Business-to-business (B2B) organizations are companies that sell products and services to other businesses. Like any company, these organizations rely on marketing for reaching customers and spreading the word about their offerings.
In this beginner’s guide for B2B digital marketing, you’ll learn what B2B marketing is, the difference between b2b marketing vs b2c marketing, and the best b2b marketing strategies to start using today for the best possible results.
What is B2B Digital Marketing?
B2B digital marketing is a marketing strategy in which businesses use digital mediums to market their products and services to other businesses. The marketing strategy can consist of a variety of channels including websites, email messages, and social media platforms.
A successful B2B digital marketing strategy involves familiarizing companies with your brand and communicating the value of your products or services, eventually convincing them to become customers.
The B2B marketing process is uniquely designed for the complexities that come with selling to other companies.
B2B Marketing VS B2C Marketing
Marketing to businesses is notably different than marketing to consumers which is why B2B marketing exists. Here are some of the key differences:
|Tactic||B2B Marketing||B2C Marketing|
|Audience Targeting||Company Owners, Decision Makers||General Public|
|SEO||Low volume, long-tail keywords||High volume, short tail keywords|
|PPC Marketing||High CPC keywords||Low and average CPC keywords|
|Content Marketing||In-depth, thought-leading content||More generic content|
|Social Media Marketing||Networking and knowledge sharing||Brand awareness and audience engagement|
|Affiliate Marketing||Setup a partner program and give commissions to other companies||Set up an affiliate program and find publishers and influencers to promote your goods.|
|YouTube Marketing||Short content, targeting high-volume keywords||Long, info-packed videos targeting low volume, informational keywords|
Let’s see how each marketing tactic differs between B2B and B2C.
B2B targets decision-makers and B2C targets individuals
The biggest difference between B2B and B2C marketing is audience targeting.
B2C marketing obviously targets individual consumers. B2B, however, targets decision-makers at companies. This can be a single person per organization or a team.
So while B2B still involves marketing to people, these parties are making decisions on part of the organization, making the company the ultimate customer.
This means B2B buyers are more practical and less emotional in their decision-making as any purchase needs to benefit the company.
B2B sales cycles are longer compared to B2C
B2B sales take longer to close. While consumers frequently buy things on impulse and without research, B2B buyers will take months to evaluate their needs and the solutions in the market before deciding what to purchase.
B2B marketing targets long-tail keywords and B2C targets high-volume head keywords
Traffic from search engines is a big part of both B2C and B2B marketing. However, there are some big differences in the keywords targeted by these marketing strategies.
B2C marketing will focus on short keywords with high search volume.
Conversely, B2B marketing primarily focuses on long-tail keywords with lower search volume. This is because the searches from business buyers are more specific than general queries from consumers.
B2B paid advertising costs more than B2C
B2B sales have a much higher average value when compared to sales to consumers. This makes sense as companies have more money to spend and have far greater needs.
Because B2B transactions result in more revenue, these companies are willing to pay more to advertise their business.
This leads to notably higher cost-per-clicks (CPC) for ads for B2B marketers.
B2B marketing is about creating In-depth data-driven content
B2B and B2C marketing both use content as part of their marketing strategies but they do so in different ways.
B2C companies can create content strictly intended to sell or to capture their audience’s attention.
B2B marketers need to provide thorough, data-driven, and authoritative content in order to connect with their audience.
Providing value and proving expertise are more critical to earning a sale.
Professional social media networks are more suited for B2B marketing
Social media networks are important for B2C and B2B companies alike. The two however tend to focus on different platforms.
Platforms with the largest reach (Facebook, Tik Tok, and Instagram) are most effective for B2C marketing.
For B2B, a professional platform like LinkedIn is the most impactful. Twitter is also a more suitable platform for businesses looking to connect and sell to professionals and other companies.
Direct communication is still a great sales channel for B2B marketing
B2C marketing and sales is impersonal. Businesses don’t know the individuals buying their products and there is limited to no direct communication between buyer and seller.
But with B2B, there is often direct communication between the seller and the buyer. Companies often talk to and nurture leads for weeks before they become sales.
This typically takes place through email but it can also sometimes happen over the phone.
10 Best B2B Marketing Strategies
- Become an expert in B2B SEO
- Build your LinkedIn Network
- Try LinkedIn Paid Ads
- Use Twitter to Build Relationships
- Run Brand Awareness Campaigns
- Get Leads With Retargeting Campaigns
- Send an Industry Updates Newsletter
- Launch a YouTube Channel
- Run Google Search Ads
- Partner With Other Businesses
1. Become an Expert in B2B SEO
Google research shows that 89% of B2B decision-makers use the internet to research and discover products. When these companies go online, many use a search engine like Google to conduct their research.
As such, search engines are one of the most important acquisition channels for many companies. This makes it critical for B2B organizations to get their website to the top of search rankings for the search terms used by their target customers.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the marketing strategy used to improve rankings and drive more traffic searchers.
Finding keywords for B2B SEO
Implementing a successful B2B SEO strategy requires detailed keyword research. This is the process of finding the exact search terms that customers are using. With this knowledge, you know what subjects to create pages and content for.
For B2B marketers, it’s essential to find the keywords that your audience is using at every stage of the digital marketing funnel. This includes the awareness phase where prospects interact with you for the first time, to the conversion phase, where the prospect becomes a customer.
B2C marketers can get away with focusing solely on commercial terms (i.e. “buy protein powder”) but B2B marketers must also target informational queries (i.e. “how to use a project management software”).
Remember, B2B SEO will focus more on these long-tail, lower-volume keywords. The information a buyer gathers with these searches is essential to their decision-making process.
Companies that provide value at this stage of the funnel are more likely to win the buyer as a customer.
The best way to target long-tail keywords while providing value is through content marketing.
Here are some of the ways to use content marketing for B2B SEO:
Create in-depth guides
In-depth guides are one of the best types of B2B content for SEO. Decision-makers frequently search for information that helps them do their job. Creating thorough content that answers all their questions is a great way to get your company on their radar.
Furthermore, B2B buyers need confidence that the companies they buy from are trusted experts in their field.
When it comes time to finalize the purchase decision, your company will get more consideration.
Blog about B2B related topics
Regularly posting industry-related topics on your blog is another way to establish your business as an authority.
If your blog is a consistent, valuable source of information, prospects will regularly come to your site to stay on top of the latest developments.
Additionally, many readers will share your content with their peers, further increasing your exposure and position as a thought leader in your industry.
A good B2B online course can teach you how to use SEO for business-to-business marketing.
2. Build your LinkedIn Network
LinkedIn is the most impactful social media platform for B2B companies.
Designed specifically for businesses and the people that work for them, the platform is great for helping professionals connect with their peers to grow their business network.
Building a network is important as the connections can lead to more business for your company. This could be people from your network becoming a customer or referrals of other companies that would make good prospects.
According to LinkedIn, 80% of all B2B marketing leads come through the platform.
LinkedIn not only has a lot of users, but these users are the influential decision-makers that B2B marketers need to communicate with. Internal LinkedIn Research shows that are 63 million decision-makers on the platform.
Beyond networking, LinkedIn also has a strong organic reach. By posting content on LinkedIn, you can strengthen the connection with your network, while making potential buyers aware of your solution.
Many B2B marketers will regularly write business-related articles specifically for LinkedIn and their network on the platform.
Another great way to connect with your audience is through virtual events. With the LinkedIn Events feature, you can host online workshops and seminars. You can then send invitations to the people that you want to attend.
If the event goes well, it can result in more connections for your LinkedIn profile.
3. Try LinkedIn Paid Ads
Sharing content and networking with professionals isn’t the only way to use LinkedIn for marketing to B2B buyers.
The network also has a robust advertising platform that is great for generating leads and driving sales.
LinkedIn Ads offer unparalleled targeting for B2B marketers. You can target people based on education, member groups, job experience, skills, and more.
Because LinkedIn is the go-to professional networking platform, many users keep their profiles up to date so the information used for ad targeting is highly accurate.
This makes it great for getting your business in front of the types of people most likely to buy from your company.
Setting up LinkedIn Ads
There are several LinkedIn ad formats that are effective for generating B2B leads.
Text ads are simple ads that appear on LinkedIn in the right-hand sidebar. These ads contain a logo and a brief snippet of text.
Then there are a variety of ad formats for sponsored content including video ads, single image ads, and carousel ads. These ads appear in users’ news feeds among the organic content from their connections and groups.
With LinkedIn, you can also reach people directly using Sponsored InMail ads that appear in people’s LinkedIn messaging inboxes.
A B2B advertising strategy often includes all of these ad campaigns as each is more appropriate for different points of a customer’s relationship.
For instance, a Sponsored InMail message is better suited for someone that has already had a few interactions with your business.
To get the best results from your ads, you want to use clear compelling language that is relevant to your target audience. You can make use of your existing resources by promoting your blog posts and other lead generation content.
4. Use Twitter to Build Relationships
Like LinkedIn, Twitter is a great platform for connecting with other business professionals. The platform makes it easy to find people of similar interests and you can quickly form a community of engaged followers.
You want to follow and interact with relevant figures in your industry. You can like and retweet their tweets and leave comments to share your insights and keep the conversation going.
It’s also good to look at who these people are following and follow them as well to further expand your community.
B2B Twitter content
Twitter’s character limit makes it better suited for quick interactive content and sharing links to external sites rather than posting long-form text.
With the platform, it’s also important to post frequently as B2B audiences are more likely to engage with someone they are familiar with.
According to Twitter Data, a B2B user that has seen a business’ messaging four times is 335% more likely to click the link in a Tweet than someone that has only seen your messaging once.
So while you need to post often, remember that strictly promotional posts won’t help your presence on the platform. Look to provide value with each interaction by giving useful insights or sharing your other information content.
Another tactic is to create original research. According to eMarketer, B2B content marketers believe that original research is their most effective form of content.
This type of material works well with Twitter’s short-form nature as you can easily fit several impactful statistics into a Tweet.
5. Run Brand Awareness Campaigns
The first step in any business becoming a customer is simply becoming aware of your brand. According to The B2B Institute, 46% of a company’s marketing spend should go to brand building.
Generating brand awareness is more than just getting your logo and business name in front of your audience. You need to convey a clear image of what your company has to offer and how you can benefit customers.
B2B brand awareness efforts should have a mix of both organic and paid campaigns.
Naturally, LinkedIn is a great platform for B2B brand awareness as users are in a business mindset while on the platform. This means they are more likely to engage with your business content and ads and return to your website to learn more about your business.
Enrolling in a digital marketing course is the best way to learn how to raise brand awareness for your business.
6. Get Leads With Retargeting Campaigns
In most cases, it will take multiple interactions before a prospect becomes a lead. B2B decision-makers aren’t likely to immediately complete a contact form for a solution they’ve just heard about.
In fact, nearly 75% of B2B sales to new customers take at least 4 months to close and it takes 6 to 8 touchpoints to turn someone into a lead.
This means you need a proactive way to get back in front of people to remind them about your business.
Retargeting ads allow you to set up a campaign that specifically targets the people that have previously visited your site.
These campaigns can experience higher conversion rates as the audience is already familiar with your business. This can lead to more cost-effective marketing as you’re able to get more value out of your ad spend.
Retargeting campaigns, also let you get hyper-specific with your messaging as you have more insights into the audience’s interest. For example, if someone visits a certain product page multiple times, you can use a retargeting ad to promote that exact product.
Platforms for retargeting ads
There are multiple retargeting platforms that offer the option of running retargeting ad campaigns.
Because LinkedIn is the best place to reach B2B buyers, it is also the best platform for running retargeting ads.
With LinkedIn, you can create Matched Audiences consisting of people that have visited your site or engaged with one of your LinkedIn Ads.
Google is another good platform for B2B retargeting ads. With Google remarketing you can show display and video ads to people that have had previous interactions with your site.
7. Send an Industry Updates Newsletter
An email newsletter is great for nurturing relationships both before and after someone becomes a customer.
Email gives you a direct line to potential buyers and email messages often get better response and engagement than ads.
This is because someone must first sign-up to join your email newsletter so there’s already some interest.
Like the content on your site, your email newsletter should focus on providing useful information to your audience rather than trying to simply sell.
According to OptinMonster, 90% of top-performing B2B content marketers put the audience’s informational needs first.
So, look to establish authority while developing strong relationships with both current and prospective clients.
But keep in mind, B2B buyers are busy people and many won’t have the time to read long email messages. It’s best to send short emails that can be read efficiently.
Here are some common ways B2B marketers use email newsletters to engage their audience:
News and updates
You can use your email newsletter to keep your subscribers up to date with events and changes in your industry.
You can also send product and feature updates related to your business.
For example, project management software ClickUp sends weekly ClickUpdates emails with new feature releases and links to upcoming webinars.
Repurpose and share content
Repurposed content such as blogs, podcasts, webinars, and social posts are great for email messages. You can use these to share the same tips and guidance but in a condensed form.
This will help you save time and get your most valuable resources in front of more of your audience.
For example, you can send roundups of your recent posts or summaries of case studies and customer stories.
8. Launch a YouTube Channel
While blog posts and email newsletters are long-standing B2B marketing strategies, many B2B marketers are now using video platforms like YouTube to connect with their audience and drive interest in their products.
The platform is the second biggest search engine behind only Google and many decision-makers use it to find in-depth video content related to their business’ key pain points.
YouTube videos are an effective tool for teaching your audience about your products. You can start a YouTube channel and create how-to tutorials and explainer videos that go through your products, their features, and how to use them.
This material is great for supplementing your blog material. You can create videos related to your posts and then embed them on the blog to accompany the content.
Optimize your videos for YouTube SEO
If your videos aren’t optimized for SEO, they won’t reach your target audience.
Like SEO for Google, the first step to improving your video rankings is to perform keyword research. When you know what keywords viewers use, you can tailor your videos to best target those terms.
You’ll do this by directly addressing the search term and topic in the content itself. It will also involve you adding the keywords to the video description, title, tags, and hashtags.
Read our comprehensive tutorial to learn more about YouTube SEO and how to utilize it in your B2B marketing strategy.
9. Run Google Search Ads
Remember, B2B research for products and services starts on Google.
An effective SEO strategy will help you get in front of searchers, but you can also use Google Search Ads to reach more of your audience.
With a Google Search Ad, your website will appear at the top of search results for the specific keywords that you target in your campaign settings.
For example, below you can see a couple of ads for the keyword “crm system”.
Google Search campaigns are beneficial for attracting customers that would have otherwise missed your site in the organic results. Plus, they work well for all stages of the B2B buyers funnel.
For the awareness stage, you can target terms for the beginning of the research process like “what is a product name,” or “ top businesses in X industry”.
These ads can make prospective buyers aware of your brand. You can direct them to a corresponding blog post that answers the question.
During the evaluation stage, you can focus on high-intent search terms where the searcher has a clear intention of making a purchase. For example, queries such as “how much do product cost?”.
Another common type of targeting for B2B companies is keywords that contain a competitor’s brand name.
Enrolling in a Google Ads course is a great way to learn how to use Google Ads for B2B marketing purposes.
10. Partner With Other Businesses
B2B business partnerships can yield huge benefits for all parties involved. While they can take some time to put together, working with other companies can allow you to create a network to reach new prospects and grow awareness of your brand.
B2B marketing partnerships sometimes come together naturally but in most cases, they are the result of direct action on the part of one or both of the partners.
When approaching other businesses for partnerships, you’ll need to know what you want to get from the partnership and how to structure the collaboration.
Some common arrangements include co-marketing agreements where you share experiences to create content, lead-sharing agreements, or offering a bundled product. Many partnerships also give special offers to customers to get the other business’ products at discounted rates.
Here are some of the ways you can partner with other B2B marketers:
Events are one of the most effective marketing strategies for B2B partnerships. With a co-host, you can scale your event’s attendance to cover a larger audience base.
You also get to split the cost and have twice as many experts on hand to share valuable insights with attendees.
Webinars and lead generation content
B2B partnerships are also incredibly useful for creating lead generation content like webinars. Companies can work together to share expertise to create more well-rounded content that better serves both audiences.
Start an affiliate program
Affiliate marketing allows companies to leverage the efforts of third parties to market their products.
With an affiliate program, you can partner with other companies and have them refer your customers in exchange for part of the revenue as a commission.
While it may seem complex, B2B marketing can yield positive results by following a few simple steps.
Create helpful content for your website, emails, and social channels, grow your network on LinkedIn and Twitter and reach and re-engage your audience through paid ads
These steps will go a long way in making your audience aware of your business and eventually winning them over as customers.