How to Create a B2B Digital Marketing Strategy that Drives Sales and Revenue
by Mike Khorev
With more and more people are actively using the internet nowadays (and how the number is still increasing), it’s fairly obvious that we should focus our marketing efforts online so we can effectively connect and engage with our target audience.
The B2B environment has also evolved to be mostly online, and this is where B2B digital marketing comes in.
Here, we will discuss all you need to know about B2B digital marketing: from its basic concept to inbound marketing to a discussion for all the different channels. By the end, you can have more insights into how to plan a B2B digital marketing strategy, and how to execute it well.
Let us begin.
What Is Digital Marketing?
In a layman’s term, digital marketing refers to all kinds of marketing efforts that utilize any electronic device.
It’s important to note that electronic devices can be both offline and online. Advertising on an LED electronic billboard, for example, is offline marketing but is still technically a digital marketing effort.
However, nowadays the term “digital marketing” is used almost exclusively for online marketing efforts like social media marketing, online advertising, SEO and search advertising, email marketing, and more.
Digital Marketing VS Inbound Marketing
The terms “digital marketing” and “inbound marketing” have been used interchangeably in recent years, and some might even argue that they are virtually the same thing. However, they are technically two very different things from each other.
To truly understand this, we have to learn about the definitions of inbound marketing and its counterparts: outbound marketing and their key conceptual differences:
Outbound marketing—or traditional marketing—- refers to any marketing efforts that are designed to push our promotional message to as many people as possible. Showing an ad to those who are browsing a certain website is a common example of outbound marketing. Outbound marketing disrupts what the prospect/customer is currently doing, and thus they often resist the message.
Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is about putting our message out there and pulls or attracts prospects and customers. This is mainly done by publishing valuable, relevant content or information, and our audience can find them via the search engine. Inbound marketing is less disruptive since the audiences are the ones proactively searching for information, and so is generally more effective in today’s saturated marketing environment.
Thus, as you can see, digital marketing can be both inbound and outbound, depending on the campaign/channel. It’s true, however, that inbound marketing is widely regarded as more effective nowadays, and so most of today’s digital marketing campaigns are inbound by nature.
However, that’s not saying outbound marketing activities like online advertising doesn’t have its uses. We can basically think of inbound vs outbound as the case of time vs cost:
- Inbound marketing is typically more affordable (and even can be 100% free) but will take more time before you can see the results you desire. It can take months or even years before you can generate sustainable leads and customers from inbound marketing efforts.
- Outbound marketing, on the other hand, can virtually guarantee short-time results anytime, but the cost can be extremely expensive if you are not careful.
So, the idea is to find the right balance between your inbound and outbound marketing efforts so we can minimize cost while also maximizing time-efficiency.
B2B VS B2C Digital Marketing
Is B2B digital marketing different compared to its B2C counterpart? Although the main concept of the two remains the same, there are some important differences to consider, namely:
- The Audience
In B2C marketing, your audience is direct consumers, while in B2B marketing your target audiences are companies/organizations and the stakeholders within it.
It’s also important to note that in B2B digital marketing, there can be more than one stakeholder/decision-maker in one company, each of them can have different roles. More often than not, we’d need to tailor our marketing efforts for each of these stakeholders.
Although not always, the B2B audience tends to make their decisions based on logical reasons: they are looking for viable solutions for their businesses, and it’s going to be accounted for as an investment. So, B2B digital marketers must properly convey how the product/service can save costs, boost profit, and add significant value to the target company.
Also, price is usually the most important factor in the B2C purchase decision, but it is less pronounced in theB2B environment.
- Market Size
This one is fairly obvious. Since we are targeting direct consumers, the market is significantly larger in B2C marketing. On the other hand, in B2B digital marketing, the market is (very) limited and focused. This can be both a good and bad thing: it’s easier to conduct market research in B2B marketing, but at the same time we wouldn’t have too many wiggle rooms.
- Social Media Behaviors
In B2C marketing, Facebook and Instagram are the main platforms to target in order to reach wider audiences. In the B2B environment, however, LinkedIn is the main platform to focus on if we want to establish engagement and valuable connections with prospects and customers.
- Sales Cycle
In most cases, the sales cycle in B2C marketing is much lower than in B2B. Business transactions in B2B marketing need more considerations compared to B2C transactions, and typically the research process tends to be much longer.
Not always, but in B2C marketing we mainly need to create engaging, entertaining content that can play with the audience’s emotions. However, with B2B content we generally need more detailed, informative, and data-accurate content. B2B content is very important as a way to establish trust and to justify the company’s credibility and value to the potential audiences.
B2C Digital Marketing
In B2C digital marketing, price is a really sensitive factor to determine your overall digital marketing strategy. If your product’s price point is fairly low, then it’s quite likely that the digital marketing objective is to attract new traffic to the company’s website (or other eCommerce platforms) and get them to purchase the product right away.
So, B2C digital marketing is typically more focused on pushing for conversions rather than nurturing the leads. In short, creating a hyperspeed funnel right when someone visits your site until they make the purchase. This generally means using stronger CTAs and discussing your product much faster (higher up in the buyer’s journey stages) than in B2B marketing.
As a result of this principle, Instagram and Pinterest as visual social platforms are typically more valuable for B2C companies.
B2B Digital Marketing
Contrary to B2C digital marketing as discussed above, generally B2C digital marketing efforts are usually focused around online lead generation and lead nurturing. So, B2B digital marketing strategy is to attract more leads, qualify the leads, and convert the most qualified leads and pass them to your salespeople (or to your website, email newsletter, and other digital marketing channels).
LinkedIn is usually where the B2B demographic is spending most of their time online, although other social media platforms can also be valuable.
Why Digital Marketing is Important for B2B Businesses?
Above, we have established that the term “digital marketing” is now mostly used to refer exclusively to “internet marketing” or online marketing.
Thus the short answer here is fairly simple: even in the B2B environment, almost everything is done online nowadays. B2B stakeholders research for potential solutions and investments online, and even make the purchase 100% online. According to Google in 2018, 67% of purchases in multiple pack-and-ship industries were influenced by digital. Surely this number has grown in 2020 and 2021.
Simply put, online digital marketing is now the most effective and cost-efficient way to reach your target audience and grow your revenue. With digital marketing, we also have a number of endless channel possibilities including email marketing, video marketing, social media, and website-based promotions to reach our audience.
Last but not least, it’s far easier to measure the performance of any digital marketing campaign compared to, say, running print ads or direct mail. We can have an easier time justifying our marketing investments, evaluate results, and adjust our tactics/strategies based on data.
More versatile, more cost-efficient, and more trackable.
Important Principles In Developing B2B Digital Marketing Plan
Successful digital marketing is based on proper planning, so we can effectively generate awareness, leads, and ultimately, grow our sales revenue.
In general, a proper digital marketing plan should be based on four important principles:
- Define Your Objectives
Your digital marketing goals should be:
- Specific: that is, easy to understand and focused on a tangible object
- Realistic: in a way that it’s attainable. If an objective is too tough to accomplish, it can hurt you and your team’s morale. Break down big goals into smaller, more achievable milestones if necessary.
- Measurable/tangible: you can measure and evaluate your progress towards a specific goal by assigning KPIs and monitor metrics.
- Creating a Strategy
A digital marketing strategy is mainly about meeting your target audience’s needs and their purchase behaviors with your marketing efforts. So, it should always begin with proper B2B market research.
As mentioned above, your target company might have several different stakeholders with different roles, so you might need to create separate buyer personas for each of them. Figure out their needs, their pain points, and develop a marketing strategy to cater to these needs.
You can utilize various digital marketing channels to achieve this: social media, content marketing, search marketing, online ads, email marketing and more. Create a detailed tactic for each channel on how we can provide value and attract our target audience.
- Content-First Approach
Nowadays, content is no longer king, but everything. It’s very important to publish relevant and valuable content on all the different marketing channels: your blog, your social media post, your ads, information on your website and so on.
Content is what’s going to shape your digital marketing campaigns and our main way to establish trust and credibility as the thought expert of your niche: how you show prospects and potential customers that you are indeed a viable solution for their company’s problems and needs.
Develop content to establish your social media presence, and also for your salespersons and brand ambassadors to use. Also, remember that timing and consistency are very important in today’s always-online environment.
- Monitor and Evaluate
Always remember that your B2B digital marketing is not a one-off thing, but rather a long-term process that can take months if not years of consistency before you achieve the desired objectives.
Thus, it’s very important to establish a system to monitor and evaluate the progress of each channel and campaign. Assign KPIs and measure the right metrics according to your digital marketing objectives. However, you shouldn’t solely focus on tangible data and metrics, but also qualitative information like the quality of engagement, conversations, and other intangible metrics.
The most important aspect of B2B digital marketing is arguably about building relationships. So, consistency is very important here. Test your content relevance, quality, and consistency thoroughly, and always monitor the cost-efficiency and ROI of each channel.
The Digital Marketing Channels
Digital marketing, as we have established above, is technically an umbrella term that can refer to many different channels that utilize any electronic medium—especially online—.
There are various digital channels and campaigns that can engage your audience throughout the various stages of their buyer’s journey. The idea of a proper digital marketing strategy is to have all the effective channels work together to achieve the overarching marketing goals.
With that being said, below are the examples of important digital marketing channels, and a brief discussion of each. However, keep in mind that this is not an all-inclusive list, and there are certainly other digital marketing channels that aren’t specifically discussed here.
Without further ado, here they are:
Content marketing refers to the processes of content development and content creation with the objective of generating brand awareness, building organic traffic, and ultimately generating qualified leads and grow your sales revenue.
Nowadays, content marketing can involve various mediums and channels, such as:
- Blog: the most obvious content marketing form and still the most popular even with the emergence of videos and podcasts, especially in the B2B environment that is generally more “serious”. Consistent publication of blog posts can establish the company’s position as the thought leader and expert of your industry. Proper execution of blog marketing can provide more opportunities to convert random website visitors into qualified leads.
- Video marketing: fairly obvious, video is everywhere nowadays. However, it’s true that video marketing is less popular in B2B digital marketing compared to B2C. There are, however, various implementations we can try in B2B video marketing like education/tutorials of your product/service, behind the scenes showcase of your product and team members, and so on. Video marketing is effective in building trust and credibility, but also how you can show the human aspect of your B2B digital marketing (this is why showing real humans and not just animation in your videos is important).
- Infographics: a cost-effective way to present visually aesthetics content that can also be effective in providing al lot of relevant information to your audience in an interesting way.
- Ebooks, whitepapers, research results: great forms of long-form content that are useful as lead magnets where we exchange the valuable content (often contain valuable data and unique information) with the audience’s contact information and mainly email address. This is one of the most effective ways of generating leads for your company.
It’s important to note that content marketing is not only the content creation process but how we promote the content is just as, if not even more important. Use various marketing channels to build more traffic to the content and create backlinks, which is going to be very important for the next channel we’ll discuss: SEO.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is, in a nutshell, a series of optimization done to your website so your pages can rank higher on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page), mainly Google SERP.
SEO is mainly done together with content marketing. In fact, we can think of SEO as the best and the most effective content promotion effort. SEO in combination with content marketing are the backbones of inbound marketing, which we have discussed above.
Getting ranked higher on Google SERP is obviously very effective in increasing the organic traffic to your website, and arguably SEO is now even more important than ever in the saturated digital market—even for B2B—-.
So, SEO is alive and well, although indeed there have been notable changes to how we should approach SEO in recent years. Although SEO might seem like a complicated and arduous process at first, it is actually quite simple to explain. Our site can be ranked higher on Google SERP if:
- Your content is relevant and valuable for your audience
- Your site is properly optimized to maximize user experience so the site visitor can stay for as long as possible
- Google (and the other search engines) should be able to crawl and index your site properly, and accurately recognize all the different elements and content
So, here are the crucial elements of a B2B SEO strategy based on these three factors:
- Content is king. Your SEO will only go so far as the quality and relevance of your content, period. No amount of SEO optimizations can help shallow, low-quality content without any value. Clinching content value involves removing grammatical imperfections from it, properly formatting it with the right tags, and using a plagiarism checker to ensure uniqueness.
- Keyword optimization. Including the target keyword(s) throughout the content naturally while maintaining readability and value
- UX-related optimizations like improving the site’s speed, ensuring mobile-friendliness, optimizing menus for easier navigation, optimizing the content’s structure and layout, and so on
- Technical optimizations to ensure Google can properly index your site. This includes optimizing headlines and META tags, implementing structured data markup, optimizing robots.txt file, and so on
- Getting more backlinks, arguably the most important of them all. Backlinks are like the votes of confidence on the internet, and it’s important to note that the quality of the incoming backlinks is more important than quantity.
It’s important to understand that SEO is a long-term strategy, and so consistency is key. In general, expect to invest at least 6 to 12 months before you see the desired SEO results.
Social Media Marketing
Social media is obviously where the audience is nowadays. In 2019, there are 3.2 billion daily active users among the major social media networks.
That is, around 42% of the population all around the world, and we can certainly bet that most of our B2B target audience—execs and managers in the companies— are also active in these social media platforms. So, in short, if we are not putting our marketing efforts on social media, we are going to miss out.
In general, there are 5 major social media networks to focus on today:
Depending on your niche/industry, you might also want to pursue opportunities on YouTube and the recently popular TikTok. In the B2B setting, however, LinkedIn deserves a special mention, since it has been proven time and time again as the place to generate B2B leads.
With that being said, Social media marketing can be divided into three different categories:
- Organic social media marketing: growing your own followers and traffic, and then share your content to these loyal audiences
- Paid social media marketing: organic reach in all major social media platforms has declined rapidly in recent years. This is why we need to counter it using various paid advertising offered by these social media platforms.
- Influencer marketing: working with influencers to spread your promotional messages to their loyal followers.
As with SEO and content marketing, content quality and relevance are the most important factors in determining social media marketing success.
PPC stands for Pay Per Click, referring to the pricing model of the advertising: you pay the ad publisher every time your ad is clicked by the audience.
We have mentioned that inbound marketing is generally the more effective approach nowadays. However, it’s not saying PPC advertising—as an outbound marketing channel—doesn’t have its place.
As mentioned further above, outbound vs inbound is mostly the case of cost vs time, and wisely investing in PPC ads can help offset the lengthy time investment of, for example, your SEO efforts.
- Google Ads is the most common and most popular PPC publisher, simply due to the massive size of Google as a platform (encompassing the whole internet). Google Ads can be very expensive and can reach a lot of potential audiences, but is often the most expensive option.
- Facebook Ads, another popular platform. You can, for example, “boost” your Facebook post, customize a video or image post, display a slideshow ad, and so on.
- Linkedin paid options. Linkedin offers various types of PPC promotions like Sponsored Messages, where you can send direct messages to specific LinkedIn userbase based on certain demographics data.
The key to a successful PPC campaign is targeting. The more specific you are targeting the right audience, the higher the conversion rate of the PPC ads, and thus the higher your ROI.
Even with all the new technologies, platforms, and marketing channels, email remains one of the most important platforms we can use to directly communicate with our audiences.
In fact, email marketing is still the marketing channel with the highest ROI in 2021 and can generate up to 4,000% ROI (that is, $4,000 for every dollar you spent). This is even after GDPR and its equivalent in regulations, which has significantly affected email marketing.
Why? Because apparently people still prefer to receive promotional messages in emails (so they are more likely to open them) compared to other platforms. In a B2B setting, email marketing is also quite versatile, and we can send various types of emails depending on the objectives, such as:
- To promote new content (i.e. new blog post or video)
- Promote new events, limited-time offers, discounts, etc.
- Drive people to your website
- Welcome emails for new customers and prospects
- Follow-up emails for site visitors who downloaded something or purchased a product/service
- Holiday and seasonal promotions
- Specific promotions for loyalty program members
- Customer/lead nurturing via tips, tutorials, and other educational content
Depending on your niche/industry, affiliate marketing can be an effective approach to promote your brand or product/service.
Affiliate marketing is essentially commissioning people outside your company (the affiliate marketer) to promote your business. When an affiliate marketer sold your product, which is tracked via affiliate links/cookies, you share some of the profit to this marketer.
Admittedly, affiliate marketing campaigns in the B2B setting are relatively rare and it’s much more common in B2C businesses. However, it’s definitely possible for certain B2B products/services for example if you are selling B2B SaaS solution.
Online Public Relations
Online PR—or digital PR—, is simply the process of securing earned online media from reputable sources like digital publications, blogs, websites, and social media influencers. If you are familiar with the concept of traditional (or offline) PR, then online PR is a fairly similar process just in the online realm.
Since the online world is a much wider environment than offline, we can use more variety of channels in online PR efforts, such as:
- Encourage more reviews for your company. Online reviews are arguably the most important form of PR nowadays. When someone reviews your company online (whether it’s positive or negative), it is always valuable. Engage and respond to all reviews, including and especially the bad ones. This is one of the most effective ways of encouraging even more reviews in the future.
- Social media outreach to find influencers, reporters, and so on. We can try to find journalists on social media platforms or even platforms like HARO (Help a Reporter) or Quora. Build valuable relationships that can open up earned media opportunities in the future.
- Guest posting. Fairly self-explanatory, find opportunities to publish your post on other websites and blogs.
- Engaging comments. Respond to comments on your blog and social media conversations. The idea is to build relationships, engagements, and productive conversations around your niche.
Understanding B2B Marketing Automation
It’s important to note that marketing automation isn’t exactly a marketing channel, but refers to the technology or software that can automate some marketing tasks or operations. Thus, marketing automation can improve the performance of different marketing channels, save time and costs, and ultimately maximize results.
Here are some important implementations of B2B marketing automation across various channels:
- Email automation: Email marketing automation is not only about automatically sending emails to our email list, but ultimately about sending the right message to the right audience at the right time. It’s about the ability to send personalized content to a targeted audience with a specific, personalized schedule. Email automation can also include the function to segment our contact list automatically according to the needs of a specific campaign or promotional message.
- Lead generation and nurturing: For example, by engaging specific prospects only after they’ve met certain triggers or criteria. For example, we can send a lead with specific content or email when they’ve signed up for our free-trial campaign. This can be very useful so our valuable resources only go to prospects with the highest conversion rates.
- Social media automation: The number of your posts and consistency are two of the most important factors in ensuring social media marketing success. At the same time, manual posting can be a tedious and time-consuming process. Social media scheduling and automation tools can help us save time and resources for the things that matter.
- KPI tracking, analytics, and reporting: B2B digital marketing can involve many different people, channels, platforms, campaigns, and more. Marketing automation tools can help us track the performance of each of these, perform analytics, and provide a comprehensive report in real-time.
B2B Digital Marketers And Their Roles
What does a B2B marketing consultant and expert do?
The answer to this question can be fairly complicated, but in general, B2B digital marketers have the responsibility to:
- Build awareness to the B2B company, so your target audience is aware of your brand’s existence and its products/services)
- To generate leads, capture the contact information of people/companies that have indicated an interest in your company or your product/service.
That’s it, basically.
Different digital marketers can have different roles and/or responsible for different channels, but in the end, their responsibilities will boil down to the two above.
With that being said, typically the digital marketers can focus on different KPIs for each channel to measure the channel’s progress according to the two objectives above.
For example, a digital marketer specializing in social media can measure “followers growth” which can be a strong indicator of how well the social media channel can generate leads. On the other hand, SEO marketers might measure “organic traffic” more closely.
In smaller companies, one or two digital marketers might act as “generalists” that will manage several different channels and campaigns. In larger B2B companies, it’s more typical to have several digital marketing specialists that each focus on just one digital marketing channel and/or campaign.
Here are some examples of these digital marketing roles, and brief discussions of each.
SEO Specialist/SEO Manager
- Organic traffic
- Link profile
- SERP ranking
B2B SEO agencies and services typically focus on how the business’s website can rank higher on Google (and other search engines) to drive more organic traffic to the website. The person oversees all the required optimizations (look at the SEO section above) of the SEO campaign, monitors the progress over time, and adjusts the SEO strategy if necessary.
- Organic traffic to each content and overall traffic
- Subscribers/followers growth
- Dwell time on page
Content marketers might refer to content creators but also the person who is responsible for the content promotion process. Their responsibilities include planning and supervising the execution of the content calendar and content strategy. Content marketers must work with other teams to make sure all elements of the business are properly supported with appropriate content.
Social Media Marketers
- Followers growth
- Impressions and reach
- Engagement and shares
Pretty self-explanatory, the role of a social media marketer or social media manager is to manage social media marketing: plan and establish a posting schedule, supervising content creation including visual content, and so on. They might need to work together with a content marketer (as discussed above) to develop a specific content strategy for social media.
How To Track B2B Digital Marketing Performance
Digital marketing efforts—-or more specifically, online marketing efforts— allow us to track their performance and results in practically real-time.
If, for example, we set up a traditional billboard on the side of a crowded highway, it is difficult to accurately know how many people have visited the website, how many people visit your store after they saw the billboard, and how many people actually purchase from you.
Yet, if we set up a Google Ads campaign, for instance, we can easily track everything and measure the ROI of the campaign.
Analyzing Organic and Paid Website Traffic
There are various digital analytics tools, like the free and handy Google Analytics that can accurately track the exact number of traffic that have visited your website and their referral source (i.e., whether they are coming from Google search or after they’ve clicked on your ad).
You can also track other related metrics like how many pages they’ve viewed—and which pages—, the device they used to visit your site, their location, the page after which they’ve bounced from your site, and so on.
You can use this data to evaluate many things, including which marketing campaigns and efforts you should prioritize. For example, if 30% of your website traffic is coming from a specific query on Google search, then you should definitely focus on this keyword on your next SEO and content marketing campaigns.
On the other hand, if only fewer than 5% of your traffic is coming from a specific ad, then you might not want to invest more money in this ad campaign.
This is simply not possible with traditional, offline marketing. With proper digital marketing analytics, we can quite easily identify our audience’s preferences and adjust our strategy and tactics to cater to these behaviors and needs.
If we can make the most of this situation, we can maximize the conversion rate and optimize the ROI of our digital marketing campaigns by spending our time and resources on the channels that actually matter.
If we compare it with traditional, offline marketing. It’s very hard if not impossible to figure out exactly how your audience is interacting with your promotional messages and your brand before they make a purchase. So, we can’t properly evaluate whether an offline marketing channel (i.e. a billboard or a magazine ad) is actually effective.
With digital marketing on our website alone, we can gather more insights into how we can attract prospects and customers, and plan a better marketing strategy.
Implementing Marketing Attribution
Although we have mentioned that the key advantage of digital marketing over offline marketing is how we can monitor progress, there are digital channels and campaigns where measuring their contributions to revenue can be quite difficult.
For instance, if we’ve found out that a specific customer made a purchase after they clicked on your online ad (1), consumed your content (2), checked out your website (3), and downloaded your ebook (4), then how did the four different channels contribute to this customer’s purchase?
Pretty tough to answer, right? This is how a marketing attribution model can help.
Marketing attribution is, in a nutshell, the process of analyzing marketing touchpoints or events (essentially, actions made by users or customers) that are encountered by a customer from where they first learned about your business (awareness) until they actually made the purchase.
This is mainly done by assigning credit for each event or touchpoint. Let’s use an example to illustrate this. Let’s assume here are the events/touchpoints that happened before a specific customer made a purchase:
- Seeing an online ad
- Visited the website
- Consume content
- Signed up to email newsletter
- Received an email offering a limited-time discount
So, there are five events or touchpoints. Now, there are several ways we can assign a marketing attribution model to these five touchpoints, and here are the common ones:
- Last-touch or last-interaction model: the last event (in the example, the email offer), would receive ALL credit for the revenue
- First-touch or first-interaction model: contrary to the above, the first event (the online ad) would receive 100% of the credit for the revenue
- Linear model: each event/touchpoint in the conversion path would share equal credit for the sale. (In this example, each channel would receive 20% of the total credit)
- Time Decay model: the touchpoints closest to the actual purchase gets most of the credit. In this example, the email offer (for example) might receive 50% of the credit, while the online ad might receive only 10%.
- Position-based model: here, 40% of the credit is assigned to the very first and latest touchpoints/events, and the rest (20%) is distributed equally to the other events in the middle.
There are more ways we can assign marketing attribution models depending on our business process and/or industry, and above wasn’t an all-inclusive list.
Marketing attribution allows us to identify trends of how our audience do their research and make their decisions to buy our product/service. Again, this allows us to properly assess which channels and/or campaigns are effective in growing our revenue, and which simply don’t work.
Another function of a proper marketing attribution model is to find ways to improve your business’s buyer’s journey by connecting the dots between marketing and sales. Arguably this is even more important in B2B digital marketing where sales cycles tend to be much longer and a lot of nurturing needs to happen. Sales and marketing must work together in nurturing and qualifying prospects until they are really ready for purchase. Data suggested that sales-marketing alignment can help sales conversion rates by 38% and improve retention by 36%.
Content as a Lead Generation Device
Another important distinction between digital (online) marketing and offline marketing is how the audience consumes content.
In an offline marketing setting, we can’t effectively track how many people who actually reads your brochure and how many threw it straight away into the trash. This is not actually the case with digital content: we can accurately measure how many people viewed the content on our page, how long they spent on a page, the actions they took after they consume the content, and so on.
We can also measure how each content performs as a lead generation device by implementing a gated content method: offer valuable content for free in exchange for their contact information, which you can capture using forms. We can accurately measure how many leads are generated from a single content.
B2B Digital Content
What types of content should my business create?
This can be a very difficult question to answer. Ultimately, the kind of content to develop should depend on your audience. More specifically, what your audience needs.
In B2B digital marketing, however, this can be even more complex due to one key fact: in B2B digital marketing, we are mainly targeting companies, and there can be several different stakeholders in a single company, with different roles and needs.
So, in B2B content marketing, we’d need to create several buyer personas for these different stakeholders’ roles. Again, these different personas can have different goals and needs, and so our most important step is to identify their objectives, needs, and challenges.
- In its most basic principle, our digital content should aim to help these audiences meet their objectives, provide a solution for their needs, and overcome their challenges.
- The next stage is to develop content (based on the above’s principle) in relation to what stage they are currently positioned in their buyer’s journey. The closer the person is to the actual purchase, generally, the more specific and “aggressive” the content should be.
Doing these two principles can narrow down our options, but there are still a lot of different things we can try. In general, here are the common stages of the buyer’s journey and how we can approach the content on each stage:
- Awareness Stage: when your target audience is just aware of your business and your product/service
- Informative/solutional blog post, providing an actionable solution or tips in a blog post. Great to attract a new audience looking for specific information and can increase your organic traffic when paired with SEO.
- Video content, very shareable nowadays and you can also attract new audiences.
- Infographics, shareable and can generate a lot of backlinks (for SEO purpose), so can attract a new audience when this content is shared on social media.
- Consideration: the audience is considering your product and comparing it to your competitors’
- In-depth, unique content like ebooks, whitepapers, research reports, and so on. Very effective in lead generation purposes so we can share these content pieces as lead magnets.
- Video content is still effective and popular in this stage, for example, to educate our audience about the unique benefits of your product.
- Decision: the audience has narrowed down their options and just need a final push before they’ll purchase your product
- Case studies can be a very effective form of social proof to influence their purchase decision. In B2B content marketing, factual case studies are often very important in maximizing conversion rates.
- User/client testimonials are also very effective, although they are typically more common in the B2C environment. However, they can still be effective in the B2B setting especially when you have big and famous clients.
It’s important, however, to note that although it’s easier to measure progress and ROI with digital content marketing, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll see results faster than offline marketing.
There are various factors that can affect this but will ultimately depend on how well you understood your audience’s needs and issues. If you have a proper B2B content marketing strategy and have created high-quality and relevant content to cater to these needs, you can see sustainable results within 6 to 12 months.
The most important key to successful digital marketing is really to really understand our audience and create a B2B digital marketing strategy that can cater to this audience’s needs and pain points. Creating relevant and valuable content should be the center of this digital marketing strategy.
Digital marketing can work for any B2B business in any niche/industry. Whatever your company sells, the main principle above remains: if you can understand your target audience and drive value, you can acquire more customers and retain existing ones.
May 26, 2023