Effective marketing is difficult to achieve. Between creative demands, budget constraints, and channel decisions, marketers have to juggle a lot in developing their marketing strategy.
However, the biggest determinant of effective marketing is your audience.
If you don’t properly target your buyer personality, your promotions and ads are likely to fall on deaf ears. You might as well not market at all.
Where the target groups vary the most, however, lies between individual consumers and businesses. Some companies serve individual buyers while others serve businesses and organizations.
Marketing for business is very different from marketing for individual consumers. Because of this, there is a completely different method of marketing – B2B marketing – and that’s why we created this guide. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of B2B marketing, the most effective B2B marketing strategies, and how to engage and convert your business audience.
What is B2B Marketing?
B2B (business-to-business) marketing refers to any marketing strategy or marketing content aimed at a company or organization. Any business that sells products or services to other businesses or organizations (versus consumers) typically uses B2B marketing strategies.
HubSpot is an example of a company that deals with B2B marketing. HubSpot’s customers are other companies, not individual consumers. Hence, all of our marketing efforts can be classified as B2B.
B2B vs B2C marketing
B2B and B2C (business-to-consumer) marketing are very different. B2B and B2C marketing differ in their respective strategies and applications, as well as in their target audiences and the way in which they communicate with them.
B2B marketing aims at the needs, interests and challenges of people who make purchases on behalf of or for their organization (and not for themselves), making the organization a customer. Here are some examples for B2B companies:
- A coworking space that rents office space to remote teams and freelancers (like WeWork).
- An on-demand service for order fulfillment, storage, and screen printing (like Printful)
- A marketing software company that sells social media management tools, lead generation software, and other marketing tools to businesses and organizations (like HubSpot!).
B2C marketing aims at the needs, interests and challenges of individual consumers who shop on their behalf or for themselves, thus turning the individual into a customer. Here are some examples for B2C companies:
- An e-commerce company that sells office supplies to remote or self-employed people (like Poppin).
- A shop that sells t-shirts and other clothing and accessories (like Target)
- A music platform that sells streaming subscriptions (like Spotify)
Check out this table that compares B2B and B2C customers.
|for b2b marketing||for b2c marketing|
|goal||Customers focus on ROI, efficiency and expertise.||Customers are looking for offers and entertainment (which means marketing needs to be more fun).|
|Buying motivation||Customers are driven by logic and financial incentives.||Customers are driven by emotions.|
|driver||Customers want training (this is where B2B content marketing comes in).||Customers value education, but don’t always need it to make a purchase decision.|
|Purchase process||Customers want (if not prefer) to work with account managers and salespeople.||Customers like to buy directly.|
|People involved in the purchase||Customers often need to consult with decision makers and other members of their chain of command before making a purchase decision.||Customers rarely need to consult with others before making a purchase decision.|
|Purpose of purchase||Customers shop for long-term solutions, which results in a longer sales cycle, longer contracts, and longer relationships with businesses.||Customers don’t necessarily look for long-term solutions or long-term relationships.|
As different as they are, B2B and B2C also overlap in many ways. While Poppin sells office supplies to distant or self-employed people, they also design office space for companies and branded goods. Printful, on the other hand, doesn’t just provide order fulfillment and warehousing to businesses. They also handle e-commerce print jobs for individuals.
As different as the B2B and B2C marketing audiences may be, B2B marketers can always learn from B2C campaigns too.
B2B marketing strategies
As I said above, marketing depends on its audience. While B2B and B2C marketing are different, not every piece of B2B marketing material is created equal.
This section introduces various B2B marketing strategies that you can implement to reach your specific business audience. Before we dive in, however, make sure you understand the B2B buyer’s journey. Notice how each of these phases can affect your marketing strategies and how you implement them.
B2B email marketing
Email marketing is a proven way to reach both individual consumers and business customers. Did you know 93% of B2B marketers use email? Are you one of them You should be Email creates engagement that turns subscribers into leads … and then customers.
Download our guide to optimizing email marketing for conversions and learn how to grow your email list, ensure deliverability, and increase engagement.
Unlike B2C customers, who respond best to emotion and entertainment, B2B customers look for logic and positive ROI. Essentially, they are asking yourself: How can your company help my business grow? Because of this, your email marketing must always resonate with your business customers and focus on the things that matter to them – like time, money, and resources.
Email marketing is also a powerful way to share your brand’s content. 83% of B2B companies use email newsletters as part of their content marketing program, and 40% of B2B marketers say these newsletters are most important to their content marketing success.
With the constant deluge of emails flooding our inboxes today, it is more important than ever to create and send effective marketing emails.
B2B email marketing best practices
- Write compelling subject lines. Think of your email subject lines as a Netflix trailer. If you can’t appeal to your audience with a two-minute clip (or a few dozen characters in this case), don’t expect them to open up and watch (or read) the whole thing. We recommend spending almost as much time on the subject lines of your emails as you do on the emails themselves.
- Stick to one call-to-action (CTA) per email. If you think the number of emails you are receiving is very high, then take a look at the CTAs on those emails. Some are filled with two, three, and sometimes up to 10 different CTAs. Don’t make this mistake as your recipients’ heads may turn and ask, “What should I click first?” and ultimately click on nothing. With one CTA per email, you can allow your audience to focus on your email content and, ultimately, one action. This is a welcome relief from today’s frequent paralysis of decision-making and analysis.
- Segment your emails to reach the most relevant audience. Not every email you send is suitable for everyone on your list. Your subscribers may be at different stages in the buyer’s journey or looking for different solutions. This is where the segmentation of email lists comes in. Not only does this help you relate to your audience better, but it also makes your emails feel more personal, “Hey, I’m listening and I know what you would like to see.” Consumers always prefer the quality of emails to the quantity.
- Make sure your email designs are responsive. Over 80% of email users access their inboxes on their phones, and emails that don’t display correctly on mobile devices are often deleted within three seconds. Ouch. Don’t let your email be one of them.
- Don’t be afraid of the cold email. As uncomfortable as it is, the right email can convert new customers – like this cold sales email that won 16 new B2B customers.
👉🏼HubSpot tip: You cannot send marketing emails without a recipient. These people make up your lists. There are many easy ways to add to your email list. Start with sign-up forms on your website home page, about page, and blog. Check out HubSpot’s Free Form Builder tool to get started.
B2B digital marketing
Every business, B2B or B2C, should have a digital presence – consisting of paid ads, search engine optimization, a website, and any other place where your B2B company operates online. Let’s go over a handful of tactics that can strengthen your B2B digital marketing strategy.
Define your target audience
A strong B2B digital marketing strategy starts with defining your target audience or buyer personality. This demographic and psychographic information informs almost all other marketing activities afterwards and ensures that your content and digital material is received by the right eyes and ears (and that no resources are wasted on you).
Build your website
Second, digital marketing can’t quite work without an informative, engaging website. Over 80% of shoppers visit a website before buying. Because the typical B2B sales cycle often involves many key players (e.g. gatekeepers, decision-makers, and other people deciding to buy), websites are an easy and straightforward way for influencers to share information about your product or service .
Optimize your digital presence
However, your website needs to be more than informative and engaging. It must be findable. You can do this with on-page SEO and technical SEO tactics. This includes everything from image alt text and meta descriptions (what your visitors can see) to structured data and website speed (what your visitors can’t see). This is where off-page SEO also plays a role, which relates to external link strategies and social sharing – SEO tactics that take place outside of your website.
Run PPC campaigns
Your digital presence is rounded off by pay-per-click advertising (PPC), with which you can present your content and your brand to a new audience via search engines and other advertising platforms. I recommend maximizing your PPC investment by promoting more than just your specific product or service – such as: B. Your brand personality, blog or social media content or the company slogan.
The best way to determine an ROI from your paid ads is to 1) incorporate your buyers’ personal data and 2) improve the content they can relate to. For example, a brand new consumer who has never heard of you is highly unlikely to be looking for your exact product. They may be looking for a location based solution or product feature. To reach the greatest number of potential customers, instead of promoting your product or service, pay to reach relevant categories within your brand.
B2B content marketing
We talked about how B2B clients focus on expertise driven by logic and having a desire for education. Which marketing tool is better suited to meeting these priorities than B2B content marketing?
While a traditional PR marketing strategy disrupts a consumer’s everyday life with promotional material, a content marketing strategy adds valuable information and informs the consumer – this is exactly what B2B customers are looking for. Not to mention, content marketing supports SEO efforts that anticipate what your target audience is looking for, help them discover your website and content … and potentially convert them into customers.
Download our free guide and find out which topics convert the fastest from 175,000 B2B and B2C blog posts.
In fact, 80% of business decision makers prefer to get information from an article rather than an ad. Knowing this, I would say that you should put the same (if not more) resources into your content marketing than your traditional advertising strategy.
Because the B2B buyer’s journey is slightly different from the B2C buyer’s journey (with shorter sales cycles and fewer decision-makers involved), the content you create for your B2B content marketing strategy can vary more than the content that you have seen yourself as a consumer, as shown in the following graphic.
But before you start creating content, I recommend creating a business blog. (Don’t worry, it’s easier to grow your blog readership than you think.) Your blog contains all of the content you’ve created and acts as a base for readers who want to visit and subscribe to it.
B2B social media marketing
Did you know that 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-suite executives use social media to purchase? That’s right – social media marketing isn’t just for brands targeting individual consumers.
However, many B2B companies have problems with social media marketing. It can be more difficult to use social media to connect with business customers, especially because (as mentioned above) there is typically a longer sales cycle and chain of command.
In B2B social media marketing, you may not convert the most leads, and that’s fine. It probably comes into play at the beginning of your customers’ journey.
Social media is a powerful tool for building brand awareness, giving your business an online personality, and humanizing your business – all very important factors in marketing and engaging with potential customers. Like email marketing, social media is an extremely effective channel to share your content and improve your branding skills. We know the latter, what B2B customers appreciate.
Overwhelmed by Social Media? Spend more time with your followers with our time-saving suite of social tools.
Your social media accounts may not be converting as often as your content or email marketing. However, they are just as important. In this case, followers are just as valuable – you never know when they might convert to leads or customers.
👉🏼 HubSpot tip: Why? Content shared by employee advocates receives over eight times more engagement than content shared by brands. Get your employees involved in your B2B social media marketing strategy. Encourage them to create their own social media channels and share about life in your company. Create a culture account (like our @ HubSpotLife Instagram) to show off what’s going on at work, not just what you’re selling. You never know – that could also attract strong talent.
B2B marketing examples
A B2B marketing approach that works for one company might not work for another, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from the pros. Here are four B2B marketing examples from companies that got it right.
Email Marketing: Mattermark, Raise the Bar Newsletter
Raise the Bar is a daily digest newsletter from Mattermark that provides insights from sales, marketing, and growth tech executives. It is handpicked by Mattermark executives and is easy to scan. This is of great value in a world of lengthy, complicated newsletters and daily summaries.
This is a great example of B2B email marketing as Mattermark takes the time to train its subscribers without openly selling to them. This action builds trust with their viewers and equips them with everything they need to know to make a purchase and become a paying customer.
Digital Marketing: Maersk, website homepage
It’s almost impossible to know the intent of everyone who ends up on your website, but the Maersk homepage design makes it easy for visitors to find their way around.
By providing three main options (“Become a Client”, “Access Your Account” and “Start a Career”), Maersk clearly segments the audience and allows visitors to easily navigate to the website content that suits their intent.
This little design tweak also helps Maersk build trust and authority in each of those niche audiences – prospects, current customers, and even employees.
Content Marketing: LeadPages, Blog + Resources
LeadPages has been launched since its inception in 2012 … and just three years later had sales of over $ 16 million. The owner attributes his rapid success to his content strategy, which makes him an excellent example of B2B content marketing.
LeadPages creates many different types of content resources, such as: B. a blog, customer stories, a podcast and a webinar. The variety of these resources enables the company to reach customers where they use the method that best suits them.
LeadPages has a blog with topics like A / B testing, lead generation, and other topics related to the product and brand, a weekly podcast that chats with everyday entrepreneurs, and even a definitive guide to landing pages that owns its Equips customers to use and optimize the LeadPages product properly – all for free.
Social Media Marketing: MailChimp, Instagram
Social media is an effective channel to connect with your audience. It’s also a fun place to post beautiful graphics and show off your brand personality. MailChimp excelled in both areas on Instagram.
Less than half of Instagram posts are related to email marketing or the MailChimp product, but the MailChimp team always finds a way to make the posts relevant to their audience and followers – with fun, appealing graphics and videos on the brand.
MailChimp also uses its Instagram to showcase real customer stories and testimonials that can have a huge impact on potential consumers in the review and decision phase. Finally, MailChimp uses a link called LinkinBio that Instagram users can use to click on their homepage or other digital content (since Instagram doesn’t offer live links on its platform). This creates a clear conversion path for consumers who want to discover or do research on MailChimp on Instagram and learn more on its website.
Invest in B2B marketing and reach your business customers
Marketing is only effective when you keep an eye on your audience and no other audience is as moody and critical as business customers. Your marketing should communicate how your business can help them … and if it doesn’t, you can’t be marketing at all.
Use these tips and strategies to understand your B2B audience, round out your buyer personalities, and effectively use B2B marketing strategies that reach them. If you focus on your audience, your marketing will do the same.