Marketing is challenging. And becomes more difficult when implementing B2B marketing strategies. Because marketing a product to businesses is far more complex than marketing to consumers. To make it work, you need a marketing plan that's proven. That's what we'll be diving into here.
First, why are B2B marketing strategies hard to create? It's due to the longer sales cycle to get prospects to buy. Moreover, there’s often an education hurdle in which you need your prospects to first understand what you do before they’re ready to purchase.
Research shows that B2B buying cycles are getting complex and longer which means businesses now spend a lot of time in your funnel and the decision process isn’t simple and straightforward. More than 77% of businesses reported that they conduct a detailed ROI analysis before finalizing a purchase.
Having a robust business to business marketing strategy is the best approach to growing your company in 2020 and beyond. If you want to grow your B2B company, you should use effective B2B marketing campaigns and techniques that are specifically developed for B2B because selling to a business is not the same as selling to an individual.
The difference is gigantic.
The way businesses make decisions, and the factors that businesses consider important - are not even taken into consideration by individual consumers. It gets problematic when B2B companies use B2C marketing strategies. It might work for some time and for some businesses but eventually, it will cease to deliver results. At some point in time, you have to change your approach to marketing.
B2B marketing isn’t the same as B2C marketing. Period.
There are tons of B2B marketing strategies to choose from that are tested and proven techniques. This article covers the leading B2B marketing strategies that ensure growth and will work for your company irrespective of your industry.
The most effective B2B marketing strategies for your marketing team are covered below:
1. B2B Content Marketing Strategy
Content marketing is the most effective marketing strategy for B2B companies that, when done right, can change the fate of your business. B2B content marketing isn’t the same as B2C content marketing for the fact that 71% of B2B businesses begin their search from Google with a generic search query. This means businesses usually don’t know what they are interested in. Content marketing provides you with an opportunity to reach your target businesses.
Research shows that 80% of business decision-makers prefer to get information from an article as opposed to an ad and 60% of businesses feel positive about a company after reading customized content.
Writing customized content and promoting it should be one of your business’s top priority if you want to attract businesses. This isn’t the easiest approach, but it works. LeadPages is a perfect example of how to use the B2B content marketing strategy. It competed against giants like Keap. They developed a customer-focused blog where they publish relevant content that marketers (who are their customers) want to read.
- Publishing relevant content on its blog
- Weekly webinars for digital marketers
- ConversionCast podcast for marketers and businesses
Buffer is another example that reached from 0 – 1.5 million monthly blog readers in 6 years. Content marketing is how Buffer grew its revenue to over $2 million in 3 years and to over $18 million in 2018. The formula for Buffer’s growth is simple: Publish content that their audience wants to read and promote their content with guest blogging.
It’s not surprising that an effective content strategy has helped hundreds of businesses compete (rather excel) their giant counterparts. Content doesn’t just include text, it includes all content types including text, images, videos, audio, GIFs, infographics, and others. A B2B content marketing strategy tells you what type of content to produce, when to create it, when to publish it, how to distribute it, and how to promote it.
But how exactly you can create a B2B content marketing strategy for your business?
Follow these steps:
Step #1: Identify and Understand Your Audience
Do you have buyer personas? If so, you know what I am talking about and there isn’t much you have to do. But if you don’t have buyer personas, you need to create them.
Because buyer persona tells you who your ideal customers are, what they do, what are their problems and pain points, what keywords they use to solve their problems, what type of content they prefer reading, and so on.
Here is how a buyer persona looks like:
You can make it lengthy by adding more details. The more detailed it is, the better.
Step #2: Keyword and Market Research
What type of content are your competitors publishing? What type of content is already out there on topics you intend to cover? What’s missing? What are the opportunities for your business?
This calls for intensive market research and keyword research. This is the stage where you have to use tools like Ahrefs, SpyFu, SEMRush, and others to see what type of content is being published and how you can make it better to stand out from the crowd.
I use these tools to analyze what how much they spend on AdWords and where, what keywords they're ranking for.
This also helps you identify the right content types that are trending and is your audience’s top choice.
Step #3: Use Engineering as Marketing
One of the ways I attract prospects to read my case studies and book a consultation is by having a handy calculator on my site. And because I work primarily with software companies, I know that one of their needs is to effectively measure their customer lifetime value.
That's why I created a customer lifetime value calculator. It not only shows my expertise in the software niche, but it ranks for search volume that brings in B2B prospects. It's a simple example of engineering creating an inbound sales funnel. Plus, it only took me one day to create the calculator.
There are many other tools you can use as a B2B marketing strategy to attract qualified leads. It's just about brainstorming to figure out what your customer persona wants and whether the cost of creating it - is worth it.
Step #4: Publish and Promote Content
This step is the crux of your B2B content marketing strategy. It consists of two essential steps:
- Timely content publication. This is ensured by the editorial calendar.
- Promoting content after it has been published.
Publishing content that nobody reads is useless, right?
And this is one of the biggest dilemmas of B2B companies. As much as 70% of B2B content goes unused. Why it isn’t ever used?
Because it never reaches your potential customers.
The best way to minimize content waste is to promote every single piece of content effectively. To do this in B2B, you need a strong personal brand. That means telling your journey on social media. Get people to believe in the vision, then send them blog posts, videos, or even podcast episodes providing more education around it.
Don’t forget to repurpose content because people often that they even consumed your content in the past. Moreover, it ensures that every piece of content that you produce is used to its fullest.
For instance, a blog post can be converted to eBook, email newsletter, social media post, video, podcast, and more. Changing content format increases its reach as it now gets more exposure.
To ensure you have effective content distribution, it's key to have a consistent output. That's where an editorial calendar comes in handy. It lets you manage content production and distribute content publication over an extended time period. You don’t end up publishing 10 blog posts a week and then only two blog posts next couple of weeks.
An editorial calendar can be easily created in Excel, Trello, Google Calendar, or a tool like Kapost. My personal favorite is Airtable. If you are using a project management app already, it will work too. The purpose of the calendar is to ensure collaboration and timely content production as per schedule.
Step #5: Track and Improve
Proving ROI is one of the top marketing challenges, according to 39% of marketers. You can’t publish content, promote it, and sit back and wait for leads and sales. This won’t work.
When almost 60% of businesses create at least one new content asset every single day, it really gets hard to understand what type of content works better for improving conversion rates and why. You need to track every single asset that you produce to see how it performs.
Tracking content performance will help you prove ROI, it will help you top-performing content type, and will eventually reduce cost because you will stop producing content that doesn’t convert.
How do you do it?
2. B2B Social Media Marketing Strategy
Social media marketing is a powerful B2B digital marketing strategy that connects you with more than 3 billion worldwide users. Almost 84% of C-Suite executives and 75% of B2B buyers use social media for making purchase decisions.
According to B2B Content Marketing Report by CMI, Social media is the top organic content distribution channel used by B2B marketers (91%) and it is also the top paid content distribution channel for B2B marketing (72%):
Making a social media marketing strategy work for your B2B company is challenging. It isn’t as simple as creating accounts on leading social networking platforms. You need to identify social networking sites that your target businesses use in the purchase decision process.
How do you do it?
Refer to buyer personas. You already have them, right?
It will tell you what social media networks your ideal customers use and what type of content they engage with on these social networks.
Here is a list of leading social networking sites that work best for B2B companies:
LinkedIn for B2B Sales
LinkedIn is the leading B2B social media platform. It is used by more than 95% of B2B companies for content marketing and promotion. It lets you connect with other businesses as LinkedIn is used by business professionals for networking and hiring purposes.
LinkedIn makes up more than 50% of all social media traffic to B2B websites and 92% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn in their digital marketing mix. This shows how important it is for any B2B company to be on LinkedIn.
Moreover, LinkedIn and email are one of the main channels to set up meetings with prospects particularly at conferences. The secret here is to get the list of attendees from a conference, then outreach to them beforehand to ensure you have enough meetings to make attending the event profitable for your company.
Twitter is the second most-used B2B social media platform that’s used by over 87% of B2B marketers. It lets you connect with the decision-makers easily. Twitter is the top social media platform that is used by 71% of technology marketers for product launches.
It’s hard for a business to ignore Twitter. It is an effective way to connect with your ideal businesses and reach out to industry thought leaders. The simple yet effective rules for B2B Twitter marketing are:
- Connect and follow the right businesses that are more likely to buy from you.
- Tweet regularly.
- Use the right hashtags to get noticed by your target businesses.
- Engage with the community by answering questions, retweeting, liking, and mentioning businesses in your tweets.
Facebook is the most popular social network platform that has more than 2.4 billion active users. These users include business owners and all types of executives. According to 42% of B2B marketers, Facebook is the most effective B2B social networking site for their companies.
Facebook connects you with people across the globe and works exceptionally well for local B2B marketing. Not to mention its powerful advertising features that let you show ads to the right people at the right time.
When you are promoting your B2B company on Facebook and using its ad network, you get access to Instagram’s massive audience. A Facebook ad campaign helps you reach Instagram audience too at no additional cost. Here are the most effective B2B Facebook marketing techniques to stay at the top:
- Publish content that’s relevant to your target businesses.
- Run Facebook ads to reach B2B companies by selecting the right categories.
- Use custom audiences to reach more businesses with extreme ease.
- Engage with other businesses by liking and following their pages.
YouTube is a goldmine for B2B marketing companies. It lets you create and share video content that makes marketing a piece of cake. Product demos, interactive videos, and informative videos can help you deliver messages conveniently.
YouTube has a gigantic user base. It has more than 2 billion active monthly users who watch more than a billion hours of videos every single day. Yes, the YouTube audience is highly engaged. More than 56% of marketers find YouTube videos as the most effective content format for influencer marketing.
YouTube has all types of audience including businesses. And people don’t just watch videos on YouTube, they find new brands and trending content. Over 90% of people say that they found a brand or a product via YouTube. This is the reason why 64% of B2B marketers have increased their use of video content on YouTube between 2018 and 2019.
Follow these YouTube B2B marketing tricks:
- Create and optimize your YouTube channel.
- Create engaging content and publish new videos regularly.
- Optimize videos by adding CTAs, description, and titles.
- Use YouTube advertising to reach businesses easily.
3. B2B Email Marketing Strategy
Email marketing works best for B2B companies as it lets you connect and engage with your target audience. It is an effective digital marketing strategy with the most effective ROI. According to eMarketer, email is the most effective digital marketing strategy having an average ROI of 122%. You can’t ignore it, right?
A B2B email marketing strategy doesn’t mean you have to send emails and weekly newsletters rather you need to have a systematic strategy to make it work for your business. Segmenting is the first thing that you should do to improve targeting and customer experience. Your potential clients don’t want to receive generic emails. Segmenting lists and categorizing businesses based on a set of variables should be the first thing to do.
The difference between a segmented email campaign and a non-segmented email campaign is massive. According to MailChimp, the email open rates for segmented campaigns are 14.31% higher than non-segmented campaigns. Not just open rates, but segmented campaigns outperform non-segmented email campaigns for all the variables.
When you have segmented subscribers, you can send them personalized content. Here is a list of the leading B2B email marketing techniques:
- Use an email marketing tool and integrate it with your CRM tool. This lets you automate segmentation and email marketing campaigns.
- Send emails regularly without spamming your customers.
- Focus on lead nurturing with emails instead of generating sales.
- Send personalized emails.
- Use B2B lead generation tools to convert subscribers into leads.
4. B2B Search Engine Marketing Strategy
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and marketing is a top concern of 61% of B2B marketers. B2B SEO holds significant importance because 59% of B2B marketers say that SEO has the biggest impact on lead generation goals.
According to Google, 71% of B2B researchers start with a simple and generic search query, 89% of businesses use their internet research in the B2B research process, 90% of B2B researchers search for business purchases, and a B2B researcher engages in 12 searches before engaging with a B2B brand.
B2B SEO helps your company rank for your preferred keywords. This helps you attract organic visitors, generate leads, and increase sales. OutreachMama ranked on the first page of Google for 4 competitive keywords in as low as 8 months and this helped them increase month over month organic traffic by 104%.
It sounds great to rank on Google’s first page for your primary keyword, but it isn’t easy. You have to follow a powerful B2B SEO strategy. There are more than 200 ranking factors including on-page and off-page but the most important of them is backlinks. The number of backlinks to your website is correlated with rankings and this impact is higher than any other ranking factor.
You need quality content to acquire natural backlinks that will help you rank for B2B keywords. The B2B content marketing strategy covered above will provide your company with quality content. You need to build backlinks to your content to improve search engine ranking.
Here are some of the best B2B SEO link building techniques:
- Use the Skyscraper Technique to build quality backlinks to your content.
- Guest post on relevant websites where your target business hangs out. Your audience should be the reader of the blog where you are guest posting.
- Create and publish an infographic on your website, and then share it with websites that publish similar kind of content. This will help you get backlinks from all the websites that republish or share your infographic.
- Use the broken link strategy to find broken links on other websites. Send them a link to a better content piece on your blog for replacement.
- Connect with your business partners and get your website listed on their websites.
- Ask your B2B customers
- to publish a review on their website or share a testimonial on their blog with a link to your website.
5. B2B Account-Based Marketing Strategy
Account-Based Marketing (ABM) works best for B2B companies as it helps them implement a personalized marketing approach that targets specific accounts. Instead of targeting everyone, you focus on specific key accounts which could be CMOs, CEOs, or any senior-level buyer you are targeting.
For instance, you could conduct a webinar for specific companies that you want to target, or you can arrange in-person events like dinners with prospects form your account.
ABM makes personalization and targeting easier than ever. It is a preferred marketing strategy for leading B2B companies. More than 92% of B2B marketers say that ABM plays an extremely important role in their marketing efforts and 87% of B2B marketers who use ABM say that it outperforms every other marketing investment in terms of ROI.
A B2B ABM marketing strategy consists of the following steps:
- Identification of target accounts
- Account research
- Content creation for the target account
- Show content to the right person
- Track and scale
The most important step in the process is identifying target accounts. It is a top priority of 41% B2B marketers and a challenge for 37% of B2B marketers:
The best approach to finding target accounts for ABM strategy is to ask your sales team, use existing customer data, and refer to the CRM tool of your company. Your sales team will push you in the right direction as it knows high-revenue key accounts that are its top priority. You should begin with them.
Creating personalized and relevant content is the next big task. You have to do your homework. You should have in-depth knowledge about the account you are targeting as this will help you create personalized content. Research shows that personalized content is the most effective ABM marketing tactic:
Account-based marketing will only work if the content and marketing campaigns are personalized. This is the whole point of targeting key accounts.
B2B marketing is all about understanding your potential customers. As much as 90% of top-performing B2B marketers say that they emphasize on audience needs more than anything else. You can’t do B2B marketing without understanding the needs of your audience, what they want, what are their pain points, what are their biggest issues, etc.
When you know your audience, implementing a B2B marketing strategy doesn’t look like a challenge anymore. So, the first step is to create (and update) buyer personas. Do research. Conduct surveys and interviews. Put yourself in your client’s shoes.
Everything else is asking whether what you're creating will resonate with them. Then giving it to them where they already are. It's that simple.