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B2B Marketing: What Is B2B Marketing?

By
Joshua Weatherwax
Table of Contents

If B2B marketing has you yelling "What is B2B", you're not alone.

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But we can help!

B2B marketing is vital in driving B2B sales leads and offers a business many ways of getting new customers.

We'll walk you through the basics of B2B marketing, some examples of how it works, and ways you can get your B2B business in front of prospective customers.

B2B Digital Marketing: B2B vs B2C Marketing

Digital marketing is now the most common form of advertising and a powerful sales tool. All businesses benefit from digital marketing, but there are a few differences between B2B vs. B2C marketing.

Here are five differences:

  • Audience. B2C marketers have a very large pool of people they can target with their campaigns. B2B marketers have to target only key decision-makers at the organizations they want to sell to. This means they need to have a better understanding of their target customers' needs.
  • Content. B2C audiences can be persuaded by emotional or entertaining content. B2B audiences need to be educated on the value of the product or service. Your marketing needs to show customers what they'll gain from working with you.
  • Wants. B2C and B2B customers both want a return on their investment, but it's much more important to B2B customers. Data is much more effective in convincing B2B customers you can meet their wants.
  • Cycle. The B2C buying cycle is short and may only require a single interaction to convert. B2B buyers are much slower in their decision-making and require multiple interactions before they're willing to make a deal.
  • Cost. Marketing costs increase with decision length. This means that B2B marketing costs more than B2C. It also has a higher return, so it offsets the cost.

B2B Content Marketing

B2B content marketing is using content to attract an audience, build brand awareness, collect leads, and drive sales. Successful B2B content is designed to be useful, informative, and professional.

B2B Content Marketing Strategy

B2B content marketing is only effective if it shows prospective and returning customers the value you can bring. This is best achieved by using a well-thought-out marketing strategy.

Here are five tactics for your marketing strategy:

  • Tell a story. Don't fall into the trap of viewing content only as a sales tool. B2B content still needs to tell a story and readers need to feel like it has value. For example, if you're doing coffee marketing, don't just share a photo of the beans explain where they're from.
  • Focus on engagement. Since B2B marketing is so data-driven, it can easily become a slog for readers to get through. Focus on telling a compelling story and you'll keep readers around longer.
  • Promote content. Content is useless if your prospects never see it. Promote new content across channels to get it in front of as many people as possible. This may include email, search engines, social media, or paid advertising.
  • Vary content. If your content looks like one long block of text, nobody will read it. Mix things up with images, videos, and different header sizes.
  • Track metrics. Data will always reign over B2B marketing, and tracking your content is no different. Success can be achieved by looking at engagement metrics and adjusting your content plan to match what your prospects are interested in.

B2B Email Marketing

B2B email marketing refers to pushing marketing campaigns to existing or prospective customers using email. In 2020, email continues to be one of the most effective forms of marketing for B2B businesses. This is because it has the highest click-through and conversion rate of any channel and allows for personalization. It also has low startup costs and there are many services on the market that allow people with little experience to run campaigns. This is one of the most valuable tools for a B2B ecommerce company.

B2B Business

B2B Social Media Marketing

Social media is often one of the most difficult marketing tools for B2B companies to use, but many B2B wholesale companies use it every day. It can be hard to avoid being boring while promoting your product or service.

The key is to focus on your audience. Look at their needs and wants and tailor your social media marketing to match while still conveying the value you bring.

B2B Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a form of paid advertising where you pay a social media personality to promote your product or service. Though more common in B2C marketing, it is still a viable option for many B2B businesses.

The best influencers are ones that are already followed and engaged with by your prospective audience. Make sure to thoroughly research your audience before investing in an influencer program.

B2B Marketing Strategies

A B2B marketing strategy is the overall plan a business uses to acquire customers. B2B marketing can be done in many ways to great effect, but there are a few strategies that most B2B businesses should adopt.

Here are the five best B2B marketing strategies:

  1. Research. Conducting research and gaining insight into your audience pays dividends. By using the data you acquire this way you can see rapid growth and up to two times more profits than competitors that don't do their research.
  2. Useful website. If your website is not user-friendly, you'll steer customers away. Investing in your website shows that you value your customer's time and makes your business appear more professional.
  3. Search engine optimization (SEO). The value of SEO goes hand-in-hand with the growth of Google. Their dominance over the web has led to SEO being one of the most important tools for marketing. Optimizing your site for SEO can get your business in front of millions of prospective customers.
  4. Paid advertising. Paid advertising has been the go-to form of marketing for more than 100 years. You can use commercials, print advertising, and more. There's also the companion to SEO, search engine marketing, which lets you pay to get the top slot in search results.
  5. Referrals. Word-of-mouth marketing is highly effective and helps solidify your existing relationships. Starting a referral program incentivizes your satisfied customers to send more business your way and helps convince prospects of your value.

B2B Marketing Examples

B2B marketing can be done in many ways, so there is no single effective type of campaign. Let's go over a couple of examples of effective marketing.

Pop culture example:

Let's say a wholesale food business is looking to market some ice cream cones. At the time they begin researching, they notice that everyone in the company and their target market is obsessed with the TV show Game of Thrones. Since this topic is timely and popular, they decide to use it in their marketing. As such, they launch a series of paid ads with the tagline "Game of Cones" and immediately see an increase in engagement and sales.

Content marketing example:

Another company offers dropshipping services to retail clothing stores. When looking at their past marketing efforts, they discover that the hardest part of selling is educating prospects on how dropshipping works. They write a comprehensive, but engaging, whitepaper on dropshipping and publish it to their website.

This draws a lot of organic traffic, so they write more in-depth pieces and publish them as an ebook that readers need to enter contact info to download. Now they're increasing traffic and leads by showcasing their expertise.

How To Promote B2B Business

Promoting a B2B business can be difficult and requires looking into a variety of marketing channels. Focusing on a few free channels like content marketing, SEO, social media, and referrals are a good place to start. Organically building your marketing can take longer, but also gives you a solid base to work from with less risk.

Paid advertising can also be used to quickly increase your reach and revenue. Focus only on a select set of channels or terms at first to establish a baseline and set goals for your advertising. This should be done in conjunction with organic efforts to avoid losses if costs rise.

B2B Marketing Funnel

The B2B marketing funnel consists of four steps that customers go through on their purchasing journey.

B2B Marketing Journey

Here are the steps:

  • Awareness. This is where the majority of marketing efforts go as you try to get your brand, products, and services in front of prospective customers. Blogs, SEO, and paid advertising fall under this step and must be engaging and informative to push the customer to the next step.
  • Consideration. Here your customers evaluate your product or service and what it can do for them. Email marketing and direct contact are effective tools in this step and can convince on-the-fence customers.
  • Purchase. The act of purchasing isn't guaranteed even if the customer goes through the first two steps. Your sales team, website, and referrals will be key here in making the deal.
  • Retention. The final step is customer retention. B2B customers are less likely to make a single purchase, so it's important to continue to market to them to build their value. Continued email marketing and contact from the sales team can push further conversions and ensure satisfaction.

B2B Marketing Plan

A B2B marketing plan is a roadmap the company uses to steer its marketing efforts and increase sales. These plans need to be tailored to fit the needs of the business, but there are a few steps that all businesses can take to build their plans.

Here are the steps:

  • Analyze your efforts. Take a look at the marketing you've done in the past and what did or didn't work. Investigate your marketing funnel and areas where dropoff is prevalent. By evaluating your current and past efforts you can discover waste, adjust budgets, or even uncover new information regarding customer behavior.
  • Analyze competitor efforts. Identifying the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors' marketing gives you insight into customer behavior. If they're seeing success with content marketing, that may be where you're lacking.
  • Research audience needs. Your prospective customers are complicated and you can't assume you know what they are looking for. You need to do your research and understanding their needs on a deeper level makes it much easier to sell them your product or service.
  • Set goals. Once you've done your research it's time to set definitive goals. You may want to increase sales or order value. You may want to grow market share or brand awareness. Set definitive goals to aim for.
  • Build a budget. The last step before launching a marketing campaign is to set a budget. Look at the expected return and thoroughly evaluate what it would cost to achieve the results you want. Err on the side of caution and assume costs will be slightly higher than expected.

B2B Marketing Trends 2020

B2B marketing never stands still and 2020 has been a year of change.

Here are 6 trends in B2B marketing for 2020:

  • Marketing automation. Nearly half of all B2B brands now have dedicated marketing automation platforms. These are programs that provide real-time analytics and data that allow marketers to quickly change tactics. If you use a B2B marketplace, these tools may be built-in.
  • Video marketing. Nearly 3/4ths of all B2B buyers watched brand videos during their product research phase.
  • Podcasts. Marketing podcasts have become a popular way for B2B brands to connect with audiences and push the products or services.
  • LinkedIn leads. B2B businesses have seen massive growth of ad impact on LinkedIn with more than half of their traffic coming from the site and nearly 80% of leads.
  • Local search. Local search has been heavily touted by Google in the past few years and more B2B businesses are focusing on it. It's an effective and low-cost strategy for building a local audience.
  • Personalization. Email marketing continues to be a major tool of B2B marketers and personalization has become more important than ever. personalization leads to a higher conversion rate and builds relationships. You can even put together a personalized line sheet to help sell to the customer.
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It's Meant to B2B

B2B marketing takes more effort than its B2C counterpart but also has a much higher return. Follow the steps above, do your research, and take a methodical approach to get the most out of your marketing efforts. Next, make sure you have multiple options for B2B payments so you can make the most.