29 min read
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Updated: August 28, 2022

Digital Marketing for B2B Businesses

Digital marketing is the fuel that keeps the sales cycle well-oiled and running during a recession. Despite its fundamental role and value, many businesses adopt a knee-jerk reaction and cut spending when they should double down to maintain healthy profit margins.

Leading brands don’t slash marketing spend during economic downturns. AndB2B buyers are somewhat more predictable than general consumers, which is advantageous as Google Analytics provides high-quality market intelligence, enabling companies to meet the market’s needs with unsurpassed accuracy and detail.

If you’re a B2B business owner unsure of why B2B digital marketing is necessary or know you need to invest in B2B web marketing tactics but don’t know how, this guide is for you!

What Is B2B Marketing?

B2B strategy

Digital marketing for B2B companies is the marketing of products and services to other businesses and organizations. It utilizes similar strategies and tactics as business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing, except its approach is more informational and straightforward than B2C.

This is primarily because corporate purchase decisions are based on revenue impact. Return on investments (ROI) is seldom a consideration for the ordinary consumer — in a monetary sense — however, it’s the chief focus of business decision-makers.

Because B2B products and services are complex and expensive, developing long-term relationships is critical. An average consumer purchasing a cheap t-shirt won’t bother too much about whom they buy from, yet a business investing in mining equipment will go through an exhaustive but necessary process to find the right supplier.

What Makes B2B Digital Marketing Strategies Challenging?

B2B markets sell directly to buying committees with various stakeholders, which produces a challenging landscape as decisions filter through multiple people and processes. Therefore, digital marketing tactics have to reach both influencers and decision-makers at the right time and place.

Digital marketing can improve the sales funnel by identifying specific opportunities or touchpoints to enhance brand awareness and customer loyalty. And onboarding the right marketing team will certainly invigorate and transform outdated, dry, and unengaging marketing strategies.

Although the fundamental purpose of B2B digital remains the same, digital transformation, COVID-19, and the impending recession have revolutionized the way it happens and introduced unique challenges.

Increased Buyer Expectations

Customers expect seamless, personalized experiences across every digital channel at every stage of the sales funnel. A State of Marketing Report by customer relationship management platform company Salesforce found over 70% of customers expect consistent interactions across business departments.

In a digital marketing context, this translates to:

  • Personalized messaging and offers based on different customer segment’s pain points
  • Effortless communication on any channel
  • Anticipation of customers’ future needs.

Unquestionably, these non-negotiable expectations for digital customers require capital and marketing expertise to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction.

Failed Account-Based Marketing

Account-based marketing (ABM) is a form of marketing often used in the B2B space that targets individual accounts as markets in their own right. An ABM approach identifies the best-fit accounts with the highest revenue potential and personalizes marketing to key decision-makers to convert them into customers.

However, this doesn’t work if sales and marketing teams aren’t aligned. Too often marketers focus on lead generation, and sales focus on conversion when they should be working towards a common goal and cross-referencing data rather than operating in silos.

Poor Content Marketing

B2B prospects are highly knowledgeable and short on time. They respond to specific (not generalized) content that explains how your products or services solve their pressing business needs.

With content marketing, B2B companies make the mistake of trying to appeal to multi-level roles within their target audience. As a result, it’s engaging to no one.

Typically, this comes down to a surface understanding of buyer personas. You have to understand not just basic demographics, but also different segments’ buying processes.

Ineffective Measurement of Return on Investment (ROI)

A digital marketing strategy for a B2B company is incomplete without performance analysis. Sometimes, it’s a matter of measuring the wrong data while at others it’s not connecting the dots between data and marketing performance that leads to poor campaign results.

Part of collecting the right data for reliable forecasting is avoiding vanity metrics that endanger success and doing away with data silos. It’s common to deal with a variety of data, which affirms the importance of data hygiene. A structured and standard data collection process reduces errors and improves the measurement of ROI.

B2B vs. B2C Marketing: What Makes B2B Digital Marketing Different?

B2B vs B2C

Marketing software company HubSpot offers a succinct explanation of the difference between B2B and B2C digital marketing strategies:

“B2B and B2C marketing differ primarily in terms of their audiences and how they communicate to them. While B2C marketing focuses on quick solutions and enjoyable content, B2B marketing is more concerned with building long-term relationships and providing a product’s return on investment for a business customer.”

Compared to B2C companies, B2B companies take longer to make purchasing decisions since they are larger, more expensive, and done by committee. This presents a challenge for B2B marketers tasked with addressing several personas within a single sale. Each has unique needs, concerns, and goals related to the purchase and often joins the decision-making process at different stages.

Additionally, logic underpins B2B marketing. There are little to zero emotions involved in the process as key decision-makers have to convince stakeholders your particular product or service is the best choice for their organization.

Therefore, marketing materials tend to be straightforward and technical rather than appealing to consumer emotions. They focus on building confidence in potential customers through product facts and case studies.

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The Role of Digital Marketing in B2B: Is It Worth It?

99% of companies search for suppliers online, seeking options in the market, comparing characteristics and prices, so they can purchase from the best supplier. Companies that don’t invest in an effective digital marketing strategy are definitely missing out on their share of the market.

The pre-COVID prevailing wisdom that eCommerce was for smaller-ticker items and fast-moving parts is no longer relevant. Consulting firm McKinsey & Company found that notably, 70% of B2B decision-makers say they are open to making new, fully self-serve, or remote purchases exceeding $50,000, and 27% would spend more than $500,000.

The pandemic accelerated eCommerce. Now, digital platforms are the primary modes of business, and digital marketing offers a blueprint for growing an online presence and market share growth.

Skilfully executed B2B web marketing tactics build your brand to generate leads that move them across the funnel. B2B digital marketing indisputably provides more nuanced targeting and better analysis of your strategies, thus helping your business to reiterate what works.

How to Set Up the Best B2B Digital Marketing Strategy?

b2b statistics

The best digital marketing strategies offer cost-effective outreach and personalization on a mass scale to reach more customers within your business niche. Companies already leveraging a digital marketing strategy report up to 280% better revenue growth expectancy, compared to those that are yet to adopt digital transformation.

For B2B businesses operating in the global marketplace, staying on top of the game and retaining a competitive advantage is nearly impossible without B2B digital marketing. Automated and integrated B2B digital marketing technology helps re-orchestrate the customer experience and align the sales process in real-time to attract and convert leads into paying customers.

70% of B2B decision-makers say they are open to making new, fully self-serve, or remote purchases in excess of $50,000, and 27% would spend more than $500,000

It’s useful to view your digital marketing strategy as a plan for establishing an online presence through channels like organic search, social media, paid ads, and other web-based mediums like your website and email.

Developing digital marketing for B2B businesses is a dynamic and ongoing process. Once you have the basics down, you’ll need to optimize to accommodate search engine upgrades and customer behavior trends.

While the details are more complicated, in broad strokes, it entails:

  1. Developing a mobile-friendly website
  2. Segmenting your market
  3. Creating customer profiles for each segment
  4. Conducting a competitor analysis
  5. Establishing a unique selling proposition
  6. Publishing marketing content that takes prospects through the buyer’s journey
  7. Identifying channels and resources to reach customers
  8. Analyzing campaign efforts and optimizing

Examples of B2B Digital Marketing Strategies

Between budget limits and channel decisions, there’s a lot that goes into an effective B2B digital marketing strategy. Below are examples of high-performing strategies.

#1 Content Marketing and Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing work together to drive quality traffic to websites and landing pages. Content marketing relies on SEO to boost website visibility in search engines, and for SEO to work, content has to be of high quality. Both these strategies are integral to B2B digital marketing.

SEO gets your web page to rank higher in search engine results pages. Because search is one of the main ways in which customers discover content online, ranking higher leads to an increase in traffic.

Content will keep an individual customer segment on the page, and SEO is a way to get individual consumers there in the first place. Combining SEO and content marketing increases traffic, strengthens authority and ensures you offer a better online experience with relevant information to your core audience across search engines and devices.

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#2 Inbound Marketing and Automation

Traditional outbound marketing interrupts audiences with content they don’t want, whereas inbound marketing attracts leads by creating valuable and strategic online content and experiences tailored to their specific interests.

Because they are already searching for answers online, the goal is to publish content that speaks to every stage of their buying process to capture where these potential customers are naturally online.

Implementing inbound marketing entails a thorough understanding of your target demographics and the development and publishing of quality content on effective digital marketing channels.

Having an SEO-friendly digital website, clear and measurable KPIs, and a savvy digital marketing team is a must. Because inbound marking is not a tactic but a methodology, it affects every facet of a B2B business.

Furthermore, marketing automation plays an integral role in inbound marketing. It helps marketing departments automate repetitive campaign tasks—not just for efficiency, but also to provide a more personalized experience to customers.

Businesses that invest in automation software experience a 14% increase in sales and a 12% reduction in marketing overheads. Data gathered via marketing automation is useful for qualifying leads before they reach sales. Lead scoring and lead grading are much easier with the right software system.

Then there’s also the ability to assemble complex customer profiles and A/B test marketing assets to find which tactics work best, and truly understand how marketing and sales are impacting the bottom line.

#3 Solid Branding

Maintaining coherence when building brand awareness requires design consistency across all digital channels. Beyond eye-catching logos, the role of digital marketing in b2b branding increases the value of a company and allows your organization to build meaningful relationships with customers.

Branding isn’t just a visual identity, but rather the “perpetual process of identifying, creating, and managing the cumulative assets and actions that shape the reception of a brand in stakeholders’ minds.”

Branding helps B2B companies distinguish themselves from competitors and represents how organizations wish to be perceived. Developing solid branding benefits many business areas like advertising, customer service, reputation, visuals, social responsibility, and company culture.

To quote chief strategy officer Niel Parker: “A good definition of brand strategy is the considered intent for the positive role a company wants to play in the lives of the people it serves and the communities around it.”

#4 Analyze the Competition

Before any company develops a B2B digital marketing strategy, it should conduct a digital marketing competitor analysis to understand its competitor’s strengths and weaknesses and identify gaps in the market it can capitalize on.

It’s a great tool to help organizations stay relevant and improve their offerings. An analysis will empower your company by helping:

  • Evaluate the viability of new products and services
  • Rating the effectiveness of your marketing
  • Uncovering market trends
  • Establishing a brand benchmark
  • Identifying potential threats

A competitor analysis will always reveal how to keep the attention of new clients and where to outdo competitors. We recommend including information related to trends in your market and region for a comprehensive picture of the entire competitive landscape.

#5 Utilize Different Marketing Channels

Since the disruption of COVID-19, B2B customers now use ten or more channels to interact with suppliers.

For instance, face-to-face, videoconferencing, online chat, online marketplaces, and social media platforms have all become critical engagement touchpoints at every stage of the buyer’s journey.

We refer to this as multichannel marketing. Since audiences hop around platforms, one channel no longer guarantees exposure to your marketing campaigns. You need to use multiple platforms to amplify frequency, reach, and engagement.

After all, The Rule of 7 stipulates a potential customer has to see a message at least seven times before they’re provoked to act.

How Can a B2B Digital Marketing Agency Help?

Digital marketing agencies take care of digital marketing for B2B businesses, including everything that we’ve already touched upon, and more.

In the rare case, you’re a professional marketer; it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to stay on top of your company’s digital marketing demands.

Thus, the major benefit of hiring an agency is acquiring a team of specialists to successfully pull off B2B marketing tactics that rake in leads and revenue.

When you hire an agency, you don’t have to keep abreast of every new marketing development and constantly update your strategy—that’s their responsibility!

In fact, they’ll update you with regular reports on KPI progress and what tactics they’re using to achieve your business objectives.

Beyond obvious expertise and cost savings, a digital marketing agency offers scalability, without constraining your current business or having to expand your team. As your B2B business grows, so will your marketing demands, and an agency will have no problem meeting these increased needs.

Some would argue the secret to business success is outsourcing work to experts to mitigate opportunity costs. Every hour spent trying to “master” B2B marketing is an hour that could have gone toward more productive activity.

Business owners who understand their strengths and the value of their time, know it’s better to outsource expertise. It’s little wonder that nearly two-thirds of B2B companies outsource marketing.

The Top 7 B2B Web Marketing Tactics

7 marketing tactics

1. B2B Video Marketing

Over 50% of consumers prefer video to other types of content. However, B2B companies new to video content marketing might struggle to conceive how to convey technical information via instructional videos without coming across as a talking head.

What Is the Best Video Content for B2B?

The key is to make content engaging and accessible with storytelling and strong visuals. The best marketing videos share the human story within their product, creating engaging and informative content that’s on-brand.

Because B2B products are typically more complex, product videos do an outstanding job at getting your target audience to understand how they work and how they can improve their business.

Video also performs well on social media and can generate demand for your product, while keeping your sale pipeline flowing with new leads.

Some B2B marketing content videos might include: product demos, explainers, expert interviews, customer testimonials, and company news, for instance.

2. B2B Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is about building relationships with your target market. Rather than focusing on selling, B2B companies should use social media platforms as top-of-the-funnel marketing channels to publish digital content and promote awareness.

Use Business Leaders to Promote and Endorse You

While it might be appropriate to share technical information now and then, the primary focus should be on how-to information, trends, tips, and strategy related to your services or products.

Social media is also the perfect place to develop thought leadership. When companies accrue notoriety through a high level of thought leadership, they become trusted brands, ultimately leading to increased sales.

Getting expert endorsements from established professionals is one way to bolster thought leadership because it establishes true credibility. Experts have reliable track records and the ability to advocate for your products in a way that instills consumer trust.

3. B2B Referral Marketing

According to Harvard Business Review, 84% of B2B sales begin with a referral. Referral marketing can happen via word of mouth or through a planned marketing referral strategy. The latter is more reliable, as organic referrals tend to lack frequency and predictability. And, marketing automation in the digital age makes it easy to track Referral Sales from customer bases.

The benefits of referral programs outweigh the costs because they attract high-quality leads without draining the marketing budget. Using B2B referral marketing software can: increase conversion rates, help collect data for future referral projects, and lower the cost of customer acquisition. With appealing incentives, it’s possible to attract four times more potential clients, compared to other marketing methods.

Using B2B referral marketing software can: increase conversion rates, help collect data for future referral projects, and lower the cost of customer acquisition.

4. B2B Email Marketing

Email newsletters are the gold of content marketing, and often the most critical component. It’s the only time B2B companies can completely control their audience. Think about it, while social media marketing appeals to a target audience, it still doesn’t quite possess the same personalization as an email address.

On average, B2B companies send out one email marketing campaign every 25 days, and with good reason. Marketing products and services via email are fast, flexible, and cost-effective. Emails reach your target audience and retain existing customers by encouraging repeat purchases. What’s more, email drip campaigns are super effective for B2B businesses and customers who typically engage in longer sales cycles.

5. Influencer Marketing

Mistakenly believed to only be useful in the B2C marketing sphere, B2B influencer marketing has actually proven equally successful in the B2B arena. Influencers are celebrities who have made names for themselves through social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and Twitch.

What differentiates influencer marketing from getting business leaders to endorse you, is that you pay influencers to promote whatever you have to offer. So, rather than selling directly to a large audience, you focus on key players to drive your brand message.

And there’s a positive ROI too. B2B companies working with influencers make $5.20 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing.

6 Segment Your Efforts

Segmentation is an oft drummed-in and repeated phrase that isn’t always applied correctly in B2B online marketing. To break it down, it’s the process of dividing a customer database into groups based on single or multiple criteria. Sure, every B2B company has a niche they appeal to, but even within this small group, there are sub-sets, which is where segmentation can optimize marketing efforts.

Why Segmentation Benefits Digital Marketing

Segmentation helps improve marketing campaigns and generate quality leads by targeting the right target audience, at the right time. When B2B companies understand their target audiences, they better tailor their messaging to resolve their pain points. Effective segmentation can power product development cycles for different segments, like middle managers vs. high-powered executives.

7 Always Adapt

If anything, the last two years have demonstrated the importance of having a flexible marketing team and agile digital strategies. Staying relevant in a competitive marketing landscape comes down to adopting evolving technologies, embracing changes in consumer behavior, and tweaking strategies to meet market demands.

While the principles of digital marketing strategies remain the same, the tactics are always in flux. Real-time feedback from Analytics demands any B2B digital marketing strategy be capable of tweaking engaging content, PPC ads, and social media channels to engage prospective customers as their wants and needs change.

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Conclusion

Every B2B business should have a digital and social media presence comprised of paid ads, search engine optimization, a mobile-friendly website, and paid search ads that tell a brand’s story and generate leads. With a little time and effort, digital marketing can yield highly profitable results for B2B companies.

Of course, if you don’t have the time, or the skill set to truly leverage the benefits of online marketing, you can always hire professionals to execute and manage everything for you. Comrade Digital Marketing Agency is a full-service digital marketing company offering everything from website development to the management of PPC campaigns and search engine marketing. Call us at (312) 265-0580 or contact our B2B marketing experts to jump-start your B2B revenue-driven digital marketing strategy.

FAQ

What Are the Benefits of Digital Marketing for B2B businesses?

Digital Marketing for B2B Business produces top-quality leads for your sales teams, strengthens online awareness, and brings unlimited global growth. Its laser-targeted approach is cost-effective, measurable and is the most effective way to reach potential customers online.

How Are B2B and B2C Digital Marketing Different?

B2C brands sell goods and services directly to consumers for personal use, whereas B2B brands only deal with businesses. As such, their marketing tactics are based on building lasting and loyal customer relationships because their sales funnels are longer than B2C brands.

What Are the Best B2B Marketing Strategies?

The best B2B digital marketing strategies are agile, buyer-centric and strategically designed to nudge leads down the sales funnel. They involve establishing a strong online presence with SEO and distributing content marketing assets across selected social media and digital channels, as well as investing in paid advertising.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

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About the Author
Stan Bogdashin
Stan co-founded Comrade Digital Marketing and serves as its marketing strategist and IT expert recruiter.
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