Far too often, we get B2B (Business to Business) clients who don’t want to spend their time and budgets on online marketing simply because their audience is not individual consumers. For some reason, it seems much easier to come up with strategies to reach consumers or individuals than to reach other businesses.
The difference between B2B and B2C Online Marketing
The goal in B2C (Business to Consumer) online marketing is to generate a sale in a single visit. The goal of B2B online marketing is to be considered for a sale and ideally, with some effort, become a preferred vendor. This often means more investment is spent cultivating that potential long-term partnership rather than making a quick sale.
Generally, the same channels are used for B2B online marketing as B2C, the difference is in the priority, budget and effort/time you allocate to each.
If your target is B2B, not consumers…
Here are Eight B2B online marketing strategies to generate leads, drive traffic to your website, convert leads into clients, and stay top of mind to your audience.
1. Make sure your website is equipped to funnel conversions.
Your website is the first place anyone—business or consumer—will go to find out more information about you. Make sure your main website’s UI/UX has a good lead-conversion funnel for potential clients. Here are some examples of conversion elements on your website:
- Prominently placed calls to actions and contact info.
- Persuasive and clearly articulated copy.
- Videos, Clips, and/or infographics that sum up how you help them excel at their work.
- Distinct differentiators from the competition.
- Webinar signups.
- Downloadable whitepapers.
- Easy to find contact info and contact forms.
- Trial/Demo requests.
- Use of landing pages to maximize inbound campaigns.
- Links to other relevant pages within your site.
- A Blog or knowledge hub.
(If you just launched your company website, check out this article with the basics of growing your online presence after launching your website. And this article called “The Beginner’s Guide to Online Marketing” is a good read if you’re a beginner to online marketing.)
2. Identify what your audience is looking for.
View your company through the lens of your potential client. What characteristics are they looking for? What matters to them most in a vendor?
Where/what channels are they using to find you? When they have a need are they asking their personal contacts for referrals? Do they look online? Online directories? Which search engines are they using?
This may require some surveying and research of your clients if you can’t answer these questions. To strategize effectively and efficiently in your online marketing, you must know these answers and address these types of questions on your website and in your online marketing.
3. Create strong Keyword, SEO and Paid Search Strategies.
Take the time to explore the multiple phrases and search terms your audience may use when looking for a vendor like you. The user may use industry-specific keywords or search terms. Studies have shown that the B2B searcher often uses search terms related to their need, pain point, or problem, rather than a specific solution or product. This directly influences the content on your website and online marketing, as you’ll get better SEO results when you include the keywords and phrases your audience will be typing in.
(Read more about SEO trends here. And if you’re even remotely interested in the inner-workings of Google’s ranking system, this article on Google Rankbrain will blow your mind.)
Paid Search Campaigns on Google Adwords, Bing Ads, and Gemini are part of a strong online marketing strategy. It’s worth a try to see what PPC can do for your web traffic. Although it isn’t the silver bullet solution for every B2B Business, it can increase visitors and better your search engine placement. When setting up PPC Campaigns, it’s important to group keywords by theme and use as many ad extensions as possible. It’s also critical to lead the user to a specific and relevant landing page when they click on your ad, and critical to have a strong conversion strategy on that page. All of these steps work together to create a strong Paid Search Campaign.
4. Become a resource. Create a hub of knowledge. Share it.
Since you’ve already identified what matters to your audience and what they’re looking for, write about that in your company blog. You’re already an expert at your craft, so become a thought leader. Write original articles and/or curate/link to informative and educational industry content.
Offer free downloadable white papers or eBooks on your website and contact the individuals who downloaded them.
Always keep content focused on your target audience and what may be valuable to them. If you’re talking to a CEO, Hospital Administrator, or Business Owner, keep the content relevant. Don’t dumb it down – give them the inside scoop of what’s happening in their industry news and trends. This is exactly why they should hire you instead of trying to do the work themselves – you’re the expert who can offer added value to them. This makes their jobs easier and makes them look really good to their bosses and/or their clients. Share your articles on social media as well.
At least once per quarter, you should consider reaching out to your business contacts with an email. Either a personal one-on-one email (preferred) or eblast to your group of contacts. The more personal you can make the email, the better. This way you can stay top of mind should the need arise.
Content can be simple—a single blog post or interesting article you found—but whatever you send MUST be relevant and useful to your contacts. Whatever you send should link back to your website.
5. Increase your online marketing presence with social media.
Sure, Facebook, Google+, Yelp, YouTube, and Twitter are primarily consumer-driven, but you should always claim your business page to build your company’s search rankings (SEO).
Also, you’d be surprised at how much B2B Marketing happens through social media networking platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook. Even if your audience is other businesses, there is still one person (CEO, CFO, Hospital Administrator, etc.) that gives the approval to work with you. Even though it’s B2B Marketing, you’re converting individuals, so it’s arguably more personal than B2C. And that requires understanding their industry, their specific needs and pain points, and cultivating those relationships to grow over time to prove your value to the individual.
6. Use PR and outreach to build quality backlinks to your website.
Anytime you’ve got something worth revealing to the public, write a press release about it and circulate it out there on PRWeb, PitchEngine or email it to media contacts. You never know what business journals or industry publications may find interesting enough to print. A PR Agency may be more efficient in this area because they may already have media contacts interested in publishing articles in your line of business. Or if you’ve got media contacts to specific trade pubs or journals, email them your latest news.
Write and submit articles to publications within your industry. Explore Paid Advertorials. Ask industry publications if they have guest writing opportunities for a thought-leader such as yourself. (Give them a link to your well-written blog content, and provide your professional credentials.) You may not have the staff in-house to support the time and effort this takes to chase after, so you can hire an agency to execute, but you should provide guidance on topics and content. The bonus to this is the inbound web traffic you can get when your articles are published to public and well-trafficked sites.
7. Use Analytics to track results of your online marketing.
With B2B Marketing, you can have a prospect visiting your site several times to gather information about you before actually working with you. Google Analytics will help you with tracking results and ROI. Get to know the Google Analytics dashboard your website SHOULD BE set up with. Learn which content and calls to action work best. Set up goals, events, and funnels. Learn which referral sources are strongest at driving relevant traffic, and learn which behavior patterns and paths are most common as people navigate through your site. This will help you optimize your website and content for conversions and strengthen your online marketing.
8. Be sales-ready when your online marketing produces leads.
Never get caught off-guard when you receive inbound leads. Have your sales team ready and respond quickly. Enter the lead into your CRM and add them to your Email/eblast circulation. Start cultivating that relationship and follow up when you say you will.
If you can do just one strategy from this list to strengthen your online marketing, make the appropriate changes to your website to optimize your sales funnel. All of the other strategies rest on an informative and converting website, so this point alone is a top priority. Contact us if you have any questions about your online marketing, website’s sales funnel, or would like an assessment of how to strengthen it.