Business to business (B2B) marketing targets those making purchases on behalf of an organization instead of for themselves.
The B2B marketing strategy of many companies focuses on directly contacting a prospect. Via call, direct email, or meetings. But businesses targeting other businesses need to think about additional marketing techniques too.
If you’re new to B2B marketing, you’ll also need to understand the differences between B2C buyers and business buyers. Understanding these differences and how B2B purchases are made is crucial to running a successful B2B marketing campaign.
Keep reading for our B2B marketing strategy tips to make reaching and converting business buyers easy.
B2B Buyer Characteristics and Processes
Before you begin planning B2B promotions and other marketing activity, you’ll need to understand who is involved in the purchasing cycle and how the B2B buying cycle looks.
The B2B Buying Cycle
When planning marketing strategy, you need to think about your target consumer’s buying cycle. The B2B buying cycle is quite different to the B2C buying cycle.
Personal consumers will make more impulse, low-involvement purchases. They also focus a lot on emotions to help them make a purchase decision. The consumer that’s purchasing is often the only one involved in the decision too.
Business buyers, however, focus on logic and rational decision making when buying. They spend more time deciding on a vendor and conduct more research for each purchase. There are also generally many people involved in the purchasing decision.
The B2B Purchasing Cycle looks something this this:
The prospect becomes aware of a problem or opportunity. They start researching this to determine what could help them. They may delegate this research to another person, such as a junior employee.
The prospect now understands their problem and its potential solution. They now start doing more in-depth research on vendors.
The prospect understands exactly what they need and has a list of potential suppliers. They then compare each supplier and discuss with the other involved parties before making a final decision.
In the case of the prospect delegating research, they will be briefed on the findings of the research and the pros and cons of possible vendors before making a decision.
B2B Buying Characteristics
The goals of purchasing for businesses including wanting to find products or services that are efficient and will offer good ROI.
Those making B2B purchases are motivated by logic and financial incentives not by emotion. These buyers need to be educated when making a purchase decision and convinced that you provide the most efficient solution at the best cost.
B2B buyers are also looking for long-term solutions more so than regular consumers. They want products and services that will last a long time and ideally, they want to stay with one supplier for the long-term.
Business purchasers look to build relationships with the company they choose and to be satisfied with their supplier for years to come.
Additionally, most B2B consumers want to purchase via a salesperson or account manager/representative as opposed to purchasing from a company in-store or online without much relationship building.
Individuals Involved In The B2B Buying Cycle
Those making business-related purchases will usually discuss and confer with others before a purchase decision is made.
These individuals include the following people:
These are the people that stand between you and influencers and decision-makers. You need to convince them to connect you with those researching purchases to pitch your offerings. For example, an executive assistant.
Influencers are tasked with researching potential products/services and vendors but don’t have the authority to make a decision. They’re collecting information to relay to superiors.
However, through research they will most likely determine the best option, mentioning this to the decision making and influencing the final purchase decision. For example, a junior-level employee.
This is the person, or people, that will make a final decision. While they may not conduct research, they will be provided with detailed information on the options available to them to make a final decision. For example, a department head or CEO.
B2B Marketing Strategy Tips
Now that you understand a bit more about how the B2B purchasing cycle compares to the B2C purchasing journey, use the following tips to have success reaching business prospects.
Define Your Target Market
As with consumer marketing, defining your target market is the first step in planning your B2B marketing strategy.
A notable difference between defining B2C and B2B markets is that you’ll be focusing a lot less on the demographics and psychographics of your prospects.
Instead, you need to define the problems they face and how they will conduct research to find a solution, among other things.
Think about the following things when defining your target market characteristics:
- What industries are they in?
- What challenges are they facing that your offerings solve?
- What type of company are they?
- How big is the company? Are they local, national, multi-national, etc?
- How many people are likely to be involved in the purchase decision journey?
- Who do you need to be in touch with at the company? Who do you need to go through to get to them?
- What are their purchasing goals?
Optimize Your Online Presence For Research
The majority of consumers do research before making a purchase. This is especially true for B2B consumers. Those purchasing for organizations will do extensive research before making a purchase decision.
A lot of this research will be done digitally so you need to make sure your online presence is optimized.
Some ways to optimize your digital presence to help B2B prospects with online research include:
1. Having a user-friendly website
2. Making contact information clear
3. Using search engine optimization
4. Creating informative and educational content
5. Being active on social media
6. Using email marketing
7. Using online advertising
1. Have a User-Friendly Website
B2B prospects are going to do more research than B2C customers before deciding on a vendor. Looking at your website is a big part of that research.
Your website is therefore a crucial tool. It can hold all the information needed to help a prospect make a purchase. You, therefore, need to ensure that your website is user friendly and provides as much information as possible.
Make sure each of your offerings has an individual product/service page with detailed descriptions. Also, create an FAQs page.
Your website and its content should be optimized to:
Attract Prospects: your website needs to be found on search engine results pages for search queries relevant to your products or services.
Engage Prospects: your website must educate prospects, get them asking more questions, and result in them learning how you can help them.
Convert Prospects: providing all this information on your website will help make choosing you as a vendor easier. Ensure your website uses call-to-actions to make conversions more likely.
Consider website design too. Your website needs to be easy to navigate, and have a clean and minimalist design.
Don’t overwhelm the viewer by placing too much content on one page or having a navigation with many headings/categories. Your pages also need to load quickly and you should use a responsive design.
2. Make Contact Information Clear
Another website element you need to remember is making your contact information clear.
Include a Contact Us page with all the ways visitors can get in touch with you. You can also include basic contact info like address, phone number, and email in your website’s footer.
Additionally, make your contact information clear on other online platforms. Include it on social media and put your information in as many business directories as possible such as Google My Business.
Keep information consistent across platforms and give clear information for each store or office location if you have more than one.
3. Use Search Engine Optimization
Implementing search engine optimization (SEO) will increase your visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs), making it easier for prospects to find you.
Most consumers will encounter a problem first and will then search for vendors to help. They won’t necessarily know of vendor company names so will put queries into search engines to find companies to help them.
You need to think about what queries will be asked and what keywords will be used. Then optimize your website to appear high up on SERPs for those queries by using related keywords in your content, among other SEO elements.
4. Implement B2B Content Marketing
Content marketing goes hand-in-hand with SEO. The more (useful and high-quality) content you have, the more chance there is that prospects will find you via search engines.
As mentioned, you need to be using relevant keywords in your content to be found for the queries you want to rank for.
Content is also a great way to provide in-depth information to prospects, helping them in the research phase. Along with educating prospects, it can help in making you appear as a knowledgeable and trustworthy authority.
Some B2B content you can create includes:
- Detailed product and services pages
- Blog posts/ web articles
- Case studies
- White papers
Combining a user-friendly website with great content and SEO tactics helps to increase your visibility as well as to educate prospects and show expertise.
5. Use B2B Social Media Marketing
While you may not think it, many business buyers use social media for purchase research.
Promoting your brand on social media will not necessarily result in direct conversions in the B2B market. However, sharing content on social media means that more information is available to prospects.
Social media is a good place to promote helpful content. Being active on social media also builds brand awareness and creates a brand personality, which is just as important in B2B marketing as in B2C.
6. Use B2B Email Marketing
Over 90% of B2B marketers utilize email for contacting potential and current clients. Like with consumer marketing, email is a great way to reach business prospects.
The content sent via email needs to be informative and focused on logic. It needs to explain how you can help the prospect and ultimately how you will help increase their ROI.
Focus on things like how you can help them save time, money, and resources and why you are the best choice on the market.
You should also be sharing brand content. This includes new blog posts and press release style stories such as new product launches and company news.
B2B Email Marketing Tips
When creating your B2B emails, keep the following tips in mind:
1. Use enticing subject lines.
2. Segment your list to send relevant emails to different types of prospects and clients.
3. Use one call-to-action per email.
4. Use responsive email design to ensure your email shows correctly on all devices.
5. Use cold-emailing as a way to generate interest from prospects that you haven’t communicated with much before.
6. A/B test your emails before sending them to your whole email list.
7. Retarget those that opened your email but didn’t act on the CTA.
Building Your B2B Email List
Try some of these ways to grow your B2B email list:
1. Connect your email marketing provider with your customer relationship management software: many well-known email marketing providers, such as MailChimp, will connect with well-known CRM, such as Salesforce. You can therefore export all client emails and set it up so that any new contacts you add to your CRM will automatically be added to your email list. You can also export contacts and upload that list. This is a good idea if you want to remove certain contacts before uploading.
2. Get emails at trade shows: ensure you’re asking for the emails of attendees that visit your booth. Get a card from everyone you talk to and use incentives. For example, offer the chance to win a prize in exchange for attendees providing an email address. Be sure to also get as many cards as possible if you walk the show and at events.
3. Have a signup field on your website: make sure you include fields on your website that allow visitors to join your email list. These can be placed in each page’s footer, header, or sidebar. You can also create an individual landing page for signing up and promote it on social media.
4. Have a signup pop-up box on your website: you can also have a pop-up box appear promoting visitors to sign up. Try to set this so that it comes up after visitors have been on your website 30 seconds to one minute to increase the chance of getting signups.
5. Use lead magnets: lead magnets are incentives. It’s something you offer individuals for free in exchange for providing their email. This includes resources such as white papers and checklists or discount codes and other offers.
6. Use signup CTAs at the end of content: you can include signup boxes or a link to your email signup landing page at the end of content like blog posts along with a call-to-action prompting visitors to sign up.
7. Use B2B Online Advertising
Using online advertising is a good way to gain brand awareness with your target audience and encourage action. Along with web ads, there are a range of other options to target businesses and industry professionals.
Advertising can promote your content and other organic marketing efforts as well as directly promoting your brand and offerings. This will help in getting more traffic to the content in order to use that to move prospects on to the next step in the buying process.
When deciding what advertising platforms to use, think about your B2B audience and which platforms they prefer. Advertising on LinkedIn, for example, is a popular choice for B2B advertising.
Some potential advertising options include:
Web Display Ads
These are web ads that are targeted to those in your target audience. They function primarily through the Google Display Network and are served to those meeting your set criteria.
You can set up retargeting campaigns that target those who have performed certain actions. For example, you may serve ads to those that have visited your website.
Another way to use these ads is for acquisition campaigns. This is when you target new leads matching set targeting criteria. The downside is that web ads are often overlooked and can be hidden by ad blockers.
Native Ads on Industry Websites
Many industry publications will sell native advertising on their websites. This will most likely be in the form of a sponsored article/ blog post.
The benefit of these posts is that the publication is trusted by your target audience for delivering useful and trustworthy industry content.
Native advertising allows for this trustworthiness and authority to be passed onto your piece of content.
Advertising through organic-style content like blog posts also helps in providing information upfront in a less direct way, making conversions more likely.
Social Media Advertising
Social media advertising is a low cost and effective form of online advertising.
As mentioned, LinkedIn is a good choice for B2B advertising. You can run a range of ads including sponsored posts, sponsored InMail, and text display ads.
If you know your target audience uses another social media platform for business purposes frequently, consider advertising there too. You can additionally use Facebook (and Instagram via Facebook ads manager) to retarget those that have interacted with your website.
Search advertising allows you to appear in sponsored spots on search engine results pages. These spots are at the top of the page.
You can gain a spot by choosing keywords and bidding on them with the winning bid gaining the spot.
This is a good technique if there is a keyword that will be beneficial to rank for but it will take a while to do so or won’t be possible to rank high for organically.
Non-Digital B2B Marketing Tips
Digital marketing promotions are an important part of your B2B marketing strategy but don’t forget more traditional techniques.
Depending on your target market, these could be just as effective as using online platforms.
The following are some non-digital marketing techniques to considering using as part of your B2B marketing strategy.
Many people shy away from cold calling and consider it a lead generation technique of the past. However, cold calling is still effective at making contact with leads, building relationships, and getting sales.
As mentioned, B2B buyers want to build long-term relationships with vendors. Use the call to discuss their needs and concerns as well as how you will help them.
Covering the prospect’s needs and concerns helps in building a relationship. It also helps to create trust that you’ll provide a solution that helps them and provide great customer service.
Calling may also get you in contact with leads that have not responded to other promotions targeted at them.
You should also consider running print ads or native advertorials in industry publications. Many individuals and companies still receive these publications and will read through them to get industry news.
Placing an ad in these publications helps with brand awareness and is a good complement to your online marketing activities.
Many publications will also package digital promotions with print ads (such as online native ads) and offer digital as well as print versions of their publication.
Trade Shows and Events
Trade shows are still one of the most crucial elements of B2B marketing. Attendees come to these shows with the intention of purchasing or at least of doing in-depth research for purchases.
At the show, you need to make sure your booth stands out among other exhibitors. You also need to offer promotions that draw in attendees and get them interacting with your brand and offerings.
The same goes for industry events, try to attend as many as possible to help with networking and lead generation.
Press releases are a great way to get company news in the hands of prospects and those with authority. Some things you can promote through press releases include:
- New product launches
- New research and data findings
- Announcement of an event
- Announcement of awards
- Partnerships or sponsorships
- Breaking news announcements
By sending press releases directly to your list of contacts, you’re building awareness for the goings-on in your company. You’re also keeping your company top of mind for future purchases.
Sending press releases to media contacts gives the chance to get your news covered by online and print B2B publications. This, again, will help with building awareness of your brand and its offerings.
As with native advertising, you also get the authority of the publication passed onto your story. Prospects may trust you more knowing a publication they trust wanted to promote you.
This can lead to you being chosen as a vendor or lead to the initiation of research on your company by B2B prospects.
This is when you set up processes to easily allow happy customers to recommend you to their contacts. Referral marketing is a highly effective form of marketing.
B2B prospects are more likely to convert if they know a contact has had success with you. Referred customers are also more likely to become loyal customers.
All consumers want a guarantee that a product or service they’re thinking of purchasing will help them with their needs.
This is very true in the case of B2B purchasing decisions. The decision-maker is purchasing something that will affect the company they work for. It will be paid for using company money and the buyer will be held accountable if the purchase isn’t up to scratch.
Therefore, they need as much assurance as possible that the vendor they choose will be a success. Having confirmation of success with a vendor from a contact helps make the decision to choose that vendor easier.
When using referral marketing, you need to give something back to those referring you. For example, offer $100 off their next purchase for every referral.
You also need to make sending referrals easy. Set up a landing page with an easy to fill out referral form. Then send a link to the landing page to customers, asking them to refer if they were happy with their purchase in exchange for the reward.
Additional B2B Marketing Strategy Tips
The following are some additional tips to keep in mind when planning and implementing a B2B marketing strategy.
Automating your B2B marketing activities is going to be very important to your strategy succeeding. Following up is even more necessary in B2B marketing than in B2C marketing. Automation helps make this easy.
For example, automating your sales follow-ups through automation of bulk email follow-up or automation of following-up with individual clients if they don’t reply can provide great results such as more replies and sales.
If-no-reply that syncs with Gmail is great for this. You can set up a series of emails that will be sent at set times if the prospect doesn’t reply to you. As soon as they reply to an email in the series, the follow-up series is ended until you set it up again for that client.
Use A CRM
Having customer relationship management software (CRM), like Salesforce, is necessary for B2B marketing. Not only can you store all your contacts here, but you can set up sales pipelines, run reports, track success in meeting goals, and more.
This software will help keep you organized and make converting leads easier. You can keep track of all the contact you’ve had with each lead and set reminders for follow-ups and next steps.
As mentioned, you can also connect your CRM with your email marketing provider to make sending email promotions to your prospects and current clients easy.
As mentioned, B2B consumers want to build long-term relationships with the vendors they work with. To get the sale and retain your B2B clients, you’ll need to keep this in mind.
Make sure you’re communicating with clients and prospects regularly. Ask questions about them and listen to their wants, needs, and concerns. You can also run lead nurturing campaigns.
Keep track of where your clients are in the customer lifecycle and set up different email series to help keep them happy and to help with retention.
Test and Optimize
Testing your promotions and optimizing campaigns as you go is as crucial to B2B marketing strategy as it is to B2C strategy.
A/B testing is a good way to test emails before you send them and test landing pages before they go live. This will help you see which of two variations of emails or landing pages converts the best.
You can test a few elements to help create an email or landing page with an increased chance of success at achieving your goal.
Analyze Results and Adjust
Along with testing and optimizing before sends/launches, look at results from all your campaigns as they end (or as they are running) and think about what can be done to improve them.
If certain campaigns aren’t working, think about undertaking target market research to get a better understanding of what your audience is looking for during the purchase decision process.
Marketing to businesses is significantly different than marketing to consumers. The business purchase journey exhibits differences including prospects conducting more research and using logic over emotion to make decisions.
The way you reach B2B prospects and build relationships should be understood too. Understanding the B2B buyer and how to build a B2B strategy will be crucial in effectively targeting, converting, and retaining consumers.
If your marketing strategy needs a boost, Brand Hause is here to help you. We can plan and execute strategies to help reach your target market, whether that be a B2C or B2B market.
From brand auditing to SEO, social media marketing, and website design, we can create a marketing plan customized to your business to help you get the results you want. Get in touch for a free consultation here!