Join thousands of weekly readers and receive practical marketing advice for FREE.
MarketingSherpa's Case Studies, New Research Data, How-tos, Interviews and Articles

Enter your email below to join thousands of marketers and get FREE weekly newsletters with practical Case Studies, research and training, as well as MarketingSherpa updates and promotions.


Please refer to our Privacy Policy and About Us page for contact details.

No thanks, take me to MarketingSherpa

First Name:
Last Name:
Nov 14, 2000

Hoovers' VP Marketing Craig Lakey on Best (and Worst) Practices in B-to-B Online Marketing

SUMMARY: A few weeks ago we were delighted to receive an email from Hoover's Vice President of Marketing Craig Lakey saying, "I can give you a real view of how BtoB marketing ought to be done." Nothing like a true expert volunteering to be interviewed! So, after checking with several business marketers to find out exactly what questions they'd most like Lakey to answer, we put them to him. Here are the results:
Q: What common mistakes do you see being made by B-to-B marketers online?

Lakey: It may sound fundamental, but it is critical that your messages reach your target audience wherever they may seek information and for business audiences, that is from both online and offline sources. It is a mistake to concentrate all of your marketing efforts to online marketing only – even if your service is entirely Web-based.

Q: What have you learned about what makes a B-to-B banner clickable from a creative point of view?

Lakey: The best way to improve "banner clickability" to a B-to-B audience is to follow the fundamentals of direct response marketing:

1. Place banners in highly targeted sites that cater to the target audience.

2. Provide a targeted message that is highly relevant to the needs of the target audience.

3. Feature a relevant offer that encourages immediate response – a relevant offer being one that relates directly to the product or service being promoted.

It is important to note that banner click through is not the only measure of a successful banner ad. Like the offline world, banner advertising tends to play more of a brand awareness role though there should always be a direct response component built into the message.

Q: B-to-B media buying -- is it best to go with an ad network such as B-to-B Works or Engage, or to do it site by site yourself?

Lakey: That depends on how targeted your audience is. If you have a highly targeted audience, then you may be better served to place the media site by site. However, network buys can be useful when looking to reach a broader audience. With the B-to-B networks you can achieve greater reach & efficiencies. The singular site buys are more effective for very vertical spaces.

Q: How effective are ads in email newsletters? Should B-to-B marketers be testing them, and what works regarding creative on that front?

Lakey: Again, that depends on how targeted the newsletters are. We offer a variety of highly segmented newsletters that cater to the specific interests of our customers that includes 8 vertical markets. Our advertisers have found these targeted newsletters to be a very successful means of reaching their prospective audiences. Just as you would utilize an editorial calendar for offline advertising, BtoB marketers should employ the same tactics when placing ads in newsletters. By promoting products and services that support the theme of a newsletter, the ad is much more likely to be viewed and acted upon. Effort should be given to create ads that are consistent with the look and feel of the newsletter – so that they seem to be an integrated part of the content.

Q: Can you give us any tips on how companies should write company email newsletters so that customers would be likely to open and read them?

Lakey: The subject line is most important – it must be compelling to the target audience. The subject line should be relevant, timely and refer to the content of the newsletter in order to capture the attention of the subscriber. It shouldn’t be just a standard title that is used over and over again.

Q: If you had a very limited budget to drive traffic to a business Web site with -- say just $50,000 -- what tactics would you definitely spend the money on to get the most bang for your buck?

Lakey: Direct response marketing is the most efficient and cost-effective means of driving Web traffic. If your goal is to achieve new customer acquisition, I would invest my limited marketing dollars in the following priority:

1. Search engine optimization;
2. Email to in-house prospects lists;
3. Email to partner email lists;
4. Ads in targeted newsletters;
5. Direct mail to in-house and targeted lists.

Q: What are some creative ways offline B-to-B marketers should partner with Web sites in their industry?

Lakey: Anything that leverages the strength of combined brands - for example, shared newsletters or email lists, online seminars and shared content.

Q: Do you have any tips on blast email marketing to businesses?

Lakey: In general, email marketing is not a good avenue for new customer prospecting. In my experience, the broad based opt-in email lists brokers like Postmaster Direct and Yes Mail do not provide an effective means of targeted email marketing. However, co-branded emails to partner lists or highly targeted opt-in lists, like those provided by HOL, are a more effective. Email blasts are a very effective means of marketing to in-house lists, increasing customer retention and cross-selling to existing customers.

Q: What are your Top 10 killer guidelines for how B-to-B marketing ought to be done?

1. Finely tuned targeting and market segmentation;
2. Understanding key needs of target market;
3. Develop unique value proposition that addresses needs;
4. Effective positioning against competition;
5. Development of focused messaging to relevant decision makers, influencers and end users;
6. Identification of principle media vehicles that cater to target audience;
7. Balanced, targeted marketing communications;
8. Branding that drives response;
9. Direct marketing that builds brand;
10. Testing, measurement, fine-tuning.
See Also:

Post a Comment

Note: Comments are lightly moderated. We post all comments without editing as long as they
(a) relate to the topic at hand,
(b) do not contain offensive content, and
(c) are not overt sales pitches for your company's own products/services.

To help us prevent spam, please type the numbers
(including dashes) you see in the image below.*

Invalid entry - please re-enter

*Please Note: Your comment will not appear immediately --
article comments are approved by a moderator.

Improve Your Marketing

Join our thousands of weekly Case Study readers.

Enter your email below to receive MarketingSherpa news, updates, and promotions:

Note: Already a subscriber? Want to add a subscription?
Click Here to Manage Subscriptions

Best of the Week:
Marketing case studies and research

Chart Of The Week

B2B Marketing

Consumer Marketing

Email marketing

Inbound Marketing

SherpaStore Alerts


We value your privacy and will not rent or sell your email address. Visit our About Us page for contact details.