Welcome to the future of B2B marketing.
In the past two years, about 90% of global data has been generated, which brings us into what Deloitte calls the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Technology has changed how we think, learn, act, and shop, including the B2B field. However, when it comes to B2B marketing, many B2B business owners that we know (to some extent) have made similar mistakes by treating the sales they had along with similar marketing strategies as they did in 1999.
If you are in the same boat, it’s time to catch up: Beanie Babies was a lousy investment, Y2K has never happened, and B2B buyers can now have instant and unrestricted access to information pockets through a small screen that fits their internet connection.
A new study by market research company Gartner found that 77% of B2B buyers still believe that making a purchase is time-consuming and even painful despite the surge in digital visits.
Let’s change it.
After working on the front lines of B2B digital marketing transformation for several years, we understand what it takes to succeed and the reasons for failure. We want to share my internal knowledge with you. Below, we have gathered all the information you need to know about creating a successful B2B marketing strategy in this easy-to-understand guide. It is divided into three steps and eight parts:
Once you have finished this guide, you may have a more powerful understanding of the B2B landscape, behaviors, and trends that you can capitalize on, along with strategies that can be used to increase revenue, sales, and leads.
Making a plan before you prepared anything is almost like bungee jumping, and the rope has not been measured. Suppose you do not have any insights about your audience. In that case, you will not have the marketing framework needed to work or understand the three most important keys of a sales-driven plan, which leads to you not having any success with your B2B marketing plan. This section will help you figure out how to prepare everything you need to put together a winning proposal.
The B2B Digital Transformation and the Modern B2B Buyer Journey
Most of the B2B business owners I talk to understand to some extent what digital transformation is going on as usual. This includes the way buyers find and find B2B suppliers.
Traditionally, there is only one major buyer in B2B sales. They follow a predictable and controlled path, such as the following traditional marketing channel.
The typical marketing lineup includes sales, printed marketing collateral. Sales representatives attended the trade show, made a phone call, and conducted face-to-face business.
These strategies are not as effective as before for four reasons:
- Now, half of all B2B buyers are millennials, who hate to make a phone call.
- More people participate in B2B buying decisions. A typical buying group consists of six to ten members, and 64% of senior staff and executives have the final signing authority, while 81% of non-senior staff also have a say.
- Modern B2B buyers often conduct their research online. Before interacting with the supplier’s website, the average number of online searches for B2B buyers now averaged 12. Before talking to a sales representative, they had completed 57% of the entire purchase process. Even in industry and manufacturing, 67% of purchases are affected by numbers.
- Now, 90% of B2B buyers will twist and turn the sales funnel, then loop back and repeat at least one or more tasks throughout the buyer’s journey
In short, the journey of a new B2B buyer is now a circular multiplayer online journey, full of twists and turns as it flips back and forth during the research and discovery phase:
These stages are similar to the old framework and work as follows:
- Multi-participant consideration and the cycle of research and discovery
- Post-purchase experience and loyalty cycle
The behavior of new B2B buyers is similar to that of B2C consumers. They expect the same purchase experience and service level. Today, 80% of B2B buying decisions are based on the buyer’s direct or indirect customer experience, while only 20% of decisions are based on prices or actual quotes.
This means you need to create a journey-based digital experience to guide your target audience through all stages of the buyer’s journey and make them avid fans and lifelong customers.
The best marketing framework to guide your B2B strategy
I wrote an article similar to this involving a B2C buyer’s journey, and I have always supported my framework for writing this article. As mentioned above, a B2B buyer’s journey is now the same as that of a B2C buyer, except that it involves more people.
The See-Think-Do-Care model divides each stage into audience groups based on consumer intent:
- See: Largest addressable qualified audience without commercial intent
- Thinking: The most massive addressable qualified audience with a specific commercial intent
- Do: The most massive addressable qualified audience with a large number of commercial intentions
- Care: The current customer has two or more business transactions
We can quickly build this framework into our model using a modern buyer cycle:
This framework is particular for digital marketing channels for B2B are superior to other channels, based on the intentions below:
Use this audience guide to guide your marketing decisions, and your strategy will be significantly improved.
The critical elements of a B2B marketing plan that drives sales: demand generation, lead generation, and retention strategies
All B2B customers must complete the following six tasks or tasks when purchasing any B2B:
- Problem identification
- Solution exploration
- Demand establishment
- Supplier Selection
- Reach consensus
To create a customer experience that can solve each task and guide your target audience at all stages of the buyer, your B2B marketing plan should consist of three components:
- Demand generation-channel top-level marketing strategies, which can increase your awareness and interest in products or services. The first few tasks are solved by demand generation that needs to be performed by B2B buyers. These are demand establishment, solution exploration, and problem identification.
- Lead generation-marketing strategies in and at the bottom of the channel, turning interested in action. The lead generation strategy solves the last three tasks that buyers need to perform: supplier selection, verification, and consensus.
- Recovery and Retention – Marketing strategies using loyalty loops can turn a single customer into a repeat customer. It is something that tends to bring customers back to the beginning of the journey through new problem identification and solution exploration.
To complete these three parts, you need to use the following top ten B2B marketing strategies:
- Great website
- Social media marketing
- Video marketing
- Content marketing
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Pay-per-click advertising (PPC)
- Event marketing
- Membership and partnership
- Marketing automation (including email marketing)
- Depending on how you apply, some of these channels and strategies work at multiple stages in the buyer cycle, so they are listed multiple times below.
Now that you understand the marketing environment, have a working framework and know the critical elements required for effective marketing strategies, it is time to start planning. To plan correctly, you need to understand which marketing channels are the most effective for potential customer generation, demand generation, and retention. The following sections will guide you through the best marketing strategy for each stage.
The Best Sales Funnel Marketing Strategy is a Professional B2B Site
Your site is going to be a huge marketing tool. If you do not have a professional design for your site, then get one.
This area needs its section because it plays a huge part in each stage of the buying journey. Most B2B customers will expect their site to be a helpful channel and more than 30% expect the website to be useful. The number grows as more baby boomers start to leave the workforce and more millennials and Gen-Z start to take on buyer roles.
Your site will need five things besides having great content if you are looking to generate sales and leads.
It needs to be fast. 40% of users will leave a page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
It needs to be secure. 85% of people will not browse an unsecured site. Ensure that your site uses HTTPS by buying an SSL certificate.
It needs to be mobile-friendly. Over 60% of traffic will come from mobile devices, and 80% of buyers will use their device at work, and over 90% of buyers stated they would purchase again from a company that provides a great mobile experience. When you compare all of this to the 50% of people who have had a bad experience, it is easy to see why mobile will drive more than 40% of revenue, and 50% of searches are done on smartphones.
It needs to be actionable. Your site is not a brochure. It is a sales rep that is available 24 hours a day. 44% of marketers state that leaving sites is that there is no contact information that is visible immediately. Your site needs to have a clear call to action, authority builders like awards, affiliations, and testimonials, and engaging contact forms.
It needs to be professionally designed. Over 37% of buyers will leave a site because of bad navigation or poor design, and 46% will leave due to not having a clear message on what the company does. Not to mention that a single bad experience on a site will make 88% of people less likely to come back to your site.
Demand Generation B2B Marketing Strategies
There are thousands of businesses that will need your products or services. However, most of them do not even know that they do or even have a problem. That is where demand generation comes into play.
Demand generation marketing is what makes buyers and businesses aware of the problem that they have and are now aware of a solution that exists that you have. They will become interested in learning about your service or product. It is these digital strategies that have worked the best for demand generation:
- Social media marketing
- Video marketing
- Content marketing
- Display advertising
SEO or Search Engine Optimization
SEO is when you change the code and content on your site to rank higher in search engines for specific phrases and keywords. That is something you need because 71% of researchers will start with generic searches and 12 average searches before they engage on a business site.
It means that there are 12 opportunities for your site to be at the top of search results and get buyers’ attention.
SEO will fit the demand and lead generation based on what phrases and keywords you have optimized. For instance, if you optimize content for brand marketing, you may catch someone who is starting on a marketing journey. However, if you switch it to brand marketing agency reviews, you may get people in the purchase stage of the journey, which is called optimizing for search intent.
Social Media Marketing
Social media is a modern billboard that can help your business. However, before you jump into social media marketing, you need to pick your platform carefully because not all platforms are suitable for every business. However, that does not go for LinkedIn because that is a must for all B2B companies.
Before you go and put all of your budgets into social media, it is best to understand that it may not be the top source for B2B sales and leads, and that is why it is more about demand generation.
The question is if it will support lead generation and improve your branding?
It can if you are good at it. That is the thing. You have to be good at it or have a social media marketing company. When it comes to people with experience managing social media for B2B companies, the following are the best posts for demand generation:
- Industry research, white papers, case studies
- Attention-grabbing videos under 1 minute long, how-to content, and branding
- Industry news
- Did you know facts and statistics
- Previous and upcoming webinars
- Blog posts
70% of B2B researchers and buyers will watch videos during the purchase path. People love online videos because they are the easiest and fastest way to get information.
That is not the only reason that videos are used in the awareness stage. Your viewers will retain 95% of the message when they watch the video compared to only 10% when it is read in the text.
You can get attention by using funnel video marketing. The best types of videos for this are:
- Attention-grabbing, funny, or entertaining videos
- Blog videos
- Branded video ads or videos
- How-to videos
- Video preroll and midroll YouTube ads
The main point is that you have to distribute these videos. It is possible to make tons of videos and let them sit on YouTube, but that is not that effective. It is easier to get your videos out there by using social media ads and PPC ads.
B2B Content Marketing
When it comes to B2B marketers, content marketing is a giant bucket, and it’s being used by over 90% of markets. That includes infographics, case studies, white papers, ebooks, email newsletters, FAQs, news articles, press releases, videos, social media, and blogs, as well as more granular pieces.
This is something you need because plenty of buyers are now relying on digital content to make choices, and over 50% of B2B buyers are viewing around eight items of content during the whole purchase process. Over 80% of those people are going to see five articles. 75% of buyers will tell you that content will impact their choices, and 62% states that they can make that purchase based on digital content.
The biggest mistake that you can make for content marketing is to make it about you. You need to create buyer enablement content, which is going to help them to complete buying tasks.
Below are options that work best for the marketing funnel:
Ebooks – To make ebooks useful to you, make sure to provide readers with actionable summaries and valuable resources such as checklists, tips, and practical guides. The biggest mistake that an ebook can make is to favor you too much, making buyers’ heartbeat.
Social media posts-see below.
Infographics – Images attract our minds, and it is easier for the brain to understand them. We can process visual scenes in less than 1/10 second. Essentially, infographics compress information into easy-to-understand snapshots.
Blog posts-Blogs in the demand generation stage should make buyers understand and be interested in your products. Identify the problem that your product or service solves and include it in an engaging blog post. The idea here is to move away from producing content that focuses on the work you do and create more content to show customers that you understand their pain points and eliminate them. Bonus points for blogs that complete the narrative and establish a human connection, which B2B buyers love. Reminder: If you want these blogs to serve you, you need to distribute them and optimize them for search engines (for more information on SEO, see below)
Don’t forget you need a content distribution plan for the content to serve you.
The beginning of the B2B buyer channel is the “see” stage, and display advertising is a perfect “see” strategy. If you are not familiar with them, display ads are image, video, and text ads displayed on pages of websites participating in the Google AdSense program.
Display advertising is a reliable medium at the top of the funnel for two reasons:
Using the mobile phone theory, even if consumers are distracted, they can subtly absorb things around them. Later, these subconscious environments look familiar, which means that consumers can remember your company by merely sneaking into the PPC information display ads when doing other things.
Contextual advertising-advertising on websites related to the content of the page.
B2B potential customer marketing strategy
After the buyer understands your product or service, you can push it to the “thinking” and “executing” stages. The following are the best marketing strategies for B2B lead generation:
- Content marketing
- Affiliates, testimonials, partnerships
- PPC search ads
Pay-per-click advertising (PPC)
What if you could advertise to buyers when they are looking for your products and services? You can use PPC to search for ads.
Now, open a new tab in the web browser and then open the Google tab. See the ads that occupy the top of the search results page? These are PPC search ads. People like them very much, and 75% of those who click on the ads say that paid search ads make it easier to find the information they searched online. Another reason to use search advertising for mid-channel marketing? You can bid on keywords and phrases to attract customers to your website. If you are good at it, you can find the keyword phrases that bring the most potential customers and sales, reducing advertising costs and increasing your return.
You know this sentence: “Invisible, forget it?” With remarketing, you will never exceed the sight or mind of your target audience. Remarketing (or retargeting) is the practice of serving ads over the Internet to users who have already visited your website. By placing ads on the websites and platforms they use most often, your company can appear to be “following” people on the web.
On average, only 2% of website visitors convert. Remarketing is followed by 98%.
Guess what? Remarketing can increase conversions. WordStream’s research found that the more users see an ad, the higher the conversion rate.
In a B2B setting, events help generate the most clues. Compared with previous years, this has not changed. Today, competent buyers still want to build relationships, and events are the best way to achieve this relationship. If you cannot host an event, make sure to go to an event related to your industry and always research the participants.
Partnerships, Awards, Testimonials, Affiliates
Some marketing strategies can help discerning potential customers become reliable sales leads and sales opportunities. Create an authorization creator is one of them. When it comes to authority, anyone who knows nothing about the business will find that it is not so much you know it as someone you know.
Please take a minute to leave this article, and then consider hiring someone to repair the roof. You have narrowed it down to two companies that have the same price and the same overall evaluation. On a company’s website, you can see that they are affiliated with the National Reinvention Industry Association (NARI) and have an A+ rating (BBB A+) from the Better Business Bureau. The website of another company does not have any awards, partnerships, or affiliations.
You have five seconds-which one would you choose?
From my intuition (to be honest, this is actually where most purchase decisions are), I choose someone with a BBB A+ level and NARI membership. Why? Because it increases my confidence in their qualifications and standards.
Blank, creating a wide range of referrals, affiliation, and partnership networks, and certification/reward is the best way to gain authority through the association.
Search Engine Optimization
As mentioned above, SEO can meet the needs of potential customers and meet the needs of demand. The difference here lies in the content or search intent you want to optimize. For B2B potential customers, you need to focus on key phrases with high commercial intent, including:
- Location-specific keyword modifiers, such as city, state, or zip code
- Comparison, cost, and pricing terms, such as “review,” “how much,” or “cost.”
- Contact keywords, such as “contact”, “call” or “request”
- Brand and competitor terms
- Keywords related to the purchase, such as “buy,” “RFP,” “package,” or “quote.”
If you must choose a B2B marketing channel to find potential customers, it should be SEO. SEO is one of the most effective (if not the most effective) B2B lead generation strategies.
You will see above that we have transformed our blog from the worst lead generator to the best lead generator, and you can do it too. Blogs and webinars are massive demand generators, but you need to solve another potential customer-generated content marketing problem. In the lead generation stage, you need to solve the last three tasks/work that buyers must complete during the purchase process: supplier selection, verification, and consensus. The best content marketing works at this stage are works that show your authority, expertise, and results; and shareable buy-in works, which marketers can easily explain to other stakeholders and distribute to other stakeholders:
- Press coverage
- Infographics and explainer videos about your products/services and how they benefit your target audience
- Testimonials and reviews
- Blogs that display your expertise in your industry (think: “how-to X,” “how we did X,” “why you should X,” and “ultimate guide” blogs)
- Content that helps create buy-in from other parties in the purchase process
- White papers
- Case studies
- Anecdotes about your company’s culture, history, and core values
- Blurbs about awards and partnerships
- News releases
It should be noted that at present, 57% of buyers said that many of the B2B content is rubbish.
What buyers want: customer/partner examples, content from reliable sources, and short, digestible content. Avoid selling product features, articles written by inexperienced professionals, and lengthy content.
B2B marketing strategy for customer retention and recovery
Great, you have a new customer!
Now, how will you keep them? An essential part of the B2B buyer journey is the loyalty cycle-according to marketing metrics. The profit of selling to existing customers is 350% higher than selling to new customers. The goal is to make your buyers start the whole process from scratch with new products or additional services and become your brand advocates even better.
The following strategies are the best way to achieve customer retention and recovery.
Content marketing is one of the best ways to maintain current customer interest. Not only does it keep your company ahead, but it also enables your buyers to make better decisions based on your services or products. Five types of content marketing can be used for customer retention and recovery:
- Social media-regularly post your blog, webinars, new products, and customer recommendations to your social media profile. You never know when they will see something that excites them.
- Ebooks and white papers – Now, you have a customer, and you can enhance their capabilities by providing them with educational materials in the form of white papers and ebooks.
- Webinars-through educational webinars, interviews, and Q&A, help customers use your products or use your services more effectively.
- Blog – Every morning, I read my favorite marketing and MarTech blogs to keep up with the latest news. The better the blog, the more skills and knowledge I gain, and the more respect I have for suppliers, I will be more likely to use them again.
- Video – Video marketing is very suitable for retaining and resuming customers. If you use a 360-degree interactive video, it can be a very novel B2B marketing strategy. Create video versions of blogs, explainer videos, and short advertisements for different products and services.
Marketing automation (including email marketing)
So far, email is a very traditional B2B marketing strategy, both ancient and delicious. This is a great way to stay in top shape and help your existing customer base understand the company’s new products, insights, and deals/savings.
Marketers who did this correctly saw, on average, an increase in revenue from segmented, tailored marketing activities by 760%.
Some examples of good email marketing for the bottom of the funnel include:
- Staff introduction emails
- New ebook announcements
- Webinar announcements and reminders
- Thank-you and culture-building emails
- New service offering notifications
- Webinar notifications
- Blog newsletters
- Monthly newsletters
After creating requirements generation, lead generation, and retention and recovery plans, you can execute them. The B2B marketing plan’s correct execution is that critical-mistakes will affect your overall pace and customer experience. The following sections will guide you through the process of correctly executing a digital marketing plan.
Implementing a B2B marketing plan in 2020: five steps
Now you know the best B2B marketing strategies and channels for each stage of the buyer channel.
Unless you know how to execute these strategies, it’s worth squatting.
Step 1: Determine the target audience and its behavior characteristics
Who are your customers?
Most B2B business owners are not satisfied with the company name or job title. Bad news-this is not your target audience. This means that the title or job role does not describe their behavior, motivation to buy, and reaction to certain marketing content. Different people are motivated and participated in different things, not to mention that modern B2B sales channels involve multiple people. Open the Excel worksheet, contact the key players in your company, and write down the following about your target audience:
- Their motivation for using your product
- Their preferred communication method (Do they use email more than social media? Do they watch more videos on YouTube or Facebook? Are they more likely to read charts or white papers?)
- Their common interests
- Their general demographics
- Pain points solved by your product or service
You can use Facebook’s audience insights and your own Google Analytics data to do this.
After determining who your target audience is, what motivates them, their pain points, and how they like to communicate, you can start with the second step.
Step 2: Identify your weaknesses through digital competitive analysis
Everything you do depends on your digital competitor analysis. Ultimately, the company’s growth depends on how you compete with your competitors. If you don’t know the score, you cannot win the game. This is what we always include in our competitive analysis and what you should include in our competitive analysis:
- Customer and employee satisfaction evaluation, including online reputation evaluation
- Online advertising evaluation on PPC and social media sites
- Product, service, and value proposition evaluation, including in which sales funnels you and your competitors encourage potential customers (determine how to cultivate more opportunities and sales leads)
- Marketing content evaluation (white papers, ebooks, email newsletters, etc.)
- Evaluation of search engine real estate can include content authorization, current search result ranking, content authorization, and search opportunities
- Evaluation of your website
With a comprehensive competitive analysis, you should be able to identify opportunities, threats, weaknesses, and strengths through a perspective of digital marketing, which may include insights that can be used to close gaps and stand out from the competition.
Step 3: Determine the goal
View your digital competition analysis. Where do you need to stay ahead of the competition? Any more clues? More conversions? A better brand? Determine your goals, write them down, and review them frequently.
Step 4: Put your goals into the best B2B digital marketing strategy
With goals, you can match each goal with the best B2B marketing strategy. For example, if your main goal is to increase potential customers by 20%, the generation of potential customers will be your most significant gain. If you need more people to understand your product, then demand growth should be your top priority. If your review fails and you don’t seem to retain customers, more effort will be required during customer retention periods. Need something a little bit? Excellent, as long as you track and test everything.
Step 5: Track, test, adjust, repeat
At Blue Corona, our mantra is to track, test, adjust, and repeat. This is how we operate. The root cause is data and analysis. We track marketing activities, test new strategies, adjust activities based on the results, and repeat the process. The result is a digital marketing success.
I saw two camps of business owners walk into our door. These camps did not make full use of their analytical capabilities and were drowned in data. Both solutions are to determine which indicator is essential. To do this, you need to understand the difference between indicators and key performance indicators (KPIs).
Indicators: indicators are numbers
KPI: KPI is the indicator most closely related to overall business success
Although metrics help form specific campaigns, only individual campaigns can help you optimize and customize your business strategy.
Bounce rate, page views, time on page, new visitors, and search ranking are all indicators.
The following are the KPIs that are critical to your digital marketing strategy:
- Cost per lead (CPL)
- Booking rate (from calls)
- Lead-to-sale conversion rate
- Return on marketing investment (ROMI)
- Total sales
Time is up. Need help with marketing for B2B companies? We have your support.
If you are not familiar with digital marketing experts’ skills and tricks, the strategic planning process of B2B marketing will be a tricky problem. I hope you have learned enough from this guide to start developing a B2B marketing plan.