B2B Marketing Strategies: 5 Trends for 2015 and Beyond

b2bWe’ve seen the balance of power in B2B marketing drastically shifting from companies to buyers in the last three years, and this trend will only be more acute this year. As buyers prefer to discover products on their own and self-educate themselves with facts before contacting you, the marketer, they are taking more and more control of your top-of-sales funnel. So, how does the B2B marketing landscape look today and beyond? Here’s a look at five established B2B marketing strategies.

1. LinkedIn is still top social media platform for B2B marketers

According to the 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends for North America 92% of content marketers use social media making this channel the most popular digital platform. When it comes to social media for B2B marketing, LinkedIn tops the list with 94% of content marketers using it. Twitter follows at 88%, while Facebook usage is closely behind at 84%. More tellingly, 80% of leads created in social media come from LinkedIn, according to SEO guru Neil Patel.

source: Business2Community

source: Business2Community

With decision makers, CEOs, executives, managers, and professionals populating LinkedIn, it’s easy to see why it is a B2B marketer’s playground, and LinkedIn knows it. The social media network promotes itself as “The Definitive Professional Publishing Platform,” allowing users and brands to publish content to it.

To engage your built-in audience on LinkedIn, post content that is insightful, helpful, and valuable to their industry or profession. It’s a big turn-off to talk about your software. Besides, your position and company credentials displayed in your profile are already doing that job. Provide educational resources, case studies, and solutions to issues that concern business owners and professionals. Elicit a debate, but be prepared to rebut valid points.

Here’s one tactic on how to distribute your content online: post the original article in LinkedIn first to project exclusivity, rewrite a version and publish it on your blog on another day to get more SEO juice, then post a link to your blog post on Twitter and Facebook to expand your audience.

2. Product reviews more important than case studies

User-generated reviews are poised to outstrip cases studies as the preferred B2B marketing tool, according to a Content Marketing Institute article. This is corroborated by a Google study that shows 70% of Americans say they read product reviews before making a purchase. If you want to ride the crest of this wave for more leads, you need to pay closer attention to B2B software review sites like FinancesOnline.com.

Review sites give you four critical benefits:

  • Expose you to buyers who are in the process of making a purchase decision, the moment of truth in sales
  • Increase your SEO because reviews sites tend to have high search rankings
  • Ensure that you are discovered by buyers who don’t know you, but know your category
  • Be where the battle is raging, where buyers are comparing competing software products

If you’d like to have your product listed at FinancesOnline.com just request a review and we’ll get back to you.

Here's how a product review looks like on FinancesOnline.com

Here’s how a product review looks like on FinancesOnline.com

Although you don’t have control on what users will say about your product, you can ask your satisfied and most loyal customers to post their favorable reviews about your software (this is where building a long-term relationship comes into play). Give a non-monetary incentive and position your request as a way to help other buyers assess if your software is a fit. This way, you come across not as a self-centered vendor, but someone who cares about customer welfare. At the least, you’re guaranteed that you have favorable testimonials in review sites.

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Likewise, since your competitors are expected to crowd B2B review sites, as well, why not take advantage of existing paid marketing tools being offered by review sites? For example, you can highlight your product in a comparison table or create a direct link to your free trial page on FinancesOnline.com. You can also submit your product for a more detailed review and, if it qualifies, earn a Verified Trust Seal. An Econsultancy report revealed that trust marks are the number one factor that makes potential customers trust a website. A special quality seal can also generate a 14% increase in sales and 30% spike in organic search, based on one CrazyEgg experiment.

Here's how a Verified Quality trust mark looks like.

Here’s how a Verified Quality trust mark looks like.

3. Companies are increasing their content marketing budget

A Content Marketing Institute report said that 55% of companies plan to increase their B2B content marketing spending this year. Interestingly, the top reason for the budget spike is to increase brand awareness (84%) and not lead generation, which comes in close second at 83%. Rounding up the top five reasons are: engagement (81%); sales (75%); and lead nurturing (74%). There’s a growing consensus that content marketing isn’t just about sales, but getting your software known (brand awareness and engagement).

challenges

So what does these results mean to you as a B2B marketer? Congratulations, you’re now also a publisher. It’s daunting to think of creating an editorial calendar–a different animal to you–when you’re also developing and managing a marketing plan. So why not outsource this non-core service to a more qualified team like B2B content marketing agencies? For example, here at FinancesOnline.com have professional editors, writers, and designers, who can develop thoughtful B2B content calendar and execute its regular posting and distribution. Here’s a detailed analysis we’ve recently prepared for Nimble. It makes sense to let others handle a slice of your marketing strategy so you can concentrate on the whole pie, right?

4. Marketing automation is more important than ever

A 2015 Marketing Automation Benchmarking Report showed that 43% of marketers are already using marketing automation (MA) software, while 45% more are planning to adopt MA. The report also cited the three benefits of MA:

  • Better lead management
  • More relevant messaging and content
  • Increased revenue

But how does MA differ from CRM? The best way to differentiate them is to identify their goals at the fundamental level. CRM focuses on gathering and tracking opportunities in your existing customer base; hence, it’s a relationship management solution. On the other hand, MA focuses on targeting, nurturing, and tracking new leads with one-to-one communication and engagement. In a way, the two are closely related. In fact, they’re too complimentary that many CRM solutions today have marketing automation functions or vice-versa. B2B Reviews sites can help you identify and compare the critical features of myriad CRM/MA solutions available in the market today.

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5. Blog marketing isn’t going anywhere

The Content Marketing Institute reported that blog is around 60% effective as a B2B tactic. A blog with frequent and original value content has numerous benefits:

  • Generates, nurtures, and converts leads
  • Reinforces your SEO mileage
  • Projects your thought leadership or industry expertise
  • Establishes long-term relationship with prospects and buyers

However, it’s sad to see many corporate blogs going under for lack of time and skill to manage content. You should save the company blog and enhance its content if you want to cash in on more leads and sales. Again, consider outsourcing this non-core service to a qualified B2B editorial team, which can create your editorial calendar, develop the content, and promote it.

To save you time and effort, simply assign a managing editor in your company, who will act as the liaison to the outsourcing team. You need only to discuss your content marketing strategy with this editor, who, in turn, will be responsible to channel down to the outsourcing team your key messages and strategic positioning. The managing editor will also act as the lead resource and liaison of potential content ideas within the company.

CONCLUSION

In today’s disruptive B2B landscape, it pays to know effective B2B marketing strategies and industry trends so that you can align your business goals with them and remain competitive. Failure to adapt to these trends is risking the very life of your business.

Category: B2B News, Featured Articles

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