Discussing B2B digital marketing with business owners is frustrating. They think digital marketing is something that works for B2C brands and, even then they only think it works for tech brands and those will an exciting product consumers can get stoked about. Take a look at the infographic from Relevance at the end of this post for some more ideas on how to drive leads using B2B digital marketing.
The truth is that digital marketing works for every brand — regardless of whether their customers are other businesses or consumers and whether their brand is an exciting product or not. I mean, think about Dove. How unexciting can you get — soap and lotion. So, the brand creates digital marketing about something consumers ARE passionate about — body image.
And, B2B brands can do the same thing — develop a B2B digital marketing strategy around something their target audience is passionate about. Maybe your target audience isn’t passionate about your brand and maybe your products compete in a really boring market.
That doesn’t mean you have to talk about your brand in terms of its market. Hit on the social responsibility of your brand and craft a digital marketing strategy around some aspect of that responsibility. Find a social program you’re passionate about and build a digital marketing strategy around that. The options for B2B digital marketing are endless.
Recognize B2B Digital Marketing Opportunities
As this infographic shows, visitors come to your website from various sources (organic and paid search, backlinks, social, and direct). Visitors view content and either leave or move to the next stage in the funnel. A small change in conversion rate (1%) can increase inquiries by 50%. So, optimizing the funnel is critical for improving performance.
Optimize the B2B funnel
B2B digital marketing is different than when you’re working with consumers. First, your target market is really busy, with people who work interference to keep you from reaching decision-makers. Second, B2B marketing often involves a team (buying center) rather than a single individual — as you see in this image.
Reaching any (or all) of the members of the buying center helps create awareness of your brand. Too often, B2B companies only try to reach the busy decision maker, ignoring much easier to reach members. Appealing to the gatekeeper is also important because they attempt to block the decision maker.
Because business customers are less likely to talk about your brand, you need a greater effort to create awareness. Using owned, earned, and paid media (plus traditional advertising and PR) is critical for creating awareness of your brand.
Despite first impressions, B2B brands can use social media effectively to create awareness especially by using powerful tools to reach only those people who represent potential buyers. It’s here that supporting a cause or being socially responsible can work to your benefit. Remember, even enterprise companies are composed of PEOPLE who use social networks. Reach those people and you’ve created awareness of your brand.
Outreach to other blogs and profiles is very valuable for creating awareness in the B2B space. Consider creating infographics or putting together videos and podcasts that other sites might want to use with their visitors.
And, don’t forget SEO. Search should be a strong piece of your awareness campaign. Understanding how your prospects search for products like yours is the key to crafting a good SEO strategy.
Your brand becomes interesting when it you show you produce a valuable product and when you earn the trust of buyers.
Create interest in your brand by effectively communicating:
- unique benefits needed by buyers (USP). Need inspiration? Here’s a post with 10 USPs to spark your imagination.
- trustworthiness. That’s why many B2B players tout the quality of customers who trust them and display them prominently on their homepage.
- empathy. Customers (and don’t forget that business buyers are indeed customers) want someone who understands their needs and frustrations.
- consistency and professionalism. B2B brands need consistent communication with potential buyers because you never know when someone is in the mode to buy. Often, purchases are made a few times a year or by RFP rather than every week like consumers. Email marketing and other contact tools become indispensable parts of B2B digital marketing campaigns. And, these conversations must be professional, which doesn’t mean boring or impersonal. Look at the way Trackmaven uses child-like colors and their cute little dog in promoting a content tracking tool despite working for some of the worlds biggest brands. Professional doesn’t have to be boring.
Notice, I didn’t say you need to do these things. I said you need to communicate them effectively. The two aren’t the same.
That means knowing your target market and testing your content to ensure your message is heard loud and clear. We’ll talk more about measurement later.
I’ve heard Hubspot and others make the argument that business customers are about 80%-90% of the way to making a purchase before they contact you. They only want pricing from the sales person.
That means you need to provide a depth of information on your brands through vehicles like white papers, case studies, and recommendation from clients.
Let prospects reach out to you for more information without adding pressure to make a decision today. For instance, offer a subscription to a high-quality newsletter to provide useful information. Or let visitors sign up for a webinar or podcast where they can ask questions in addition to getting more information. Be sure to follow-up with recording for folks who couldn’t make the original broadcast time or who want a refresher on what you covered.
The conversion funnel doesn’t end with a customer purchase. That’s just the beginning of your relationship with this customer. And, it is a relationship.
- You have to followup with the customer to ensure they received the order in good shape. I remember getting a card with a product order from the person who packed it. It was personal and made me feel like a valuable customer. Sending personalized, hand written thank you notes to members of the buying center are always a nice touch.
- Offer customer service through a variety of channels available 24/7 so customers can get problems solved quickly and easily. A good example is GoDaddy. I’ve called customer support a few times and found their people friendly and helpful. They never make me feel like I asked a stupid question or that I was too unskilled for what I was doing. And, they always have the right answer to help me.
- Periodically, invite customers to a special webinar or to visit you at your booth at an industry event so you can meet them in person. The personal touch really helps. Makes buyers feel special and valuable, which they are.
- Ask for referrals and recommendations. If buyers are too busy to refer you, ask them if they’ll provide a testimonial to add to your website or include in a newsletter. Also, ask if they have contacts at other companies or divisions of their company who might need your products and be sure it’s ok to use their name when contacting them.
- Offer some exclusive content, a discount, or special promotion to customers, especially repeat customers to ensure continued loyalty. Treating customers right can result in evangelism, which really helps your brand.
Analytics in support of B2B digital marketing
Just like anything else in digital marketing, analytics are critical.
Set objectives for your campaigns in terms of awareness, interest, intention, and conversion. Then, establish KPI metrics that measure these objectives. Then, look at the actions contributing at each stage in the conversion funnel and assess performance of these content marketing efforts to answer questions such as:
- Does content resonate with prospects? (CTR, Engagement, Shares …)
- Are you publishing content at the right time? (Reach)
- Are you publishing too much or too little content? (Unsubscribes)
A/B testing is a great tool for understanding what types of content get the most response from prospects.
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Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media.