Marketing is tough. Marketers have to juggle their budgets with existing channels that constantly change and evolve, along with new marketing channels that crop up regularly.
That said, the key to any successful marketing campaign is to know your audience better than they know themselves. The most creative ad campaign will fall flat if it doesn’t “speak” to your prospects.
One critical distinction when determining an audience is selling to an individual vs. an organization. Most of the same broad marketing channels (email, content, and so on) work well for both. However, strategies used to market to organizations will look much different from B2C strategies.
Below, we’ve compiled some of the best B2B marketing strategies that drive conversions. Many of these general strategies also work for B2C, but the execution looks much different.
What is B2B marketing?
B2B marketing is the process of promoting products to other businesses rather than individuals.
B2B products are often significant investments on the customer’s part. Thus, many B2B buyers spend a lot of time researching, leading to lengthy sales cycles.
Relying on one strategy may not cut it. Often, B2B marketers must implement several at once to succeed. Before going into your options, though, let’s first explore the differences between B2B and B2C marketing.
How is B2B marketing different from B2C?
The fundamental distinction between B2B and B2C is that B2C sells a personal product for individuals, not businesses. That’s obvious enough, but it creates several differences between the types of marketing that’ll work effectively.
B2B customers care more about ROI and efficiency.
B2C customers want some sort of personal satisfaction/entertainment.
Successful B2C marketing often involves more emotion to hook in the customer, but also provides some data to back up the emotional angle.
For an example of the logic and data focus inherent in B2B sales, look at Track-PODs website copy advertising its route planner app.
You’ll notice it has plenty of facts and data about benefits relevant to companies — not to mention it maintains a neutral voice.
If Track-POD were a B2C company, they might inject a casual tone and leverage more emotional appeals.
Another key difference is that B2B customers have a much longer sales cycle due to the more logical purchasing approach. They spend extensive time researching their options, trying product demos, and consulting with other organizational stakeholders.
For this reason, B2B customers often seek long-term relationships with vendors. Once they invest in a B2B product, it’s hard for them to drop it for another. Focusing on customer retention is a priority in maximizing profitability.
Now, B2B and B2C are similar in one critical way — you’re selling to a person (or several people). In B2B, said person buys for a larger entity than themselves.
Because of this, many B2C strategies have carryover to B2B — and we’ll cover some of these next.
High-converting B2B marketing strategies
Throughout your product lifecycle, you’ll need to implement several B2B marketing strategies to succeed.
Some will work well at the beginning of your product’s lifecycle. Others may serve you better in the middle or toward the end, once the product has matured.
With that in mind, here are some B2B marketing strategy ideas.
1. Content marketing
Content marketing is one of the most popular types of marketing campaigns. It involves producing content (such as blogs, interactive infographics, and videos) that educate and engage readers. This content also builds trust and positions you as an expert.
To create effective content, though, avoid the hard sell in B2B. Content must place education and information first and foremost.
PandaDoc does this by publishing informative, non-promotional content, like this article on DocuSign competitors.
PandaDoc wrote this article for a B2B audience putting themselves first on the list. But, by also presenting other options, they are not directly selling their products. The article positions PandaDoc as an authority on all things electronic signatures and digital documents.
Similarly, you can write blog content or produce videos that educate your customers on various issues that affect them. If done right, they’ll think of you first when they need the type of product you offer.
2. Search engine optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of getting your website’s pages to rank as high as possible in online search results.
A lot goes into SEO, such as:
- On-page elements
- Off-page elements (backlinks, brand mentions)
- Technical SEO (“under-the-hood” things that often involve coding and HTML)
Your first SEO optimization targets should be your web pages. Every page on your website should incorporate relevant keywords, load fast, and be clean and easy to navigate.
After that, SEO works in conjunction with content marketing.
Keyword research informs the topics your content should cover. When you write your content, you want to incorporate these keywords in a way that sounds natural.
You’ll automatically include similar topical keywords if you cover a topic in detail, helping you rank for a substantial number of searches.
You can find some initial keyword phrases by searching for broad content topics and seeing what pops up in Google autocomplete. You can also use the “People also ask” and “related searches” sections.
Once you know what you need to rank for, invest in SEO and keyword research software. The software shows you keyword search volume and competition, along with plenty of related keywords.
Moz and SEMrush are among the most popular SEO tools. However, these products come with a hefty price tag.
Fortunately, demand for SEO tools has led many companies to create wallet-friendly SEMrush and Moz alternatives. Most are just as effective as SEMrush and Moz, too.
Once you have a strategy for incorporating SEO into content, build off-page SEO by acquiring backlinks from authoritative sites. This sends more traffic your way (called referral traffic) and boosts your SEO.
SEO takes a while to take effect, but you get a steady stream of quality leads when it does. In fact, 53.3% of all traffic online is organic traffic.
3. Paid digital media
Paid digital media involves buying ad space on any online advertising platform, such as:
- Social media sites (Facebook ads, Snapchat ads, etc.)
- Search engine ads (Google ads, Bing ads, etc.)
The traffic you generate with paid media is called “paid traffic,” in contrast to SEO’s organic traffic.
Paid ads aren’t trusted as much as organic results in some cases, because users know it’s an ad. It isn’t necessarily the most relevant result for their search, like a #1 organic result would be.
However, paid digital media offers advantages for B2B companies that work well in conjunction with SEO.
For one, you see instant results and acquire real-world data. That means you can analyze results and tweak your strategy on the fly if needed. As traffic flows to your site — assuming it’s quality traffic — search engines will notice and give you an SEO boost.
There’s also retargeting. Retargeting lets you place ads in front of former site visitors who didn’t buy from you. It keeps you top-of-mind and snags a few sales from buyers who may be indecisive.
4. Email marketing
Email marketing is one of the oldest forms of digital marketing, and it continues to serve B2B firms well today.
Once again, B2B emails work well when you focus on logic and helpful information.
Most emails should have a call-to-action of some sort — but that doesn’t mean you have to sell every time. For example, you might tease a blog post and urge the reader to click through from the email to read it.
Or, you can send a straight-up informational email that’s similar to a blog post. That said, don’t place multiple CTAs for different actions in one email. This can give readers “analysis paralysis,” which can be fatal in your B2B marketing efforts.
For best results, your subject lines should grab attention and the email body copy should be compelling enough to pull the reader through to the end.
Email marketing is a prime target for marketing automation through autoresponder emails and sequences.
Look no further than the welcome sequence.
After a customer signs up for your email list via a lead magnet (such as a short eBook), you can send them an autoresponder sequence to educate them and build their trust.
Some of your welcome emails can sell, too.
When you implement email automation, segment customers based on their purchases for automated upselling, cross-selling, re-engagement, and more.
Customers naturally place a lot of trust in what other customers say. Adding testimonials throughout your website and marketing collateral builds trust in your brand and product.
Video testimonials are especially effective because video is more memorable and draws in customers better. After all, the brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text.
Video allows the customer to see more emotional expressions from satisfied customers, too. This packs a greater marketing punch.
A large number of people use video testimonials to learn more about products and services.
Codeless, a content creation agency, integrates its video testimonials directly into its homepage.
If you click on the testimonial, a video window will pop up. The prospect can then hear about the results they’ve seen directly on the website.
Consider setting up an autoresponder funnel to collect these testimonials.
Gather as much info as possible, including:
- Who are they?
- What was their problem and how it was affecting them (the person and the company)?
- How did they find you?
- What objections did they have?
- What was the result, and how is life better after investing in your product/service?
This information helps tell a story through testimonials. These are stories your target customers can relate to. Such a video testimonial might be enough to push them over the edge and encourage a purchase.
6. Sponsored content in big publications
Getting your products featured in prominent industry publications builds trust in your brand fast. Plus, you get plenty of eyes on your product.
For example, if you’re a SaaS company, being listed in this Business News Daily article about small business ideas would help your product receive immediate credibility and plenty of website traffic.
In some cases, you can pay publications to place sponsored content with only your brand mentioned. Some call these advertorials because they’re a mix of advertising and editorial content.
These advertorials can educate readers about their problems, and provide information on how your product would help them. All of this is done without making a “hard sell,” as one would on a sales page.
7. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing involves building a network of publishers to promote your products. You pay the publisher a commission for each sale they refer.
It’s a win-win: You only pay when you make money, and you offer the publisher a chance to build passive income.
A fantastic affiliate partner would be a comparison or review site. Look at the article below comparing the best webinar software to better understand this concept.
Now, the keys to affiliate program success are to vet your affiliates carefully and provide them the training and materials needed to market effectively. Failing to vet affiliates can bring some bad eggs into your network that could make your brand look bad.
Convert more B2B customers
Marketing to businesses brings unique challenges. Higher-ticket prices and longer sales cycles cause B2B buyers to care about facts and ROI over emotional marketing appeals.
If you know your audience, you can sell to them effectively, though. By focusing on how your product makes the lives of those responsible for the purchase better/easier (while also demonstrating how it benefits their company), you can succeed in B2B marketing.
Make sure you know your customer like the back of your hand, then use the above strategies to reach them through various channels.
Joanne Camarce is a digital marketing expert specializing in SEO, eCommerce, and social media. She loves meeting new people and embraces challenges. When she’s not wearing her marketing hat, you’ll find Joanne fine-tuning her art and music skills.