Introduction - How To Pick Your B2B Marketing Channel
When it comes to choosing a B2B marketing channel, it's important to understand that what defines the channel as being good or bad, are the goals set. Not every channel is the same and, hence, the value it brings is not the same. While a B2C Company can expect to sell its product through a single channel, this is not the case with B2B due to the complex buying process and decisions that prospects need to make before the purchase.
Crafting a perfect online marketing strategy for a B2B company has never been an easy task to do. New channels and marketing techniques pop out every year and it's difficult to keep up with all of them. Also, at least from our experience, B2B companies seem to be on the conservative/skeptical side when it comes to adopting new approaches.
But, truth to be told, not all B2B companies are the same either. If you are a SaaS company selling a tool for $49 a month it is quite obvious that digital marketing is right for you. Whereas if you are a large manufacturing company producing entire production lines, this value is more difficult to perceive.
Nonetheless, digital marketing channels have proven to be effective for B2B companies during the past decade and the same isn't safe to say for offline marketing, with the only possible exception of event marketing.
Here is a list of the most valuable digital marketing channels as suggested by the most influential B2B companies in the world. We will go over the most important ones in detail, understand how they work and what benefits they represent for businesses.
A company’s website is often perceived as a virtual business card of sorts. But in reality, it’s much more than that. It carries the title as being the most effective digital B2B marketing channel with 81% respondents claiming this in the research done by Regalix. Your website represents the basis for all digital marketing campaigns. Basically, your website represents your company’s “face” online.
The true value of a great website lies with its ability to open up numerous possibilities for increasing traffic and lead generation with the help of SEO, blogging, customized landing pages and many more - enabling your prospects to gain value before you "pop the question" (e.g sell to them).
Search Engine Optimization
Although there have been a lot of talks lately about the negative relevance of SEO, research tells us a different story. SEO is as important as it was before. Even though the emergence of the 4th top ad on Google and the implementation of knowledge graph moved organic results further down the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs), most users are looking for organic results when they type in a search phrase.
90% of clicks in SERPs go to organic results!
The actual value of SEO lies in the fact that it represents a long-term approach. Once implemented, SEO continues to bring traffic compared to, for instance, PPC. PPC in a nutshell can be described like “no cash, no traffic” while SEO represents more of a “cherish me and you will be continuously rewarded” approach. More on the differences between PPC and organic oriented marketing in out blog post: Inbound Marketing VS. PPC
Due to the difficulties of proving ROI coming from Social Media, lots of B2B companies leave it to just building social pages and having almost no strategy at all. This is where the above mentioned goals come in. It is important to understand that not all social media channels are able to drive leads. Or, at least, not in the same way.
Thus, a proper strategy is required with the exact definition of what the goal of pursuing each social media channel should bring. When it comes to your goal, it could be anything you wish: from brand awareness to acquiring leads. The important thing is to align it with your overall business and marketing goals. Once you define this, you will be able to gain value from social media marketing.
When it comes to individual social media channel and lead generation, each channel has its uses and specifications. For example, according to the research by Technology Marketing, LinkedIn proves to be the best channel for lead generation. You can find some creative examples of b2b campaignsin our blog post: 6 Awesome & Creative B2B Marketing examples.
Blogs have become a crucial part for any business that hopes to generate leads online.
In fact, B2B companies who regularly maintain a blog get 67% more leads per month than the ones who do not!
Beside the fact that maintaining a blog is relatively inexpensive, it provides true value to your prospects in the form of information and educational content. On the other hand, it can also help you rank higher on search engines, which in turn, will complement your SEO efforts and ultimately lead to attracting more potential prospects.
According to the data delivered by Statista, there are 4.3 billion active email accounts in the world. And this number is expected to grow significantly. Add the fact that an average person checks his email 15 times a day and you will see why there is no doubt that email is still one of the most important marketing channels out there. In fact, when it comes to B2B, this gains even bigger importance. Emails can help you foster relationships with the potential customer which are crucial during the decision making process (also known as lead nurturing).
Other Content Marketing Channels
Having good content is important to climb the ranks in search engines, but there is more value to get from it. Content represents perhaps the most important element in the buyer’s journey. Each stage of the buyer’s journey should have a tailored piece of content for each stage, in order for the strategy to be effective.
When it comes to the types of content, they are basically limited to what you can deliver and what would be relevant to your prospects. It could be anything: articles, whitepapers, videos, infographics and many more.
Keep in mind that even within the same format (written word for instance) each piece of content serves a different purpose in its respective context. For example both website content and blog mainly use written word with some combinations of visual and video, but the goals of the two pieces are different and you can’t use the same approach to create both.
Understanding the importance of content and format variations has lead marketers to grasp the fundamentals of every marketing strategy: mapping the buyer’s journey perfectly to fit their buyer personas and serve the best possible, most well suited content at every stage.
Trends shift rather regularly and its important to keep an eye out for them to know what you should be doing with your marketing strategy in the future and what channels might suddenly become popular. As of now, the channels described above remain to be the most effective ones in the online world.
One thing is certain, though. A single channel will almost never be able to support your whole online marketing strategy and help you achieve your marketing goals. A company needs to make use of every single (relevant!) marketing channel to maximize efficiency and marketing ROI.
If you found this helpful, let's pick up the pace, learn how to rectify your sales pipeline and grow your business in our FREE 14 B2B Marketing Best Practices that every CMO must know eBook!