The Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing in B2B

CareerFoundry contributor Dr. Anneke Schmidt

If you’re looking to fine-tune your digital marketing approach to better target B2B clients, you’re in luck. This ultimate guide to digital marketing in B2B will teach you everything you need to know about marketing to other businesses. From understanding the key strategies to exploring some B2B digital marketing examples, you’ll be ready to build your B2B marketing campaigns in no time.

So, whether you’re new to digital marketing or looking to hone your professional skills in the B2B area, this guide has you covered. The questions and topics we’ll discuss are:

  1. What is B2B marketing?
  2. B2B vs. B2C marketing: What’s the difference?
  3. B2B digital marketing strategies
  4. B2B digital marketing examples
  5. Next steps

Just use the clickable menu to jump to the sections you’re most interested in. With that, let’s dive into the heart of B2B digital marketing.

1. What is B2B marketing?

B2B marketing stands for “business-to-business” marketing, which is the process of offering products or services to other businesses instead of individual consumers. B2B companies can be suppliers, manufacturers, service providers, or content creators targeting B2B audiences. For example, if a SaaS (software as a service) company provides cloud computing solutions to other businesses, they engage in B2B digital marketing.

The goals of B2B digital marketing are to: 

  • Introduce your brand to other companies,
  • Promote your product or service to them,
  • Demonstrate how it will benefit their business, and 
  • Convert them into paying customers or clients.

In other words, the ultimate goal of a B2B digital marketing plan is to grow your business by helping other businesses grow theirs.

2. B2B vs. B2C marketing: What’s the difference?

The C in B2C stands for “consumer,” meaning business-to-consumer marketing targets individual consumers rather than businesses. So, the main difference between B2B and B2C is the focus of their respective marketing efforts. While B2B marketing strives to highlight the advantages of the product or service to the other business, B2C marketing aims to convince individual customers why they should purchase the product.

Here are two simple examples of the same benefit—that is, saving money—as seen through the lenses of B2B and B2C marketing:

  • B2B: Our product will help reduce your business operating costs.
  • B2C: Our product will help you save money on everyday expenses.

Another difference between B2B and B2C marketing strategies is the nature of the relationship between the business and its customers. In marketing for B2B audiences, the relationship is often longer-term and more complex, with multiple decision-makers and stakeholders involved. By contrast, B2C relationships tend to be more transactional, with the goal of making a sale to the individual consumer.

3. B2B digital marketing strategies

Undoubtedly, B2B digital marketing tactics are essential for businesses looking to reach their target audience online. They help businesses connect with other companies in a meaningful and effective way and foster relationships with potential customers. But which strategies should you use for your B2B digital marketing campaigns?

To get started, familiarize yourself with the following nine digital marketing strategies and practices tailored to B2B:

1. Determine your brand positioning

Before you start marketing, develop a brand identity to convey a message that resonates with your target audience. What’s your brand’s story? How is it different from other brands in the industry? And how does it solve the problems that your potential customers face? Communicating your unique selling proposition (USP) is the first step in raising brand awareness in the B2B space.

2. Identify your target audience

Once you know your brand’s story, it’s time to figure out who will appreciate it the most. In other words, who is your target audience? Target audiences in B2B digital marketing are typically decision-makers and influencers in their respective industries, such as business owners, executives, and senior managers. To reach them, you need to understand their needs and pain points and create content that speaks directly to them.

3. Segment your market

Most B2B markets aren’t homogeneous and, therefore, require segmentation to get the most out of your marketing efforts. Segmenting allows you to tailor your content and messages to the specific needs and expectations of each group. You can segment by industry, size, or location, for example. Or, you could use demographic data to create buyer personas for each segment.

4. Run a competitor analysis

You can’t develop an effective B2B digital marketing plan without knowing what your competitors are up to. Run a competitor analysis and get an idea of which tools and tactics they use and how successful they are. For example, monitor their website and social media channels, note any trends they are following and learn from their successes and mistakes. Competitor research allows you to identify gaps in the market and discover opportunities you can capitalize on.

5. Create a USP for each target market

We’ve already discussed your brand’s USP, but it’s also vital for each of your target markets to have a unique selling point. This means creating tailored messages that fit each segment’s needs and expectations—like highlighting the advantages of your offer for a specific sector or subsector, for instance. That way,  you’ll be more likely to capture the attention of different audiences.

6. Explore different marketing channels

There are various digital marketing channels available, from email and SEO to social media and content creation. Each channel is effective in its own way, so it’s essential to experiment with different strategies to figure out which works best for you.

Here is a brief overview of the most popular digital marketing channels to explore in a B2B context:

Content marketing

This involves creating long-form content such as industry blog posts, white papers, and case studies to inform prospects about the benefits of your B2B service. It’s an inbound marketing technique that uses the power of thought leadership to attract and engage potential customers in a non-salesy, educational way.

Social media marketing

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn are great ways to reach a large audience of prospects for your B2B business. Use them to post content and updates, engage with followers, and build relationships with potential customers. Consistency is key—regularly post helpful content to stay top of mind for your target market.

Email marketing

Although email marketing is one of the oldest digital marketing channels, it’s still effective for B2B companies. Email campaigns allow you to reach many prospects and share timely updates about your products or services. Leverage segmentation to ensure that the content you send is relevant to each target market.

Video marketing

B2B video marketing encompasses a wide range of strategies, from live streams and webinars to short promotional videos. Videos can be used for educational content, product launches, customer testimonials, and more. Note that the trend is toward short-form video content—think Instagram stories, YouTube tutorials, and other bite-sized content.

PPC advertising

PPC (or pay-per-click advertising) involves buying ads on search engines or other platforms to reach your target customers. You can use paid search, display ads, remarketing campaigns, and social media ads to reach an audience already interested in your offer. This is particularly useful for capturing the attention of prospects who are further along in their buyer’s journey.

Affiliate marketing

This marketing tactic involves partnering with influencers, affiliates, or other businesses in your industry to drive traffic and leads to your website through paid or organic tactics. To create a mutually beneficial relationship between your company and the affiliate, you’ll need to develop effective affiliate programs and assign profitable commissions based on performance.

Want to learn more about these marketing channels? Read our article on the 9 most important types of digital marketing here.

7. Use search engine optimization (SEO)

Another important digital marketing strategy to consider for B2B is SEO. This involves optimizing your website for search engine algorithms so that it appears higher in organic search results. SEO is a long-term digital marketing strategy with a wide range of techniques and tactics, from technical optimization to content creation and link building.

8. Guide your prospect through the buyer’s journey

To be successful in B2B digital marketing, you also need to understand the sales cycle and be able to guide prospects through each stage. A sales cycle is the path your customers take from being unaware of their problem to making a purchase. Your digital marketing strategy should focus on connecting with prospects at the awareness stage and educating them on the issue and its solutions. As they progress along the buyer’s journey, adjust your marketing content to match the stage they’re in.

9. Optimize your online presence

Finally, make sure your digital presence is optimized and up to date. This includes websites, social media accounts, business information, directory entries, reviews, and more. Landing pages are especially important for digital marketing in B2B contexts. They should be well-designed, mobile-friendly, and optimized for conversions, with a clear call-to-action (CTA). The more organized and professional your online presence is, the more seriously prospects will take you.

4. B2B digital marketing examples

Having looked at the most important digital marketing channels and strategies for B2B companies, let’s look at three real-world examples of successful campaigns.

1. HubSpot’s inbound marketing approach

HubSpot is a great example of how to use content marketing, SEO, and social media as part of an inbound digital marketing strategy. Their blog features helpful and informative content on sales, marketing, customer service, and customer relationship management, attracting visitors to the top of the funnel. In addition, their resources section contains an extensive library of resources and courses for marketers looking to expand their knowledge and skills. This content marketing approach has enabled HubSpot to build an active and engaged community of followers.

2. Mailchimp’s web copy approach

Mailchimp‘s digital marketing strategy is focused on providing website visitors with simple solutions to their pain points—in this case, creating and managing email campaigns. Their homepage is intuitive and easy to navigate and features relevant content that drives leads to their website. They use compelling copy on their homepage to engage visitors and keep them interested, such as the snappy headline “Turn emails into revenue.” This hits a nerve with their target audience and entices them to click through to find out more.

3. SAP’s segmentation approach

SAP is a multinational corporation providing business software and solutions across various industries. To target different sectors, they segment their online presence by tailoring their messaging to each audience. For example, they provide solution-based content to the public sector and retail industry, as well as product-focused content for manufacturing and engineering. Promoting sector-specific benefits of their products helps SAP show prospects that they understand their needs and are better placed to deliver a solution.

5. Next steps

As you can see, B2B digital marketing requires a thorough understanding of your target audience and the channels they use. That’s why it’s essential to create a strategy tailored to the needs of your prospects and their journey through the sales cycle. With careful planning, segmentation strategies, and a focus on providing helpful content, you can create an effective B2B digital marketing strategy that brings in new leads and drives conversions.

If you’re interested in a career in digital marketing, the next step is to gain the necessary skills and practical experience. Free online resources such as this list of the best digital marketing blogs to read right now can help you get started.

Or, if you’d like a hands-on introduction to digital marketing, try out our free, 5-day short course. It teaches you the basics of B2C and B2B digital marketing, from buyer personas and competitors to marketing campaigns and analytics—in short, everything you need to get started.

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