A complete guide to B2B marketing

Alibaba.com SEPTEMBER 24, 202111 MIN READ
A complete guide to B2B marketing

Let's face it: marketing effectively can be challenging to get right. The reason for the difficulty is not far-fetched. Think about a highly resonating campaign that does not cost an arm and a leg and gets published on the appropriate channels—no wonder the thought of resuming work after a restful weekend brings on a bit of a headache.

As a B2B company, there are usually many factors to juggle when developing your marketing strategy, the biggest of which is your audience. When creating a marketing strategy, you need to know your ideal audience and tailor your marketing strategies to them. Failure to do this is equivalent to winking in the dark. You might as well close both eyes and lay back on your pillow because nobody sees you.

The target audience for a business that services another business will be different from that of a business that markets to individuals. Understanding this is the key to creating a highly effective B2B marketing strategy. Once you know your buyer persona, the next step is to create a highly converting marketing campaign that will resonate with your audience and ultimately convert to revenue generation for you.

This article details all you need to know about creating an effective marketing strategy that will give your B2B company the leverage it needs to thrive in your industry. You will learn what B2B marketing is, how it works, effective B2B marketing strategies in 2021, and tips you can use to create your own effective marketing strategy. In short, this article is a complete guide to B2B marketing and the solution to your marketing needs.

What is B2B Marketing?

B2B marketing, also known as business to business marketing or B2B sales, refers to marketing products and/or services to other businesses and/or organizations. In simple terms, it means marketing your company's products or services to another company that needs to purchase them to maintain or improve its operations. Thus, it is quite different from B2C marketing, where you sell directly to individual consumers.

When creating content for your B2B sales campaign, you have to keep the content as straightforward and informational as possible. This is because your buyer persona will base their purchase decisions more on logic and financial bottom-line than emotions, as is usually the case with individual consumers in B2C marketing. Because of this, a typical B2B marketing campaign targets the individual with control or most considerable influence on the purchase decisions. However, sometimes, the purchase decision is not in the hands of an individual. Instead, it may encompass a chain of command ranging from a low-level researcher to the "top floor".

All of this makes B2B marketing a complex and occasionally challenging terrain to navigate. However, evolving data sources into more robust and accurate versions makes it relatively easier to map out a buyer persona and reach them with relevant and personalized information.

How B2B marketing works

We have established that B2B marketing targets companies instead of individuals. So to create a B2B sales campaign that works, you have to understand your target audience's business needs.

With this understanding, you can fashion your campaign to convince your target business that your products or services will yield a great return on investment (ROI) for them. To do this successfully, you have to focus on strategies that focus on building relationships with these other businesses and highlighting how doing business with you will ultimately add value to their bottom line.

The exact way to do this varies based on the type of business you are running and your B2B marketing plan. For example, take a digital marketing firm that specializes in content marketing and social media management. Here, the B2B sales campaign will focus on how retaining the business's services will eventually yield more significant revenue for its prospective client.

Having said this, what tactics have proven to be the best practices of B2B marketing in 2021?

Best practices for B2B marketing

Before going into the most effective tactics for attracting B2B sales, we will briefly discuss best practices for securing the most significant impact possible as a B2B company.

Smarter targeting

One way to get details of your ideal audience is by leveraging demographic information from social media platforms like Facebook's audience insights. You can also get audience information from your own Google Analytics. With this information, you can whittle down your target audience into those who are "ready to purchase now". The data also allows you to create marketing campaigns that are "lean and fast".

Understand your target businesses

Consumers, and this includes business-to-business audiences, prefer transacting with companies that understand their business. One survey showed that 80%1 of their respondents preferred working with companies that offered personalized approaches2. What this means for you as a marketer is that you cannot approach a prospect with a conversation opener like, “Can I ask you a few questions?” Businesses that have blazed the trail with B2B marketing typically open conversations with something like, “We noticed that you’ve been showing interest in…”

To get the kind of insights that will enable you to operate like this, you have to follow social media threads and give your best shot at understanding who might be on the purchase committee. Of course, this is no walk in the park, especially since it is only an average of about 6.8 people that are involved in purchase decisions3. However, if you can do this, you will position your B2B company as an authority figure in your industry.

Keep prospective buyers engaged

It is not enough to have made contact with a potential client. You must ensure that their engagement does not wane by providing information that continues to be of value to your prospect. One way to be sure you are hitting the mark is by using tools that will allow you to monitor your interactions with your prospects and see where they dig in and where they ignore. With this feedback loop, you can tailor your B2B marketing plans to that buyer persona needs.

Derived demand

As an offshoot of understanding your audience, derived demand helps you provide more excellent value for your audience by understanding their customer. Derived demand understands that for every B2B product, a consumer ultimately pays for it. Although this sounds a bit like incorporating B2C marketing into your sales campaign, it really isn't. In fact, not factoring in the end-user when developing marketing strategies is a mistake that lots of B2B companies make. Could you not join them?

A company that produces cars will rely on several other companies for the different parts that make up the car. Likewise, a building contractor will depend on several other businesses for the building materials to complete the project. By factoring in the end-user and aiming to provide services that will give them better purchase experiences, you will be able to give your own customer more fantastic value for their bucks.

6 most effective B2B marketing strategies in 2021

There are several B2B marketing tactics that businesses have employed in getting in the face of their target audiences. However, getting impressive results is a function of knowing these tactics and applying them correctly all through the different stages of the buyer's journey. Some of the tactics we will name will undoubtedly be familiar to you, and you might have even applied one or more during your marketing campaigns.

1. Email marketing

Don't be lulled into thinking that email marketing has gone obsolete, though it may seem like it. On the contrary, it is a crucial digital marketing strategy that still yields impressive results. Emails give you a unique opportunity to reach your prospective clients right in their inboxes. Statistics have shown that 93% of B2B marketing specialists use email marketing to establish and nurture new business relations.4With an effective email marketing strategy, you will also maintain your relationships with your current clientele, keeping them apprised of upcoming events and deals.

2. Content Marketing

Before you can attain top-of-mind status with your clients, both new and old, you must have got them to know, like, and trust you. This is commonly known as the KLT factor. In getting a prospect to know, like, and trust you, you must have helpful information on your website in the form of blog posts and your emails. This way, they will learn something new and assure themselves that you are an expert in your field.

The way to accomplish this is by creating brand awareness with your content marketing. When developing blog posts and other content for B2B, consider having a mix of knowledge articles and ads, with knowledge articles or blog posts getting a more significant percentage. So, you should have a business blog that features topics unique to your industry. Thus, you will provide your clients with valuable information and your prospects with brand awareness, educating them, and promoting your business offerings all at the same time. Win-Win all around!

3. Social Media Marketing

Social media is not going away anytime soon; in fact, it has become integral to modern digital marketing strategies more than ever before.5 With a well-thought-out social media marketing strategy, you can increase the degree of brand awareness and the number of leads you get, and create fruitful and even long-lasting business relationships.

When creating your social media marketing campaign, you may want to consider bringing your employees into the game and encourage them to create accounts on relevant social media platforms and gush about your B2B Company. It is a great way to implement your B2B marketing plan and show how much your employees enjoy working at your business.

4. SMS Marketing

No digital marketing strategy is entirely effective without SMS marketing. Research has shown that SMS marketing is even more effective than email marketing, with an open rate of 98% and a spam rate of 1%.6,7

5. Web Push Marketing

With push marketing, one main objective is to reduce the time that lapses between when a prospective buyer sees a product ad and when they decide to buy the product. The goal is to reduce that time to as little as possible.8

Experts say that push marketing ads have a high click-through rate when you personalize them appropriately and send them at the right time.9

6. Messenger Marketing

Adlibweb reports that messenger marketing has become integral to B2B marketing plans with open rates of almost 80% and 20% click-through rates.10 If you want to use this marketing strategy, an excellent place to start is with Facebook, the most popular platform with business people.

As of now, these strategies are highly effective for B2B marketing. However, due to the constantly evolving nature of marketing, new and better strategies will emerge while old ones lose their edge. For this reason, it is essential to keep yourself apprised of emerging trends.

9 tips for creating effective marketing strategies in 2021

Now that you know the strategies that have proven to be most effective and how to apply them, let's dive into some tips that you can use to create an effective B2B marketing plan for your business in 2021.

1. Explore your customers’ pain points

After you have recognized your target audience, the next thing to do is research their pain points. The reason for this is simple: just because you are offering a product or service you think your audience should buy does not mean that they will buy. So you need to understand what will push a prospect to buy into your business. As soon as you know this, leverage on it to get the attention of your target audience. This will also help you to stand apart from the competition.

A simple way to do this is to form or join customer user groups just like those set up for new products. In these groups, you will learn your ideal customer's pain points and use them to tailor your marketing message. You may also conduct the groups in person or build surveys that help to identify these unique pain points.

2. Generate social proof: prioritize reviews, testimonials, and case studies

Generating social proof goes a long way in establishing your brand’s credibility in the eyes of prospective customers. With reviews and testimonials, you show your potential customers proof that your business can and does deliver on promised products or services. Reviews and testimonials also help your business on Google, thus improving your organic reach.

When you have case studies of customers who had the same pain points as your prospects for whom you had provided solutions, you prove your capabilities to your prospects.

3. Maximize search engine optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization is invaluable for your B2B online marketing campaign. Your prospects need as much information as possible before they make buying decisions.

To this end, they carry out preliminary inquiries into their subject of interest. Most times, these inquiries are generic Google searches, and researchers typically do an average of 12 searches before they engage on a specific brand's website.

Thus, if they are going to get the answers they need from your business, you have to rank among the top results from their Google searches, preferably on Google's page 1. Failing this, searchers will not see your business, and you will most likely not be considered a potential vendor.

Your content marketing strategy has to be top-notch to make Search Engine Optimization work for you. With this, you will position your business as an authority to both search engines and searchers.

Publish highly educational content regularly and leverage Google's algorithm to push your B2B content marketing efforts to the fore. Note, however, that the algorithm is constantly evolving, so it is essential to keep yourself apprised of developments as they unfold. For example, the algorithm is used to consider keywords and metadata when determining what to show its audience.

However, the focus has shifted more from keywords and metadata to searcher intent signals. Notwithstanding, keywords are still essential when creating SEO content. You would be wise to choose relevant keywords and incorporate them into your content in ways that search engines would find them relevant.

When you have excellent content and glowing reviews from satisfied clients, you will give search engine algorithms no choice but to push forward your business when your target audience begins to search for companies like yours.

4. Use Social Media for Business

Quite different from content marketing, social media marketing enables you to determine whether your business is appropriately positioned to meet the needs of your target audience. With the current user saturation on the social media space, it is no longer sufficient to have a social media presence. You have to be present, active, and proactive in your social media marketing strategy. This way, you will not only gain relevance in your field, but you will also get user engagement and maintain top-of-mind awareness with your audience.

5. B2B Advertising

While content marketing and social media marketing focus more on expanding the organic reach of your business through SEO, B2B advertising focuses more on paid spending on searching social media channels for your target audience. Therefore, your B2B internet marketing should include paid spend on search and social media. These paid B2B marketing services can generate great ROI if done correctly.

B2B advertising also utilizes social media, but while the previous one concentrates on organic growth through SEO, B2B advertising focuses on running ads on social media. You can focus your targeting budgets on meeting your prospects where they already spend their time online by running targeted paid ads.

We have said that B2B marketing does not focus on one individual; instead, it focuses on the chain of command. However, it is essential to note that though they represent their businesses, this chain of command is still people and has social media channels where they spend their time. So, please take advantage of the advanced targeting features of social media channels like Facebook and go and find your prospects where they are.

One key advantage paid ads have over organic reach is that paid ads push you to the fore of the queue quicker than organic SEO without as much work. Also, with the targeting features, you can target relevant prospects for their exact interests and the exact moment they are interested.

6. Word-of-mouth advertising

Word-of-mouth advertising, also known as a referral system, is one great and highly effective way to drum up new business for your company. It is compelling because it comes with a guarantee to the prospect about your capability and, more importantly, credibility.

It would be best if you built customer referrals into your marketing process from the starting gun. You can do this either through organic means or paid means.

With the organic method, you can have a period where you gauge your customers' satisfaction with your product or service offerings. This may be after you have completed a project or contract with them or at some other pre-established time.

Whatever time you choose, ask your clients to give you feedback about your business. If the feedback is positive, let them know you would appreciate it if they could spread the word within their network.

With the paid method, you will follow the same process, except that you would offer an incentive for spreading the word. For example, you could offer a percentage discount on the next project you would work on with the client for every new client they brought on board.

You could also offer them a percentage of the profits you make on the new client's project. The point is that you would be offering your clients a more significant reason to spread the word about your business within their networks.

When you combine reviews, testimonials, and case studies with referrals, you increase the organic reach of your business through SEO and encourage search engines to pick up your business website when searcher intents indicate a need for a company in your niche.

7. Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is another way to advertise your business through word-of-mouth. The difference here is that while customer referrals require the endorsement of clients you have served, influencer marketing takes it a step further. With influencer marketing, you will partner with well-known industry figures and get them to endorse your brand.

You could also partner with local influencers in your target industry to help promote your business. With this, you save costs and whittle down your marketing efforts to the relevant audience, i.e., the audience with whom your business offerings would resonate the most.

8. Automate your marketing efforts

Automating your marketing efforts will help you systematize your tasks and workflows to reach your marketing goals and improve the overall sales process. It also comes with the added advantage of doing more with lesser input of time. Of course, the most significant time you will invest will be the time you spend putting the system in place. However, once you have installed it, automation, by design, will run itself, freeing up more time for you to engage in other productive endeavors.

You can use automation to improve your business processes in several areas, including engaging with and nurturing business leads and integrating all of your marketing channels.

One significant channel where you can enjoy the benefits of automation is in your email marketing efforts. With it, you can profile customers on your company's website pages, score leads, and send personalized emails that will elicit better engagement with your customers.

A word of caution, though: ensure that you do not overwhelm your business contacts with marketing automation. If your emails or messages appear too frequently or the tone of voice becomes aggressive or, worse, whiny, you may cause a business contact to choose to stop receiving messages from you.

9. Study your campaign analytics and use the reports you get

Tracking your campaign and studying analytics through artificial intelligence like Google Analytics is a no-brainer when creating a B2B marketing strategy. By tracking your progress and results, you will get insights that will help you determine whether your B2B marketing strategies are effective, and if not, you will know where the problem lies.

Tracking your campaign is crucial enough to develop a strategy for tracking even before you implement any marketing strategy. First, you need to decide how to measure key performance indicators like rankings, traffic, pages sessions, page views, conversions, lead generation, and so on. Then, if you are running paid ads on social media, you need to install the correct pixels to get insights on your ROI and determine whether the returns are proportional to the efforts you put in.

The good news is that most marketing software comes with analytics features to review your efforts and see the results you are getting. You also get to see which strategies yield better results, which ones to improve upon, and which ones to stop using totally. For example, Google Analytics can tell you a lot about how well your website and marketing campaigns are performing.

Summarily, tracking your campaign and studying analytics is vital, as, without these insights, you might as well be pouring water into an ocean. The results are the same: you will never know how much effort you have put in and how much difference your efforts have made.

Sell on Alibaba.com

Deciding on a B2B marketing strategy may feel overwhelming. Still, when you take the time to study each marketing strategy we have mentioned here, weighing them with the nature of your business, it will be easier to find the perfect strategy for you.

Another significant way to get ahead in your B2B marketing game is by leveraging other platforms with recognizable names in B2B marketing. One of such platforms is Alibaba.com, which has been at the forefront of popularizing B2B eCommerce. Therefore, we recommend making your products available on Alibaba.com in addition to other marketing strategies you employ. This way, you can reach thousands of active buyers that may not have heard about your business otherwise.

Are you ready to move your B2B business forward and reach thousands of global buyers? Start selling on Alibaba.com today.

References: 1. https://www.slideshare.net/EpsilonMktg/the-power-of-me-the-impact-of-personalization-on-marketing-performance/10 2. https://hbr.org/2017/07/how-b2b-sellers-are-offering-personalization-at-scale 3. https://business.linkedin.com/content/dam/me/business/en-us/sales-solutions/resources/pdfs/linkedins-definitive-guide-to-selling-to-multiple-decision-makers.pdf 4. https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/2017_B2B_Research_FINAL.pdf 5. https://business.linkedin.com/content/dam/business/sales-solutions/global/en_US/c/pdfs/idc-wp-247829.pdf 6. https://mobilemarketingwatch.com/sms-marketing-wallops-email-with-98-open-rate-and-only-1-spam-43866 7. https://www.business2community.com/digital-marketing/sms-versus-email-marketing-0957139#!bth7SG 8. https://corporatefinanceinstitute.com/resources/knowledge/strategy/push-marketing-strategy/ 9. https://marketingland.com/how-to-maximize-value-from-push-notifications-245729 10. https://www.adlibweb.com/ 6-solid-facebook-messenger-marketing-b2b-strategies-you-need-to-try-today/