Marketing to businesses is quite different from marketing to consumers. So for B2B businesses to get the most out of their marketing budgets, they really need to understand how to design the perfect marketing strategy for their audience.
In this guide, we’ll talk you through everything, from the basics, like the definition of B2B digital marketing, to our top tips on how to design unbeatable B2B digital marketing strategies. And of course we’ll let you in on the tactics you’ll need to perfect them.
Our complete guide will provide all the inspiration you need, in the form of some of our favourite B2B digital marketing campaigns. We’ll even give you a glimpse into what the future holds with our top trends for B2B digital marketing.
Read on to find out more about all things digital.
The definition of B2B digital marketing
Digital marketing is now highly prevalent in our day to day lives. But it hasn’t really been around that long.
This style of marketing dates back to the 1990s, when the idea of selling products and advertising services through the internet first took off. Interest and developments in the internet and digital devices soon skyrocketed, to the point when almost all of us have a smartphone within our reach for most of the day.
Today, digital marketing can be defined as a form of advertising and selling that uses the internet. This might be via a desktop computer or a mobile device.
Digital marketing now covers a whole range of different fields, from PPC and SEO to specialities like email marketing, social media and web design.
When we talk about B2B digital marketing, we’re referring to a specific type of digital marketing, used exclusively by companies that sell items business-to-business.
Digital marketing strategies have long been in widespread use by B2C companies, but the uptake amongst B2B brands has always been a little slower. However, digital marketing campaigns are now on the rise amongst B2B brands, with increasing numbers of companies using digital strategies to attract the attention of their business customers.
Digital marketing: B2B vs B2C
Digital marketing works quite differently for B2B brands compared to B2C companies. B2B digital marketing campaigns usually focus on lead generation, rather than ecommerce.
Typically, the timescales of the buying journey are far longer for B2B brands, with many more decision makers involved in a purchase. Individual purchases tend to be of greater value for B2B brands, but fewer in quantity. So a very different approach to digital marketing is required.
In terms of social media marketing, there are variations in the platforms that work best for B2B and B2C companies. While Facebook tends to be used more by B2C brands, more professional networks such as LinkedIn often prove more effective for B2B companies. However, this isn’t always the case.
The best social platform to target depends very much on the demographic of the company’s intended audience, and the products or services it hopes to sell.
The perfect digital marketing strategy depends very much on the brand in question. A company’s audience will determine how well different marketing strategies work, and of course what works perfectly for one company might fall flat for another. And of course this applies whether a company is B2B or B2C.
B2B digital marketing strategy
No two B2B digital marketing success stories are alike.
Compare some of the most successful strategies employed by B2B companies and you’ll find significant differences in the ideas behind them, as well as the ways in which they’ve been delivered.
Brands must be flexible in their approach in order to get the most out of their digital campaigns. As time goes on, marketers will learn more and more about their customers, and that knowledge is power when it comes to perfecting a digital strategy.
Take a look at some of our recommendations on how to create a winning B2B digital marketing strategy before you get started.
Understand your customers:
The more you know about your customers, the better.
Of course this advice applies to all brands, but for B2B companies it’s particularly important. B2B brands tend to have fewer customers, but sales are of heightened importance. So, it’s vital that a digital campaign goes above and beyond to engage every prospective buyer.
Companies should focus on understanding a customer’s pain points, and knowing the value of their product. This information will be invaluable in creating a digital campaign.
Build a memorable brand:
A strong brand is hugely important, particularly if you’re working on a digital campaign where you’ll have just seconds to pique the interest of your audience.
Think about how you’ll create a memorable brand that sticks in the mind of potential customers.
If your branding is recognisable enough, customers will know which brand is being advertised straight away. The more they see from your brand, the more likely they are to be tempted to take a look at your website or find out more about what you’re selling.
Branding really matters. It’s well worth investing time and money in creating something buyers always notice.
Focus on SEO:
We can’t overstate the importance of SEO, particularly for B2B companies.
Google remains the dominant search engine. Figures published in 2021 revealed that the search giant has a 86.19% market share. Ranking highly on Google is a must – and of course it should be a key focus of your digital marketing efforts.
Search engines send an incredible amount of traffic to websites, so even minor improvements in SEO could make an enormous difference to the volume of traffic you see on your site, and ultimately your sales potential. Recent figures show that 68% of all trackable website traffic comes from a combination of organic and paid search.
Think about how you could improve your search rankings. Complete detailed keyword research and use what you’ve learnt to get your site in the best possible shape. Consider keywords that would work for both SEO and PPC. You’ll soon be able to start turning your research into noticeable SEO improvements.
B2B digital marketing tactics
It’s all very well devoting significant chunks of your time to developing an award-winning strategy (and that’s something we’d wholeheartedly recommend). But there are simple things that you can do right now that’ll make all the difference in helping you get the best results from your digital campaigns. Here are a few ideas.
Data is of enormous importance in digital marketing. Without it, everything we do is just guesswork. Once you bring data into the equation, you start to learn more about what you’re doing, how well it’s working and what your customers really think about your digital efforts.
Dive into your website analytics and start looking at where your customers are coming from. Think about the sources that are powering any increases in leads, and always keep an eye on analytics both before and during any new digital campaigns.
Be flexible with your budget
Flexibility is key in reaching the goals of any digital marketing campaign, so be prepared to change the way you’re doing things as you learn more about what works best for your company.
As you learn more about your customers and how they respond to digital marketing, you’ll get a far better understanding of how to allocate your budget. Be ready to make big changes to how your money is being spent as soon as you discover what’s really working.
Don’t be afraid to test ideas
Testing ideas can be time-consuming, but it’s always worthwhile. Whether you think you know your customers inside out or not, they may well surprise you.
As soon as you decide on a new creative, put it to the test along with a different variation and see which option customers respond best to. This advice also applies to deciding on when to market to your customers, which tone of voice to use and how to present deals and promotions.
Test everything. That way you’ll know for sure that you’ve got an idea customers will love before you send it out into the world.
B2B marketing automation
Automation is your friend in B2B digital marketing. Make use of automated tools and you’ll have far more power at your fingertips.
Data is of course at the top of the list of things to automate. No marketers should still be pulling manual reports from ad platforms. There are plenty of smart tools out there that’ll do all this for you – and more. Look at Supermetrics for Google Sheets, or explore a data warehouse, where you’ll be able to make use of all kinds of new automation options.
We recommend using software such as Zapier, a product designed to integrate web applications and automate workflows seamlessly. Find out how it works here.
B2B marketing campaigns
We love seeing the inspiring B2B digital marketing campaigns that brands come up with. Here are just a few of our favourite examples, by B2B companies that are making a real difference in the digital marketing world.
Semrush provides keyword research tools and helps companies find out how they’re ranking online. So it goes without saying that its customers are usually looking to learn more about SEO.
Semrush used this idea to launch an informative campaign of SEO tips, in order to engage with its customers and expand its online reach. The campaign included all kinds of helpful tips and tricks. The team even went as far as to create a periodic table of digital marketing elements.
Slack is a messaging platform designed for businesses. And it’s really showing us how B2B digital marketing should be done.
This B2B company has become known for its informative video tutorials, which provide information on almost everything you might be wondering about Slack.
There’s so much great content on the company’s YouTube channel. Its social strategy is on top form too. We love this success story that talks about how Deliveroo has been using Slack.
It’s one of the world’s best known email marketing platforms, so it should come as no surprise that Mailchimp’s digital marketing campaigns are up there with the best of them.
Mailchimp has created a huge library of content to use in its digital marketing strategies. The quality of the content has ensured the success of many B2B digital campaigns for Mailchimp.
Now, there are endless resources to explore on the company’s website, and all of it is free to read online. Just take a look at this marketing library. Impressive.
B2B digital marketing trends
There’s always something new in digital marketing. So whether marketers are working on B2B or B2C campaigns, it pays to stay one step ahead. Take a look at some of our favourite digital marketing trends, set to transform the way we deliver B2B strategies.
New channels are being tested
New channels are making a real impact on how digital marketing campaigns are being designed and delivered.
The likes of Connected TV and TikTok have already transformed what digital marketing looks like for B2C companies, and now they’re being put to the test by forward-thinking B2B brands.
Not to be outdone, old favourites like Instagram and Facebook regularly release new features which can also be used by B2B companies in digital campaigns. Just look at how brands are using features like IGTV and reels.
There are always options for B2B brands looking to do things differently.
First party data and cookie-less tracking
Cookieless tracking might sound like an impossible feat, but it’s one of the top talking points amongst digital marketers right now.
With many countries strengthening data privacy laws, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for companies to access valuable data on their target audience. So, marketers are having to be more creative in how they compile and use data.
First party data is now proving enormously important to B2B companies with ambitious plans for digital success. This information is collected and owned by a company, and held in order to improve the ROI of all kinds of digital strategies.
As tracking through cookies becomes ever more difficult, the value of first party data will soar.
Better creative and storytelling in ads
Storytelling can be incredibly powerful, particularly in advertising campaigns where it feels authentic, meaningful and relevant to the brand that’s talking.
B2B companies are now having to do more to get the attention of their audience. So they’re taking a few pages out of the books’ of top B2C companies that have been honing these skills for decades. And that’s why we’re seeing a marked increase in the quality of the creative that B2B companies use, along with a real rise in the use of storytelling.