The digital transformation has fundamentally changed the way we think, act and buy. The B2B sector is also affected. Successful B2B companies have managed to adapt to the new conditions.
However, some companies find it difficult to adapt. This is mainly due to a lack of updates to B2B marketing strategies.
The B2B market has completely in recent years changed. B2B buyers now have unlimited access to information – thanks to smartphones, tablets, or laptops. This leads to new knowledge about existing offers and increases competition between the companies.
The B2B sales process has always been difficult. Nothing has changed with the advent of new and digital tools. The problem: Most B2B companies have adopted digital tools here and there or started to create digital content, but their overarching strategies are not yet adapted to the digital world.
Many mistakes have been made in B2B marketing in the past few years. This guide would like to help to recognize mistakes and to create a new picture of B2B marketing.
The Marketing Guide is divided into seven different sections:
- Changing the B2B Buyers Journey
- B2B Marketing Framework
- Basics of the B2B Marketing Plan
- Demand Generation Strategies
- Lead Generation Strategies
- Strategies to Increase Retention
- Implementation of the B2B marketing plan
The guide helps to develop a basic understanding of today’s B2B strategies and trends. B2B companies, in particular, can benefit from this knowledge.
Table of Contents
- 1 First things first: changing the buyer’s journey
- 2 The best marketing framework for a B2B strategy
- 3 The most important elements of the B2B Marketing Plan: demand generation, lead generation, and retention strategy
- 4 The best marketing strategy for every phase of the sales funnel: A good B2B website
- 5 B2B marketing strategies for generating demand
- 6 B2B marketing for lead generation
- 7 B2B marketing strategies for customer loyalty and recovery
- 8 The implementation of the B2B marketing plan 2021 in five steps
- 9 Does your company need help with B2B marketing? We are happy to help.
First things first: changing the buyer’s journey
Most B2B companies understand that business as usual no longer works. This also includes how potential buyers search for and find B2B suppliers. The following figure shows the old buyers journey:
In the past, the buyers’ journey in B2B usually looked different. Marketing procured leads, for example at trade fairs or through lead campaigns. Acquisition by telephone also played an important role. In all cases, the buyer was heavily dependent on the knowledge that the provider made available to him.
In the meantime, the buyers’ journey has changed. The four main reasons are:
- Half of all B2B buyers are millennials. Millennials don’t like cold calling
- More and more people are involved in the B2B buying process. A typical buying group consists of 6 to 10 members. 64 percent of the “C-Suite” make the final decisions, but 84 percent of the non-“C-Suite” level also have a say.
- Modern B2B buyers do their own research, often online. Before making a purchase, an average of up to 12 online offers is searched. Only then is contact made with the provider. At this point, 57 percent of the purchase process has already been completed. Only then will a company be contacted. In industry and manufacturing, too, 67 percent of purchases are influenced by social media.
- Over 90 percent of B2B buyers jump back and forth between the individual phases. It is no longer a straight-line process but runs in a loop.
The buyers’ journey has changed. The decision-making process now consists of many, alternating actions in which many people are involved. Often there is a jump back and forth between research and discovery phases.
The new buyers’ journey:
- Several participants during the research and discovery loop
- After-sales and loyalty loop
Today’s B2B buyers behave more like B2C consumers and expect the same buying experience and service. 80 percent of B2B purchase decisions depend on the direct or indirect buying experience of a buyer. The actual price or the design of the offer plays a rather minor role.
For this reason, B2B companies need to create a new digital experience. The aim is to skillfully guide the target group through the individual phases and to absorb them if necessary. In the event of success, you will achieve long-term customer loyalty.
The best marketing framework for a B2B strategy
The “See-Think-Do-Care” model can easily be integrated into the new buyers’ journey:
With this model, decisions can be easily analyzed and strategies can be improved.
The most important elements of the B2B Marketing Plan: demand generation, lead generation, and retention strategy
- Identify problems
- Look for solutions
- Create requirements
- make a selection
- Build consensus
- Demand generation: The first step is to generate interest in products or services. Demand generation solves the first three tasks: problem identification, search for solutions, and creation of requirements.
- Lead Generation: This step is in the middle and at the end of a marketing funnel. This is where the interest is put into action. The lead generation solves the last three tasks: making selection, validation, creating consensus.
- Customer loyalty and recovery: The use of loyalty loops is part of every good marketing strategy. The loyalty and acquisition of customers bring them back to the beginning of the journey – with new problem identification and solution search.
- High-quality website
- Social media marketing
- Video marketing
- Content marketing
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Pay-per-click advertising (PPC)
- Event Marketing
- Partners and Cooperations
- Automated Marketing (Including Email Marketing)
Some of these strategies can be used for multiple stages in the cycle, depending on the application. That is why they are listed several times below.
The best marketing strategy for every phase of the sales funnel: A good B2B website
A high-quality website is a company’s most valuable marketing tool.
The website plays a crucial role in every phase of the buyers’ journey.
Half of all B2B customers today expect an informative and clear website. But the visual impression should not be neglected either. In times of predominant smartphone use, a good B2B site must be mobile-optimized.
The trend will continue over the next few years. At the latest when millennials (or Generation Z) increasingly take on the role of B2B buyers.
- Fast – 40 percent of users leave a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load. Safe – 85 percent of consumers will not use an unsecured website. Therefore, HTTPs should be used instead of HTTP. An SSL certificate is required for this.
- Mobile-friendly – Over 60 percent of online traffic consists of mobile devices. More than 80 percent of B2B buyers use smartphones at work. 90 percent of buyers would use the same provider again if they had a good mobile experience. If you have a bad experience, it’s only half. Mobile now controls and influences more than 40 percent of sales in leading B2B companies. Almost 50 percent of B2B search queries today are made via smartphones.
- Actionable – Websites aren’t just business cards, they’re something like a digital sales rep. Around 44 percent of B2B buyers state that they leave a website because of missing information. A website, therefore, needs clear navigation, appealing contact forms, and serious trust elements such as testimonials and customer feedback.
- Professional – 37 percent of buyers leave a website because of poor design or poor navigation. 46 percent because of a lack of core message from a company. This means that it is not immediately clear what the company is doing or offering.
B2B marketing strategies for generating demand
Over 80 percent of B2B buyers look at at least 5 pieces of content during the buying process, half of them more than 8 pieces of content.
- Display advertising
- Content marketing
- Video marketing
- Social Media Marketing (and Advertising)
- It’s advertising with context – advertising on websites that are relevant to your content.
- Display advertising takes advantage of the Cell Phone Theory. This says: Consumers are subliminally aware of everything that happens around them. Later this environment appears familiar to them. This means that consumers also later remember a company by subconsciously taking in a PPC display ad.
B2B content marketing
62 percent of B2B buyers state that they only base their purchase decision on digital content.
- Knowledge of the specific requirements that buyers place on their purchase decision
- Providing information and tools that meet these requirements
- Providing the information you need on the target audience’s preferred social channels
A Gartner study found that currently only around 20 percent of the information on B2B websites is made available in a buyer-friendly manner. For this reason, B2B companies have to upgrade significantly in this area. In order to optimize your own website, the use of a B2B online marketing agency can be helpful. Conversely, what does this mean for practice?
These types of content marketing can be at the beginning of a sales funnel:
- Blog Posts: In order to generate demand, companies need to draw attention to their products. Of course, a blog should advertise its own product as a solution to a specific problem. But that shouldn’t be too clumsy. The posts should focus less on the company’s products than on one’s own problem-solving skills and understanding of current problems. It’s even better to create an emotional connection through storytelling. But be careful! A good blog must always be distributed via social channels and optimized using SEO.
- Social media posts: Potential customers can be targeted on social media in every phase of their customer journey.
- Infographics: People love infographics. Visual representations are easier for our brain to understand. We can process a visual scene in milliseconds. Infographics condense knowledge into an easily understandable picture.
- E-books: Good e-books should consist of insights as well as checklists, tips, and up-to-date instructions.
Social media marketing
75 percent of B2B buyers use social media to support their purchase decision.
- Blog posts
- Statistics and facts
- Industry news
- “How to” videos (under 60 seconds)
Companies that use video marketing have a 27 percent higher number of clicks and a 34 percent higher conversion rate than those without.
- Placement of video ads on YouTube
- Instructional videos
- Branded Videos and Video Ads
- Blog videos
- Entertaining, funny, or viral videos
Search engine optimization ( SEO )
SEO refers to the optimization of web content based on certain keywords. This is to improve the ranking of a website. SEO is especially important as 71 percent of B2B buyers begin their searches with organic searches. Most buyers only look at the first 12 search results on average.
Companies must therefore rank as possible in the top positions in order to attract the attention of potential customers.
71 percent of B2B buyers start their search with generic search queries and search an average of 12 queries before deciding on a page.
B2B marketing for lead generation
- PPC search ads
- Business customers, customer feedback, and partnerships
- Content marketing
Pay-per-click search engine advertising (PPC)
Business partners, customer feedback, awards, and collaborations
Content marketing can be used in many ways. For example, blogs and webinars are great for generating demand. However, content marketing can also be used to generate leads. In the final phase of lead generation, the following steps are critical for the buyer: vendor selection, validation, and building consensus. The best content marketing strategies for this are case studies or authority builders such as:
- Testimonials and reviews
- Press coverage
- Press releases
- Information about awards and partnerships
- Content about the history, culture, and values of a company
- Case studies
SEO suits both lead generation and demand generation. Therefore, it should be clarified beforehand what should be optimized. For generating B2B leads, the focus should be on high-quality keywords. These include:
- Transactional keywords like “buy” or “offer”
- Brand-relevant keywords (including those of the competition)
- Contact keywords such as “contact”, “call” or “request”
- Keywords in the context of price and offer comparison such as “reviews”, “how much” or “cost of”
- Location-specific keywords such as city, state, or zip code
B2B marketing strategies for customer loyalty and
Content marketing is one of the best ways to keep existing customers interested. Not only does it keep the company up to date. It also enables customers to be informed about current products and services.
There are five types of content marketing that are particularly suitable for customer loyalty and recovery:
- Blogs: The best channel for spreading the latest news. This means that a company is always present. An informative and high-quality blog increases trust in a company in the long term and ensure new orders.
- E-books and white papers: Companies should inform customers by providing white papers and e-books.
- Social media: To increase visibility: Regularly publish blogs, webinars, new products, and customer feedback on social media.
- Videos: Video marketing is ideal for customer loyalty and recovery. For this purpose, companies should create video versions of their blogs and explanatory videos for their products and services.
- Webinars: Can help customers make better use of a company’s service or product. Webinars, interviews, or Q & As are ideal for this.
Automated Marketing (Including Email Marketing)
Through targeted e-mail campaigns, B2B marketers recorded an average increase in sales of 760 percent.
Some examples of good email marketing:
- Email newsletter
- Send blog posts by email
- Send out webinar invitations
- Thank you and culture promoting emails
- Announcements of new features
- Announcements of new e-books
- Introductory emails for new employees
The implementation of the B2B marketing plan 2021 in five steps
Here are the five steps to implementing the ultimate B2B marketing plan for 2021. All of these steps can also be carried out by a B2B marketing agency.
Step 1: Identifying the target audience
Who is the target group? Most B2B companies will use brands or professions to define their target audience. The bad news is this is not a target audience. Brands and professions say nothing about the motives, motivation, or preferred social media of a target group. Different things motivate people. In addition, the modern B2B sales funnel includes more than one person. To create the target group, companies should therefore obtain the following information:
- General demographic data
- Common interests
- Motivation to use the product
- Problems that your product fixes
- Social channels and communication channels used
The use of Audience Insights from Facebook is helpful to create the target group. The evaluation of your own Google Analytics data can also provide information about the target group. When the target group has been examined in terms of motivation, weaknesses, and preferred social channels, step 2 can be started.
Step 2: Identifying the weak points
The implementation of digital competition analysis is part of the creation of a comprehensive marketing plan. The growth of a company depends crucially on the knowledge of its own market environment. A comprehensive competition analysis should include the following points:
- Evaluation of the websites (speed, usability, crawlability, sitemaps etc.)
- Evaluation of competition on search engines
- Evaluation of digital content (white papers, e-books, e-mail newsletters, etc.)
- Evaluation of products, services, value proposition including the sales funnel of your own company and the market participants
- Evaluation of online advertising on PPC and social media sites
- Evaluation of the satisfaction of customers and employees including the online reputation
The analysis helps companies to recognize the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities of their digital marketing. As a result, gaps can be closed and advantages over the competition can be expanded.
Step 3: determining the goals
Step 4: Alignment of the goals with the B2B marketing strategies
Step 5: analyze and evaluate data
In order to be able to assess the success of marketing campaigns, they should be constantly checked, optimized, and adjusted. This is the only way to guarantee long-term success. In companies, there are often two tendencies. Either the analysis is inadequate or too much data is being collected. Companies should therefore know which key figures are important to them. To do this, the difference between a simple key figure and a key performance indicator (KPI) must be understood. Key figure: Simple number. KPI: This is a key figure that is closely related to overall business success. Metrics are helpful when creating marketing campaigns. However, only a few help refine or adapt the business strategy. Typical key figures are bounce rates, page views, length of stay, new visitors, and search rankings. These KPIs are relevant for most marketing strategies:
- Total sales
- Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI)
- Lead-to-sale conversion rate
- Booking rate
- Cost per lead (CPL)