Marketing for business-to-business (B2B) organisations has always been somewhat of a challenge, and in the age of digital many B2B companies are reluctant to invest time or money in digital marketing out of a misplaced belief that it won’t work for them. However, there are ways to overcome these challenges and even opportunities to differentiate your business from others in the B2B market.
First, and most importantly…
1. Don’t Dismiss Digital
Even in 2014, a study by Accenture found only 12.4% of buyers wanted to meet with a sales representative in person or even over the phone. A significant majority (71%) preferred to perform online research, with or without the help of a salesperson.
Digital marketing is significantly reducing the involvement of salespeople and the time it takes to close a deal.
Therefore, the onus is on B2B companies to provide as much information as possible for new (and existing) customers online – be it on their website or social media pages. Make sure your visitors know exactly what you do, how you do it, what products you sell and, if possible, the price. Of course it may not always be appropriate to publicly display your prices, and if it isn’t then make sure your customers can obtain this information easily by request. Make your phone number easy to find (just in case), have multiple ways for customers to contact you digitally – such as displaying a clickable email address, a simple to complete contact form, or offering an instant chat facility.
Become an information destination for your target customers so that when they begin their online research they come to your website rather than your competitors’.
2. Content Marketing
This expands on the points made above about turning your website and other digital platforms into an information destination for your current and potential customers.
By producing informative and engaging content around your industry, products or services, that your target audience is looking for during their research phase, you increase your credibility, trustworthiness, and likely your search engine ranking. This contributes to your business hopefully becoming the go-to place; firstly for information, and secondly to buy from. The latter will not come without the former.
Make sure your content is accessible in multiple ways. Your website should be the default depository for your content but you should also push it out on your social media channels if the content lends itself to the platform. You may also want to consider pushing out the content to your existing customers through email marketing campaigns.
3. Consider an Ecommerce Offering
While ecommerce is more commonly associated with B2C markets, more and more B2Bs are launching ecommerce websites. This further expands on the key points made in Tip 1 about streamlining the sales process. If a B2B buyer can find and purchase exactly what they want or need without ever speaking to anybody, then they will.
Whether you sell products or you’re a service provider, it doesn’t matter. Both products and services can be sold through an ecommerce website. There, we said it.
There are ways of initiating a sale with B2B buyers for services or for high-ticket items without money changing hands. For example, users can apply for ‘Payment on Account’, the website could automatically generate contractual agreements that can be digitally signed, and date and time booking features can be integrated to arrange a suitable time for services to be carried out.
4. Track, Monitor, Analyse & Adapt
There is a major benefit to digital marketing whether you are a B2C or B2B organisation and that is it’s possible to monitor the effectiveness of 99% of your digital marketing activity – one way or another.
Any B2B organisation with a good digital marketing strategy in place should have implemented various tracking and analysis tools in their website, content, email and social media marketing tools.
They can take a bit of time to set up and integrate so they are all passing data to each other but the more synced up your digital marketing is the better you are able to monitor its effectiveness. This allows you to constantly refine your digital marketing strategy, doing more of what works, and less of what doesn’t; subsequently saving you time and money.
5. Understand the value of leads, as wells as conversions
How a B2B business defines a ‘conversion’ can be dependent on the nature of their industry, or the products or services they offer. Obviously, a sale of a product or service via an ecommerce website is quite easy to define and track. But many B2B organisations do little in the way of identifying and nurturing leads.
A ‘digital lead’ for a B2B organisation might look like any or all of the following:
- A contact form being submitted via the website.
- A phone call.
- A request for more information about your solutions, products or services.
- A download of a brochure, whitepaper, article, or ebook.
- A visit to a landing page on your website.
- Somebody signing up to receive your e-newsletter
- An open and or click or your latest email campaign.
Each one of these leads has the potential to become a sale or ‘conversion’ and should be nurtured as such.
Vizulate Digital is a strategic B2B digital marketing agency based in West Yorkshire.
Our strength is not just our expertise across the full range of digital marketing activities, but also our track record of translating business goals into digital strategies that deliver results. For more information contact us 01484 950 200 or email us by clicking here.