The internet has changed B2B marketing forever. In the old days, finding new B2B clients was all about who you knew. Today, B2B companies can market to businesses halfway around the world with the press of a button.
But, there’s a big difference between marketing your B2B business online and marketing it effectively.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at different ways you can market your B2B business online and how to create a B2B marketing strategy that will deliver profitable results for your business.
B2B Marketing Strategies
The list of online marketing strategies you can use to market your B2B business is constantly evolving, but here are some popular approaches:
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is actually a broad term that covers any type of digital marketing where you pay for every user who clicks on an ad. For example, Google AdWords is a form of PPC advertising called “paid search advertising” (which we’ll go over in a second). Facebook Ads are another form of PPC advertising called “paid social media advertising” (again, we’ll get into that shortly).
PAID SEARCH ADVERTISING
Google, Bing, and Yahoo all allow you to run text ads on their Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Paid search advertising is one of the best ways to target potential customers who are actively searching for a product or service like yours.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)
If you don’t want to pay to show up in the SERPs, you can also use search engine optimization (SEO) to try and rank pages or blog posts on your site organically. You don’t have to pay directly for every click, but getting a page to rank usually takes quite a bit of time and effort (for a more in-depth comparison of paid search and SEO, check out this article).
PAID SOCIAL MEDIA ADVERTISING
Most social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Snapchat will allow you to run ads on their site. Paid social media advertising is great for building awareness with audiences that might not be aware that your business, product, or service exists.
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
Like SEO, social media marketing is the free, organic way to use social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter to market your business. And, just like SEO, organically marketing your business on social media takes a lot more time and effort, but in the long run, it can deliver much cheaper results.
CONVERSION RATE OPTIMIZATION (CRO)
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the art and science of improving your online user experience. Most of the time, B2B businesses use CRO to get more conversions (leads, chats, calls, sales, etc) out of their existing website traffic.
Content marketing is another fairly broad digital marketing term. Content marketing covers any digital marketing effort that uses content assets (blog posts, infographics, eBooks, videos, etc) to build brand awareness or drive clicks, leads, or sales.
Ever get to the bottom of an article and see a list of suggested articles? That’s native advertising. Most native advertising falls under content marketing because it uses content to attract clicks (“You’ll never believe what happens next!”). Often, native advertising can be a bit hard to spot, since it is usually mixed in with non-paid content recommendations…but that’s kind of the point.
Email marketing is the oldest form of online marketing and it’s still going strong. Most B2B marketers use email marketing to advertise special deals, highlight content (often as part of content marketing) or promote an event.
Affiliate marketing is essentially paying someone else (a person or a business) to promote your products and services on their website. Many B2B businesses form partnerships with affiliates that help market their business online (and offline, too).
As you can see from the list above, there are a lot of different ways to market your business online, which is why many businesses either hire an agency to manage their B2B marketing efforts or pay for an in-house marketing team and marketing automation software to cover their marketing needs (for an in-depth comparison of these options, check out this article).
Getting Business-to-Business Marketing Right
While there are a lot of ways to market your B2B company online, not all of them will work equally well for every business. Good B2B marketing takes a lot of consistency, effort, and trial and error.
That being said, there are several things you can do throughout the process to speed things up and steadily increase the profitability of your marketing campaigns. Let’s take a look.
LEVERAGE YOUR LTV
To be successful at business-to-business marketing, you have to understand how B2B differs from B2C. One of the biggest differences between B2B and B2C is the value of a sale. For example, the average eCommerce transaction is worth $85-120. Even if you factor in repeat business, you might make $250 per customer.
Assume a 50% profit margin and you have to keep your cost-per-acquisition (CPA) below $125 just to break even.
On the other hand, lifetime value (LTV) for B2B companies often ranges from $20,000 to over $200,000+. Even at a profit margin of just 10%, that means that you can pay thousands per sale and still produce a fantastic return on investment!
So, what does that mean for B2B marketing campaigns? Well, the bigger your profit margin, the more wiggle room you have to figure things out.
For example, even the best-managed campaign is rarely optimized out of the gate. The right campaign setup will save you a lot of money from the get-go, but there’s still going to be a learning period between launch and optimal performance.
If you’ve got a small profit margin, that can be a big problem. If you’ve got a $50,000 profit margin, you can still make a lot of money while you get your campaigns up to peak performance.
The ability to leverage profit margin to improve campaign performance gives B2B companies a huge advantage over B2C companies.
For example, a while back we started running AdWords campaigns for a B2B company in the insurance industry.
We knew that they would be profitable at $150 per lead, but since the client was new to AdWords, we took advantage of their long-term profit margin ($1,000-10,000+) and ran a blast campaign to identify their best keywords.
Our 2-week blitz resulted in a $250 cost-per-lead (CPL), which was unprofitable for the client. However, we used the data from this unprofitable period to identify several highly profitable keywords.
Using those keywords and a killer landing page strategy, we quickly cut their CPL in half. In fact, the campaigns were so profitable that they redefined success for the company—as a result, they’ve since received millions in VC funding!
The moral of the story? By leveraging your LTV, you can produce the kind of campaign results B2C companies only dream of.
TARGET THE RIGHT AUDIENCE
When it comes to business-to-business marketing, who you think you’re targeting isn’t always who you’re actually targeting.
Unlike B2C companies—who usually know exactly where their target audience is and how to reach them—it can often be a challenge for B2B companies to figure out the right way to get in front of potential customers.
For example, one B2B client of ours spent $60,000 on AdWords text ads that were targeting the keyword “translate”. Now, they ran a B2B translation service, so that keyword seemed like a good idea.
However, despite the fact that “translate” gets searched for over 150 million times a month, this client spent $60,000 and didn’t get a single lead for their trouble.
In contrast, here’s what happens when you can figure out the right way to target potential clients with your B2B marketing.
With this client, we stopped running ads that weren’t producing leads and increased marketing spending for ads that were producing leads.
By increasing the accuracy of our targeting, we eliminated irrelevant clicks (and their associated cost). Then, as we targeted the right audience, we built traffic volume back up. Only this time, it came with more conversions.
This particular client is now spending 48% more than when they started with us, but they are producing 900% more leads!
SPEAK TO THE PAIN POINT
In addition to poor targeting, many B2B businesses struggle to communicate effectively with their audience. Unfortunately, a lot of businesses assume that everyone cares about all the specifics of their offering. After all, they put an awful lot of work into all those features.
The problem is, most people aren’t looking for a list of features—they are looking for solutions!
Potential customers don’t click on your ad because they want to know all about your product. They click because they think you can solve their problem.
So, if you want people to convert, you need to identify the problem that motivated their search and speak directly to that pain point in your ad and landing page (the page they land on after they click your ad).
Many companies fall into the trap of thinking that their landing page needs to address every possible question or scenario. Let your sales team do that. The goal of a landing page is to show how your offer solves their problem.
If your ads are properly targeted, 90% of your traffic will come to your page with some version of the same pain point in mind. Speak to that pain point and you’ll win their business!
KEEP YOUR MESSAGING CONSISTENT
No matter what industry you are in, the key to an effective landing page is messaging consistency. In other words, the messaging of your ad should match the messaging of your B2B landing page.
In fact, messaging consistency is the primary reason why landing pages exist. A home page has to meet dozens (if not hundreds or thousands) of different needs. A good marketing campaign delivers traffic with one specific need.
If that traffic lands on a home page with a hundred different options and messages, what are the odds that they’ll actually find what they’re looking for and convert?
B2B marketing campaigns perform best when they deliver a consistent experience. If your ad appeals to a certain type of person, your landing page should appeal to that person as well. That way, when they arrive on your page, they think, “This is exactly what I was looking for!” not “Wait, where am I and what am I doing here?”
INVEST ENOUGH TIME
Unfortunately, most B2B businesses simply don’t spend enough time in their accounts to identify the right audience and messaging. To put it simply, good B2B marketing is a lot like raising a child. It takes time, effort, and—above all—consistency.
Raising a kid (especially a well-adjusted one) is a ton of work. You can’t just feed and clothe them and send them on your way. You have to spend countless hours getting to know them and their needs. If you don’t, both your life and their life will quickly spin out of control.
The same goes for AdWords accounts.
The thing is, 72% of AdWords accounts haven’t been touched in over a month. Only 10% of marketing accounts get weekly attention.
Just imagine what would happen if you only paid attention to your kid every other month…
If your B2B marketing isn’t getting regular love and attention, it’s not going to be particularly well-behaved. It’ll irritate you (and your boss), run ads in front of the wrong audiences and generally waste a lot of money.
You can’t just set up a marketing campaign and feed it money—if you want it to perform, you have to give it time and attention.
Of course, checking in on your accounts on a regular basis won’t do you much good if you don’t have great tracking in place. To put it bluntly, without great analytics, you won’t know what’s working…and what isn’t.
And, if you don’t know what isn’t working, how can you optimize your B2B marketing?
Unfortunately, most B2B businesses aren’t very good at tracking. For example, just 57.7% of AdWords accounts are tracking conversions. That means almost half of AdWords accounts are effectively running blind.
To make matters worse, of the 57.7% of AdWords accounts with conversion tracking, only half are actually tracking all of their conversions.
Now, this begs the question, how big of a difference does analytics tracking make? Well, according to Hubspot’s State of Inbound report, tracking your campaigns improves your odds of success by 1,700%.
1,700%? That’s a huge difference!
In fact, if we look at the numbers in Hubspot’s report a little differently and run a bit of math, that means:
[Tweet “Without good analytics, 97% of online marketing fails.”]
Essentially, trying to run a business-to-business marketing campaign without good tracking is the same thing as setting your money on fire.
Online B2B marketing is a great way to reach out to potential clients across your state, country or even the whole globe. It takes time and effort, but if you follow the principles outlined in this article, you’ll be well on your way to success.
Remember, the trick to B2B marketing is figuring out who your target audience is and how to effectively reach them. Once you’ve figured that out, it’s just a matter of finding the right messaging.
By the way, if you’d like some help marketing your B2B business, let me know here or in the comments! We’ve helped hundreds of B2B businesses succeed online and we’d love to help you succeed, too.
Have you tried online B2B marketing? What was your experience? Have any advice for someone who is just getting started with B2B marketing? Leave your thoughts in the comments.