Business to business (B2B) buyers say they often feel overwhelmed because of the number of options they face. They can access more information than ever before, but according to a 2019 Gartner survey of 750 B2B buyers, 77% felt that their latest purchase was “very complex or difficult.” Brent Adamson, distinguished VP at Gartner, puts it well: “As hard as it has become to sell in today’s world, it has become that much more difficult to buy.”
Modern B2B marketers are refocusing their efforts. Instead of thinking about how to sell to customers, they’re concentrating on how to help customers buy. With this new focus, marketers are rethinking B2B marketing strategies and activities. Here are the top 10 essential B2B marketing strategies that you can’t ignore if you want to help B2B buyers make purchasing decisions in your favor.
1. Get on the hottest trend: podcasting
Podcasts are taking off—90 million Americans listen to podcasts at least once a month. Among them, 13 million listeners say they love business podcasts, and 52 million consider themselves “casual fans.”
Business podcasts offer a return on investment in at least three significant ways. First, they position you as a helpful, go-to expert in the industry—call it “thought leadership.” People will perceive you as the person who possesses both valuable industry knowledge and a sincere desire to share it. Second, podcasts build a loyal audience which may include prospective buyers. Finally, podcasts create opportunities to invite your best potential clients to come on your show as guests.
“In a nutshell, podcasting gives you credibility and provides you with a bright and shiny spotlight that you can shine on others within your industry,” says James Carbary, CEO of Sweet Fish Media.
2. Build pillar content like other marketing moguls
This piece of advice comes straight from internet marketing mogul Gary Vaynerchuk. Vaynerchuk considers pillar content at the top of his inverted marketing pyramid. From there, pillar content breaks into a variety of short-form pieces—videos, blogs, social media posts, GIFs, quotes, and so forth—that he distributes across social media. And he’s not alone in this approach.
B2B marketers use pillar pages because they show industry authority and are terrific for B2B conversion rate optimization. A pillar page can contain content that applies to each stage of a buyer’s journey, so you only have to create a single source to benefit all of your prospects.
3. Prospects are on multiple platforms, so create a content distribution plan
Once you’ve built a pillar page and broken it down into bite-sized pieces of content, distribute your content across the web. Each content format needs its own distribution plan—one for video, another for social, a third for long-form writing, and so on. Research your platforms to know where your prospects hang out online.
Customers in the B2B sector frequent LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Quora. But don’t forget potential hotspots like YouTube, Apple podcasts, and Spotify. While these may not always be spaces that capture leads off the bat, they can pay off in brand awareness.
Also, make sure your plan includes metrics that go beyond clicks, likes, and comments. You’ll want to look past these vanity metrics and measure tougher things like engagement and lead generation.
4. Pick up low-hanging fruit with search engine optimization
Some of us marketers have gotten a reputation as distractible types that chase every glittering object. When we do that, we lose sight of the basics, such as search engine optimization (SEO).
SEO had pulled in business for companies since the 1990s, back when Yahoo was still the sultan of search. While SEO has changed since those days, the benefits of using SEO as a strategy have not. To this day, 89% of B2B buyers research products or services online before buying them, according to HubSpot. B2B buyers will read the articles on the first three pages of search results. If your piece isn’t there, they won’t read it. So be sure to optimize all of your content to rank high for the right searches.
5. Fashion a high-performance website that impresses
A website is your home on the internet. You want your home to look good when your prospective buyers visit. But what makes a good-looking B2B website in 2020?
B2B website best practices include high-end design and authoritative content that supports a lengthy sales cycle. In the past, B2B websites got away with lackluster design. But that’s no longer the case.
Now, buyers expect to be visually wowed by a fast website with a clean design when they are considering buying. They want to trust that your website and business are legitimate. Buyers also want to feel well informed before they ever pick up the phone to call the company. Plus, with AI, today’s buyers expect B2B website personalization, which treats returning visitors as friends, not as faceless browsers.
Your website needs to house extensive and authoritative content and support the sales professional over a cycle that can last six months to two years. Building such a website requires a considerable investment of time and skill, but the results are worth it.
6. Swipe ideas from your B2C marketing peers
B2B internet advertising shares a lot in common with its B2C peers. Email, social media, influencer marketing, PPC, and other B2C strategies all work for a B2B brand.
Sure, differences exist between B2B and B2C companies’ audiences and communication styles, and yes, those differences affect tactical strategy. But all marketing is person-to-person communication: one person telling a friend how great something is. That’s just as true for B2B marketing as for B2C. As a B2B marketer, you shouldn’t forget about the real people who are making buying decisions in the B2B sales cycle.
7. Turn your CEO into a thought leader
Becoming an authoritative, well-informed leader may be the best B2B advertising you can get. Imagine your company’s top leader showing up on LinkedIn, authoring long-form content, hosting a niche podcast, appearing on top podcasts in your industry, writing a book, speaking at industry events, and contributing to leading publications. Will your prospective buyers get impressed by that? What will it do for your brand awareness? How about credibility? Nothing can touch thought leadership as a marketing strategy for B2B companies, but it takes a firm plan and a long time horizon to get there, so you’ll want to get started early.
8. Use original research to skyrocket traffic and credibility
Original research will position you at the top of the credibility chart, and it’s not as hard to do as it sounds. A company such as Audience Audit can help businesses and CEOs conduct industry-specific research, analyze data, and develop insights to share with the public.
Conducting original research lets you project and track trends year after year and get backlinks from other companies. Original research will also supply you with a massive trove of information to use for blogs, videos, and other pieces of shorter content.
9. Link up with LinkedIn for lots of leads
Although social media platforms seem like the purview of B2C marketers, B2B marketing on social media is still an effective tactic. LinkedIn is a fruitful platform for B2B companies. According to research from Foundation Inc, “LinkedIn now drives over half of all social traffic to B2B blogs and websites.” LinkedIn claims that 93% of B2B marketers consider its platform to be the most effective site for lead generation.
What are the best B2B marketing strategies for LinkedIn? First, set up a free company profile. Then, start posting unique and useful content. Like any other social media platform, LinkedIn rewards niche, high-quality content that engages readers. In fact, LinkedIn’s users are among the most content-hungry people on the planet—two-thirds of LinkedIn users consider themselves “news junkies.”
Test out LinkedIn’s advertising system. It’s not as slick as Facebook’s, but LinkedIn’s professional audience can be more of a fit for B2B than Facebook’s.
Lastly, follow individual people. Create a mini-marketing plan for each high-value prospect you follow and then execute it. It may surprise you how effective a one-on-one marketing strategy can be.
10. The newest, greatest thing is account-based marketing (ABM)
Account-based marketing (ABM) is a new idea that concentrates sales and marketing around the same goals. Sangram Vajre, a co-founder of the account-based marketing SaaS platform Terminus, says, “[G]o after the right set of accounts, start engaging them, and then you can convert more of them. This [method] is just better marketing and sales, not just for acquisition… but for expansion.”
ABM requires sales and marketing to develop a more integrated relationship than ever before and focus hard on revenue. The approach takes a realignment of resources and a maturity that not all B2B companies have achieved. For those companies that can transition, ABM is becoming the new normal in B2B marketing.
Convincing buyers to buy has never been an easy task. With the overwhelming amount of information now flooding prospective B2B purchasers, the once-simple task of buying something can seem even more difficult today. But a solid plan that selects the best B2B marketing strategies and activities for your situation will prove itself.
What’s your current B2B marketing strategy? How has it been working for you?