Let’s start with the obligatory disclaimer: nobody outside of your unique marketing department can tell you precisely what your marketing strategy should be.
This is particular true in a B2B context, where sales cycles and buyer’s journeys vary dramatically from product to product.
With that said, there are certain strategic approaches that best in class B2B marketing teams are using.
By taking a data-driven look at these, we will arrive at a nice buffet of options you can choose from to create your own customized, high performing B2B marketing strategy.
Defining (and Refining) Your Strategy
Before you take a trip to the strategy buffet, you’ll need to take a moment to define your strategic needs.
Identify the current strengths and shortcomings in your department:
- How is your lead flow?
- Could your conversion from prospect to lead to opportunity be more efficient?
- Do you have all the personnel you need? Is there hiring on the horizon?
- Can you effectively measure your efforts throughout a customer’s lifecycle?
That last one is particularly important. If you can’t figure out what’s working (and how well), your strategy could be ideal but you’ll have a tough time proving it’s working.
Make sure you’ve got analytics touch points in place and that you’re equipped to act on the data you collect. It’s this commitment to ongoing improvement that separates the one time, flash in the pan successes from teams who consistently do great marketing for years on end.
Now that you understand your needs and have a plan for iterating on the first version of your B2B marketing strategy, let’s visit the buffet.
Choice #1: Content Marketing for Lead Generation
Content marketing answers a huge number of needs in modern marketing, but using content for lead generation is a must-have part of any B2B strategy.
In fact, research from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs indicated that an overwhelming majority — 85% — of B2B marketers identified lead generation as their most important content marketing goal for 2016.
Unsure about exactly what types of content will make it rain leads? Here are five of the most effective:
- Ebooks: As a way to educate potential leads, show off knowledge, and pull leads into the funnel, it’s hard to beat a well-designed ebook.
- Webinars: Like ebooks, your webinars need to be value-driven in order to be effective. Answer questions, solve problems, and don’t make it about you or your product.
- Live Events: Industry events are a great way to learn about your audience quickly and efficiently, and when you combine them with effective content they just get better.
- Whitepapers and guides: No need to call them “whitepapers” if that is too stuffy for your audience. Just ensure that they’re designed to fit into the buying cycle and push readers on to the next action.
- Case studies: These are great pieces for turning leads into paying customers. Make them client success stories, not shameless self promotion, and you’ll get more (and better qualified) leads.
Choice #2: Review Your Website with New Eyes
A company’s website was rated as the number one decision making touchpoint by B2B customers. Is yours pulling its weight?
One very easy way to find out if your site is doing its job is to conduct user tests.
Marketers (and any company employee) tend to get so accustomed to looking at a site that we don’t notice problems or areas for improvement. You’ll be amazed at the ideas you generate by having real people examine it with fresh eyes.
Similarly, consider continuously running split tests on your most valuable pages. By constantly making small adjustments and tracking their impact, you’ll be on a path to regular upticks in conversions that can really add up over time.
Whichever tactics you choose, just ensure that your website doesn’t become a neglected part of the marketing background. It’s a major B2B workhorse, and it deserves attention.
Choice #3: Catch the SEO Tiger by the Long Tail
It can be daunting (not to mention impossible) to rank a new site or page for short, high-volume terms like “running shoes.” But there’s a huge amount of power in longer search phrases that aren’t used as often.
As a matter of fact, 15% of searches on Google are brand new, meaning no one has ever typed in that precise phrase before.
What this means for your B2B SEO strategy is that as long as you understand your buyer personas and what problems they might be looking to solve via search engines, there are plenty of opportunities to get your website out in front of them.
Consider segmenting your keywords by persona rather than putting similar phrases together. This shift may be just what you need to reinvigorate your strategy.
Plus, with Optify reporting that 30% of B2B marketers spend no time on SEO each week, you may be able to make headway against your competitors with a fairly small time investment.
Choice #4: Hit a Real Buffet at In-Person Events
Regalix recently reported that 74% of B2B companies are planning to increase their event budgets in 2016, so if you’re not meeting and greeting prospective customers, chances are your competitors will be.
If trade shows and conferences aren’t providing you the ROI you’re looking for, consider benchmarking your brand awareness before, during, and after major events.
Then, if you start to see increases in scores over time, you’ll have a solid measurable outcome even if you collect fewer hot leads from the event itself.
You can also opt for lower cost options like exclusive get togethers for existing customers, which can be a great excuse to invite prospective customers to listen to other people sing your product’s praises over crudités and cocktails.
Choice #5: Automate and Segment Your Email Marketing
B2B email marketing can no longer be confined to a monthly newsletter that you push out to every single contact in your database.
The future of email is rooted firmly in segmentation: creating smaller pieces of your list and providing emails that are tailored to their needs and interests, and smart automation, triggering sends based on relevant criteria.
You’re going to need some solid marketing automation software to make this work, but, used properly, the purchase can quickly pay for itself by shortening your sales cycle and increasing your retention rates.
Choice #6: Figure Out Social Media for B2B
Social media may never be the cash cow of leads in the B2B world, but when it comes to distribution, it’s proving to be effective for many teams.
Regalix’s research showed that 52% of marketers found it to be a good online distribution channel in 2015, with social coming in fourth place overall behind website, email, and organic search.
Consequently, 66% of B2B marketers plan to increase their social spend in 2016.
You don’t need to spend dozens of hours per week on every single social network out there, but find out where your audience prefers to spend their time and make an effort at organic engagement.
Marketing Strategy is a Work in Progress
It can sometimes feel like every other marketing team has chosen their buffet items and is off executing at scale and speed. But keep in mind that most organizations rate themselves as either “average” or “developing” when it comes to strategy development:
Start where you can, and make definite plans for continuous improvement.
Just as the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, the marketing strategy of a thousand leads begins with a single tactic.
Other Articles You Might Be Interested In:
- B2B B2B Marketing on Facebook: Examples, Ideas, and Inspirations
- B2B B2B Marketing on Facebook: Make the Psychology of Likes Work for Your Brand
- Content Marketing How to Create Viral Content for Your B2B Brand
- B2B How to Effectively Target LinkedIn for B2B Marketing
- B2B Tweet This, Not That: Do’s and Don’ts for B2B Marketing on Twitter
- From SurveyGizmo How to Use Surveys Throughout the Buyer’s Journey