How to Market to B2B Companies
Your first step in effectively marketing to B2B companies is to develop a formal marketing plan. As of 2019, 64% of B2B companies in the United States have a formal marketing plan in place (Sagefrog). To begin establishing your marketing plan, outline the marketing strategies and campaigns you plan to execute over the next year (or several years). Leave plenty of room for digital marketing initiatives within your budget, as it is likely that most of your advertising dollars will be spent in that category. In the United States, 1 out of 4 B2B marketers allocate 61-80% of their marketing budgets to online marketing spending (DemandWave).
- Outline your marketing sources and divide them into categories
In your plan, be sure to identify which specific types of paid social media, cost-per-click, or native advertising you plan to pursue and the main topics these ads will cover. It may also be helpful to identify third-party publications with which to advertise in or partner with on technical white paper sponsorships or other digital advertising efforts. You should also acquire media kits for publications in the oil & gas, food & beverage, and/or manufacturing industries to determine advertising options that will best target a highly relevant, engaged audience. Having a set marketing plan in place will help your company organize paid prospecting and customer retention efforts to optimize advertising spending.
- Use differing marketing channels based on where the prospect is in the sales funnel
Are you using different marketing strategies to target prospects in the early stage of the buying process vs. those individuals further down the sales funnel? E-mail marketing is a great tool for engaging prospects in the early buying stages as well as driving conversions later on in the buying process. Search marketing and social media work well for driving early-stage engagement (MarketingCharts). Your company’s website should include basic overview information relevant for prospects in the early stage of the buying cycle as well as should have more in-depth technical knowledge for those buyers further along in the buying process. Articles, blog posts, whitepapers, and videos are methods to push prospects through the sales funnel. The Chief Marketer reports that 37% of B2B marketers perceive whitepapers to be valuable in moving prospects along the sales funnel (Chief Marketer). In brief, early-stage buyers relate best to e-mail marketing, search marketing, and social media marketing whereas prospects in later buying stages are engaged by industry articles, informational blog posts, videos, and technical whitepapers.
- Promote marketing content via paid advertising sources to generate qualified leads
Once you have your content finalized, how should you promote your marketing pieces to generate leads? You can promote your educational content by paying for social media ads, sponsorships, and search engine marketing (pay-per-click). For example, your company can advertise on LinkedIn via Sponsored Content and InMail to reach a highly targeted, relevant audience. LinkedIn allows you to narrow down your target audience by geographical region, company name, organization size, industry title, and other characteristics based on a user’s profile information. LinkedIn is used by 94% of business-to-business marketers for content marketing and by 89% of B2B marketers for lead generation (Hootsuite). You could also advertise using Google AdWords with remarketing display ads or text ads appearing in search results. The average Google AdWords cost-per-click in the search network is $3.33 in the B2B sector while its display network costs an average of just $0.79 per click (WebFX). Additionally, paid third-party publication opportunities could generate leads through webinar sponsorships and white paper programs. Promoting your content via paid channels such as social media advertising, pay-per-click search engine marketing, and third-party publication sponsorships works well for qualified lead generation.
- Use digital reporting technologies to track your ROI
To get the most out of your digital marketing efforts, be sure to use marketing technologies to effectively track the return on investment (ROI) of your different marketing sources. As of 2017, campaign analytics, retargeting, and campaign reporting/dashboards were the leading marketing technology features used by B2B professionals in the United States (Dun & Bradstreet). To measure digital advertising effectiveness, B2B marketers typically use a CRM report or dashboard, data management platform, website analytics platform, and/or monitor reports included within an advertising platform (MarketingCharts). Managing and monitoring digital marketing technology platforms to ensure optimal ROI is a key step to effective B2B marketing.