This guest column is by Siddharth Hegde, Managing Director, Ethinos Digital Marketing
Making a statement that a B2B business has a lot to gain from an effective digital marketing strategy in today’s context may sound a bit passé. While most discerning marketers already know this, the burgeoning number of enterprises wanting to hop onto the digital marketing bandwagon provides enough reason to take a deep dive into this subject and resurface with facts, renewed assertion and belief that this is really the way to go. This is further corroborated by the statistic that close to 25% of online leads generally get converted, as compared to just 1.5% of them generated and fulfilled purely through an offline sales channel. That’s the power of digital. What’s more, B2B marketing strategies can go beyond a traditional sales funnel in building credibility, reputation, and goodwill.
First and foremost, and logically enough, when an enterprise takes the digital marketing route, it’s important for the business to be found among the 1 billion odd websites that currently exist. Of course, with a systematic, scientific and steady approach, the task isn’t as daunting as it may seem. A business website needs to compete and jostle only with those websites within a defined category, and not with all and sundry.
The primary task lies in conducting an evaluation of the existing website and analyzing it on several parameters including keywords, backlinks, navigation, UI/UX, and fresh and original content. An adroit implementation strategy and ongoing monitoring can make a world of a difference to an otherwise staid or prosaic website – not just in terms of ranking but also on parameters such as traffic, engagement, page views, and quality of leads. We have been doing this at Ethinos over the years. So I’ll share with you a few approaches that can help you nail down your B2B digital marketing strategy.
1. Take cues from the decision-making process
While B2C marketing communication is hinged on the fact that a consumer’s buying preferences are driven by emotion, B2B digital marketing communication revolves around rationality and logic. With emphasis on features and functions of B2B products, the nature of the products and services that the B2B businesses offers, and the audience that they cater to, defines how their digital marketing strategy is crafted. The tone of voice here is generally formal, business-like, and perhaps sombre. B2B digital marketing caters to a very specific target audience which may not be more than a few hundred at the most. B2C digital strategies on the other hand, are directed to a much larger audience.
2. Plan long-term
B2B Marketing involves developing deep level relations with customers. For that reason, many a times, the first line of online activity is aimed at existing customers. Customer relationship management is of importance, especially in B2B business. The B2B marketing team needs to collaborate with the sales team in order to build a long-lasting customer relationship. B2B marketing strategies are devised keeping in mind that the decision-making process involves higher level of involvement as compared to B2C products and services. B2B digital marketing caters to an audience that is familiar with industry-specific jargon, and the usage of such jargon generally helps emphasize the communication. On the other hand, B2C communication seeks eliminating any kind of jargon in its messaging.
3. Deploy content marketing in the B2B businesses
Nine out of ten B2B organizations that follow B2B digital marketing strategies rely heavily on content marketing for promoting their products, services, and brand image. 46% of organizations who use content marketing confirm its effectiveness. Blogs, articles, and infographics are all part of the content marketing delivery model under the B2B digital marketing strategy. These serve as vehicles to present information to other businesses about their products and services.
4. Work in sync with the sales team
B2B digital marketing communication takes into account the fact that conversions take a longer time to happen as compared to B2C marketing, especially since it is a high-involvement decision-making process. This keeps B2B marketers involved in keeping their prospects engaged and informed in a way that helps them make an informed decision. B2B marketers work in sync with the sales team to close leads.
5. Play the social media card
B2B marketers also benefit from micro-blogging sites as they are great for lead generation. LinkedIn is proving to be a fruitful social media lead generator for B2B marketers, with 57% of all online leads through its pipeline proving to be viable. Facebook comes a close second at 52% while Twitter trails at 44%. B2B marketing strategies concentrate on the development or curation of specific content that appeals to its target audience. Content that is relevant, easily consumed and up-to-date is expected. B2B websites are generally designed to include lead generation mechanisms, which are strategically placed at various pages. 74% of B2B marketers confirm that the focus of their B2B marketing strategies is lead conversion while meeting up-sell and cross-sell targets.
Here’s a case study about our client that deployed a micro-niche targeting campaign on social media to induct women technologists who wish to return to their career after taking a break.
Intuit India- A technology giant offering online accounting software to help small businesses
Challenges: Women who have taken a career break, for maternity or other reasons, find it difficult to make a comeback as they face a knowledge gap and subdued confidence. The challenge also lies in reaching out to them, and creating awareness about the Intuit Again internship-based recruitment program at Bengaluru.
Objective: The main objective was to reach out to the niche audience, prompting them to enroll for the internship program that offered an opportunity of being absorbed as full time employees at Intuit India. The campaign objective was also to build on Intuit’s brand as a great place to work for women technologists, and bring in diversity that the enterprise believes helps solve customer problems better.
Strategy: Firstly, a campaign as run amongst employees through the social media channels, asking them to refer women technologists whom they knew were on a career break and wanting to make a comeback. The enterprise also organized a live chat in association with the Anita Borg Institute, that helped reach out to the correct audience. A campaign was run on the organization’s Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter pages, and traffic from these sites was directed to a specially designed microsite that accepted the CVs of interested candidates. The SVP and MD further helped give this initiative traction by talking about this initiative in his blog. This blog post was then promoted through Intuit’s social media channels. The microsite and Facebook notes also featured real testimonials of women who were absorbed through the program.
Let’s now discuss the other 3 strategies vital in B2B digital marketing.
6. Get mobile-ready
Active online forums that assist a visitor on a B2B website, as well as Contact Us forms are the go-to tools for lead generation. Event sign up options, product demonstrations, and added features such as newsletter subscriptions are known to help B2B digital marketing activities. With encouraging quality of leads generated through the online medium, B2B marketers can consider reducing the number of cold calls they make. Not just websites, but smartphones are a medium that marketers are turning to for lead conversion as part of their B2B marketing strategies. Over 42% of B2B audiences do their research using a mobile phone. The growth of queries sent through smartphones has grown three times as compared to what it was in 2012. B2B audiences who use mobile phones to conduct their search are receptive about receiving information on products and services that businesses offer. Videos that elucidate product features are known to hold their attention.
7. Harness the power of video marketing
Video Marketing is proving to be a fruitful channel for B2B marketers. YouTube is one of the largest search engines, second only to Google. 83% of B2B businesses are turning to YouTube as a promising contributor to their digital marketing strategy. This channel is being leveraged, as it is a powerful medium through which brands can share content that is related to their products and services. YouTube B2B marketing strategies cover product demonstrations, expert advice, events, and thought leadership, amongst other things. Video marketing through YouTube has some obvious advantages for B2B organizations. Add to that the fact that retention levels are higher when the audience is engaged through an audio-visual medium. This means better brand recall. YouTube videos can be SEO optimized, which helps to boost rankings. B2B digital marketing strategies can easily incorporate YouTube for lead generating.
8. Webinars and marketing automation
Webinars are also making their presence felt as part of B2B marketing strategies. B2B audiences are seeking industry specific expertise across geographies. Webinars are relatively easy to conduct and attend. Already existing content can be repurposed and used as part of webinars. Webinars also present optimal opportunities for B2B marketers to cross-promote their content across channels.
B2B marketers are willing to invest in creating better content as part of their B2B digital marketing plans.
They are aiming to integrate marketing automation that also helps in converting the leads. B2B marketing strategies think from the perspective of the businesses that they cater to and accordingly organize their digital strategy. Marketers always strive to add value to the businesses through marketing engagement activities that are fueled by analytics and insights.