A guide to B2B marketing: 5 best practices
Think of those new shoes that you want to blow your savings on or that totally-worth-it fancy knife set (which you’ll barely use).
These cravings are a result of business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing, which aims to encourage individuals to buy products or services.
We’ve all been exposed to B2C marketing throughout our lives.
But will the same marketing tactics work when you’re a business that wants to offer services or products to another company?
In short, no.
Business-to-business (B2B) marketing is a whole different ball game.
B2B buyers’ purchasing decisions impact their whole company.
To help with this, we’ve created a quick guide that covers the basics of B2B marketing. We’ve also listed 5 best practices for creating successful campaigns.
What is B2B marketing?
B2B marketing is a collection of strategies and techniques that help a business promote its services or products to another company.
B2B marketers can use traditional channels, such as newspapers and print ads, or digital ones, such as social media and blogs.
We’ll focus on digital marketing in this article.
Every B2B marketing campaign has several key elements:
- Advertising: Although the ad campaigns we think of when we think “ad” tend to be B2C, many B2B businesses find success with Google search Ads (targeting high-buyer intent key phrases), as well as Facebook lead ads (targeting specific audiences related to their ideal customer persona).
- Content marketing: The creation and distribution of insightful content across different platforms to boost brand reach and build credibility. Around 71% of B2B buyers read blogs during their purchase process.
- Social media marketing: Around3.96 billion people use social media. B2B marketers can use social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to increase brand awareness, promote products, and boost brand loyalty. Influencer marketing is another well-known marketing that revolves around social media.
- Email marketing: There were 3.9 billion email users in 2019. To capitalize on this, B2B marketers use personalized emails to gain and nurture leads.
What is the difference between B2B and B2C marketing?
B2B and B2C marketing are two sides of the same coin – the desired end result is conversions, but there are some major differences.
Let’s use an example scenario to understand the differences between B2B and B2C marketing.
Imagine a marketing campaign for a B2B company, such as an accounting software provider, and a B2C company, such as a music-streaming platform.
Now let’s examine the differences in their marketing campaigns:
- Target audience
A B2B marketer for the accounting software provider will target software adoption. Their target audience is accounting department managers, most of whom are experts in their field.
The music-streaming platform has no specific target audience. Instead, marketers can launch multiple campaigns based on age groups, gender, etc. to encourage more subscriptions.
- Expertise and credibility
A B2B marketer must prove their credibility.
Since an experienced accounting manager will be deciding which software their entire team uses, B2B marketers should have the expertise to prove their product’s worth.
This level of expertise is not required for a B2C marketer, since buyers are more likely to test newer brands/ products without too much hesitation.
- Buying intent
The accounting managers have one goal in mind — choose financially viable software that improves their team’s productivity. B2B marketers must focus on how they can fulfill this goal.
A B2B buyer generally has a clear objective for their purchase, while a B2C buyer can have different buying motivations.
- Buying times
Generally, B2B marketing and sales teams should expect a longer buying cycle since B2B buyers are making long-term decisions for multiple individuals or teams.
B2B purchasing decisions involve more people, and they tend to repeat steps during their buyer journey. So, B2B marketers must be equipped for more lead nurturing.
B2C buying times depend on the individual but tend to be a lot shorter than B2B.
Why do you need B2B marketing?
We’ve used real-life examples to highlight 3 key benefits of effective B2B marketing strategies:
#1: Increased exposure
A well-implemented B2B marketing strategy, which incorporates social media and other channels, can significantly increase brand awareness.
For example, Aerospace conglomerate Embraer doubled their global reach, from 8.8 billion to 16.1 billion, through a multichannel campaign, called Profit Hunter, that grabbed headlines in 2018.
#2: Brand awareness
While the previous example required major investment, an innovative B2B campaign with very little investment can also make a big impact.
Stock-image provider Shutterstock made a parody trailer for the infamous Fyre Festival in 2019. Shutterstock spent just around $2000 and used their own stock photos and videos.
The ingenious video has amassed over 640,000 views on Youtube, and the audience is loving it. The campaign even won awards.
#3: Boost the bottom line
The number of leads generated is a metric that is often used to measure a B2B marketing campaign’s success. Companies believe that more leads = more chances of conversion and higher conversion rates = more profit.
Oracle’s Digital Bank of the Future campaign in 2019 proved how an insightful and well-researched campaign catering to a niche can cause sky-high lead generation.
In partnerships with MOI Global, their multichannel content marketing campaign led to Oracle achieving 280% of its lead generation target, leading to a $28 million pipeline.
B2B marketing best practices
Here are 5 best practices (with templates you can act on) to help you create your own B2B marketing strategy:
#1: Measure and take action on data
Data tells marketers who to aim their campaigns at (target audience), how a user goes through their sales funnel (buyer journey), and a lot more.
Data-driven marketing decisions are critical to a successful campaign. This need for quality data is why around 69% of B2B companies are focusing on measurement and analytics in 2020.
In fact, data is so crucial that analytics tools are among the top 2 technologies that B2B organizations use for content marketing.
Analyzing your previous and current campaigns can also provide crucial insights for your next B2B marketing campaign. This task can be time-consuming, but a centralized workspace with different viewing options can make it easier.
#2: Personalize your marketing and communication
A B2B marketer can use insights gained from data analysis to deliver personalized campaigns across multiple channels, including social media and content.
Creating B2B content personalized towards buyers is crucial, with 83% of B2B buyers saying they value being treated as more than a number when making buying decisions.
A personalized digital marketing strategy offers outstanding customer experience in a crowded B2B market and leaves a positive impression. This positive impact boosts lead generation and customer retention.
It’s no surprise then that 92% of marketers believe personalization improved brand building to some extent.
Consider adopting a customer relationship management platform that enables you and everyone in your marketing, sales, and customer service team to see your leads and customer’s information in one place:
#3: Implement Agile marketing principles
Agile project management is a method often used in software development to enable faster delivery, more flexibility, and better organizational structures.
An agile marketing team uses the same concept. In an agile team, the goal is to replace traditional hierarchical structures with intentional and strategic ones.
A B2B digital marketing team built around experienced individuals, rather than one or two managers, can make decisions quicker, delegate tasks efficiently, and use resources to deliver high-quality campaigns quickly.
An agile marketing team is empowered to execute all campaign-related tasks, such as market research, social media posts, and content creation, at a quicker pace.
#4: Manage content production, publication, and promotion
Good, search-oriented blog content is a prominent source of organic traffic and leads for B2B businesses, with 71% of B2B researchers consuming blog content while making a purchasing decision.
And B2B content marketing is picking up pace, with 69% of successful marketers using a documented strategy.
Rising above the competition requires exceptional planning and execution in addition to a solid marketing strategy. A pre-built content planning template that enables marketing automation is a great place to start.
#5: Coordinate marketing and sales campaigns together
B2B buyers are gradually emulating their B2C counterparts, with 82% of business buyers expecting experiences similar to retail or consumer buying.
To provide this experience, marketing and sales teams must work together to address buyer needs better.
For example, marketing efforts can be improved using customer feedback from the sales team. The feedback can help identify overlooked opportunities and create room for more personalized B2B content.
The key to an effective partnership is ensuring everyone is on the same page. Using a project tracker template, different departments can keep track of each other’s ideas, plans, and goals. This template can help both teams function and execute tasks better:
B2B marketing is a balance between understanding your customers’ needs, having the resources and know-how to cater to those needs, and finding the right tools to help.
If you want to delve deeper into B2B marketing or begin your own campaigns, you can use the innumerable resources at monday.com, such as their marketing campaign template, to get started.