B2B won’t sound familiar if you’re not from a marketing background. The acronym stands for Business to Business. Business to business means engaging in conducting business from one client to another client(business) instead of individual customers or consumers. In the below article you’ll get to know how does B2B marketing can help the businesses to connect with like minded audience, deliver compelling experiences, drive revenue and a bunch of other things.
What is B2B Marketing?
B2b marketing means when the businesses create a demand for their products and services not to the direct consumers but to other businesses. Similar to B2C marketing (business to consumers), B2B also includes a variety of content and it takes place through different channels like online and offline channels. However, there are some key differences in between both the channels.
How is B2B Marketing Different from B2C Marketing?
The main difference between the two channels is evident from the names, it is business and consumer i.e the audience.
The primary audience for b2c marketing are people who are consuming goods and services themselves, or consumption by their friends, family etc directly from the seller or producer. A prime example of b2c marketing is when our favourite brands send their promotional offers to us via marketing emails, messages or social media campaigns.
This committee depends on the products and/or services being purchased. For example- if a certain b2b is marketing for office furniture, the consumer committee may include office planners, facilities staff, and operations personnel. Whereas, if the product being marketed is a software that aids in marketing itself, the committee may feature representatives from marketing, sales, information technology, and finance.
Your B2B marketing approach might look different based on industry, company size, and other factors. For instance, there are different B2B marketing strategies for engaging with buying committees at small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) vs large (enterprise) companies.
Keep reading to explore key components if b2b marketing-
The Marketing Funnel
The process of B2B marketing is commonly described as the marketing funnel. In the marketing funnel, efforts of demand generation lead to awareness. After awareness, lead generation results in an audience displaying interest and consideration. B2B marketers then shift from lead generation to lead nurturing, during which they share information to help shape the buying committee’s intent to purchase. The buying committee then spends time in a period of evaluation before deciding to purchase. This process continues as the businesses try to grow their relationship with their buyers over time.
Life cycle Marketing
Life cycle marketing is not just marketing funnel, but it stretches further than that. It’s about engaging with an audience as they move from prospects to customers and finally become advocates for the business. This makes life cycle marketing, recurring marketing funnel makes way for new prospects into the business.
Demand generation and lead generation
Demand generation is a marketing strategy that utilises content to build awareness around a product, service, or brand. This is accomplished through inbound marketing,where marketers create helpful content designed to solve key problems for your audience and build interest in what you have to offer. Examples of demand generation content include informational articles, blog posts, social media posts, podcasts, videos, etc.
This is a little different from outbound marketing, in which marketers directly engage potential customers through third-party avenues such as billboards, ads in magazines, on the radio, and on TV, and door-to-door sales and cold-calling.
Lead generation is a demand generation practice used to attract potential customers who have shared some of their information with a business. The value of lead generation lies in driving leads to sales. It’s something marketing and sales teams need to collaborate for in order to target leads that have the most potential to generate new business.
In B2B marketing, an account is a group of leads from the customer company, most of who are going to be or already are on the buying committee. One of the most effective demand generation strategies is account-based marketing (ABM), which we will explore later in Section 4.
Lead nurturing and lead management
Lead Nurturing means the process of engaging with leads as they consider a business’ products or services and shares information to influence their intent to purchase. It’s a period when a B2B marketing team needs to work with sales to showcase everything their business has to offer, and build deeper connections with leads. Lead nurturing is a tactic that’s often used in demand generation.
Lead management is a long lost cousin to demand generation and usually refers to the overall process of managing leads from generation to purchase and beyond. It includes lead generation, lead nurturing, lead routing to sales, follow-up after purchase, and more.
How marketing and sales work together in B2B ?
In the B2B space, marketing and sales interact with leads in different ways — which means it’s essential for these departments to work collectively,,with their powers combined, marketing and sales can create more seamless experiences for prospects and customers and share their unique expertise to target the best leads as a united front.
A great way to start is when marketing and sales decides to align and collaborate on the account selection process. They can also use targeted ABM strategies to pursue accounts with the strongest buying signals, engage those leads with personalized content, and leverage their technology to maintain a shared view of how leads are engaging with content and progress through the marketing funnel. This ensures that every lead receives the correct message at the correct time.
Navigating the Changing B2B Marketing Landscape
B2B marketing today looks different than how it did in the past. While the fundamentals still remains the same, digital transformation has changed the way it happens — and things are still changing.
As customers’ expectations vary in response to the great experiences they are having with their favorite consumer brands, B2B businesses have the chance to capitalize on what’s favorable in that space and put their own spin on it. The biggest area of opportunity is in building excellent customer experiences.
What are B2B buyers’ expectations today?
The answer : Customers expect hassle free , personalized experiences across every digital channel and in every stage of the buying cycle. According to the Salesforce State of marketing Report, 69% of customers expect connected experiences, and in the Salesforce, state of the Connected Customer Report, 76 % of customers told that they expect consistent interactions between business departments.
But the process for creating these experiences is somewhat less easy. In particular, 85% of business buyers emphasised on flawless engagement as they do on product quality. These buyers expect businesses to:
* personalize messaging and offers based on an in-depth understanding of their unique needs and pain points
* Make it easy to engage at any time, on any channel, and empathize with what they may be going through personally due to the current condition of the world
* anticipate their future needs
These expectations are non-negotiable for the all the digital customers.
What does the all-digital customer mean for B2B marketing?
In the B2B world, the all-digital customer is a buying committee of decision makers that engages with a B2B business that is exclusively online.
For B2B marketers seeking to engage these buyers, this means sharing marketing content on each buyer’s preferred channels, making content accessible from any device, and being available at any time.
This is a hard-to-achieve task for a B2B marketing team to attempt with even one account, let alone multiple. That’s why top B2B marketers use data, artificial intelligence (AI), and marketing automation to identify accounts with the highest value for their business and deliver uniquelycustomised experiences to each buyer on the account.
How can B2B marketing use data, artificial intelligence, and marketing automation?
Gathering data and combining it with AI and marketing automation is the key to deliver personalized experiences that help buyers feel known and understood. With the right technology, a B2B business can get a complete view of their accounts and buying committees, down to each individual lead.
All this information can be filtered by AI to deliver insights that tells them about the best marketing content and strategies for each account and buyer. Then, marketing automation can help send the right messages to each buyer at the right time on their preferred channels.
The days of piled up data stacks are over. By aligning a shared source of account data, teams across marketing, sales, and customer service can easily perform on account selection, targeting, and nurturing. Good news: 63% of marketers use the same CRM platforms as sales and service.
Strategizing for B2B Content Marketing, Channels, and Messaging
In B2B marketing, there are many strategies and channels that marketing teams can use. But in the digital-first era, one of the most effective is content marketing.
What is B2B content marketing?
Content marketing is a primary inbound marketing tactic that brings potential buyers to a business’ website or other owned digital channels. Once there, buyers can read, watch, or listen to content that offers insightful information and expert advice around that business’ offered products or services.
The value of content marketing lies in demand generation and lead generation. By building up the business’ reputation and expertise and showcasing its products and services through how -to content, customer case studies, and more, content marketing can increase buyer demand and generate new leads. Content marketing can also be used in ABM, which we are going to explore in more detail in Section 4.
Content marketing works on every digital marketing channel. Content marketing can be used in:
* Blog posts
* Resource guides
* Digital advertising
* Facebook, Instagram and other social media
* Virtual events and campaigns
* ...and more!
When it comes to content marketing on owned channels like a website or blog, search engine optimization (SEO) is a popular and effective tactic for bringing in website traffic. By tailoring content to popular search terms, a business’ web pages can rank higher on search engines, which helps them get found more easily by the audiences who would most benefit from that content.
When selecting the right mix of channels for their leads and buyer groups, B2B marketing teams should evaluate engagement and behavior data to identify top performers and the optimal times for delivering content. For example, knowing when a lead is likely to check their email or scroll through Twitter can help teams deliver tailored messaging to those channels at the right time.
How should you approach messaging for B2B marketing?
For B2B marketers, knowing when to call out things is half the battle — the other half is knowing what to call out for. Just as digital transformation has changed the way marketing happens, societal transformation has changed the way marketing sounds. The days of aggressive selling are gone. Now, marketing is all about empathy.
Leading B2C brands already have a proven track record of showing that they understand their customers inside and out and relate to their needs and struggles. In comparison, B2B marketing has been more transactional than empathetic, but B2B businesses are working to catch up.
To bring a greater sense of empathy to their marketing, B2B marketing teams should listen and respond to buyer feedback. Paying attention to social media comments and asking for feedback through surveys are smart ways to gather insights that can be shared across marketing, sales, and service departments. With a stronger understanding of customers’ daily realities, B2B marketing teams can make their messaging more human and personalized than ever before.
Using Account-Based Marketing for Targeted B2B Growth
We briefly mentioned account-based marketing (ABM) earlier in this article — but it’s important enough to create its own section. Read forth to learn all about how this strategy can help businesses drive deeper engagement and greater revenue over time.
What is account-based marketing?
In ABM, B2B marketing teams focus their efforts on a selection of high-value accounts, target each as a market of one, and deliver highly personalized digital experiences that generate demand.
In recent years, ABM has become one of the most popular and profitable B2B marketing strategies — 86% of ABM practitioners say it improves win rates, and 80% say it improves customer lifetime value.
How is account-based marketing different from traditional marketing?
ABM varies from traditional, broad-based marketing because of its narrow focus on high-value accounts. Instead of marketing from 1-to-many or 1-to-few, ABM is about 1-to-1 relationships with key buyers in an account.
It’s important to keep in mind that ABM doesn’t replace regular marketing — it complements it. The most successful B2B marketing teams use a variety of strategies; ABM is just a powerful part of the mix.
How can B2B businesses achieve success with account-based marketing?
Every B2B business is unique, as are the needs of each buying committee. Finding the perfect mix of messaging and content for each high-value account takes a lot of data and a little trial and error.
However, all ABM initiatives share some similarities. To start a new ABM strategy on solid ground, B2B businesses should follow the three pillars of ABM success:
1. Understanding your buyers: Gathering and using as much data as possible to build a strong understanding of the buyers in a high-value account.
2. Align marketing, sales, and service: With a shared view of high-value accounts and consensus on how to engage them, B2B marketing, sales, and customer service teams can work in tandem to engage leads with compelling content, avoid duplicative and overlapping messages, and share valuable insights on buying pain points and product satisfaction once they become customers.
3. Grow account relationships: In ABM, lead nurturing is dialed up. It’s all about being there for the leads in the high-value account when they need information, insights, or assistance. This applies to the entire customer relationship before, during, and after a deal, which is why it’s so important for marketing teams to collaborate with sales and customer service on lead nurturing and relationship management.
Leveraging the Right B2B Marketing Technology
Marketing technology (also known as martech, or a business’ martech stack) is exactly what it sounds like — it’s the software and digital systems that help marketing teams execute their strategy and achieve their goals. As there are now more than 8,000 martech platforms currently available, it’s important for B2B marketing teams to understand what they need and choose the right martech solutions for their company size, industry, and growth plans.
What are the different types of marketing technology?
There are a variety of martech tools that can be used to manage content, connect data and unify customer profiles, streamline operations, and support growth.
There are two main types of martech: comprehensive solutions and specialized tools.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM): A CRM is a system for managing all of a business’ relationships and engagements with potential buyers and existing customers.
Content Management System (CMS): A CMS helps create and modify digital content for websites.
Customer Data Platform (CDP): A CDP collects and organizes customer data and shares it with other systems, such as a CRM or marketing analytics system.
Comprehensive solutions like these can work together to act as a single source of truth for customer data, giving it an easily accessible home where various departments can analyze it for insights.
Marketing Automation: Marketing automation provides automatic management of various marketing processes across multiple channels, including lead qualification, email marketing, campaign creation, customer journey optimization, and more.
Marketing Analytics: Marketing analytics systems help measure campaign data and evaluate the success of marketing initiatives.
Email Marketing Platform: Email marketing platforms are dedicated systems specifically for email marketing planning and execution.
Business Communication Platform: Business communication platforms, such as Slack, facilitate communication between internal and external partners, typically serving as a more efficient alternative to email due to its asynchronous nature.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Platform: SEO platforms showcase keyword data from search engines.
Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI simulates how humans think to deliver personalized customer experiences with the scale and efficiency of a machine. It learns from experience to perform tasks like humans do, then uses machine learning to better mimic and automate those tasks.
Chatbots: A chatbot is a customer service application that uses AI to simulate conversations and troubleshoot problems with customers, or routes them to a service or sales rep who can help.
B2B marketing teams should consider all of these technologies when evaluating their martech stacks. As teams identify strategy gaps and new ways to grow their marketing capabilities, one of these tools may help to bridge the gap.
What are some of today’s top marketing technology trends?
The Rise of First-Party Cookies: A major wave of change in customer data collection is shaping the future of digital marketing. Third-party tracking cookies, a longtime marketing staple used to enhance website experiences, will be wiped out by all leading web browsers in the next couple of years.
AI-Driven Personalization: As marketing teams are challenged with delivering personalized engagement to buyers at scale, most are turning to AI to intelligently filter through data and surface insights about the best marketing actions for each individual. AI can easily personalize messaging and offers based on each buyer’s preferences. It’s especially helpful for B2B marketing teams using ABM.
Marketing and Information Technology (IT) Alignment: Now, it’s essential for Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) and Chief Information Officers (CIOs) — and their teams — to be on the same page. Since most buyer experiences today are digital, marketing and IT have mutual priorities and a vested interest in working together to achieve their goals.
Marketing teams are shifting to treat IT teams as genuine partners instead of a shared service. By collaborating with IT, marketing can share insights that help build digital experiences that truly connect with buyers.