The Obvious B2B Marketing Checklist
I hated B2B Marketing.
Maybe I still do a little bit.
It might be partly because of how even the most precise strategies can have no effect. In many sectors, there just isn’t enough customer data to reach a statistically significant metric that can be leveraged in your department.
That makes automation tough. That makes content optimization tough. That makes my job tough.
“I wish I had more data about my ideal customer and content effectiveness.”
How or why does this happen?
Let’s pretend you are a weight lifting product manufacturer and your main customer base is gyms in the US.
According to Statista’s study on the number of health clubs & fitness centers, in 2017, your audience pool would be 38,477 potential gyms you can market your products to.
Now imagine you are one of those gyms, let’s take a franchise like Planet Fitness who has over 1800 locations around the country and an estimated 10 million members.
Sadly for your B2B company, your options are fairly limited on who you can market your products to.
Planet Fitness. on the other hand, has a majority of the US population to tap into.
Additionally, those B2B audience segments have much longer marketing lifecycles and are much more difficult to convert into customers.
Yet, I notice many companies using B2B digital marketing strategies that are more suited B2C and reflex purchase industries.
In this post, I will describe 5 digital marketing strategies I implemented before even thinking about micro-optimizing.
1. Website Redesign
Designing a website has never had fewer barriers to entry. This allows companies of all sizes and capabilities to design attractive websites.
Because of this, you need to ensure your website design and experience are as optimized as possible and are a step above your competition.
75% of people form their opinion of a website based on its aesthetics. (Digital Apeel)
94% of all first impressions on a website are design-related. (Design Resources)
If the loading time of a website increases from 8 to 2 seconds, the conversion rate will jump up with 74%. (Learning Hub)
In a vertical so reliant on impressions and branding, the first optimization I use to hit the ground running is website UI and UX design.
Customers are easily turned off by a poor experience on a website or a sloppy, low-cost theme.
From a UI point of view, having branding elements that are inconsistent, colors that don’t blend, and low-quality images are easy ways to have your customer back away slowly.
With UX, bad navigation, slow loading times, and poorly internally-linked pages will lead to poor user experience.
Both scenarios will lead to the customer going elsewhere and having a negative bias toward any of your future outreach.
When you are marketing to a business, you want to establish trust, authority, and capability to perform to expectations.
Your website is a launch point to achieve that.
2. SEO of Entire Website and Content
Related to creating an attractive website that gives your customers an optimal experience, making sure your website is search-optimized is a key factor in boosting organic traffic rates.
Why is organic traffic important?
Organic traffic is generally free, can have large volumes, and you have the option of focusing your search strategies around terms that include buyer’s intent (questions customers have that are linked to a purchase).
Some companies argue that organic traffic audiences are too scattered and include researchers, students, potential customers, etc. All of which may have different motives for viewing your content.
What people don’t realize is that while this is true, the top-of-mind effect of search visibility can boost brand awareness as a whole.
Conversion rates, bounce rates, engagement, etc. may be difficult to gauge with organic traffic but the soft qualitative profitability is there.
Additionally, where you rank on Google’s SERPs dictates how effective your SEO will be.
→ On the first page alone, the first five organic results account for 67.60% of all the clicks. (Zero Limit Web)
Source: Zero Limit Web
Next down the line after your ranking is your site’s speed.
40% of customers abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. (thinkwithgoogle)
Yikes, you are losing 40% of your traffic before they can even load your site…
Along with site-speed, the UI and UX of your website (above section about UI and UX) will affect the time they spend on your site, which is a factor Google uses to determine whether your site is user-friendly.
Grouping multiple keywords together for B2B SEO
In B2C, purchases will usually contain one specific person or stakeholder. Consequently, your messaging only needs to be tailored to that person.
In B2B, a purchase may contain anywhere from 1 to 10+ stakeholders involved in the purchase decision.
This makes it essential to optimize your content for multiple search queries.
The way I recommend doing this is by splitting up your buyer personas into categories:
- One piece of content can address tactical, financial, and back-end questions, using subheaders to clearly state each concern.
- Another piece of content can address strategic, big-picture concerns that are suited for C-level or manager roles.
A good strategy for B2B SEO efforts is to build your articles around a focus topic that targets multiple lower-volume, but related keywords.
Naturally, B2B search volume for a lot of keywords is lower so this strategy will allow you to diversify your traffic sources.
Remember, SEO is very important to B2B digital marketing but is typically less effective at converting customers than its cousin, B2C SEO. The reason is fundamentally more stakeholders, higher purchasing costs, and longer sales lifecycles.
Consequently, make sure to grab those users as they land on your site with your favorite lead capturing strategies: more on that later!
3. Product Positioning to Fine-Tune Messaging
You know what your product is and generally what you are selling.
Many marketers face challenges in determining the “why” when marketing a product.
The reason for this is that rather than focusing on the challenges and problems that their ideal buyer has, they are focusing on the cool features in their product.
On a higher level, product development and product marketing should have a synergistic relationship where the customer’s needs are at the forefront of new features.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.
The burden then falls to marketing to promote a product that the customer does not necessarily care about.
Product positioning is essential to ensuring your product speaks to the challenges your customers are having.
If you create social media management software, find out what the biggest problem companies have with social media management.
Moreover, create your product positioning and messaging to literally address those challenges.
By doing this, your content strategy and sales outreach will evolve. You can dig into the psychology of your ideal customer because you know what makes them lose sleep.
Brandwatch wrote an amazing article on product positioning and they described a step-by-step process to define your product positioning. I highly recommend checking it out.
To summarize Brandwatch’s guide, product positioning is split into 3 steps: segmentation, targeting and positioning model (or the STP framework).
This involves segmenting your buyers into distinct categories, targeting or evaluating the commercial utility of each individual category, and then defining how you will market to each specific category.
Along with this framework, you are also determining demographic information like interests, location, channels, etc.
The result of this is a visualized framework for finding, targeting, and marketing to the customers that actually matter.
4. Constructing Buyer Personas
One of the most powerful B2B digital marketing strategies is establishing clear buyer personas.
Buyer personas or “marketing personas” are essentially a general template or fictitious representation of your ideal customer or customers.
Depending on your industry, your ideal customer may take many forms, demographics, genders, ages, etc.
Creating buyer personas is a great way to humanize your customers rather than view them as just another data point on a spreadsheet.
Additionally, creating clear buyer personas is essential to creating targeted content, service their exact needs or challenges, and develop products they actually want.
Here are some stats:
Fifty-two percent of marketers support two to four roles and buyer personas with dedicated content according to (LinkedIn Technology Marketing Community)
Using buyer personas in an email campaign improved open rate by 2x and clickthrough rate by 5x. MLT Creative
Buyer personas can be defined based on many different elements:
- Customers who generate the most revenue for you
- People who have major challenges that your product directly solves
- Customers who share your company’s ideals and values
- People who represent your brand and share their passion
Skytap, a self-service provider of cloud automation solutions, implemented a targeted content marketing strategy and experienced some impressive results:
124% increased sales leads
55% increase in organic search traffic
97% increase in online leads
210% increase in North American site traffic. HubSpot
Some marketing departments struggle to provide the right assets to the right customer, at the right time.
Buyer personas can remedy this problem by defining your buyer’s journey.
Check out my in-depth guide to creating buyer personas that include a guide to launching buyer persona workshops.
To summarize it here, there are some effective ways to begin gathering the information needed to generate buyer personas:
- Insights from social media (demographic information from visitors and fans)
- Website contact forms — adding relevant fields to gather info about them
- Industry surveys — you can utilize third-party suppliers or self-hosted surveys
- Thought leadership interviews — find notable figures in your industry and dissect their needs and background
- Consult with your sales team — analyze existing customer base for common demographics
- Survey existing clients — Annual or bi-annual surveys of your existing clients for new ideas for products or messaging
- Host internal webinars or review days — host webinars to get your clients interacting with each other and your team
5. Content Strategy Retooling
With product positioning and buyer personas locked in, you are ready to construct an effective content marketing strategy.
A content marketing strategy refers to essentially any piece of media or content that you create and promote: written, video, downloadable, print, etc.
This is, in my opinion, one of the most important B2B digital marketing strategies as it is the area that your customers will interact with.
Now is when you use your buyer personas to create a plan for what types of content you will be creating.
Types of content marketing can be:
- Social media posts
- Forum posting
- Guest posting
- And more
Each of these approaches is suitable for different customer personas and at various times during their journey toward a purchasing decision.
The “strategy” part of creating a content strategy appears as we determine what the goal is for each piece of content.
All of your content marketing strategies should have a clear goal in mind.
I have recommended to most of the companies I have worked with to water their goals down to 4–5 core goals that I like to also imagine as the marketing funnel:
- Increase brand awareness
- Drive traffic to a landing page or cornerstone content
- Generate engagement on social sites, forums, etc.
- Utilize existing audiences through partnerships
- Convert a warm lead into a customer
When you are creating a content strategy, this is when you attempt to create a library of assets that can achieve 1 or 2 of these goals.
The knowledge of your persona will also dictate how educational you need to be, the tone your content should have (professional vs casual), and how far along they are in the buying decision.
This is also the time when you can establish what tools you want to use to assist in your efforts:
Social Pilot — An amazing social media management tool that lets you plan social posts in the future, view audience insights, and track top posts. An absolute necessity if you want to grow your social accounts.
BlogAbout — A unique content idea generator that provides headline ideas and general content ideas for your target audience.
BuzzSumo — Market research tool that will help you analyze social media engagement, research content ideas, trending topics, etc.
CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer — Another great headline analyzer that will provide feedback to help with length, word choice, search volume and more.
B2B digital marketing strategies differ from B2C because you are not as reliant on reflex purchases and having large volumes of data.
Because of this, making sure your website is established as an authority within your industry is the key to setting yourself apart from your competitors.
By appealing to your customers and understanding the things that make them tick, you can boost lead generation, conversion rates, and increase your overall brand awareness.