The digital sales and marketing moment.

A global pandemic, a virtual audience and record online sales

We spent the past 12 months largely locked in and isolated. We shifted online for work, school and a pale imitation of our former social lives. Not surprisingly, this change exploded online sales — and not just Zoom’s near-400% profit increase. Even B2B industries that have never focused on e-commerce, such as agriculture and animal health, found critical new profits online.

The business model for ag retailer Nutrien traditionally depended on 1:1 sales and service, but it pivoted to an online portal and earned $200 million in orders in 2020. That’s more than four times greater than 2019. This move to online sales also spurred some long-needed changes in how our industry operates. These less-heralded developments should ensure the digital sales growth trend continues even after we feel comfortable putting our masks away.

What changed? The focus on specific-prospect click-through data.

Even at the best companies, sales and marketing generally operate on parallel tracks: different teams, different tactics, different metrics. But the pandemic’s disruption of in-store and 1:1 sales forced tighter collaboration between disciplines. And the results were almost immediate.

Aligning digital marketing with sales created a significant adjustment in sought-after metrics. More and more, the results these combined teams seek boil down to specific-prospect click-through data. With sales and marketing aligned on finding and optimizing this data, they deliver far more informed communications at various points along the buyer’s journey.

The modern buyer’s journey is a chasm of chaos.

Today, awareness can come from a tweet, a blog post or an overheard conversation. Google searches, blog posts and reviews drive consideration. And purchases can happen across multiple sites in multiple ways. The process is as smooth and orderly as juggling chainsaws on bumper cars.

But specific-prospect click-through data reveals opportunities to digitally connect all along this uneven buyer’s journey, closing sales like never before. When you know your audience better, you can market to them better, which is why most of our clients no longer view awareness or consideration as valuable KPIs. They care about engagement rates.

Some selling examples from the past year:

For a material handling company client, we now use LinkedIn Live webinars, because we’ve found they lead directly to sales. The first time the sales team closed a deal after one of these webinars, we were elated (and, in full disclosure, a bit surprised). But we soon realized the persuasive power of the LinkedIn Live channel, and we continue to refine our tests, targets and learnings to build on this success.

For a banking client, we leveraged digital data to drive loyalty. We focused on key life events (retirement, marriage, etc.) as an opportunity to grow their financial service’s relationship and product portfolio with customers. We built highly targeted audience blocks and then launched microcampaigns around our client’s specialized services and expertise. We even targeted the audience of retiring airline pilots. Find out how. 

Digital sales and marketing: better together.

Yes, digital marketing was effective pre-pandemic, but like so many things, results improve when we align our assets and efforts. And nothing improves them as powerfully as knowing our audience. Building data sets around specific audience click-through data increases the effectiveness of marketing and sales. And as these data sets become available to B2B marketers, we can make it easier and faster to connect “want” with “purchase” to optimize both marketing and sales. When we do that, everyone wins.

About the Author

A member of the Bader Rutter Executive Leadership Team, David Jordan leads the agency’s food and beverage practice. He’s passionate about animal agriculture and has held roles for Zoetis/Pfizer Animal Health, was a CMO-entrepreneur for a startup helping farmers unlock yield potential, and managed the genetics program and investments in five states with more than 50,000 dairy cows for River Valley Farm. Also, he consulted on one of the world’s largest animal health company integrations between Merial and BIVI. ​​In his free time, David loves to cook and entertain. He remains active in the dairy industry. In 2019, he and his partners exhibited the U.S. National Champion in the Jersey breed. ​​