Does Your Digital Marketing Strategy Make Sense to the C-Suite?

Does Your Digital Marketing Strategy Make Sense to the C-Suite?

By Carrie DagenhardMay 7 /2019

Attempting to engage the C-suite of a B2B organization through digital marketing can often feel like sending fan mail to a rockstar. In most cases, your message will quickly become buried by a barrage of similar messages and, on the slim chance they do see what to have to say, it’s highly unlikely you’ll receive a response.

Since the dawn of commerce, marketers have been attempting to snag the attention of senior executives, but few have managed lasting success. We often tell ourselves this elusive audience is too busy, their attention span is too fleeting and they’re too preoccupied with high-stakes decision-making to engage with our marketing messages.

But while these assumptions are generally valid, there’s a more significant reason most campaigns targeting top-level decision-makers fail to meet their goals.

The truth is, there’s a good chance your digital marketing strategy for B2B brands doesn’t make sense to the C-suite.

In other words, you’re not creating an experience that resonates with this very different type of audience. But with a little course-correcting, you can help your messages reach their target.

Here are a few common mistakes marketers make when attempting to reach the C-suite, and a few tips to help you create a more effective B2B digital marketing strategy for targeting senior executives.

3 Mistakes Preventing You from Effectively Engaging the C-Suite

You’re treating all C-suite audiences the same

The C-suite isn’t a monolithic group. It’s composed of professionals spanning multiple disciplines and areas of expertise — from finance and IT to marketing, operations, revenue and more. Just as you wouldn’t market to an accountant the same way you’d market to a designer, you shouldn’t expect a CFO to respond to the same types of messaging as a CMO. Instead of creating a strategy for the entire C-suite, tailor your approach to the exact decision-maker you’re hoping to reach.

You’re going too deep into the weeds

There are two rules to remember when creating a B2B digital marketing strategy for a C-suite audience:

  1. Be concise: Whether it's an ad, video, email or any other asset, always keep your message short and sweet. At any given moment, top executives have about a thousand things on their minds and only a few seconds to spare before they have to dedicate their energy elsewhere. The more you can distill your message, the more likely they are to give it their attention.

    For example, here’s an ad Kuno used to successfully target marketing executives. It’s simple, direct and relevant:
    Kuno C-Suite Ad
  2. Stay high-level: In most cases, the C-level executive you’re targeting doesn’t have time to learn everything about you’re offering — nor is this the best use of the brief time you have their attention.

    For example, if you’re a marketer for a cybersecurity software company, you probably don’t need to dive into detailed product specs when engaging with the CTO. Instead, you should focus on addressing their key pain points — like saving money and protecting against the newest data breaches — and reserve the more granular details for mid-level IT managers responsible for implementing new software.

You’re communicating too often

If you think you get a lot of emails, you should take a gander at your CEO’s inbox.

Even though most marketers and salespeople know reaching the C-suite via traditional digital tactics is a shot in the dark, we do it anyway. The result? Executives are drowning in communications they’ll continue to ignore (and possibly block). Don’t add to their aggravation by doing what everyone else is also doing.

When sending email campaigns (and direct mail or targeted ads), make sure you’re purposeful in both message and execution. By sending less-frequent but more meaningful and valuable communications, you’re more likely to stand out from the noise.

How to Create a Digital Marketing Strategy that Makes Sense to C-Level Executives

Another reason it’s so challenging to develop a digital strategy to engage members of the C-suite is they’re unlike any other audience. To earn and hold their attention, you have to take an entirely different approach than you might when targeting other decision-makers. Here are three things you should do to improve the experience your digital marketing strategy provides your C-level audience:

Rethink your channel and platform mix

While the efforts you use to reach other audiences may not work for engaging senior executives, the reverse is also true. As when building any digital marketing strategy for B2B audiences, it’s crucial you take time to research your ideal prospects and determine where their top executives spend their time, rather than relying on assumptions.

For example, 91 percent of marketing executives said LinkedIn was the best place to find relevant, high-quality content. Only 27 percent said Facebook was best, according to The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn. If you’re attempting to reach CMOs, you’d likely want to make LinkedIn a significant part of your strategy.

However, you will want to continuously monitor results. LinkedIn ads have been known to be expensive, while Facebook ads may provide a better bang for your buck. In fact, at Kuno we have noticed great success with Facebook ads, even when targeting the C-suite. Perhaps executives don’t want to admit to being on Facebook…

Make it easy

Not only are C-level executives busy, but everything they do is [rightfully] held under a microscope. Because the decisions they make have a ripple effect across the entire organization, they often face an insurmountable amount of pressure. They’re surrounded by challenges — so if you want to earn their attention and build their trust, you have to make things easy.

Everything from the design of the assets you share to the information you provide should be streamlined, user-friendly and easy to consume. The faster you connect them with the solutions they need, the more they’ll trust your brand.

It’s also important you cater to their habits. According to the 2018 Global Executives Study by Quartz, you have a better chance of reaching the C-suite if you do the following:

  • Include strong visual elements. 66 percent of executives say data visualizations draw them to content, followed by photography (52 percent) and charts (42 percent).
  • Target them early in the morning or on weekends. 79 percent of executives prefer to consume content when they first wake up and 100 percent like to consume content on the weekend.
  • Leverage paid and organic search efforts. 70 percent of executives start their purchase journey on a search engine.

Don’t ignore the gatekeepers

From executive assistants to director-level strategists, most C-level executives surround themselves with reliable gatekeepers — people who can manage the flow of information to them and cover lower-level decision-making. While someone from the C-suite may sign off on a new product or service, it’s often their “inner circle” who assesses each solution and determines which options to present to them.

Successfully reaching the C-suite usually requires you to develop a strategy to win over the gatekeepers, too. If you’re skipping this step and shooting straight for top execs, you’ll probably only get silence in return. Instead, find out who their gatekeepers are and show how your offering will make their lives easier, as well.

Capturing the time and attention of the C-suite is no easy feat, but managing to earn their trust, respect and confidence will solidify your brand’s place as the top solution. By avoiding the above mistakes and implementing these best practices, you can create a B2B digital marketing strategy that captivates this hard-to-reach audience. 5 Secrets Revealed

The Author

Carrie Dagenhard

Carrie is a seasoned content strategist who worked as a department editor and music journalist before making her foray into inbound marketing as a content analyst. Carrie works hard at crafting the perfect content strategy for clients and using her hard-hitting journalism skills to tell your brand’s unique story.