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4 Ideas For B2B Online Marketing Strategies

Category: B2B News

b2bBefore you fling your product into the next cool online campaign, have you thought about critical strategic factors that will greatly affect your B2B marketing efforts? They can spell the difference between success and failure for your product. Skip them at your peril or work hard around them and reap the fruits of a higher return on your online campaign. This article gives you 4 great ideas for B2B online marketing strategies.  

1. Develop your Buyer Personas

Yes, you should discriminate against people in marketing. Not everybody is your customer. In B2B, knowing the right customer gives you a solid head start because not only are you talking to qualified leads, but you’re not wasting time and money following the wrong prospects.

Many B2B companies fear that narrowing down the market to an Ideal Customer will make them miss the bigger market. Lincoln Murphy of SixteenVentures thinks otherwise: “When you don’t focus, and instead try to be everything to everyone, you end up making a connection with no one. When that happens, I guarantee you’re missing out.”

So the first strategic decision for you is to know who you’re selling to. You can start with a profile funnel by identifying the industries and businesses you’re targeting and the key departments who will be using your software. Then narrow down the profile to key people in the decision-making unit.

Bear in mind that in B2B, the Ideal Customer will likely take the shape of different individuals with different priorities. For instance, a CMO will focus on the software’s sales automation capabilities, while the CIO may look at integration and scalability as the main concern, while the CFO will run a cost-benefit analysis. So, who is the right customer? They all are.

Murphy said the Ideal Customer isn’t just profiling a single type of buyer. It’s about knowing a customer for a particular situation. This means you must have a baseline insight on your audiences to know which message to use (don’t just imagine the Ideal Customer!). For example, asking for the user’s profession or job position during a free trial subscription is one way to sort your Ideal Customers. On your email follow-ups at the end of the trial, you can pitch different call-to-action scenarios for different user types to prod them to opt for a paid subscription. You can also publish case studies that highlight the same software features but from different perspectives, such as, from the points-of-view of marketing, sales, investment, finance, support, etc.

Having a clear picture of your Ideal Customers is the foundation of all your online marketing strategies.

2. Set goals and define KPIs

Another strategy to think of before diving down to details is to ask, what do you want to accomplish with your online content? Sales isn’t always the case. A Content Marketing Institute study showed these top goals of marketers:

goals

We can sort these goals in three main areas:

  • Sales (customer acquisition, sales, customer retention/loyalty
  • Leads (lead generation, lead management/nurturing, engagement, website traffic)
  • Awareness (brand awareness, thought leadership)
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When thinking of your goal, it’s not an all or nothing decision. In fact, you should make all these your online marketing goals. But trying to meet all goals in one campaign is like sitting between two chairs or more; you can fall off. Rather, the challenge is to identify which specific goal applies to specific content or campaign and use the key performance indicators to measure success.

Categorize your digital assets into specific goals and you can measure KPI easier. What do you want your homepage to accomplish? A free trial subscription, perhaps? Then it’s easy to measure the KPI (free trial opt-ins). On the other hand, you can closely tie up the pricing page to an email campaign with the goal of moving leads to paid plans (lead nurturing). You can also display promo deals or highlight more robust features on the pricing page to convince free trial subscribers to opt for a paid plan. The KPI is simply the number of new paying customers within a time frame.

In the meantime, your blog and social media channels can project your thought leadership and, by extension, sustain brand awareness in the mind of your online visitors. These assets can also be used for customer retention or loyalty by keeping in touch with your Ideal Customers.

3. Be where buyers are during the early product discovery stage

Search is still the top lead source in B2B inbound marketing, according to this HubSpot 2014 study:

graph

The HubSpot findings are corroborated by the Google/Millward study, which reported that B2B buyers today make a generic search, not a product search, at the start of their product discovery. That means, a major part of your online marketing strategy should focus on search.

It’s advised that you pursue SEO with a long-term mindset because it takes time and considerable content and outreach campaign budget to get a decent SERP rank. But SEO isn’t the only way to get leads from SERPs. You can get your software featured on a high-ranking media site through paid publicity. You can also write a SaaS blog post for these top sites as an expert about issues that concern your product category. In exchange you ask for a backlink to your website.

There’s another great way to leverage search leads: B2B & SaaS review sites where you can add your product to be reviewed by users and experts. There’s quite a few of such sites out there, consult our list of top B2B & SaaS software review directories to find the ones where you definitely should be listed.

B2B review platforms enjoy a high SERP ranking in B2B software searches because search engines consider them important for three things:

  • The sites are widely used as leads by B2B buyers looking for products
  • User comments and ratings are recognized by search engines to be generally helpful
  • They consistently publish new and useful content based on topics that focus on B2B issues

Your software is probably already riding on review sites’ search popularity because you are their topic. But don’t be content with just having a presence on these sites; your competitors are also in there and are constantly vying for customers’ attention.

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Instead, leverage the marketing tools being offered by these sites. For example, at FinancesOnline you can use lead-generating services by putting a Free Trial button or Visit Website button that directly links the site to your product page and sends potential leads your way. You can also highlight your software as a suggested alternative in the comparison table, where a customer is matching features of two other products.

A sample comparison highlight (in blue shade) that gives you an advantage during the moment of truth: when buyers are deciding which product to buy.

A sample comparison highlight (in blue shade) that gives you an advantage during the moment of truth: when buyers are deciding which product to buy.

Likewise, why not submit your product for evaluation and merit any of the special awards and certificates that highlight the quality of your software’s specific features, such as, Best Free Trial, Best Mobile Support, Exceptional Customer Support, etc. These awards signal to prospects that your product belongs to a best-in-class category and that’s a huge factor that distinguishes you from your competitors.

FinancesOnline also grants a Verified Quality Seal for services that have been validated for quality features and vendor reliability. You can display this special seal on your website, landing pages, or social media channels as a social proof to increase user trust.

4. Define and qualify your leads

The prospect of soliciting business from customers varies depending on where they are in your sales funnel. That’s why it’s useful to qualify leads. Organizing leads lets you nurture them by catering to prospects’ current needs instead of scaring them away with an ill-timed hard sell.

Generally, B2B customers go through life cycles based on their interaction with you. HubSpot identified these as:

  • subscriber
  • marketing qualified lead
  • sales qualified lead
  • opportunity
  • customer
  • evangelist
  • “other” being a wildcard.

You’ll notice that site visitors, even if you’re getting hundreds of thousands of them a day–are not considered a lead until they subscribe to something like a white paper, webinar, free trial, or newsletter. In short, leads are prospects that you have a way to contact with and funnel them down the sales pipeline.

Another good reason to qualify leads is to quantify the amount of time and effort that you spend on each. Using the 80:20 rule–80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your clients–you can easily identify which life cycle stage offers the most return and that’s where you should focus more.

Nurturing existing customers to get more add-ons or convince them to upgrade their plans may be more profitable than increasing your free trial subscriber base. It’s not to say, however, that you should stop minding other life cycle stages; rather, qualified leads help you distribute your budget, time, and focus in proportion to the return rate.

Many SaaS CRM solutions today let you categorize and sort leads automatically, ensuring that you don’t miss opportunities or waste time following mismatched prospects.

We hope the B2B online marketing strategies detailed in this article help you to boost your company’s sales and revenue.

By Louie Andre

B2B & SaaS market analyst and senior writer for FinancesOnline. He is most interested in project management solutions, believing all businesses are a work in progress. No stranger to small business hiccups and drama, having been involved in a few internet startups. Prior to his for-profit ventures, he has had managed corporate communications for a Kansas City-based Children International unit.

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FinancesOnline is available for free for all business professionals interested in an efficient way to find top-notch SaaS solutions. We are able to keep our service free of charge thanks to cooperation with some of the vendors, who are willing to pay us for traffic and sales opportunities provided by our website. Please note, that FinancesOnline lists all vendors, we’re not limited only to the ones that pay us, and all software providers have an equal opportunity to get featured in our rankings and comparisons, win awards, gather user reviews, all in our effort to give you reliable advice that will enable you to make well-informed purchase decisions.