The Complete B2B Marketing Guide For 2020

What is B2B Marketing?

B2B marketing has been around since the first B2B company and while B2B marketing is notoriously slow to change, lacking behind B2C, it is catching up.

While construction companies, commercial real estate, and pharmaceutical companies still rely heavily on print, they are slowly adopting modern marketing tactics.

Great marketing strategies are hard to develop, especially when you’re swimming in the foreign waters of digital marketing. It gets confusing and expensive with budgets, design management, and channel decisions, leaving B2B marketers with a lot to juggle when it comes to developing a marketing strategy.

These marketing strategies need to be built on the goals of the company and need to align with whether the company is serving B2B or B2C.

B2B marketing is completely different from B2C and requires a different approach to the way a strategy is developed. Once you’ve completed this guide. You’ll have a much better understanding of what B2B marketing is and how digital needs to play the main role.

In this post you’ll find:

  • What B2B Marketing is
  • B2B vs. B2C: How they’re different
  • B2B Marketing Strategies
  • B2B Marketing Examples
  • How you can get started today

What is B2B Marketing?

B2B (business-to-business) marketing is any marketing strategy that is targeted towards a business or organisation. A company that sells products or services to companies will use B2B marketing to build their business.

For example, a SaaS company selling digital visitor management may develop an ebook and target it at hotels in Australia. Resulting in the capture of an email and generation of a lead. This lead can then be pushed through the sales funnel.

B2B vs. B2C: How They’re Different

B2B marketing is marketing that is aimed at businesses or organisations. Its aim is to target the needs and challenges of an individual(s) that are making a decision on behalf of a company.

Some examples of B2B companies:

  • Hubspot selling lead generation software, email marketing software, and other marketing software to marketing managers
  • IBM selling software to enterprise companies
  • SAP selling operations software to enterprise companies

Whereas B2C marketing targets the needs and wants of individuals who are marking a purchase for themselves or another individual (like a gift for a friend).

Some examples of B2C companies:

  • Finder.com.au helping individuals find better credit card deals through comparison
  • Coca-cola selling beverages
  • Disney at its core creates movies and tv shows to entertain individuals
B2B companies and B2C companies

Breakdown: B2B vs. B2C

Here’s a comparison of B2B and B2C marketing

B2B MarketingB2C Marketing
GoalsFocused on features, ROI
and experience
Customers want to save
money and be engaged
Motivation of
purchase
Motivated by problems
solved and financial incentive
Customers are motivated
by emotion
IntentEducation through
B2B marketing
Since motivation of purchase is
emotional, education isn’t
always important
The Purchase
process
Personalisation through
account managers and sales people
Direct purchasing
Who’s involved?Multiple stakeholders and
decision-makers
Individual who is purchasing
The purchase
purpose
Looking for long-term
solutions and relationships
To fit a need they currently have.
Generally not looking for
long-term relationships

While there’s a clear line between B2B and B2C they can cross over. For example, while Facebook is a social media platform, they also sell ad space to businesses. Or, while Apple sells products to individuals, they do sell technology to help businesses function.

B2B Marketing Strategies

As you’ve seen B2B marketing and B2C marketing is different. Target markets are different. Buyer intent is different and the process to purchase is different.

Digital Marketing is the marketing of the modern world and B2B companies have been slower to catch on but as they do, they quickly realise the ROI is not only bigger but it’s measurable.

Historically, B2B companies would spend big on print marketing, TV ads, and call centres to generate leads but these channels are not only less effective but most of them can’t be measured.

Digital marketing channels cost less, generate more leads and can be measured. In this section, we’ll look at some digital marketing channels that can be utilised to target a B2B company’s specific target market.

The B2B content marketing funnel
Image from SocialNomics

B2B Digital Marketing

Companies, whether B2B or B2C, need to be active online.

Build a Website

B2B digital marketing can’t work without a website. It’s the main component and every form of digital marketing you do will lead back to it. In a B2B sale, there is often more than one stakeholder involved and an up-to-date website is where these stakeholders can get access to the information they need.

They do this by providing product pages, a company overview, a reguarly updated blog, lead generation landing pages, showcasing current clients and case studies and, easy ways to contact the company.

In fact, over 80% of buyers will look at a companies website.

All ads will be directed to a blog post, ebook or landing page. Social media posts will direct traffic back to the website. A website will be the key to building an organic presence among search platforms. Email marketing will push traffic to a landing page. Without a website, a business cannot do any digital marketing.

SEO

While a website can be built, it takes a lot of hard work to develop a discoverable website. By discoverable, I mean that it can be found by search engines like Google and Bing. To do this, you can start implementing SEO ( Search Engine Optimisation) tactics which will allow you to capture keywords and higher rankings in search engines known as SERPs.

Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) are the pages displayed by search engines in response to a query by a user.

SEO is optimising a website based on the 200+ ranking factors that Google uses to determine the placement of a website in its SERPs. This covers everything from site speed, quality of content, headers and ALT text in images.

SEO has two components:

  1. On-page SEO – On-page SEO is the tactic of optimising single pages on a website in order to rank higher and gain more relevant traffic on search engines.
  2. Off-page SEO – Off-page SEO is increasing your rankings by using tactics that happen off your website. For example, link building, influencer marketing, and ads.

PPC Campaigns

You can increase your web presence using PPC (Cost-Per-Click) advertising.

PPC is an advertising model where companies pay a fee every time someone clicks on their ad.

PPC campaigns allow B2B companies to get their brand, offerings, and content in front of target markets that they wouldn’t normally be able to reach organically. Think of it as a boost.

The most common forms of PPC campaigns are through social media networks such as Facebook and Linkedin, and through search engines such as Google and Bing.

To get the most from your PPC campaigns, I recommend that you don’t focus on pushing your products. Instead, use PPC to showcase your brand and promote key content that will aid in pushing a lead through the sales funnel.

B2B Content Marketing

With a website, the second most important aspect of digital marketing is content marketing. Effective content marketing involves creating high-quality content, consistently with the aim of attracting new leads, nurturing current leads through the sales funnel and educating current clients.

Content marketing comes in many forms but to umbrella them, it’s content that’s produced by the company. Some of these content types are:

  • Blog posts – Serve to educate the market
  • Case studies – Proves your expertise and showcases client feedback
  • Videos – A more engaging way to educate the market and show off your brand
  • Infographics – A visual, creative way to educate the market
  • Company news – Updates on ‘announcement worthy’ company progression. Such as new clients, new staff, or tradeshow attendance
Examples of blog posts on a blog
Examples of blog post

Referring back to the content marketing sales funnel that we shared previously in this post, there are three stages of the sales funnel in B2B marketing:

  1. Know – At the ‘know’ stage, the lead knows what your business is and they’re deciding whether to go with your business or not. Content types at this stage are blog posts, webinars, guides and videos.
  2. Like – At the ‘like’ stage, the lead is ready to turn into a paying customer. This is where you’d make the final pitch and get them across the line. Content types at this stage are case studies, demo videos and product descriptions.
  3. Trust – At the ‘trust’ level, you’re educating your leads about your product or service and keeping them engaged. Content types at this stage are testimonials, reviews, sales process.

B2B Social Media Marketing

Social media isn’t just for B2C companies trying to attract the attention of the masses. Rather, 73% of B2B buyers use social media as part of their decision when making a purchase. Making social media important for all businesses.

75% of B2B buyers use social media as part of their decision when making a purchase.

Social media is new in the B2B world and many companies struggle to get a handle on how it works and how to turn it into a lead generation machine. Forcing B2B companies to get in a mind-frame that social media is not for them. This is quite common. It’s even quite common for agencies and freelancers to either tell you that social media isn’t where you want to be or will gladly take your money, generate no leads but sugar coat it by telling you they’ve grown your following. And we all know that the following means nothing if it isn’t generating revenue or leads.

The truth is, social media can bring B2B companies lots of leads, the thing is that ‘social media consultants’ just don’t understand B2B marketing and couldn’t generate a lead to save their life (you can tell I’m not a fan of social media consultants haha!).

The thing about B2B social media marketing is it’s an entirely different approach and unless you’ve spent time actually doing it growing a following is all you can hope for. Truth is, in B2B, you need to put in a lot more effort on very targeted platforms.

Historically, unless you’re a ‘sexy’ company, like a SaaS company or an agency, you’re going to have a hard time generating leads on platforms like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. These platforms are very visual and require a strong brand. That isn’t to say it can’t be done but B2B companies should be turning their attention to LinkedIn.

The homepage of LinkedIn
LinkedIn homepage

There is a very common myth that you should be on every platform and active on all of them. This isn’t true and is counterproductive. Instead, B2B companies need to focus on LinkedIn

What is LinkedIn?
It’s a social media network for professionals with 600 million users.

It has all the functionality of Facebook – messages, newsfeed, company pages, connections. The only difference is that everyone on LinkedIn is there to do business in some way. Meaning that it’s a great tool for generating leads. You can run ads from your company page and target your specific target market all the way down to a person’s title.

Intel Corporation's LinkedIn page
Intel’s LinkedIn profile

One popular way of using LinkedIn, which many companies have used to generate leads, is personally reaching out to prospects, building a relationship and pushing them through your sales funnel with a personal approach.

B2B Email Marketing

Did you know that 93% of B2B companies use email marketing? And with good reason! Emails lead to engagement and the more times people are engaged, the more likely they are to become leads who will then become paying clients.

There’s another reason why so many B2B companies use email marketing… It has the highest ROI of all digital marketing channels – for every $1.00 you spend you can get up to $40.00 in return!

ROI of all digital marketing channels  compared
Email ROI almost doubles SEO

Don’t let that fool you, it’s not easy to get big returns from email marketing and requires a lot of practice and optimization.

To get started, you need to find the right email marketing platform for you. Here’s a couple of good ones:

  • Mailchimp – Arguably the first email marketing platform. Mailchimp offers a free version and easy-to-use drop/drag email builder.
  • SendInBlue – SendInBlue is the best email marketing platform to get started on. Offering unlimited email contacts and up to 300 emails per day.
  • Campaign Monitor – Slightly more expensive but offers more in terms of email list tags, automation, and billing emails.

Here are some email marketing best practices to remember:

  • Write enticing subject lines – Think of how many emails people receive every single day. It’s hundreds, at least, and if you can’t capture the person’s attention within one second then your email is left unopened. I recommend that you spend as much time on the subject line as you do creating the email.
  • Ensure email designs are mobile responsive – 80% of users access their inbox via their phone and if an email doesn’t show up correctly on it, the email will be ignored.
  • Keep it short and sharp – People won’t read an email that looks like a blog post. Keep your email short and to the point. Preferably three paragraphs at the most.
  • Split up paragraphs and write short sentences – Keep your paragraphs to three sentences and remove any words that aren’t needed.
  • Stick to one call-to-action (CTA) per email – Don’t confuse people with more than one button or link. Give people one option and don’t make them think.

B2B Marketing Examples

Not all B2B digital marketing approaches are the same. What works for one company, won’t work for another. I want to show you some examples from other companies who are using the techniques that we just covered above.

Marketing Website: HotJar, Landing page

A landing page created by Hotjar
Hotjar landing page

Hotjar is a tool used by B2B digital marketers that shows the behaviour of traffic on a companies website. It combines analytics and data to give a visual representation of what users are doing.

This is an awesome example of a high-quality landing page (and it should be since their business is built on optimisation). As you can see, it’s simple, minimal wording and only has one CTA. Behind this landing page, there would be hours of research around button colours, which words work, where to place the CTA and where to place the image.

PPC Advertisement: Deputy, Google Ads

SERPs and PPC ads for 'Workforce Management Platform'
Deputy’s PPC Ad on Google

Deputy is a workforce management platform that aims to help with the operations of managing a workforce.

In this example, you can see that Deputy has perfectly aligned their PPC advertisements title with the keyword that was searched in Google and included a simple CTA ‘Free Trial with Deputy Today’. This will work perfectly as the keyword suggests they know exactly what they want and Deputy has it.

They’ve also included a few words that showcase their features. Remember B2B companies want to know the features and how they will solve their challenges.

Email Marketing: Intercom, Webinar Email

Email sent by Intercom promoting a webinar
Email from Intercom promoting a webinar

People get the idea that emails need to be beautifully designed and colourful. Well, that’s not true. Just look at the above email from Intercom promoting a webinar.

Intercom is a platform that specialises in lead generation, client relationships and messaging, and always send emails that look like, well… an email. There’s no design just their message and a CTA. This is a highly powerful approach for B2B companies as it adds a touch of personalisation and their message doesn’t get lost in the design.

They’re also using a great approach to email marketing. Instead of pushing a sale they’re feeding their email list content. This is called soft-touch marketing, where the strategy is to constantly engage a potential lead and direct them to a sale rather than push them.

Social Media Marketing: Adobe, LinkedIn

Creative LinkedIn post by Adobe
Adobe’s video post on LinkedIn

Adobe is built off creativity, so why should their social profiles be any different? Adobe is software that focuses on multimedia creation and creativity products.

As you can see from the LinkedIn post above, Adobe shares highly visual content that stands out in a newsfeed. This content is aimed to teach their following about the world of design while also getting them to try out their products. They also use their social media profiles to promote events and webinars.

How Can You Get Started With B2B Marketing Today?

With all this new information, getting started can be confusing. That’s why it’s important to start at the very start. With a digital marketing strategy.

A digital marketing strategy will help you identify your target market, layout your goals and show you the channels you’re going to go after. When I say channels, it’s important to note that being on every channel is a horrible approach. You should pick out 2-4 channels to start with and continuously test by removing the channels that aren’t working and introducing new ones to be tested.

Here’s a quick rundown on what your B2B digital marketing strategy should include:

  1. Goals – The goals that you want to achieve at the end of the year
  2. SWOT Analysis – Find your companies current digital presence compared to your competitors.
  3. Marketing Persona – Map out who your ideal client would be.
  4. Brand Voice – Write out what your companies brand is and the voice it uses.
  5. Marketing Tactics – Layout the marketing tactics that you want to utilise. This could be blog post development, case studies, video or Google Ads, to name a few.
  6. Backlog of Projects – Identify all the projects you want to undertake in relation to your marketing tactics.
  7. Marketing Budget – Decide how much you’re willing to spend per month.
  8. Annual Timeline – Outline when you plan to do all of your projects over a year.
  9. Breakdown of Projects – Do an annual timeline for all of your projects, separately. Starting with when discussions will start, goals identified, production, launch, and measuring success.

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