The Definitive Guide to B2B Excellence
In the dynamic world of B2B marketing, a well-crafted marketing strategy is critical for success.
In this guide developed by our marketing team within the B2B SEO Agency POLARIS, we’ll take a deeper look at B2B, including what it is, why it’s important, how to create your strategy, and useful tips to generate leads.
What is B2B?
If you’re new to the term business-to-business (B2B) you may be asking yourself ‘What is the meaning of B2B?’.
Techtarget define B2B as B2B “The exchange of products, services or information between businesses, rather than between businesses and consumers”. It is a useful shorthand to establish that the target market of a business is other businesses, rather than consumers.
Examples of B2B
There are various types of B2B. One of the most typical examples of B2B is the relationship between a wholesaler and a retailer, or a manufacturer and a wholesaler.
In B2B e-commerce you’ll come across the terms B2B marketing and B2B sales. B2B marketing and B2B sales are the marketing and sales of goods and services to other business, for example a workwear company might sell protective equipment and clothing to the construction industry.
Why is B2B Important?
The B2B model has many benefits that make it an attractive prospect. B2B marketing addresses real life needs that businesses must solve. Using highly targeted promotions B2B companies can build long lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with their clients. The goal is to increase customer value and loyalty, which leads to a stable business.
B2B v B2C
B2B and B2C propositions ultimately differ in that they target different buyers ─ businesses and consumers. B2B marketing targets a business procurement team, this may be an individual person, but that buyer purchases goods or services on behalf of a company as a whole. B2C marketing instead targets mostly individual consumers, or households.
A key difference between B2B and B2C businesses is that the B2B sales cycle is typically far longer than the B2C cycle, because businesses are looking for complex solutions to their challenges. Therefore, B2B marketing must be persuasive and engage buyers across the entire buying cycle (awareness-consideration-intent-purchase-re-purchase/renewal).
Now you understand what B2B means, and you’ve been introduced to a few examples of B2B you’re ready to explore how B2B functions day-to-day. A B2B strategy is the plan of action a business follows to achieve a long-term aim. There are many types of B2B strategy that B2B companies can follow to reach a goal including, B2B digital marketing, B2B email marketing and B2B content marketing to name but a few.
Let’s take for example B2B digital marketing, a strategy could include different B2B marketing channels including email marketing, communications, SEO and social media marketing.
Where To Get B2B Leads
B2B sales leads are people that have taken action to express an interest in your products or services. This means they can be immediately contacted by your sales team. Generating leads which you can covert into clients is a tricky business, this is why B2B salespeople are always looking for ways to get more B2B leads.
Quality Before Quantity
Simply increasing the number of prospects will not increase your sales. A prospect is someone who fits your company profile and B2B salespeople will always aim to develop prospects into qualified leads. Many B2B salespeople make the mistake of only looking to increase the number of prospects they have available.
However, whether through buying prospects from a database or setting advertising parameters too wide, poor prospects can waste a lot of your sales team’s time in qualifying and chasing people that simply aren’t interested.
Quality leads come through building relationships. You can do this by offering free support, such as a consultation call, or by providing free resources through a B2B SEO content marketing strategy.
Maintain An Updated Database of B2B Leads and Prospects
We mentioned B2B databases for buying leads. While we’re not discounting this technique entirely, it can lead to low quality leads.
If you do decide to go down this path, ensure you use the latest lead generation software or database partners. This will ensure businesses data is up to date, you don’t pay for duplicated leads, new leads match your profile – including current clients and you don’t receive leads already in your content management system (CMS).
Monitor and Run Tests on Landing Pages
If you’re growing leads with a lead generation campaign, it’s vital that the landing page on your website where prospects first interact with your brand is optimised. Using website analytics tools and heatmaps can enable you to track how users interact with your messaging, see where they click and determine if anything might be putting them off converting.
Even better is A/B testing, this is where you test different page elements. So, page A might have a CTA button in one colour while page B uses another. For example, Wallmonkey wanted to increase conversions on their homepage. Their theory was to split test their background image and search bar, one page in the test boosted their conversion rate by 550%.
Use Social Proof
Social proof is a psychological phenomenon whereby people use the evidence of other’s actions to validate their decisions. Think Google Reviews. Social proof is a key part of B2B marketing as your business can benefit from testimonials from satisfied customers that take the time to review your products or services.
There are many platforms that allow businesses to integrate live reviews onto their websites. Platforms like Trustpilot are well known and trusted by consumers and have the added benefit of being trusted by Google, so by adding fresh customer reviews to your website you can boost your social proof and search visibility. It’s a virtuous circle, meaning you’ll boost sales and attract new customers.
By personalising your B2B business website to each individual customer through dynamic content, you can capture your target market’s attention more quickly. In an age where the average attention span is 47 seconds and declining you can’t afford to waste a second.
Dynamic content can use user’s:
4 Proven B2B Strategies to Grow Your B2B Leads
With customers moving mostly online, particularly in the wake of the remote working phenomenon, B2B companies need to find proven methods to grow B2B leads online. Optimising your B2B sales strategies can boost results quickly and generate ongoing success, thanks to a more efficient sales pipeline.
If you’re ready to generate quick wins, let’s dive in.
Identify and Solve Your Users’ Pain Points
Rather than obsessing over features ─ the most common mistake in B2B marketing, it’s imperative to listen to your customer’s frustrations and solve their problems. Common issues for B2B firms include cashflow management and profit marginalisation. Then you have micro issues, the pains that make B2B buyer’s lives more difficult. Make the lives of key decision makers in your target businesses and clients easier, such as finance managers and you can persuade them more easily and offer tailored solutions. That way you’ll forge long term partnerships and create trust with your clients.
Use the Power of Social Selling
Also known as social proof and in the offline world old fashioned word-of-mouth, social selling uses the magnifying properties of social media:
- 71% of social media users will make a purchase based on a social media referral
- 54% of social media users research products on more than one platform. It pays to be across platforms and to make your content native to each platform
- 77% will choose your brand over your competitor if you can provide a positive social media experience
Social selling is simply finding your buyers online. It works so well because social platforms are geared around people’s interests, so discovering engaged leads is easier than traditional sales techniques, where you might cold call potential customers without knowing if they need or want your product.
Align Sales and Marketing
Sales is about closing the leads that marketing have generated, working symbiotically. However, not all sales and marketing teams are aligned, in fact there’s often infighting between the two complementary business functions.
Marketo research has produced a compelling fact – when sales and marketing are aligned, revenue can be boosted by as much as 209%.
To align sales and marketing ensure the disciplines have clear and shared goals:
- Marketing generates leads while the sales team concentrate on closing them
- Communicate ensure your marketing team and sales team communicate regularly. Did the sales team talk to X, is the marketing campaign and content generating the right type of leads?
- Share insights and data by working together in B2B software such as a CRM which suits both team’s requirements, ensuring the teams can be armed with the latest customer knowledge
- Position your brand as a thought leader - SEO
Thought leadership is powerful content marketing technique that often centres on giving away useful information to potential customers for free. This creates goodwill and also demonstrates your knowledge of customer’s problems, without having to resort to a desperate looking ‘hard sell’.
Create whitepapers and other long form articles that your target market shares with their network, this will also boost your word-of-mouth marketing and Google visibility as the Google algorithm will see that people find your content helpful. You’ll also create trust with your most sought-after prospects. You’ll win your dream client’s business in no time!