Today, running a B2B business online is much hassle-free than in offline channels, where you’ve to repeatedly pitch to your targets and still you’re not able to convince and convert.
However, marketing on digital platforms online is easily said than done. You need much thought and robust strategy, and expert help to achieve your marketing goals online.
B2B businesses have always been at the forefront to sell wherever possible, nevertheless, they’re not that open and again decision making power is concentrated in few hands, leading to slower implementation and less than expected results.
In India, I’ve seen B2B businesses embracing digital marketing but still, they’re not “that open” to this idea. They’re still not confident, and usually, employ old downtrodden digital marketing strategies to achieve their marketing goals.
If you’re a digital marketer, you must be grinning. Yes, I know this is the state of affair.
I’m trying here to give you the top 10 tips to help B2B businesses boost digital marketing performance.
There are many different types of B2B businesses, but most are concentrating their energies to achieve one of the following or all marketing goals:
- Lead Generation
- Lead Engagement
- Lead Nurturing
- Lead Conversion
Yes, I know these marketing goals do not sound exciting, but in this boring B2B industry, you have to deal with it and with digital marketing, you can make your journey to marketing goals exciting and interesting.
So, without much ado, let’s get on with it.
Tip #1 – Understand Your Buyer’s/Client’s Profile
We all know as a businessperson or marketer that understanding your customer, his/her requirements, desires and needs are always at the top of the agenda.
But often, while marketing online you will find n-number of B2B businesses pitching aimlessly without any clue of their buyer’s profile.
Yep, just research a bit in your industry, you will definitely find it.
So, the first step, to begin with, should be researching your customer/consumer. Understand their online behavior, search out their online ghettos, and involve yourself in their online communities.
Much like in offline channels, your target audience also has networking communities, groups, social media etc. where they get together, discuss, learn, share and/or just talk.
To create a buyer’s profile just research for three simple questions
- Who will make the purchase decision?
- Where they’re networking?
- What kind of information do they require to make an informed decision? Just try to understand their buying lifecycle meticulously.
This customer profile may not be the robust one, but it will give you a path to understand your audience a bit.
Tip 2# – Map Your Buyer’s/Client’s Buying Lifecycle and Purchasing Decision Factors
I know, I’ve started to speak like a broken record, but it’s important in any marketing strategy to understand your customer, and his/her buying lifecycle.
I want to make this point standout therefore, I’ve it listed separately.
In the digital world, it’s not that complex to map your buyer’s/client’s buying lifecycle and the factors that directly affect its purchasing decision.
Just choose a customer buying lifecycle, and start mapping out accordingly. Remember that at every stage you need to optimize and assist your customer so that he/she can make a purchase decision.
Content is the quick enabler that improves conversion chances and helps you to convince your customer.
TIP – use your blog to deliver a variety of content for each stage of the customer lifecycle
P.S. Often marketers are limited to just a few types of content, let me tell you content is more than writing and blogging, it can be an infographic, case study, webinar, podcast, gif, video etc.
Just use your imagination!
Tip #3 – Content Marketing – Deliver Variety of Content for Each Stage of Customer Buying Lifecycle
Today, in such a fluid digital marketing landscape, content marketing is the most effective strategy that has been able to deliver consistent results.
According to Content Marketing Institute, in North America, more than 90% B2B marketers use content marketing but only 9% agreed they’re very effective at it and 33% said they’re effective.
So, why most marketers feel that they fall short. It’s just because of no clear goals, non-alignment of content strategy with marketing strategy and lesser variety of content.
In B2B businesses, buyer’s lifecycle is usually longer as most often high-value products/services are involved that requires longer consideration and extensive research before buying.
To help you improve your content marketing, I’m listing out few pointers below
- Always document your marketing and content strategy with clear goals.
- By implementing the first and second tips, you must have an idea about the buying lifecycle, then use it to create content. Just try to assist them through your content throughout their buying journey, and provide them with required resources, information, and data, especially from unbiased sources to enable them to make a successful purchase decision.
- Deliver a variety of content. Most B2B marketers are limited to web content and blogs, there are other types of content available as well such as case studies, ebooks, podcast, videos, infographics etc. Heidi Cohen’s 27 B2B Content Marketing Tactics, will give you food for thought.
- Find out frequently asked questions of your targets and use it in content marketing, instead of leaving it in FAQs section worthlessly.
Use your logic and take help of your analytics, and draw a clean content strategy.
It’s easy and creative believe me, all you need to do is go deeper into your analytics with the help of Google Analytics and Webmasters, and draw steps that your customer take throughout the funnel to make the purchase decision use it in your content strategy.
Tip #4 – Blogging – Treat Your Blog as a Content Publishing Platform
I’ve seen B2B online marketers focus on offsite blogging and guest posting, instead of focusing on the onsite blog.
I’m not saying that offsite blogging and guest blogging are not valuable but they’re less valuable than your own blog. Yes, it is.
It’s your own blog where most of the exciting things should take place because this way you bring your customer/client closer to purchase decision, and again chances of lead generation increases.
As I said in the headline, treat your blog as a content publishing platform. Make it a hub of all your high-quality content – images, videos, blogs, articles etc. Fill it with the best possible resources and content that your target audiences are seeking or desires.
Many B2B businesses don’t care much about their own blog, I’d advise them to start treating their blog with respect, and invest in it both time and money.
Let me give you some tips to improve your blog marketing –
- Optimize the blog – collect relevant keywords from generic to the long tail, use them in your headline, blog content, image alt tags, and other tags around. Increase the speed of your blog, make it mobile friendly, and include social signals. Hubspot has a really good article on blog marketing, read it to get the cues.
- Optimize conversion rate – for optimizing conversion rate, use a proper and clear call to actions, use landing pages with CTAs, experiment with colors and design, and test everything. An article from Positionly on conversion rate optimization gives you 5 steps.
- Engage and start conversations – well it is easy to start conversations, use your comment box, and try adding questions or suggestions at the end of the blog in order to encourage commenting. If you get comments, then reply to your audience always on time.
- Make your blog valuable for your target audience – suppose you’re handling blog on business consulting, then make your blog a hub of resources with calculators, guides, case studies, research, updates, news and others that are valuable for your target audience.
In B2B businesses, blogging can help you in brand awareness, lead generation and conversion. I’d recommend you to research more about it and follow your competitors who’ve aced it online (you will easily find your domain).
Tip #5 – Email Marketing – Opt-ins, Segment, Personalize and Convert
Search for ‘B2B digital marketing’ on the Internet, and you will find innumerable blogs and articles written only on e-mail marketing.
I believe e-mail marketing is a bit overused in B2B business, I’ve seen all updates and email subscriptions are going in spam box or getting ignored and deleted as soon as they’re received.
Unless you’re able to personalize and provide value in your email then there’s no point in emailing them and disturbing them for no reason in their busy lives.
If you do, then you’re most probably creating a negative image, and stalking them. Moreover, if you’re using databases bought from market then you’re wasting your money and time.
Just wake up, be sensible and be intelligent. Though you may have large data, it is of no use until you segment it properly and personalize messages.
Here are some tips to optimize your e-mail marketing
- Personalize – don’t just use receiver’s name, but also personalize your message. You can research about the problem your prospect is facing and then find the way about how your services/product(s) can provide a solution. Now, talk about it in your email, if you’ve already written a blog about it, then why not share it in the email. It will slow down your email process but you will exponentially increase your conversions. I’ve done it myself, which helped me generate leads from 80 percent of my emails.
- Give them the reason to click and read – use engaging and attractive headlines with relevant question or information, and proper CTAs. The headline can make or break your email! Yes, if it does not appeal, it will go right into the trash box.
- Make it count – talk with them, instead of pitching! This way you give a more humane face to the conversation. Everyone, want to talk to a human, instead of robots with predetermined responses.
- Use CRO techniques – on the email you can apply conversion rate optimization techniques- by adding the call to actions buttons, using social buttons, and using lesser but effective design. To get the wholesome idea about conversion rate optimization read this article from Unbounce.
Email marketing is quite popular in B2B marketing, but I believe it’s now overrated and overused. Instead, email marketing has to collaborate with content marketing in order to improve effectiveness, and again as I said earlier, personalize at all levels.
Tip #6 – Social Media Marketing – Choose Your Platform Wisely
For B2B marketers, social media sites have become another platform to market freely on the Internet with a more targeted audience.
However, choosing social media platforms without much thought will do no good to you. So, before jumping to choose one, research extensively about the suitable social media for your B2B business.
Research about target audience presence on these platforms, and do some competition analysis on these websites. With competition analysis, you will be able to gauge if social media platform is profitable or not, and if it is then understanding how others are using to attract traffic and convert them into leads and sales on it or elsewhere.
I believe for B2B businesses, popular social media platforms are Twitter, LinkedIn, and Slideshare. On these, conversion rates are also high in comparison to other platforms. It’s been proven that Slideshare has more than 25 percent conversion rate, which is quite high in comparison to other popular social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
Hubspot excel on Slideshare, where it has posted 653 slides, with almost all going viral and have more than 28,000 followers. And I love their slides!
Lately, I’ve also started focusing on it, in order to create engaging content, and generate leads here.
Apart from these, there are niche social networks as well on the internet. For instance, in real estate, you will find many niche social media sites such as trulia.com, zillow.com etc.
I hope that you may find niche social networks in your vertical as well, where you can easily connect with your target audience and achieve an even higher conversion rate.
Furthermore, you will find groups, communities, and others on Facebook and LinkedIn itself, where you can reach your target audience by engaging with them in discussions.
P.S. If you’re not able to find any niche social network then search for forums, communities, and others in your niche, I’m sure you will find it.
Tip #7 – Advertise – Only a bit
I haven’t seen much B2B marketing success in online advertising. I don’t know, maybe I’m ignorant.
However, I’ve seen many B2B companies spending on social media advertising to promote their content such as whitepapers, videos, case studies, and blogs.
To tell you frankly, I don’t have much experience in advertising for B2B businesses. But I don’t recommend advertising to new startups as it can escalate cost, and again they tend to focus on lead generation and sales more than delivering value with their content and engagement.
According to industry experts, to become more visible in listings on search engines and social media, companies will have to spend more on advertising in the coming years.
But if your content is truly usable, valuable and shareable then it will get you virality, leads, and conversions that no other advertising campaign will fetch you ever.
Read these articles to know more about B2B advertising –
Tip #8 – Integrated Marketing – Align All Your Marketing Efforts
If you’re into multi-channel marketing, then integrating your marketing efforts can pay dividends.
It’s not that difficult and complex, all you need to do is integrate your content development, distribution mix, engagement, and conversion strategy.
CEB Marketing Leadership Council in Partnership with Google conducted research on the digital evolution in B2B marketing, according to which B2B businesses are able to find success with integrated digital teams and marketing efforts.
In the same research, EMC2 revealed that it has been able to reduce, cost per lead inquires up to 30% by integrating the listening system. With an integrated listening command center, EMC2 was able to integrate communities, social media, media, and marketing sciences leading to improvement in engagement quality and efficiency, and giving the experience that is more consistent.
In the nutshell, if you’re delivering inconsistent messages through different digital channels, then most probably you’re eroding the lead quality, moreover increasing the distrust factor.
You can take the following steps to integrate your multi-channel marketing –
- Integrate digital teams – the first step to integrating online marketing effort is to create integrated digital teams. If you want to give a consistent brand experience, then you can integrate deeper by enabling offline and online marketing teams to come together. Nevertheless, if you’re not able to integrate, you can create an integrated listening department the enable offline and online marketing departments to stay updated and convey consistent brand messages across all channels.
- Integrate offline and online strategy – now comes, strategy. It is important, because if you’re creating integrated digital teams, then the strategy will show them the way ahead and chart out their orientation. Just keep your strategy simple, and try to bring both offline and online teams together before building the strategy.
- Integrate the decision-making process – after strategy now comes decision-making process. If you do not empower both teams and clearly design the decision-making process then it can be a detrimental factor, which often leads to a logjam in execution.
Tip #9 – Inbound Marketing – Understand its Core, Virtues, and Benefits
Let me quickly first describe what is inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is more about pull marketing, where marketers try to earn the attention of target audience instead of pushing or buying to grab their attention. The content is the strategic tool here, which helps to bring prospects into the system, where prospects are converted into leads and then eventually customers.
In inbound marketing, marketers endeavors to make web properties and high-quality content visible with the help of organic SEO, and content marketing strategies.
Actually, I support inbound marketing more, and I’ve been using this marketing strategy for quite some time, therefore I can approve of its effectiveness.
To give you a brief idea about inbound marketing, what it is, how to do it, and why you should use it, Voltier Digital has made an awesome infographic, go through it here.
Tip #10 – Use Your Personal Brand to Leverage in Online Marketing
Personal branding in B2B marketing works wonder. It is a popular strategy for startups, where experts are at the helm of the affairs. Most probably in your B2B industry, you will find experts, consultants, and professionals spending more on personal brand.
I can tell you this from my own experience, despite having my own company I spend a lot on personal branding instead. Because, I know my target market is on the lookout for the trustworthy, efficient and skillful experts to help their business boost their online marketing efficiency and performance.
Yes, it really works.
In the online world, tangibility and humanization of marketing are important, which gives your company credibility. With personal branding of experts and consultants in the organization, you will be able to reach a larger audience and build a brand with an expert voice.
In B2B businesses, people providing services or product are at the core, therefore, if you brand them and present them as experts, the value of services/products increases substantially. Because businesses believe that they’re in safer hands if the person handling is domain expert or consultant of high stature.
I’ve given tips below for experts and consultants to develop their personal brand –
Think Yourself as a Brand
To start your personal branding, first, think yourself as a brand. Understand your skills and expertise, write down your own personal brand mission statement, and identify your positioning. In the online world, use professional photographs to brand and make your presence felt where your target audience is based.
Develop Content for Your Audience
In the digital arena, your content is your voice. When you’re positioning yourself as a domain expert then carefully craft your content. Make your content highly valuable to your audience, which they cannot resist to like and share.
Invest in Online Marketing
It is important that you invest time and money in online marketing, because if you want to build a brand, then you’ve to make your self highly visible on different online channels and platforms.
BONUS TIP – Use Product/Service Video to Enhance Conversion Rate
I’m a big fan of video marketing! In this boring B2B industry, video can add a tinge of excitement. In addition, the video conversion rate is quite high.
In a report by DemandMetric and Vidyard on the state of B2B video, marketing has some interesting key findings to share
- More than 60 percent of marketers have shown interest to increase their video spending
- Video on the landing page can increase conversion up to 80 percent
- More than 80 percent of marketers reported success in their video marketing
In another study by Adobe 2013 video conversion playbook, there can be up to 90 percent increase in conversions with video content.
Undoubtedly, video marketing is on the rise in B2B marketing, where businesses across verticals are spending and coming out with innovative tactics in video marketing.
If so effective video marketing is, then why not try it.
I’ve tried my best to compile the top ten tips to help you boost your B2B marketing. Now you, I may have missed some or if you would want to add more to it, I’d love to hear them. Please feel free to use the comment box below.