen attraction. 

You ideally want to grow every level to ensure a healthy, growing community and sustain a steady and growing volume of relevant audience members. This is the best way to guarantee strong YOY growth of sponsorship revenue.

Patience and Time

The great Leo Tolstoy famously wrote “Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow – that is patience. The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”

2021 – or certainly the first part of the year – will most certainly require an awful lot of patience from companies and individuals as we wait for the pandemic to ease off (which we are confident it will!). And this may take longer than we hope or expect. But now is not the time to lose hope or sit back and wait. Now is the time to get stuck into your community marketing strategy. Don’t wait any longer – but also be patient. Play the long game. Focus on community quality and engagement first and foremost – even if it means you lose money in the short term. Try out different monetisation models and work out what your community is willing to pay for and what you can profitably deliver. When summer eventually arrives (literally or figuratively!), if you’ve done a good job of engaging your community at a time when they probably need you most – you will be in a great place to benefit from more profitable monetisation, with scale just around the corner!

 


Get trained on community marketing strategies and tactics

As part of the MPG Academy Masterclass programmes, we run a dedicated B2B Community Marketing Masterclass. This course covers everything from what a community is, how to apply strategic frameworks to your marketing, as well as the tactical channel-specific approaches you should take.

FIND OUT MORE

Toby DanielsI cannot recommend MPG highly enough. Their commitment and unique expertise in data-driven, digital and integrated marketing has been very valuable to Social Media Week. They’ve been instrumental in helping us build our brand and community online and offline, and their product marketing performance has also been very strong. We’re delighted MPG has been on our team!

Toby Daniels, Co-founder & CEO, Crowdcentric Media (Social Media Week, acquired by Adweek)

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4 Things you should be doing for a high performance website

Considering your website is your most important marketing channel, do you give it as much attention and investment as it needs? As the host of your branding, messaging, content, lead generation and often also online sales/ecommerce, it acts as the end destination for all of your other marketing activity – so if your website is not performing at its best, the rest of your marketing channels won’t be either.

Optimising your website is critical for your bottom line, especially as we enter a year with continuing remote working and increasing digitalisation and the world’s business will be done online. The smartest companies who will be able to make the most of the post-Covid recovery will have the best websites!

Every brand, value proposition and audience is different, but the key success factors of having a well optimised website are universal. This post focuses on four of these key success factors needed to create a high performance website, whether your core offering is events, subscriptions, membership or community – or a combination of some or all of these.

1. Don’t make your users think (the 5 second rule)

Don’t make me think is well-known adage in the world of website UX. Website users have extremely short attention spans, so when constructing and populating your website, making the user journey as smooth as possible should be a core consideration in your decision making. Slow loading pages, improperly formatted mobile pages, rambling copy, confusing navigation – anything that forces the user to engage their brain to try and figure out what’s going on is an issue, and makes your website ‘hard work’ for your user. You need to make it very easy for your user to quickly get what they need from your website – whether it’s information, a newsletter subscription or a delegate ticket purchase.

A good rule of thumb is the ‘5 second rule’. Imagine you showed your website to an audience member for 5 seconds, before hiding it again. What would they know about your product/service? And would they have been able to at least have found on the ‘form page’ you want them on e.g. lead generation form or event booking form? They will probably need another few seconds to fill in the form – but if they can’t find the form they’re looking for in 5 seconds your website is not in the ‘high performance’ category!

 

2. Don’t try to make everything stand out – or nothing will

A common pitfall with website design is to try and make too many things stand out.

This can lead to an overwhelming and confusing experience for users, where they can’t figure out what they’re supposed to do next or what is most important about the organisation or product.

This can result from too many CTA (call to action) banners or buttons, links, text boxes and/or images. It can also occur when elements are all made an equal size or visual ‘weighting’ or positioning. Elements that are given more breathing room are generally more likely to be noticed and clicked on.

How do you know what’s important and therefore what should stand out? Consider what primary and secondary objective you have with your website.

For many, direct purchases or enquiries are the most valuable action a user can take, and ultimately the one you want to them to take at some point (even if it’s not during their first visit). This is your primary objective.

The design and structure of your site should place the most importance on content and CTAs that serve this primary objective. The button in the top right of your navigation bar (prime real estate on any website) should be reserved for your primary objective – e.g. ‘Buy now’. The main CTA in your header section should be the same. All content on your site should – in some way – further encourage users to take that final conversion.

For other sites, a primary objective may be lead generation. Filling in a data capture form may be the action you want users to take. Lead generation often works well across a range of touch points, at various levels of the funnel e.g. signing up for a free newsletter subscription, downloading a report advertised in a newsletter and then enquiring about a specific product via a link in the ‘thank you for downloading the report’ email or a link in the report itself.

Even if lead generation isn’t the primary goal, every website should include some form of lead generation as it captures valuable customer data that can be used to enrich and grow your marketing and sales database.

 

3. Build in lead generation intelligently

Lead generation is much more than just sticking a data capture form on our website and waiting for users to find it.

CTAs to your lead generation forms should be integrated as naturally as possible. Is someone viewing the ‘membership benefits’ page? If so, encourage them to download a member case study and ‘enquire about membership’. Are they viewing your event agenda summary? Then push them to download the full version. Work out what you would like your user to do next and point them to that next, desired action.

More generic lead generation opportunities (e.g. ‘Register your interest’) should be accessible from across your whole site, including CTAs and a presence on your top navigation menu. This will ensure users always have a ‘next action’ to take, regardless of where they are on your site. These kinds of more general and ‘low commitment’ lead generation options create an easy way for users to engage with your brand without committing to buying something before they’re ready, but keeps them in your marketing list so that you can further nurture them.

Also consider that visitors may land directly on your lead generation forms; whether from an email campaign, organic URL or social post. It’s important to ensure your lead generation forms/pages provide ample context and persuasive messaging as to why the visitor should surrender their data. What benefit does completing the form give them? A short descriptive paragraph, simple bullet points about the benefits of completing the form and possibly a relevant image (e.g. report cover) are simple but important ways to increase conversion rates.

 

4. Make sure Google can find your site

SEO is an ongoing process and one that is always baked into good website design. Search engines – with the most important one being Google in most regions of the world – want to serve the most relevant and valuable websites. A key factor in their ranking is user experience, which is determined by things like content, time on site, pages visited and device optimisation. Therefore, a good website generally means good SEO.

Also consider your keywords. If your website is for an event about financial technology, then you want to make sure ‘financial technology’ and ‘fintech event’ are scattered across your website content. It’s important this is done naturally within your copy. ‘Stuffing’ keywords – the practise of including the same keyword an excessive number of times on a page – will harm not only the user experience, but also your SEO.

You can also apply keywords when considering more ‘on-trend’ issues. If there’s a new piece of technology that could revolutionise fintech, consider publishing a blog or news article on it with the name included in the headline and within the main body. This will help you rank for a relevant keyword that potential attendees will be actively searching for as it is a ‘hot topic’.

A final consideration is how you can ‘win’ links to your website. Links from other websites (e.g. your homepage URL on a media partner’s site) effectively function as votes for your website in organic rankings, lending authority and trust. Producing great content is a sure-fire way to win links, as users will want to share content they find interesting/valuable on their own sites and via social channels. This should be proactively managed via an advocacy marketing programme that results in your site linking to multiple other highly relevant sites and your content being shared more widely on social media.

The four key success factors we have covered in this blog are important, but certainly not comprehensive when it comes to having a well optimised website! And each of the four factors we have covered could each have their own, very long blog (or even an e-book!).

But, the most important thing of all is to ensure your organisation is investing well in your website. Your senior leadership team must recognise that your website as your shop window – and the shop your users are wondering around in before they agree to buy anything or speak to a salesperson. How your customers and potential customers experience your website could be the difference between surviving and thriving in 2021 and beyond…or becoming a Covid (and digital revolution) casualty.


Get your website optimised

MPG’s website experts can help you optimise your website for optimal performance. Or we can design and build a brand new, high performance website for you!

Whether you’re offering events, subscriptions, memberships or a community – our team can set you up with a winning website.

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Get website optimisation skills into your team

MPG Academy’s trainers can work with your team to ensure they have a strong strategy and the right skills to optimise your website. Request more information about training and development for your team on website optimisation, as well as other key areas of marketing for communities, subscriptions, membership and events.

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Event Tech Live: Helen Coetzee reveals MPG’s Engage, Monetise, Scale framework

Speaking on the main stage at Event Tech Live 2020 on 5th November 2020, MPG Founder & CEO Helen Coetzee shared MPG’s Engage, Monetise, Scale Growth Marketing Framework.

This framework covers a 3-step approach focused on a strategic and sustainable path to growth for B2B community-focused brands.

Developed from MPG’s experience of working on B2B community marketing strategies for brands in multiple sectors globally, this approach comes of age in 2020 – plotting a path for 2021 and beyond for brands to engage, then monetise, then scale their communities.

Download Helen’s presentation slides to learn more.

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Engaging, monetising and scaling B2B communities: how the experts do it

Author: Helen Coetzee – 29/10/2020

‘B2B communities’ is a topic that has gained serious momentum over the past few months. As uncertainty remains over the continued impact of Covid, businesses are looking to pivot to a business model that will deliver security and growth in the short and long term.

This mirrors the sentiment the very communities these businesses seek to engage and build. Tremendous change is happening in all industries, and the sharing of information and connections within ‘business ecosystems’ is now more vital than ever.

In a recent webinar, we invited three B2B community builders to discuss how they have built and engaged their communities over the past 6 months, and how they plan to proceed in this vein.

Discussion ranged from the characteristics and ideal size and structure of a meaningful B2B community, to practical methods of monetising a community.

You can access all the webinar insights, including the video replay, as well as attendee poll results and Q&A, produced by MPG and the panel.

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Our panel had some firm views on what a community is, what a community isn’t and how to approach building meaningful communities going forward. Here we’ve pulled out 12 of the most interesting quotes from the session:

“Controversially, I would say that an event isn’t a community. Or at least it isn’t ‘community’. It’s just one expression of the community. In the same way, if you have a local village community, the village fete isn’t the community – it’s just one manifestation of it.”

Ashley Friedlein – CEO & Founder, Guild

 

“Communities tend to have quite a clear sense of self, a bit like a strong brand or a strong culture which are quite hard to define or pin down. But you feel it.”

Ashley Friedlein – CEO & Founder, Guild

 

“Waiting for an (in person) event to happen wouldn’t be a great idea right now because our industry is moving so fast. We’re serving our community at the moment by streamlining the process of sharing information and reducing the barriers to communication”

Adam Parry – Founder & Director, Event Tech Live & Editor, Event Industry News

 

“If you haven’t been engaging with your community in this (in-person events) ‘downtime’, you’re going to struggle longer term because you need to remain relevant. You need to remain something that your customers want to go to, regardless of whether physical events are happening or not.”

Anna Knight – VP Licensing, Informa Markets

 

“At the start, we spent a lot of time just listening and talking to the strongest advocates within the industry itself that had already acknowledged themselves as community leaders. We went through all of the data and all of the knowledge that we could gain about that community to figure out our role within it and the new products and other things we could do to bring the community together.”

Anna Knight – VP Licensing, Informa Markets

 

“Professor Robin Dunbar, who’s on our advisory board, is famous for the Dunbar number – which is one hundred and fifty. This is basically the maximum number of people we can really know. When we’re in some communities of many hundreds or thousands, the reality is we don’t really know them. It’s just beyond our brains as humans.”

Ashley Friedlein – CEO & Founder, Guild

 

“Events businesses are really great at that amazing physical in-person experience, but now they’ve had to very quickly get used to digital delivery and all the new skills involved.”

Ashley Friedlein – CEO & Founder, Guild

 

“At the heart of community is conversations and relationships, not content. Sometimes businesses think they can just set up a community, produce loads of content and pump it at people to succeed. But then it’s just a barrage of content that most of us don’t really need.”

Ashley Friedlein – CEO & Founder, Guild

 

“A lot of people rightly think ‘how do we make sure we still keep the core principles of our business?’
Don’t lose sight of that, because that’s what keeps the lights on while you’re exploring new ways of structuring your business model around communities. You could also risk losing the trust of that community if you do it wrong or maybe even try to monetise too quickly or in the wrong way.”

Adam Parry – Founder & Director, Event Tech Live & Editor, Event Industry News

 

“In the next six months we’ll focus on engaging with our community to understand what content they want to see more of, what pain points and challenges they face and what they can do to support them.”

Adam Parry – Founder & Director, Event Tech Live & Editor, Event Industry News

 

“My plan is to think about what the next three years might look like. My strategy is to assume that live events don’t come back. Of course they will, but it’s useful to think about what we’d do without live events. How would I serve this community? What would I do differently? How would I bring them together 365? What do I need to put in place in order to make that happen?”

Anna Knight – VP Licensing, Informa Markets

 

“We did something that was really appreciated; we were the first movers to actually get something out and bring them together. But we also really understood how they wanted to be brought together.”

Anna Knight – VP Licensing, Informa Markets

 

HEAR WHAT ELSE WAS SHARED


Thank you to everyone that joined us live for this session. We have plenty more webinars and written resources in the pipeline, so make sure you’re subscribed to MPG Insights so you don’t miss out.

Want to learn more about building a B2B community?

Send your team to our Engage. Monetise. Scale. Masterclass – an MPG Academy Masterclass designed to help you define your community and build a strategy for continued engagement and monetisation.

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