New to Digital Marketing for B2B? Start Here

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Patrick Cumming

If you’re from a traditional marketing background, transitioning to digital is daunting. There’s the confusing acronyms, the suites of complex tools, and the strategic approach is 360 degrees different. It’s enough to get anyone’s heart racing. 

But, the truth is, once you get your head around the basics, it’s not scary at all. So, to get you up to speed, this article covers the basics of digital marketing for b2b companies. We’ll look at:

  • What it is
  • How it differs from b2c
  • B2b digital marketing strategies you can use
  • Mistakes to avoid

Let’s get to it.

What is b2b digital marketing?

B2b digital marketing is promoting your products and services to other businesses through digital channels like Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

From a technical point-of-view, it’s identical to business-to-consumer marketing. You use the same channels and follow the same rules of persuasion. The difference is that you’re targetting different audiences with distinct wants and needs. And that means you’ll require different strategies.

Before we get to strategy though, let’s take a look at a few of the ways b2b differs from b2c: 

  • A b2b customer has to consult multiple decision-makers before buying. For this reason, you should expect a lengthier sales funnel with more touchpoints.
  • Each individual decision-maker will have their own list of objections and preferences. To combat this, you’ll need to overcome a range of objections a buyer might have in your messaging.
  • The better you educate your key contact, the greater the chance they’ll have of selling your product to these other stakeholders. Provide plenty of informative, educational, and persuasive content to make their job easier.

5 digital marketing strategies for b2b

As mentioned, a typical b2b sales cycle is lengthy. So expect your sales funnel to have more touchpoints than a typical b2c sales funnel. To help you optimise each stage, we’ve listed the most common b2b digital marketing strategies below.

Search engine optimisation (SEO)

When most of us have a problem, we turn to Google for an answer. So, if someone’s searching for a solution to a problem you can solve, you want them to find your website first, right?

To do this you’ll need to find a good SEO – search engine optimiser. Providing they know what they’re doing, they’ll be able to make strategic tweaks to your website that push you up the rankings.

Google Ads (PPC)

Google Ads – also called Pay-Per-Click Ads – are paid adverts that feature at the top of the search results above organic results. On average they’re thought to provide a 187.5% return on investment, so it’s well worth the investment.

In our experience, we’ve found that the more budget a business puts into PPC, the more they get out of it. Which makes sense. More budget = more ad views. More ad views = more ad clicks. More ad clicks = more sales.

Social media marketing

Stats show that 83% of b2b marketers use social media as part of their b2b digital marketing strategy. And with good reason – when you get it right, it works.

Like search engine marketing, social media marketing is split into 2 types: paid and organic. But, while it’s important to explore both options if you’re looking to improve lead generation and boost brand awareness quickly, paid social media is your best option. 

As for channels to use, LinkedIn is often considered the best platform to use for b2b. That said, we’ve seen Facebook outperform LinkedIn for some businesses. So, as with all things digital marketing, make sure to experiment to find out what works best for you.

Content marketing

53% of b2b customers will consume 3-5 pieces of content before getting in touch. S0, if you don’t create and promote great content, you’ll fail to meet their expectations before you’ve even had a chance to show them how great your product is.

Although content comes in many forms, I’ve listed the most common types you should explore below:

  • Blogs & articles
  • Ebooks & whitepapers 
  • Infographics & illustrations
  • Podcasts & videos

For a more comprehensive overview of content marketing, make sure to check out our content marketing 101 guide.

Email marketing

Despite claims that email is dead, it’s far from the truth. Unsurprisingly, this is especially true in the b2b space. After all, email is still the predominant form of communication in the workplace. 

The trick to email marketing is in building a list. The wider the audience you can reach, the more success you’ll see. Just keep in mind that e-mail marketing and content marketing go hand-in-hand. Great content is going to lead to more sign-ups, a bigger list, and greater sales potential.

Common b2b digital marketing mistakes to avoid

So far we’ve looked at things you should do. Now we’ll look at what not to do. Here are the 4 most common digital marketing mistakes b2b companies make.

  • #1 – Thinking too short term. As b2b sales cycles are long, it can take time to see results. So don’t throw in the towel because you don’t see immediate results. Chances are, your audience just needs a few more interactions before they’re ready to get in touch.
  • #2 – Using a corporate tone-of-voice. For some reason, b2b marketers often forget they’re still talking to humans when crafting copy. Now, you don’t need to use the latest slang in a poor effort to sound “cool”, but you should avoid boring corporate jargon. Keep things clear, concise, and persuasive.
  • #3 – Too sales-y on social media. If you’re not seeing results from organic social media, it’s probably because you’re spamming users with sales messages. Always remember, the trick to winning organic social media is to create engaging content your users look forward to seeing.
  • #4 – Making assumptions. Eliminate the phrase “that’ll never work” from your vocabulary. One of the biggest pros of digital marketing is that you can test hypotheses inexpensively. Before writing off a strategic decision based on an assumption, try putting it to the test. You might be surprised at the results.

Wrap up

There you have it – an introduction to b2b digital marketing for the uninitiated. Hopefully, it’s given you a better understanding and an idea about what steps to take next.

Just remember, as I’ve mentioned throughout, success in digital marketing is all about experimenting with different tactics to find what fits. So, don’t be afraid to stretch your elastic thinking muscles and try something creative.

For more in-depth information on how to improve elements of your digital marketing and more, make sure to visit our creative cookbook. It’s filled with the hints, tips, and tricks to help you take your brand and marketing to the next level.

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