A successful B2B marketing strategy offers every business the opportunity to find new customers and to further distinguish its brand from the competition. From improved lead generation to offering a high ROI on each dollar spent, B2B marketing is foundational to helping a business thrive. Yet, despite its importance, many businesses still get the fundamentals wrong.
Marketing a business varies depending on industry, size, and budget. However, a few principles and best practices remain true when developing a B2B marketing strategy. Unfortunately, many businesses get into ruts and rely on old habits that keep them out of step with the best strategies for marketing their brand online.
If a marketing strategy seems stuck, one of the reasons below may be the likely cause.
Content isn’t King
By now, the phrase “content is king” probably repeats in the heads of marketers like a sad meditation mantra whenever they start thinking about how to market a business online. While content marketing’s reputation for delivering results isn’t unearned, it doesn’t provide B2B marketers with the best return on their investment. That distinction belongs to email marketing.
Email marketing offers the best channel for generating leads with the highest return on investment, with B2B email marketing statistics showing it can generate up to $42 for every $1 spent. That type of return is like walking into an ice cream parlor with enough change in your pocket to buy a scoop of vanilla and coming out owning the store.
Unfortunately, email marketing gets overlooked because too many businesses today equate the strategy with being old and outdated. However, before we start lumping email marketing together with antiquated strategies like buying a Yellow Pages ad or advertising through Bing, let’s consider the advantages email marketing has over content marketing.
The average time it takes to write one blog post is just short of four hours, a 65 percent increase from just six years ago. Why the dramatic increase? Audiences today demand relevant and informative content that answers their questions and addresses their needs. Consumers, especially B2B consumers, don’t want Buzzfeed-style listicles loaded with more keywords than useful information.
Content needs to be well-written, thoroughly researched, and tailored to its audience. That takes time and money. A busy marketing team can struggle to find the capacity necessary to deliver this type of content regularly.
Creating the content is only the first step. You still need to find a way to get the content in front of the right audience. That requires additional investment in SEO marketing and other avenues that help to amplify your message.
Email marketing comes with a built-in audience – contacts who’ve already provided you with their online address- who already know your business and what it offers. An email arrives in their inbox, placing your marketing message directly in front of the audience you need to reach. You can customize an email marketing campaign so that each contact receives a personalized message that addresses their individual needs.
When tailored to meet its audience, email marketing offers incredible reach. B2B marketing emails have a 23 percent higher open rate than B2C emails. Of B2B marketers, 79 percent report that email marketing is their most successful channel for getting their message out, and 59 percent cite email as their top channel for generating revenue.
Email marketing also synergizes with content marketing, as you can send links to your stellar blog content and promotional materials directly to prospective clients.
It may not be the new hotness compared to content marketing, but email can still attract the attention of prospective customers in ways that directly boost your business’ bottom line and improves your B2B marketing strategy.
Sorry, Your Marketing Budget Still Isn’t Big Enough
Marketing is the under-appreciated hero that helps a business thrive. It’s the Aquaman to the sales team’s Justice League. The Hermione Granger to product development’s Harry Potter. It’s the scoop of ice cream on top that makes everything beneath just a little bit better. So, why don’t businesses spend more on marketing?
Marketing budgets have plummeted to their lowest recorded level, falling to just 6.4 percent of company revenue in 2021, a decline from 11 percent in 2020. B2B surveys show that 32 percent of businesses spend just 5 percent of their revenue on marketing. Despite 23 percent of B2B businesses ranking marketing as a top priority, only 13 percent report spending more than 15 percent of their budgets on marketing channels.
Ask most businesses why they don’t spend more on marketing and you’ll hear some variation of the same answer – They don’t know that marketing really makes that big a difference.
Successful businesses operate using very clear lines. Money goes out. Money comes in. Every dollar spent should correlate to an increase in profit or production.
Marketing is more nebulous. How much additional traffic did paying to boost a post on social really provide? What direct financial value did taking the time to run an A/B test on a new marketing campaign generate? Do we really live in a world where paying an influencer to hype a product on Instagram is a viable marketing strategy, or are we just living in the worst possible timeline?
These are hard questions for a business to answer without having a system in place that accurately measures the return on their marketing investment. This can create a Scrooge McDuck paradigm, where every dollar in hand is worth more than the three or four future dollars a marketing investment could generate.
Successful brands get that it takes money to make money. That’s why a well-established brand like McDonald’s spent nearly half a billion dollars on marketing in 2021 (20 percent of their revenue that year).
If a business isn’t generating the revenue needed to meet its yearly goals, considering whether to increase your marketing budget is an easy first step.
Video Isn’t Just for Learning TikTok Dances
It can be easy for a business to believe that video is a poor fit for their brand if they operate in a “serious” industry. For manufacturers, medical providers, and financial services providers, video may seem counter to the authoritative and professional image they’re trying to cultivate through their marketing channels. Yet, if given a chance, B2B brands find video a powerful marketing tool, regardless of their industry.
Studies show that viewers retain 95 percent of a message when watching a video, compared to just 10 percent when reading text. In an era of ever-shortening attention spans, the power of quickly imparting your marketing message can’t be understated. Video offers special appeal for businesses that operate in difficult-to-describe industries, such as manufacturing, where seeing how a product is made or used carries more weight.
B2B businesses have started to recognize the advantages offered by video, with 81 percent now using video as a marketing tool – up from 63 percent in 2020.
Industry surveys have found the use of video as profitable for marketers, with 89 percent of businesses reporting that video offers a good ROI and 84 percent of businesses say that video is effective at generating sales. On the customer side, 94 percent of respondents stated that watching a video has helped them make a purchasing decision, and 72 percent were convinced to make a purchase after watching a product demonstration.
An effective B2B marketing strategy must include video if a business wants its brand to connect with its target audience. Video offers the ability to quickly spread your brand message in a way that’s approachable and easy to digest.
Your audience is smarter and more sophisticated about marketing than ever before, which leads us to our last point….
Don’t Underestimate Your Audience
Consumers today understand marketing and brand authenticity in ways that would give Don Draper nightmares. This awareness comes from the simple fact that many B2B buyers have spent their entire lives online and are savvy enough to separate brands that value their customers from those paying lip service to the idea.
Most B2B buyers (73 percent) actively research a business before making a purchase, and more than half of sole B2B decision-makers are millennials.
The oft-maligned younger generation has risen to become the decision-makers and gatekeepers when finalizing B2B transactions. This group is hungry for information and more than capable of doing due diligence and thorough research before making any purchasing decision.
The majority of B2B buyers (57 percent) are more than halfway through their decision process before they ever reach out to a vendor. Over 70 percent of B2B buyers spend over half of their time researching brands online through blogs, search engine results, videos, and social media posts. Buyers will view an average of 13 pieces of content on a brand before making a purchasing decision.
When a prospective new customer reaches out, a business has already made its first impression through its website and marketing content. If a brand hopes to connect with this younger, savvier audience, it must adopt an honest marketing strategy that gives credit where it’s due.
For most businesses, developing a successful B2B marketing strategy doesn’t require a top-down redesign of their fundamental marketing practices. By allocating more time and resources to areas that offer a higher ROI, any business can improve its lead generation and form better, longer-lasting connections with its audience.