Since we talked about direct to consumer brands in our last blog, it only follows that we now talk about business-to-business or b2b marketing this time. If you live, breathe, and market in this category, you should be planning how to keep things fresh and optimized throughout the rest of 2020 and beyond. We’ve got you covered.
What is B2B marketing?
B2B marketing is a term that refers to “to the marketing of products or services to other businesses and organizations.”Common categories include transactions between manufacturers and suppliers, manufacturers and retailers, and companies with third-party service providers. Popular B2B examples include brands like Slack, WeWork, and MailChimp.
In B2B, the organization is the customer whereas in D2C the individual is purchasing for himself or herself.
Why is it important?
B2B marketing in the digital age means that “a B2B market has to remain always on the toes if it aspires to be a market leader.” Platforms and digital practices change frequently. So you need to stay on top of best practices and market trends in order to reach your target audience.
The benefits of B2B marketing are that it drives sales and conversions, cuts costs, and promotes innovation. Marketers in this field should be thought leaders and produce external content, valuable social media, and live events like conferences. When compared to B2C, B2B has trimmed down product and service costs. Which often “lessens the effort yet increases volume of investment.” As for innovation, the sheer volume of competitors in the B2B market makes it essential for these brands to be creative and experiential.
Types of B2B marketing
The B2B industry can refer to a wide range of products and services. So it’s crucial to understand the different types of B2B marketing. The most common channels include:
Whitepapers or eBooks: These standalone assets can be lead generation tools and position a producer as a thought leader. You can also keep these downloads “gated.” Which means a user needs to enter info like an email to access them. An email that you can then use for client outreach and information in the future.
Email: Using eNews or tools like LinkedIn InMail can help with lead generation and overall customer reach.
Blogs: For any business, fresh content can help to boost SEO and inbound traffic. When B2B marketing, your blog can include your written copy, infographics, and case studies. Among other things. Blogs differ from white papers as they are often shorter, on the website itself versus a PDF, and used any time in the sales cycle.
Social Media: Social sites like LinkedIn are invaluable in B2B marketing. Use a mix of paid and organic to “engage prospects where they’re active.”
How to keep it fresh
The Internet has changed the B2B landscape from traditional direct mail, cold calling, and in person meetings to almost everything in a digital format. Now, “B2B buyers are already 57% into the purchase decision when they first reach out to a vendor.” So they likely already have most of the information you were going to give them right off the bat. Buyers are controlling their marketing consumption. And B2B companies are turning to social media and brand advocates.
That said, there’s no doubt that keeping your B2B marketing strategy fresh is a must. And B2B brands and their marketers are constantly driven to produce new content that resonates with their targets. In the digital age, you not only need to reach the right people, but provide value to and entice them. When following these best practices, consider if you are focusing on content, email, or social media marketing or a mix of all three. From there, you can employ the following into your overall marketing strategy.
Focus on the customer experience
It may seem counterintuitive as you are marketing to other businesses, but you still need to focus on the customer experience. In recent surveys, 80% of those involved said consistent customer experience was extremely important to their companies. And 90% felt that B2B brands “need to be as focused on customer experience as their B2C counterparts.” To do this, you need to fuel your marketing strategy with consumer data and a solid understanding of your market(s) and channels. Which means knowing who your audience is, where they are, why they’re looking for a specific product or service, and how your product can help them achieve their goals.
B2B marketing takes place in different sales cycles that include “groups of decision makers rather than a single purchaser.” The traditional seven-part sales cycle includes prospecting, pre-approach, the approach, the presentation, overcoming objections, the closing, and after-sales follow up. With each step sometimes taking months as a time to achieve. Which is why understanding your customer journey comes in handy so you can reach high value accounts in a personalized way.
Use LinkedIn marketing solutions
The most effective social platforms for B2B are LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. With LinkedIn leading the pack by 78% versus 48% and 42% respectively. So it makes sense to leverage LinkedIn’s marketing solutions as part of your B2B strategy. This includes creating native ads in LinkedIn feeds and using LinkedIn lead generation forms. As well as retargeting by tracking website visitors and crafting sponsored InMail to reach new potential customers.
For those not familiar, native ads are paid ads that blend in with the platform on which they run. For example, rather than a banner ad on the side of the page, a native ad would appear in the feed with other content. Sponsored InMail allows you to reach your customers from their direct messages on LinkedIn using the platform’s demographic data.
Optimize your digital presence
Your digital presence includes everything from your website to your social media channels. Before you can deploy your rock-solid marketing strategy, your website needs to be fully optimized. You can do this with on-page SEO like image alt-text and meta descriptions and off-page SEO like link building and social sharing. On social, you should also consider your linking, tagging, and hashtag research. When researching and implementing these best practices, find influencers in your industry who can validate your brand, be part of relevant conversations, and respond to followers. Keep in mind that these links, tags, hashtags, and engagement should all be working toward promoting and validating your brand.
Optimizing your presence also means optimizing the user experience for B2B communications. Businesses are looking for easy-to-navigate sites that cut through the noise and get to the point. They also want total user control and simplified processes. The same goes for any content that you are producing.
And, lastly, invest in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, “ which allows you to get your content and brand in front of new audiences via search engines and other advertising platforms.” PPC is important because it gives you the best return on investment (ROI) on your paid ads as you’re paying to appear within relevant categories and audiences.
Make enticing content
The content you create, whether it’s for blogs, eNews, or other channels, should be informative and interesting to the brands you’re attempting to reach and partner with. That means that your blogs and subsequent eNews content should be showcasing relevant stats (i.e. efficiency, useability), product features, and be industry-relevant. The same with social content.
B2B customers are looking for information, so when content anticipates what your audience is looking for, you can reach them where they already are. And, interestingly, 80% of business decision-makers (i.e., your customers), prefer to get their information from an article or blog rather than an ad. Some content pieces we suggest include case studies, testimonials, product demos, buyer guides for end-use customers, and infographics.
Lastly, keep everything in your B2B marketing plan human and authentic. Just because you are marketing to businesses does not make the transactions any less human. Just consider that you are marketing to the people who run the businesses and make the decisions. People who are, at the end of the day, “driven by emotional and cognitive motivations.”
Savy’s got you covered
At Savy, we stay ahead of the latest trends in marketing because we’re wholly invested in your business and the people who run it. Whether you are in B2C or B2B, we have the tools and the team to bring your marketing plan to the next level. Let’s create together.