5 Uses of B2B Marketing Beyond Lead Generation
Many companies and their executives recognize the power of B2B marketing to drive sales and conversions, but marketing actually has a lot of benefits beyond just bringing in revenue.
Digital marketing should be a part of your organization’s regular and ongoing strategy. We’ve discussed the benefits of B2B content marketing in the past, but the benefits of an overall campaign strategy is more than lead generation.
Below are some of the reasons why B2B marketing can actually make your organization more authoritative in its industry.
Build Brand Awareness
With so much competition online today (and more of your competitors getting online or launching new ventures on a weekly basis), having a strategic approach to being seen online is a great benefit to brands.
Building brand awareness through a well-executed website and overall online presence can keep your organization top of mind for your potential user base. For instance, if a potential customer is used to consuming your useful blog content, getting your email newsletter, and seeing occasional posts on Facebook or Twitter, they will be more likely to remember you when the time comes to actually make a purchase.
The sales funnel for B2B marketing is usually longer than a traditional B2C purchase: Salesforce reports that the average B2B sales cycle takes 84 days. During this time, an organization has several opportunities to engage a customer, whether they are just starting the process by downloading a free ebook, or if they’ve reached out for a quote directly further down the funnel. If you want to learn what your company’s average B2B sales cycle is, use this tool from GeckoBoard.
No matter where potential customers are in the sales cycle, organizations can build brand awareness in their industry by:
- Publishing reputable case studies, ebooks, white papers, or other content about industry topics and data.
- Attending conferences and trade shows as a representative of the organization to discuss its key offerings and meet potential prospects.
- Keeping the target audience informed with high-quality posts on social media, blogs posts on industry topics, and relevant company updates.
These multiple touch points online ensure that your content and brand is being seen by multiple people, where ever they may be. This is useful for an organization that has an audience who may consume content and information online differently.
For instance, some industry blogs may do well when the audience are big information seekers. As a result, a curated email newsletter could also do well, as it brings to the information to the audience more easily. That way, if someone missed a shared blog post on the homepage or Facebook, they would have another chance to see it through email.
All of the content that you’ve been publishing builds brand awareness through reaching your audience in different ways, but there’s also another big benefit: it promotes the credibility of your brand and your employees.
If employees are constantly writing new and useful content about key industry topics, they have the opportunity to bolster themselves as experts in their specific area of knowledge.
New content can also open the door for speaking at industry events, trade shows, and conferences. Having employees that are recognized industry speakers can show current and potential customers that they are trustworthy and educated about what the customer needs. When it comes to deciding who to spend money with, wouldn’t you rather choose a company who has well-known industry conference speakers working for them or a company that doesn’t have any real presence at industry events?
While other factors certainly go into the decision, being active in the industry through education and participation in events can go a long way with customers.
Credibility can also be promoted through B2B marketing by sharing any accolades or awards a company receives. Once an award or accolade is received, a company can acknowledge it through marketing by:
- Writing, publishing, and promoting a blog post about the award or milestone
- Adding a note or graphic about the award or milestone on the company’s about us or awards page on their website
- If newsworthy, publishing a press release about the award or milestone
- Sharing snippets of quotes from the company about the award on social media
It’s also helpful to establish credibility by being quoted or cited as an expert in respected publications. Services like HARO (Help a Reporter Out) or a PR firm can help brands get quoted in industry or news publications about relevant topics.
Writing external content is a good way to establish credibility as well, as long as it’s done with the intent to help and education the audience, not to simply get a link or a writer’s name out there. External content should be educational, relevant, helpful, and of high quality. Try looking on the contribution or about us page of a few industry publication websites to see if they accept guest blog posts. This strategy is part of content marketing and can really help grow a B2B brand’s reputation if it’s done in the right way.
When done through the right channels (like external content, social media, or even live events like conferences), B2B marketing can serve as a great way to gather insight and actual user feedback from real customers and potential leads. For instance, many users will give instant feedback about a piece of content or new product through comments on social media or blog post.
There are other ways to gather insight as well: many organizations have gotten some success with online polls through platforms like SurveyMonkey, where the link to gather answers has gone out to an email list or through social media.
SurveyAnyplace states that the average survey response rate through email is about 30 percent, with only in-person and postal mail surveys having a higher response rate. Offering an incentive, such as the chance to win an Amazon gift card, usually does pretty well in terms of response rate.
Users are also much more likely to answer if they know the commitment, such as “this poll will take 60 seconds of your time” or “answer 5 questions for a chance to win an Amazon gift card.” Knowing ahead of time what they are committing to can help increase the response rate.
In addition to user feedback through comments and surveys, marketing can also gather insight through social listening to see what is happening in the industry as a whole. There are several tools that help you monitor exact brand mentions as well as competitors and industry keywords.
Of course, competitor monitoring through an RSS reader and SEO tools are helpful as well and can be a crucial part of an organization’s marketing strategy. This can show you where your competitors are ranking in SERPs (search engine result pages) and also give you some insight into their content strategy. The purpose behind this isn’t to copy what they are doing; it’s to see the industry as a whole to understand what your organization could be doing better in terms of strategy and goal setting.
Do Testing of Messaging and Offers
Another way to gather insight is through all the testing that B2B digital marketers are able to do. With tools, code, and creative, marketers are able to test just about anything that is being published digitally.
Here are some of the places where B2B marketers can test messaging, creative, offers, and more through their digital initiatives:
- Email: Most email platforms, like MailChimp and Aweber, allow you to A/B test your emails. This means that half of your email list will get one version of an email and the other half will get another version. The elements that can be tested in an email usually vary by email provider, but they can include different subject lines, copy, graphics, and links.
- Graphics: Any graphics on your website or other marketing mediums (like social media) can be tested to see what drives the most clicks or engagement. Almost any element of a graphic can be tested, from the background color to the call-to-action on the button or banner. There have been many studies on color and its influence on calls-to-action, so it’s important to test these elements for your own audience.
- Landing Pages: If you have separate landing pages for categories, locations, products or other promotions, there are many elements of a landing page that can be A/B tested. A landing page builder like LeadPages can help you automate this process, much like an email platform does. One of the biggest elements of a landing page that can be tested is pricing. For instance, sometimes a percentage discount does better than a set dollar amount, depending on the item being sold, as well as the discount itself. Other times, giving customers a deadline to buy or showing how much of a certain product is left can increase urgency and a sense of FOMO.
- Content Titles: There are a few plugins or services, like CoSchedule, that allow you to A/B test titles of your blog posts. Figuring out what headlines get the most clicks can have a significant impact on your click-through rate, which also brings additional benefits like a chance of increased conversions and social media shares.
While these are just examples, it’s important for B2B marketers to constantly be testing to see what their target audience is looking for in a service like theirs. They may find that a piece of copy or graphic that they thought would be enticing is actually not gathering much interest when compared to something else. Testing is the only true way to really find out what is popular with users and what isn’t.
Stay in Contact With Customers
Above all else, B2B marketing is important to your business because it allows you to stay in contact with your customers. Through platforms and strategies like email, social media, advertising, and content marketing, companies can stay relevant to their current customer base. This can help increase repeat sales and referrals.
A company that regularly has communication with their customers through marketing mediums will increase all the benefits listed above– everything from better brand awareness to more industry credibility.
Regular contact increases trust in a company. They are seen as reliable, especially when the contact is useful and meaningful. For instance, a weekly newsletter that is always sent every Friday that has the top news for the industry is a great way to stay in contact.
This has more benefits than not reaching out at all, or doing a poor quality job (e.g. sending out spammy or unhelpful emails or blog posts). Maintaining good relationships with your audience is possible, but as with anything in digital marketing, takes strategy, planning, and effort.
Some of the ways B2B companies can stay in contact with customers through marketing includes:
- Drip campaigns through email to re-engage customers
- A weekly or monthly podcast to discuss industry topics or interview experts
- Regular social media posts that share useful updates and industry news
- In-depth blog posts about key industry topics that answer common customer queries
- Long-form content sent via email or published on the website that educates customers about industry topics
- Regular “check-ins” through personal messages via email, phone, or a messaging app to see how the customer is doing and if there is anything the company can help them with
Many customers, especially in the B2B arena, appreciate personal touches, such as a manual email or phone call. Likewise, if your industry is extremely technical, it’s also helpful to be a constant source of reliable information to your audience.
While many companies think of marketing as an arm that is responsible for generating leads, its importance goes beyond putting money in the bank. Digital marketing can build brand awareness, promote credibility, gather insight through testing and research, and help organizations stay in touch with their audience. When developing a B2B sales funnel or strategy plan, make sure all these elements are included to get the most out of your marketing.