At the core of any marketing strategy lies the audience, but the difference is that every business has its own target audience according to its product and services. Now, talking about another major difference in business marketing is the target audience - individual customers or businesses. Marketing a product or service to an individual highly differs from marketing it to a business. The marketing cycle involving individual customers is shorter than for businesses which makes B2B marketing strategy a highly important skill to be mastered by businesses.
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B2B or business-to-business marketing refers to the marketing of products/services of a business to other businesses for which it is designed. Businesses that serve other businesses do B2B marketing to generate leads and acquire customers.
The role of B2B marketing is to make other businesses aware of your products and services and convert them into long-term customers. B2B businesses need long-term customers who make repeat business to make them a trusted business brand in their niche.
B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer) marketing differ from each other in various ways and the reason for the difference in both these marketing stems from the audience their serve. B2B marketing has a longer sales cycle compared to B2C marketing as B2B marketing targets the needs of a business or an organisation where it involves more than one decision maker and the conversion is driven by factors like ROI and efficiency, whereas B2C marketing targets the needs of individual customers where the decisions are made by an individual and are driven by emotions and immediate needs.
B2B marketing is important for B2B businesses as it is the most significant way to take the business to its audience especially if the business does not have the needed brand exposure. The already long sales cycle of B2B businesses would only become even more painful without a B2B marketing strategy. A study conducted by McKinsey during the pandemic shows the shift in people’s buying behaviour since the pandemic and how it has made the B2B sales cycle even longer.
B2B marketing helps businesses to connect with their target audience effectively and make them understand the value of their products and services. B2B customers want to be educated about the benefits of choosing a product or service, on the other hand, B2C customers would read informational content but they necessarily don’t rely on it for making purchasing decisions which again leads to the difference in B2B and B2C marketing.
You need to define a solid marketing strategy that caters to your business for your marketing efforts to pay off. Before you develop a marketing strategy you need to consider a few things which will help you craft the right B2B marketing strategy for your business.
Creating an effective B2B marketing strategy should start with understanding where your business stands in the market. This will be the foundational step to building a customised marketing strategy for your business. Create a brand statement that covers the - who, what, why, when, and how of your business.
As we discussed earlier, the objective of any marketing campaign is to reach your brand’s audience. For B2B organisations, this is a vital step where identifying your target audience will help you create buyer personas which majorly helps in customer acquisition.
To nail your B2B marketing, you should know what your competitors are doing to generate leads. Things you should know while researching your competitors are:
Their marketing techniques
Their marketing channels
Their sales strategy and the results
This information will help you identify the opportunities that your business can use, to create an effective B2B marketing strategy.
There are different marketing channels a business can use to target its audience and different marketing channels work for different businesses. You can learn from your competitors as to which marketing channels make them successful and the ones that they haven’t made use of.
B2B Email Marketing
Email marketing is a tried and trusted channel by B2B marketers. B2B marketing targets businesses whose primal decisions are based on the value your product/service can add to their business. Email marketing when done right can be the single main channel that brings in clients, revenue and value to your business. Also, nothing beats the ROI of this marketing channel (with the right strategy of course!)
Best Practices for B2B Email Marketing
Write subject lines that ring a bell
Statistics show that 33% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line. Ensure that your subject lines don’t focus on selling your products but rather target their problems. Your subject line is your hook so make sure you spend a good amount of time writing it.
Optimise emails for mobile phones
Though business professionals use PCs to check their emails, 35% of them use mobile phones. You cannot afford to miss out on any potential resource that can be your next client, so mobile optimisation should be your priority for email marketing campaigns.
Segment your mailing list and personalise your emails
This one step will save you time in converting your potential client faster. Not everyone on your mailing list will have the same buying persona and hence you need to segment your mailing list and send emails that are relevant to their buying journey. Personalising emails is known to increase the open rates, which is what you need.
Focus your email content on one call-to-action (CTA)
Give your reader a single and clear call to action. Many marketers make the mistake of adding multiple CTAs to one email which leaves the reader confused and results in them deleting or even worse marking it spam.
B2B Content Marketing
Content plays an important role in targeting potential customers in each stage of the conversion funnel. As B2B customers are driven by logic, educational content about your product and services helps in convincing the customer to make an informed decision. According to research data, 73% of B2B marketers depend on content marketing to generate leads. Emphasising more on its importance, content marketing also helps increase your brand's visibility in search engines.
Knowing the fact that content marketing is important, you should also know the type of content that you should be focusing on in your B2B content marketing strategy which varies from that of B2C content marketing:
Types of Content Marketing for B2B
Weekly newsletters that educate your potential customers
As we’ve discussed earlier how email marketing is an important and cost-effective marketing channel for B2B, what stands as the key ingredient of email marketing is newsletters.
Blog posts that can increase website visibility
B2B customers read blogs that give them an in-depth insight into the product or service that they are looking for. By giving them away in your blogs for free, you are building a community of readers who possibly are your next lead conversion source.
Video content or webinars that explain your services
You cannot say that every person consumes written content, which although undeniably is the brainchild of marketing. Presenting remarkable written content with heavy data in ways that users can digest without being overwhelmed is where video content or webinars work like a charm.
Insightful Industry reports that help B2B organisations grow
Industry studies are one of the best types of content for B2B content marketing that can generate huge amounts of traffic to your website and can be a source of information that other websites can refer to. As we have already said, B2B customers need actual data to make that decision.
Thought leadership content on LinkedIn
Brands that demonstrate thought leadership lead the path of innovation and scalability in the B2B field. LinkedIn is one of the leading platforms that encourages this practice and not to mention the number of B2B customers that engages on this platform. So, be present where your audience is.
B2B Digital Marketing
A solid B2B digital marketing is important for pretty much every business today and even more B2B organisations. The avenues are endless in B2B digital marketing and it has a high potential to generate leads. B2B digital marketing lays the groundwork for all other marketing channels and helps in strengthening your overarching marketing vision.
Best B2B Digital Marketing Strategies
Let’s dive into the B2B digital marketing strategies and methods that you must be implementing
A strong website that showcases your products and services
A website is like the nearest tangible thing you can provide your customer about your products and services. It is one of the first places B2B customers go, to learn more about what you do. So, the first thing you might want to do to mark your digital presence is to build your B2B website.
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Optimise your website for search engines
Creating a website alone isn’t enough in today’s fierce competition, you have to make it discoverable. Search engine optimisation (SEO) will help you do this. To rank on the search engine result page you need to continuously optimise your website both technically and content-wise, by doing so you are bringing in organic traffic without spending too much money.
Run paid campaigns to specifically target your audience
Bringing in organic traffic is no easy task unless you have a team of SEO experts who can take care of it. Running paid campaigns will help you bring traffic to your website if you can’t afford to get an SEO expert. But not every business can allocate a budget to paid campaigns.
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B2B Social Media Marketing
You can’t afford to miss social media marketing which is known to bring in the maximum number of leads to businesses. Though this isn’t where you convert the most, social media marketing can help you target those at the beginning of their buyer journey. Data shows 75% of B2B consumers learn about a product/service on social media before making a purchase.
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Best social media marketing tips for B2B organisations
Like any other marketing channel, you need to follow a few things to get social media marketing right. Let’s quickly see some of them:
Set clear goals for your brand
No matter what marketing channel you use, defining specific goals will help you in measuring results. Start with what you want to achieve using social media, is it increasing brand visibility or attracting more leads?
Post on platforms that is relevant to your business
Many B2B marketers make the mistake of using the wrong social media platform to bring in leads or to explain better they use the same content format on all social media platforms. Identify which social media platforms your audience uses the most while researching products and target that and also tailor content for different platforms.
Craft engaging content to build following
Holding the attention of users has become harder than ever with the mass content consumption that happens every day on social media. Experiment with different content formats and see what works for your business.
Engage with your followers to build trust
One thing that some B2B marketers miss out on which holds higher scope in building connections is engagement. If you think you have posted thrice a week and your job is done then you are doing it wrong. Having conversations with your audience will also help you improve your product/service.
Here are some of the top B2B marketing trends that B2B marketers will be focusing on in 2023:
We spoke about how B2B marketing targets consumers who take decisions for organisations and not them as an individual, and this is a long process as it involves several decision-makers. This is where B2B marketers can capitalise on account-based marketing. Account-based marketing helps in personalising your marketing to your specific target and makes the process of converting a lead shorter. This is not a tough nut to crack especially with the ability to collect data easily.
Considering the ROI yielded by different content formats video content stands first and is also the most preferred content format by B2B marketers. Video content takes time and resources but if you think about it marketers wouldn’t be after it if it didn’t yield results. Another reason that video content will be the targeted format is that research shows that video content is one of the most consumed content formats across platforms.
Both short-form and long-form video content are known to perform well based on the intent and depth of the topic covered.
Gone are those days when businesses didn’t care much about customers. The post-sale process has become more important now than ever because customers are likely to do repeat business with you if you help them in their continued growth. Post-sale B2B marketing nurtures long-term relations with clients which is an important trend
Businesses are catching up with hybrid marketing as generating leads and increasing revenue is the major challenge they face and marketers want to leave no stone unturned. More B2B marketers are focusing on offline networking events where it is easy to reach the potential audience without any obstacles and also the online marketing methods that we’ve covered in this blog.
With the current recession scenario, B2B consumers are even more considerate in making a decision which has led to the shift from product-based marketing to value-based marketing as a viable solution. The core of this shift lies in the forgotten fact that it is people who build organisations. Simply put, the nitty-gritty of marketing is changing and it's time that B2B marketers adapt to keep up with the rate at which the changes are happening.
We’ve mentioned a good number of times that B2B marketing targets organisations that are ultimately the end user of the product or service and B2B consumers are driven by logic and revenue. All of this makes sense when you are thinking from a top-down approach and yes, marketing surely needs it, but you can change the marketing game when you take the bottom-up approach. And the truth is very few B2B marketers also do the latter. This is one B2B marketing trend that will stay and one that more B2B marketers will adapt to.
Things we want you to take away from this whole guide about B2B marketing are:
If you found this guide useful share it with those who can also benefit from it and you can read our other blogs to grow and scale your online business! Get in touch and we will guide you in setting up your B2B store.
Sumaya Sheik, Yourstore
6th April 2023