When it comes to digital marketing, your strategy depends on who and where your customers are and what it is they need.
If those customers are other companies instead of individual consumers, obviously your approach will have to take on a different form.
As a B2B brand, knowing the best practices to reach your customers is essential. And it all begins with your specialized B2B digital marketing strategy and plan.
The goal of these will be to engage with companies relying on what it is you have to offer, whether that be services or products.
They need you, so convince them of that with a confident marketing approach.
Here’s what you will learn in this blog post:
What is B2B Digital Marketing?
B2B digital marketing refers to a market where businesses are the purchasers of goods and services from other businesses.
These other businesses need what you have in order to complete their own products or services (e.g., General Motors) or to improve or maintain their business operations.
The purpose of a B2B digital marketing strategy, then, is to introduce your brand to other businesses, show them your product or service and how it can directly benefit their own business, and turn them into paying customers.
In addition, B2B digital marketing can create returning customers with long-term revenue potential.
What are the Four Categories of B2B buyers?
B2B buyers can vary but essentially fall into one of these four categories.
Producers are those companies requiring other goods and services to complete their own offerings.
These may be service providers or manufacturers and can include clothing designers, car manufacturers, restaurants, and even dentists.
Famous examples of producers who must purchase another company’s products or services include Boeing, Delta Airlines, Johnson & Johnson, and Ford.
Resellers are those companies that purchase another business’ goods or services to resell without making any changes to the product or service itself.
Examples of a reseller include retailers, wholesalers, and brokers. These resellers are powerful in the marketplace and can increase your bottom line.
Think Target or Walmart as examples.
Institutions are usually nonprofit organizations that purchase products and services in large quantities.
A huge factor in their decision-making process is keeping costs to a minimum so they can better serve their cause.
Institution examples include American Red Cross, hospitals, churches, and charitable organizations.
Local, state, and federal governments also purchase goods and services from businesses.
The federal government is the largest purchaser, buying various services, such as those relating to highway or bridge construction.
Products are also purchased on a one-time or an ongoing basis, with these ranging from weapons to toilets to paper to office furniture.
State and local governments have massive purchasing needs as well. Often, these purchases come in the form of an ongoing contract in order to provide residents and citizens with expected services, such as garbage collection.
This category of B2B buyers, also referred to as B2G buyers, can be a more complicated one to market and sell to due to the many requirements in place.
Different procurement policies may be used, and each department will have its own purchasing office or officer to oversee all buys.
As a result, marketing to governments will involve more planning and specifics.
Each of these B2B buyer categories has distinct characteristics and needs and will require a slightly different digital marketing strategy approach.
B2B vs B2C Digital Marketing
The main differences between B2B and B2C digital marketing include a variety of factors:
- Targeted audiences.
- Communication methods.
- Specific strategies.
- Application of those strategies.
The targeted audience of B2B marketing is the individuals in charge of making purchases for their organization.
In other words, the customer is the business or organization itself.
In contrast, the targeted audience of B2C marketing is the individual consumer who is responsible for making a decision on their own behalf. The customer then is the consumer.
While there can be an overlap of B2B and B2C purchasing, with some companies offering products or services to organizations and other products or services to individual consumers, the marketing strategies will be separate.
How Do You Plan a B2B Marketing Strategy?
Planning a successful B2B marketing strategy takes time, but when done right, it will pay off immensely for your business.
The following steps can help you reach success and keep your strategy streamlined and focused along the way.
1. Segment your market, then focus on a target segment
Market segmentation is an ideal way to discover, define, and understand who your ideal customer really is and what they need.
It will also help you identify the best markets for your products or services so you can more effectively narrow your marketing focus.
Start by segmenting your market, then focus on one target segment at a time.
Target marketing such as this can increase your brand awareness, attract new customers, and increase sales.
By aiming your efforts at a certain business segment, you can create a strategy with a central focus, save time, and be more cost-effective.
2. Create an ICP for each market segment
For each of your targeted market segments, you next need to create an ICP.
ICP stands for Ideal Customer Profile and is akin to a buyer persona.
For a B2B, an ICP is a fictional organization or business that would benefit the most from what you offer. It is a description of the ideal customer within a particular market segment.
The ICP will alert you as to how to tailor your marketing strategy and its messaging to reach these ideal customers.
To create a B2B ICP, follow these steps.
- Consider who your ideal customer is and include information relating to its industry, geography, budget, annual revenue, and number of employees and offices.
- Find out more about your current satisfied customers by interviewing them and learning about their particular pain points and problems that need resolving.
- Review your collected data and search for common threads or patterns showcasing your ideal customer’s characteristics.
- Combine all that you find to develop your ICP.
If you still need help, consider examining your website traffic, reviewing customer complaints, and looking through your financial data for more clues to assist in creating the best possible ICP.
3. Perform a competitor analysis
A valuable tool for helping you create a strong B2B digital marketing strategy is to perform a competitor analysis.
With this analysis, you can discover what other B2B companies are marketing to your ICP or target audience. You can also gain a sense of your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses.
Specifics to focus on include:
- Competitor product or service offerings.
- Marketing content (including blog topics, videos, podcasts, or interactive content).
- Social media presence.
- Particular sales tactics.
Once armed with this information, your next step will be to find a way to stand apart from the competition and fill a need not yet met for your market segment.
4. Write a USP for each target market
With the information obtained through competitive analysis, you can now develop a unique selling proposition, or USP, for each market you want to target.
A USP is a succinct marketing statement a company uses to promote and sell products or services to its prospective customers.
To develop your USP, first, reexamine your ICP for a particular market segment. Next, determine a way to market your products or services to show that you can meet their business’s needs and be the perfect problem solver.
With a strong USP, you can get the attention of potential customers quicker, show what is uniquely different about your business, and inform them of the value of what you have to offer.
5. Take your Prospects through the buyer’s journey
The buyer’s journey is the path one takes to get to a purchase and consists of three stages:
In order to create a successful B2B digital marketing strategy, you will need to take your prospects through the buyer’s journey stages and provide various content, including social media posts, catering to each of these stages.
The awareness stage is where a prospect is searching for information regarding a specific need or problem within their business and can become aware of your particular offerings or solutions.
Content marketing efforts here may be in the form of a high-quality blog post or a downloadable eBook, with the purpose of informing or educating on a particular topic.
The second stage, consideration, is when the prospect identifies what will meet the needs of the business or provide a viable solution, and is in the process of considering the companies that have what they want.
Your business will need to stand out from the competition at this stage.
You can accomplish this with customer testimonials, positive reviews, case studies, or product or service demo videos on your website. With these, you can show authority and begin to build trust with the prospects.
The decision stage is the final stage of the buyer’s journey. The prospects know what they want, have compared products, services, or solutions, and now want to take action.
Before they do, however, they will want a free trial, consultation, or an opportunity to discuss the options with you.
As part of your B2B marketing strategy, provide a link to a free trial on a landing page or include contact information or a scheduling app for a prospect’s convenience. If you use email campaigns, include this information in your emails as well.
By taking your prospects through the buyer’s journey, you can better prepare for each stage with your content and overall marketing strategy.
6. Identify channels and resources to use
Even if you create incredible content to reach your B2B prospects, it won’t do much good if you don’t use it in the right ways.
As such, you will need to identify channels and resources to use to effectively reach your prospective customers.
Start by reviewing your competitive analysis and determining the different marketing channels successfully in use by competitors.
You can also use this information to find channels your competitors are not currently using and where you can gain an advantage.
A few common B2B marketing channels today include:
- Email marketing
- Content marketing
- Social Media
- Direct mail
- PPC/Paid Search
- Trade Shows
When choosing your B2B marketing channels and resources, always keep in mind your target audience.
The effectiveness of marketing channels will differ depending on where your target audience goes for information and how they tend to make their decisions.
Start by testing out channels to determine which ones provide the highest ROI and continue to find ways to optimize your efforts for greater results.
B2B Marketing Examples
To help you develop your own B2B digital marketing strategy, learn from those already achieving success. Here are three marketing examples to help you get started.
1. TravelPerk and B2B SEO
In order for potential customers to find them easily, TravelPerk focused on creating a strong SEO strategy.
This strategy relies on both paid search and SEO to rank higher up on search engine results pages (SERPS) to attract more potential customers to its website.
One way they accomplish this is by identifying keywords such as “business travel expenses” and ensuring that SERPs contain one of their high-ranking blog posts or a paid ad directing prospects to its site for more information.
2. MailChimp and B2B Website Design
MailChimp’s digital marketing strategy begins with its website’s homepage.
Here they focus on the pain points of customers and provide solutions in the form of text that jumps out with authority.
For example, you may see a phrase such as “Turn emails into revenue,” “Get down to business and grow sales,” or something similar, alerting website visitors that it recognizes what their goals are (to increase business) and indicating that Mailchimp has a solution.
An additional feature of Mailchimp’s website is that it is easy to navigate, so visitors can quickly find what they need.
3. Adobe and Social Media
Adobe has created a substantial following on social media and on TikTok in particular.
It accomplishes this by creating engaging content for the audiences found on this social media platform and, as a result, keeps its brand top of mind.
The company’s video marketing strategy focuses on creating short, fun videos to share across the platform.
These videos often highlight Adobe’s products in an entertaining yet non-promotional way and show what works when it comes to attracting more customers.
@adobe Gorgeous gorgeous girls make custom wrapping paper ✨ #CreativeCloudExpress #AdobeTok #Tutorial #giftwrapping ♬ original sound – Adobe
5 B2B Marketing Trends
Keeping up-to-date on the latest B2B marketing trends can help you stay ahead of the competition and gain a new focus to add to your current strategy.
Consider the following B2B marketing trends and how they can play a role in your overall digital marketing strategy.
1. LinkedIn is the Most Popular Video Marketing Channel, with TikTok in Second Place
With video content a high priority for marketers today, selecting a marketing channel needs careful consideration.
While YouTube and Facebook have been platforms for many video marketing efforts, the trend today for B2B businesses is leaning more and more towards LinkedIn and increasing on TikTok as well.
The LinkedIn focus shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise, since the platform is geared towards professionals and businesses.
As for TikTok, this video-based platform attracts both consumers and businesses for a variety of reasons and is growing in importance.
2. A Rise in the Creation and Use of Case Studies
The creation and use of case studies may not be a new practice; however, investments in them are on the rise among the various B2B companies.
Case studies are the perfect opportunity to provide real-life examples to inform, educate, and inspire a B2B’s targeted audience.
3. An Increase in Influencer Marketing
To stand out in the marketplace today, companies, including B2Bs, are seeking influencer marketing partnerships to help boost their marketing efforts and grow their customer base.
4. More Alignment with Charities and Charitable Causes
Brands are focusing on how they can make a difference, whether it be in their local communities or more international in scope.
Aligning with charities or charitable causes brings a new identity and a way to stand out to consumers and other businesses.
For B2Bs, it can serve as a way to attract businesses with similar interests and inspire prospective buyers.
5. A Reconsideration on the Benefits of Investing in Audio, VR, and AR Content
While trends are often about adding something new, sometimes they are the opposite and show what is being downsized or reconsidered.
This is happening with businesses that are reconsidering their investments in audio, virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR) marketing content.
Wrap-Up: Improve Your B2B Digital Marketing Strategy Today
When it comes to digital marketing, B2B companies must take a different approach to reach prospective customers.
All messaging needs to focus on how your business can help these other businesses and why you are better than the competition.
By spending time creating or improving your B2B digital marketing strategy, you can win new customers and successfully grow your business.
It may even be time to grow your B2B business globally. If so, check out our global marketing playbook to help get you started.