B2B marketing stands for business-to-business marketing. It differs from B2C (business-to-consumer) in the way that its target clients are businesses and organizations, not individuals. Companies that sell products and services such as SaaS and electronic products use B2B marketing strategies to generate leads and close potential deals.
In the past, B2B companies relied on traditional marketing methods to promote their business. They would spend a lot of money on print advertisements, television, direct mail, newspapers, and billboards. While these tactics worked in the past, they are now becoming obsolete in today’s digital age.
With the dynamic changes happening in the workforce and economy such as the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, companies need to adapt to various marketing strategies to thrive and stay relevant. Trade shows and in-person networking events have become limited and it’s time for businesses to pivot online. Effective and powerful marketing is very challenging to achieve. It often requires a combination of different approaches, tactics, and decision-making. Marketers need to stay on top of emerging trends and be flexible in their content strategy, advertising budget, and creative demands.
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What do B2B Buyers Expect Today?
Generations today are becoming more and more inclined to use technology in their everyday lives, be it for personal or for work purposes. This has affected the way consumers want to buy products and services. The buying and selling approach has shifted significantly in the past few years. Gone are the days when customers would visit a shop to get information about a product or service. B2B customers are now accustomed to the B2C trend where they can access business information and buy products right on their PCs and mobile devices.
* Online Channels
Conducting B2B sales transactions using traditional marketing methods is time-consuming and labor-intensive. A customer can be in a constant phone call with a sales representative asking about product information or visit the supplier to ask for a quote and product demo. Nowadays, around 68% of B2B transactions happen online. B2B marketers and sales teams are now putting more effort into providing digital experiences to consumers.
The majority of B2B buyers today prefer to research and learn about a product online. Prospects want to educate themselves with the information provided and review a company’s reputation online. This is why B2B companies need to push their content marketing efforts and create effective sales pages and online resources that provide a detailed description and demonstration of their products. If you are not leveraging your website and social media, you will lose a lot of potential purchases.
* Personalized Experiences
Different buyers have different needs and expectations. To cater to their diverse preferences, companies are adopting digital technologies to improve their customer service. Offering personalized experiences to B2B buyers can help you close more deals and increase customer loyalty. Instead of sending a generic reply to customers’ inquiries, you can provide custom packages and solutions. You can support it by sending interactive demo videos or product guides. When designing personal experiences, you should also bear in mind that communication and response rates are very important.
Top 7 Biggest B2B Marketing Mistakes
Before we jump to the best B2B marketing tactics, let us first take a look at the most common mistakes that B2B companies make when marketing their business in the digital space so you won’t have to replicate them.
1. Bad Positioning
There are many businesses out there, selling the same product and service, and having the same business model. The competition is stiff and for certain businesses to stand out from the market, they need creative ways to make consumers recognize their brand name and choose them over their competitors.
Most B2B companies thought that doing competitor research was enough. They would analyze the current marketing strategies of their competitors, find the gaps, and compare their performance. While this may help in gathering market and customer insights, relying entirely on this tactic will lead to poor results. Instead of following your competitors’ activities, businesses need to appear genuine in their approach. Competing against your competitors’ strengths will lead to little results while focusing on what differentiates you from the competition can provide more positive results. Effective brand positioning involves knowing where you’re good at, understanding the pain points of your audience, and creating a unique and irresistible offer.
2. Being Too Salesy
We get it. B2B companies need to make a sale. That is why they are constantly pushing their message on their website and social media. However, instead of attracting more leads, they are slowly losing their audience. The reason? Too much hard-selling. Companies that only focus on advertising their products without providing value create a bad impression among potential customers. People don’t want to get bombarded with many ads every hour, telling how great your business is.
Though promoting product and service features is important to educate the customers, companies should not forget that effective selling is also about emotions. It is not enough to post the specifications and descriptions of your offerings and ask people to purchase them. B2B companies should connect with their prospects on an emotional level. Story-telling, asking the right questions, and building relationships are the keys that unlock sales potential and growth.
3. Using Weak and Ineffective call-to-actions (CTAs)
It does not matter even if you have a good product or service if people are not taking action. A lot of B2B companies are great at presenting their offers and discussing the benefits of their product but do not know how to encourage the buyer to take the desired action. For example, you are a company that sells email marketing solutions for hotel businesses. You could have spent $$$$ of money on creating marketing videos, graphics, and landing page design. But even if you did those, there is no guarantee that people will click the “buy now” button unless they are moved by effective CTAs.
A good call-to-action is the key to higher conversion rates and sales. Using generic CTAs such as “click here” or “learn more” is not enough. In the B2B industry, the CTAs that perform well are those that provide value and guarantee to the user. Such examples include a free 14-day trial, an exclusive deal for a limited time, a product bundle, and a money-back guarantee. This gives buyers the confidence to trust your products and services as they’ll think that every penny they will spend will be worth it.
4. Bad Web Design
Imagine a potential client who visits your website and has trouble navigating your sales pages and accessing your business information. As a result, the user will immediately leave your site and jump to your competitors. A website with a poor layout and complicated menu creates a bad impression. This can affect your online reputation and credibility. How can a potential client do business with you if you can’t even build a responsive and functional website?
Since most B2B transactions happen online, having a well-built website can help you convert more leads into customers. Businesses that opted to use generic website templates generally have slower growth than those businesses that custom-built their website according to user experience, navigation, visual design, and content layout.
5. Relying only on One Channel
You have to be where your customers are. If your business does not have an active presence in the areas where your ideal prospects hang out, you are giving out sales to your competitors. Most B2B companies focus only on marketing through their website and LinkedIn. To be a successful marketer, you need to expand your reach as wide as possible. The more people you reach, the higher the number of leads you can generate.
Limiting your marketing and sales strategy to one or two channels won’t give your business sustainable returns, leading you to consistently chase clients instead of keeping them coming in. B2B companies should also push their marketing efforts on social media, emails, podcasts, virtual conferences, and other channels.
6. Lack of Content Strategy
Creating content can be time-consuming but it is an aspect of business that should not be taken lightly. Customers get to know about your business because of the content. It is an integral part of any successful marketing campaign. B2B companies that do not have an editorial calendar and content strategy are not maximizing their growth potential.
B2B buyers do not buy products impulsively. Instead, they take time to read informational content and educate themselves about the benefits of the products they want to purchase. Not only can the content provide relevant information to your prospects, but it can also help increase your online visibility. Content drives traffic to your website and helps your business appear in search queries. Content communicates your message to your audience and allows you to drive them further down your sales funnel.
7. Not setting up Analytics
Companies that launch a marketing campaign not backed by data are just wasting time, money, and resources. They may have a CRM system in place but if the data is not organized and analyzed, there is no guarantee that the marketing effort will deliver positive results. Successful businesses track and measure data and use insights to have a better understanding of their target market and customers.
Running A/B tests and mapping out customer journeys enable companies to develop cost-effective marketing campaigns. B2B marketing is dynamic and does not follow a fixed strategy. As a B2B marketer, it is your job to view and interpret data consistently, to determine the success of your marketing performance. This will help you know what strategies are working and what areas of your advertising activities need adjustment and improvement.
B2B Marketing Strategies
Now that you know what mistakes to avoid, let us learn the best strategies that companies use to sell products to other businesses and organizations. B2B marketing has shifted dramatically in recent years. It is not just about the typical lead generation process where you qualify leads and close a sale. Today, B2B marketing is focused on driving growth by nurturing existing clients, increasing referrals, and reaching a targeted audience.
1. Define your Ideal Client Profile (ICP)
Who are your ideal clients? What are their pain points? Where are they located? These are some of the key questions that you need to consider when defining your buyer persona. By stating your target demographic, you can develop a clear sales strategy. Your ideal client profile should detail the key characteristics of your audience and how you can reach them both offline and online.
Write down the common behavior of your target customers and how your products and services can meet their needs. This will give you an idea or angle on how to attack their pain points and purchase decisions.
2. Layout Your Brand Positioning
After defining your ICP, it’s time to think about how you can position your brand in the market and grab the attention of your audience. You need to come up with great ways to make people recognize your brand. First, you need to determine your unique selling proposition. What makes you different from your competitors? What problem does your business solve? Why should your customers choose you over your competitors?
Brand positioning also involves doing competitor research. This will help you get ideas on what your competitors are doing and find out their advantages and disadvantages. How do they market their business to their audience? What type of customer service do they offer? Conducting a competitive analysis will help you find better opportunities to position yourself in the market. The data you gathered will allow you to create tailored and optimized marketing campaigns.
3. Set Your Marketing Goals and Timeline
Successful B2B marketing is not done overnight. It requires a combination of careful planning, budget, time, and resources. Plan your marketing goals for both the long-term and short-term. Before you set goals, assess your current situation and see where your business stands in the market. Then, allocate a marketing budget that you are willing to spend.
Set key performance indicators (KPIs) that you want to meet. For example, you want to increase your revenue by 45% by the 2nd quarter of the year. Make sure that your goals are measurable and realistic. Discuss your goals with your sales team, brainstorm ideas, and get their insights. Set a timeline so that your team will be motivated to work hard to achieve the defined goals.
4. Know What Marketing Channels to Use
Now that you have set a plan and budget, you should concentrate your effort on the best platforms that can provide you with the most leads and conversions. On what channels do you want to run ad campaigns? Based on your competitor analysis, you should know what channels to use to target your audience.
Popular B2B marketing channels include Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, email marketing, and SEO. Choose the channel where your target audience spends their time the most. If the majority of your customers are using Facebook, you can set up a Facebook business page and launch Facebook Ads. If you see that most of your traffic comes directly from your website, you might opt to develop PPC campaigns.
5. Develop a Content Strategy
Content is the core of marketing. Good content attracts people to buy your products and services. Start outlining your content strategy by finding out the key terms that people use when searching for your products. What are the keywords they are typing in search engines and social media? Come out with relevant topics and keywords and create content around them. When creating content, ensure that it talks more about your customers and not entirely about your company. Engaging and informative content is a strong sales magnet.
Create a content marketing calendar not just for website blogs but also for email campaigns, social media, and advertising campaigns. It is also helpful to use a CRM to keep data all in one place and automation tools to handle repetitive tasks. Email tools such as HubSpot, MailChimp, and ActiveCampaign allow you to segment your audience and automate email campaigns. Social media software like Hootsuite and Buffer enables you to schedule posts in advance and access content performance and analytics.
6. Measure and Track Performance
Monitoring metrics and interpreting data are crucial for B2B marketing success. Without analyzing results, it will be difficult for you to gauge the efficiency of your marketing performance. B2B marketers should constantly review analytics and find opportunities to optimize all advertising campaigns.
Here are some important KPIs that companies should track:
* Return on Investment (ROI)
* Cost per Lead
* Lifetime Value of a Customer (LTV)
* Conversion Rate
* Social Shares
* Page likes and followers
* Trial and Demo Sign-ups
* Cost per Click (CPC)
* Quality Score
* Blog post visits
Measuring the above metrics will help you test and optimize strategies. You can also compare different variations and adjust depending on the performance results. Once you find out what activities are working, you can minimize ad spend while maximizing results.
B2B Content Marketing
1. Create Problem-solving Content
The worst type of content is hard-sell content. Great content educates the audience. If you want your audience to engage with your content, write about something that answers their possible questions. For example, if your target clients are accounting firms and you are selling employee and payroll CRMs, it would make sense to write about “How to automate invoicing and payroll” instead of “Best CRM software for accounting business”. Creating content aimed at solving people’s problems attracts your target audience. This will increase your thought leadership and build your online reputation.
2. Write Blog Posts
As you can realize, you are currently reading a blog post. Companies that regularly share a blog on their websites get more traffic than those that don’t. Blog posts educate visitors about your products and make them eager to learn more about your business. Content marketers suggest that it is ideal for businesses to blog two to four times a month to increase traction and boost SEO efforts.
When writing blog posts, keep them between 2,000-4,000 words in length. Google prefers long-form content rather than short articles. Write informative and evergreen blogs aimed at providing guides and helpful tips about solving your customer’s needs and problems. You can also add actionable links to your blogs to increase your search engine ranking.
3. Share Case Studies
When prospective customers want to buy a product, they don’t immediately click the “buy now” button. Instead, they search for reviews to learn about the experiences of others who have tried the product or service. About 85% of buyers read online reviews and recommendations before making a purchase.
Case studies allow B2B companies to showcase their expertise by sharing the positive experiences of their customers. This builds credibility and boosts brand awareness. A case study acts as social proof and is one of the most effective content marketing strategies that businesses can use to generate leads.
4. Utilize Infographics
Infographic is a content marketing method used to organize and visualize data effectively. You probably have heard the famous quote, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. The same notion applies to marketing. Though written communication can be good, it is not always the best way to present a message.
Infographics have the power to tell a story or present complex data in an easy-to-understand visual format. Content presented in visual format gets 3x more engagement than written texts. This is because people online have a short attention span and they prefer scanning images rather than reading multiple paragraphs. Infographics communicate your message quickly and simplify the information in key points, making it easier for your audience to consume and digest your content.
5. Create Compelling Videos
Video is now becoming the best type of content. It is more interactive and engaging than static images and written content. Though video marketing requires tremendous time and resources, it is worth the investment. About 75% of consumers prefer watching a video about a product or service to reading an article about it. Over 85% of video marketers say that they get a positive ROI from using video.
Videos effectively grab the attention of your audience and engage the viewer. This is also a great medium to share a demo of your product and discuss various topics. Video marketing adds another level of professionalism and establishes yourself as an industry expert.
B2B Email Marketing
Email marketing is a cost-effective direct marketing channel that allows businesses to send marketing messages to their clients and prospective customers. When implemented correctly, email marketing can bring more customers to your sales pipeline and grow your customer base.
* Sales Cycle
The sales cycle in B2B email marketing is longer than in B2C. If your target customer is an individual, the wait time for the purchasing decision is quick and easy. In a B2C setup, only one person makes the decision. In the B2B counterpart, the decision is made by a group of people or several departments of a company.
Most B2C email marketing campaigns target individuals, which makes it easy to craft a sales message. In B2B setup, you are speaking to stakeholders and key decision makers. This means you will be sending different emails to different people such as the operations manager, marketing director, head of sales, marketing head, and even the CEO.
1. Think Like a Buyer
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and imagine that you are the buyer. What would you like to know and experience? By thinking like a buyer, you will better understand what approach will fit each target recipient. For example, you can send a case study to the head of sales and a demo video to the marketing head. Customizing your emails according to the recipients’ roles can provide you with higher response rates and conversions.
2. Personalize Your Messages
In B2B, you are speaking to professionals and not to a regular consumer. No one would like to read generic and robotic content. According to studies, personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened than those who don’t, and personalized email content generates higher ROI. Add human touch to the email as much as possible to encourage clicks and responses.
3. Email List Segmentation
You cannot just send the same email to different recipients. They will likely unsubscribe from your list and flag you as spam. When running email campaigns, segment your audience according to the client’s profile, interests, and the stages of their buying journey. Some may need more follow-up and nurturing emails while others are one email away from closing a sale.
4. Optimize for Mobile
Email design and layout can affect the success of your email campaigns. B2B companies need to consider that mobile users are rapidly increasing nowadays, and thus, the need for a mobile responsive design. Ensure that your emails can fit appropriately across different screen sizes and able to load the landing pages quickly and smoothly. Prospects who have a poor mobile experience will likely become uninterested in your company if navigating your site is a struggle.
5. Run Nurturing Email Sequences
Not all prospects will immediately turn to a sale. Some need a longer time to make a decision. With this in mind, you need to build a drip campaign that consists of nurturing emails providing more valuable information to convince the prospect to take action.
You can set up automated emails that are triggered when a customer takes a specific action. Some effective examples include sending emails when a prospect signs up, asks for a demo, downloads an e-book, requests a quote, books a consultation, attends a webinar, and other relevant actions.
B2B Social Media
Social media is a massive platform to build brand awareness and credibility. It is not just a communication tool but can also be used as a search engine. Companies that are present on major platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn have increased reach and a higher potential to attract more qualified clients.
1. Develop a Brand Personality
Content that uses too much industry jargon and does not contain any emotional connection does not capture the interest of your ideal buyers. Develop a recognizable brand voice and make the audience feel that they are interacting with a human, not a robot. Instead of going all out serious, try to add fun and humor to your social media posts. Ensure that you are using a consistent brand voice across all marketing channels to create a personality that your audience can easily remember.
2. Offer Customer Service
You can utilize social media to offer support and handle your customers’ inquiries and complaints. Ensure that you closely monitor brand mentions, comments, and direct messages and respond to them on time. Showing your customers that you care for them and solving their problems with professionalism will give them more reasons to trust and recommend your brand to other businesses.
3. Create Educational Content and Build Relationships
Follow the 80-20 rule in social media content creation. That means, 80% of your content should be centered on providing value to your audience and only 20% is focused on talking about your company or organization. Instead of bombarding your audience with advertisements every day, you can share how-to guides, tutorials, tips, industry updates, and other relevant content that provides education. Social media is all about engagement, communication, and relationship-building.
Invest in B2B Marketing and Increase Your Client Base
B2B marketing is very challenging. Companies need to equip themselves with sales-driven data and stay on top of emerging digital marketing trends. We, at Boost Media Group, specialize in helping B2B companies sell to more businesses and organizations using our multi-faceted online marketing systems. Our team of marketing experts understands what it takes to take your business to the next level.