Time and time again, generating good leads is the No. 1 challenge for B2B sales teams. HubSpot’s State of Inbound report confirmed that 63% of marketers are in agreement on this matter. Sales and marketing teams spend hours crafting new strategies, following up on potential leads and writing up marketing messages.
And yet, their sales numbers barely budge.
The issue here is not necessarily the content; after all, 61% of teams surveyed agree that their marketing strategy is effective — per the same study. The problem is that their competitors are simply stealing sales from right under their noses.
If you’ve noticed that your sales are slipping, no matter how great your marketing efforts may be, there’s a chance you’re a victim of customer theft by a competitor. And all of these are not based on straightforward value for money; there are many tactics that companies use to steal strong leads and sabotage marketing strategies of their competitors.
Here are three legit — and not-so-legit — tricks your competitors may have up their sleeve, as well as the strategies you can use to turn the tables on them.
While providers such as Google and Facebook are doing their bit to prevent click fraud, this dirty trick is sadly much more common than you’d like to believe. Over half of online traffic is non-human, and more than 20% of online bots are impersonators or hacker tools.
Automatic click fraud is caused by AI-powered bots that will click on a competitor’s ads over and over again. So, while a marketing teams’ click rate numbers look great at first glance, no actual sales or leads are resulting from the clicks, making their efforts completely useless.
Even though AI is the cause of this major issue, it is also a significant building base for the solution. Click fraud protection software like ClickCease uses — hold your breath — bots to track non-human traffic and block bad bots from future interactions. The system uses algorithms that mine big click data to analyze sources and identify suspicious IP addresses that could potentially be fraudulent.
By eliminating all possible bots and deceitful competitor clicks, your team will be able to go after strong potential leads without having to worry about any unnatural interference.
While AI’s powers are often used for good in many marketing strategies, they can also be programmed to destroy PPC and online media campaigns. Be sure to arm yourself against these click-hungry bots to protect your strategy from total sabotage.
A strong SEO strategy that includes the right keywords is an essential cornerstone of a marketing plan. But, setting one up is easier said than done.
It is quite possible for many big businesses with massive marketing budgets to essentially set up monopolies on profitable keywords on Google. These companies can create content (or ads) to occupy all available spaces for keywords for their industry, running up the cost for other companies to compete. Some popular words, such as “business services” and “asset management,” have an average cost of nearly $60 per click, making it nearly impossible for smaller entities to utilize these powerful terms to connect with their customers.
Again, AI can come to the rescue here by using crawl bots to expose keyword strategies that a competitor is using. DeepCrawl, for example, is a SaaS crawler that uses stealthy bots to gather insight and information on all the backlinks and keywords that other businesses are targeting. It then goes on to uncover all of the keywords that your competitors are not using, helping you formulate a successful strategy to take advantage of the possible opportunities.
Just because your competitor has an immensely larger marketing budget than your team does, you don’t necessarily have to shell out big money to keep up. There are lots of potentially unused (but still effective) keywords available. You just have to know how to find them.
Actively Targeting Your Followers
Account-based marketing (ABM) is one of the fastest growing marketing tactics for B2B companies, with 59% of companies actively using or experimenting with this strategy in 2017. ABM is quite powerful, as it tracks down the best possible leads and heavily targets them. The result is better lead growth rates.
But once again, your competitors are likely all too familiar with this tactic. They may very well be using it against you by directly targeting your customers and online followers. One business tested this highly effective strategy by going after their competitors’ social media followers with online ads of their own. The result? A shocking 160% revenue increase resulting directly from these unfaithful customers.
While there is currently no (legal) way to block your competition from directly targeting your own customers, the best way to combat their efforts is by cultivating customer loyalty. Because on an average, only 13% of customers identify themselves as truly loyal to a brand, leaving the remaining 87% up for grabs for the most enticing offer.
Service plays a huge role in whether or not a first-time customer becomes a repeat one, especially for B2B companies. A survey by Zendesk found that 66% of customers stopped buying after just one bad service experience, and 67% switched to competitors. The obvious solution here is to create retention programs that keep people coming back for more.
Customer retention strategies don’t need to be complicated, but they should foster strong, genuine relationships. Simple things like sending a follow-up email to answer any questions, sending personalized offers, or offering a referral incentive can all be great ways to promote loyalty and encourage retention.
The digital marketing world is an online battlefield of sorts, and if your team is unprepared, it could be at risk for attack. The first step, of course, is to be aware of the underhanded tactics your competitors may be using to rip through your revenue. Once you understand their methods, you need to defend yourself with the right tools, tactics and strategies to protect your precious leads and customers.
Tracy Vides is a content and digital media strategist, who firmly believes in the power of communication and collaboration to grow businesses online. Tracy is also a prolific writer – her posts on analytics, social media, sales and customer service are regularly featured on publications such as Digitalist Mag and Business2Community. Follow her on Twitter @TracyVides!