Contributors from members of the Copper team
“Marketing” is a catch-all term — a big umbrella that addresses nearly every type of brand promotion under the sun.
Problem is, you can’t use another business’s marketing playbook verbatim if you want to grow your own biz. Good marketing is all about your audience, and we guarantee that your audience is different from everyone else’s (including your competitors).
Depending on the nature of your business, products and customers, you’ll need to use a very specific type of marketing to get results from your hard work.
For example, if you serve other businesses (instead of everyday consumers), there’s a good chance you need a B2B marketing strategy.
If you don’t use the right type of marketing for your business, you’ll target the wrong people and waste a lot of time and resources. No one wants that.
If your business serves other businesses, you need to do B2B marketing right. Let’s dive into what B2B marketing is and how it’s different from B2C— plus our four favorite B2B digital marketing strategies to get results.
What is B2B marketing?
Business-to-business (B2B) marketing happens when a business sells products or services to another organization. B2B brands like Docusign, UPS and even Copper (hi!) fall under the B2B umbrella because they serve businesses in some way.
So, if your brand works with:
- Government agencies
- Small businesses
… then you’re a B2B company that needs B2B marketing strategies in your box of tricks.
The thing is, talking to a B2B lead is very different compared to how you address a B2C shopper. Sure, you can often use the same marketing channels and similar strategies, but these two types of marketing couldn’t be more different.
B2B vs B2C marketing
With business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing, you’re selling to everyday people. For example, if you buy shoes from TOMS, makeup from Sephora or groceries from Walmart, you’re on the “consumer” end of the B2C equation.
B2C companies sell products or services to individual shoppers, not companies. Whether it’s filing your taxes with Turbotax or paying for a trim at the barbershop, B2C transactions make up our everyday lives.
B2B and B2C marketing differ in several important areas, including:
- Audience: Well, the biggest difference between these marketing strategies is the target audience. With B2B, you’re going after entire businesses as potential customers, while B2C marketers go after singular shoppers. (Buyer personas can help with this).
- Buying process: B2C shoppers don’t have to consult a committee to buy toothpaste on Amazon. They can make decisions directly, and quickly. B2B, on the other hand, usually means people make decisions as a committee. This means it can take multiple conversations, several decision-makers and an agonizing waiting game before a B2B buyer will sign a contract.
- Goals: With B2B marketing, you’re educating prospects on how your brand solves a problem. It’s more logical and focused on quantitative data than, say, a commercial about dog food. B2C marketing should solve shopper pain points, too, but it tends to be more focused on entertaining people with emotional appeals.
- Time and money: B2C shoppers might think about a purchase for a few hours or days, but they usually buy pretty quickly. B2C transactions tend to be lower in value (the average online order is $52) and short-term. But B2B relationships can involve six- or seven-figure contracts. You better believe B2B customers will take their time making a decision before spending that much money! The good news is that, once they make their decision, B2B buyers prefer to lock into long-term relationships.
Keep in mind that nothing is black and white in the world of marketing. There’s some overlap between B2B and B2C. For example, companies like Amazon sell to both consumers and businesses.
This is usually more doable for large companies that can afford to have enormous marketing departments and budgets. If you’re a smaller business, it’s generally a good idea to stick with one model until you can support a large pivot.
B2B digital marketing
Okay, at this point you’ve narrowed down your biz and you’re sure that you need to pursue B2B marketing. But that’s still pretty general — which is why it’s a good idea to niche down even more with B2B digital marketing.
Digital seems like the go-to space these days, but plenty of marketers still invest in traditional marketing like newspaper ads, radio spots and events to generate B2B leads.
There’s nothing wrong with that, but B2B digital marketing can be a better bet for small businesses because it’s:
- Measurable: Where do all of your leads come from? B2B digital marketing allows you to track every touchpoint in a CRM like Copper. Without digital marketing, it’s really hard to nail down where your business comes from — and which tactics are actually working.
- Cost-effective: Have you ever bought a billboard ad? It’s crazy expensive. B2B digital marketing, on the other hand, can save you a lot of money. As long as you have a smart digital marketing strategy in place, you can market your small biz inexpensively, all thanks to affordable digital channels.
- Scalable: If you’re a small business, it can be really hard planning large in-person events like a conference by yourself. B2B digital marketing makes it a cinch to scale huge email, content and paid ad campaigns with a small team.
Inbound vs outbound marketing
Okay, you’ve chosen the digital marketing route, but you aren’t done yet. Next, you’ll need to choose between two types of strategies to generate more leads:
- Inbound marketing: This is the most common type of B2B digital marketing. With inbound marketing, you create content in a way that encourages buyers to find you. In other words, leads come in based on the stuff you put out into the world. This includes tactics like your website, content marketing and SEO.
- Outbound marketing: Outbound marketing happens when you go out and find your customers to start a conversation. This includes more “aggressive” sales tactics like paid media and google ads, cold email marketing and cold calling. It’s a high-risk, high-reward situation where demand generation folks thrive, though you do risk coming off as spammy.
With inbound marketing, you have to know your target audience so well that you become a mind-reader. Even so, you have to meet your audience halfway, dropping little breadcrumbs across the internet that bring them to your website.
With outbound marketing, though, you bring your solution to your leads with hyper-specific content tailored to their pain points. This is ideal if you have a unique product that people aren’t necessarily looking for — and it’s also a must-have for account-based marketing.
With all that said, which one is better for B2B digital marketing, inbound or outbound?
Truth be told, one isn’t “better” than the other. It all comes down to what your business is trying to do.
If you have a new, unusual service that people don’t think to search for, an outbound marketing strategy might be a better fit.
If you have a small team and a service that customers are actively searching for — like small business consulting services — you can get a lot of traction with inbound marketing.
4 B2B digital marketing strategies
Whether you’re doing inbound or outbound marketing — or a combination of both — digital strategies are ideal for growing a B2B business, especially when you’re still small.
While every biz is different, we love these four digital marketing strategies for building brand awareness to grow your company.
1. Website optimization
No matter where you promote your services, all roads will lead back to your website. Your website is like your digital home base, so as a B2B marketer, it’s important to focus on your website first. A simple, clear website that’s easy to navigate and understand the offering is a must.
Think about it like this: why pump money into social media marketing, only to send leads to a slow, glitchy website? Not a good look.
Make sure your website is on point with these B2B marketing website wins:
- Interlink pages: If your website doesn’t tell leads what to do next, they’ll bounce, fast. Always give leads something new to see, even if they’ve already converted. Link your about pages, blogs, product deets, case studies and contact pages to each other. When in doubt, navigate your website as a customer to see what the experience is like. If it drops off anywhere, that’s a prime opportunity for interlinking.
- Simplify navigation: Unless you’re an eCommerce brand, you don’t need a bazillion pages on your website. Your business’s website needs to be as simple to navigate as possible. Keep your navigation to a handful of main pages and use interlinking to bring leads deeper into your website.
- Mobile responsive: It’s the 21st century and leads expect a pristine experience, no matter where they connect with your website. How does your website perform on mobile? Use Google’s free mobile-friendly test to see how your website stacks up — it even provides recommendations.
- Clear CTAs: What’s the main action you want visitors to take when they visit your website? Ask for what you want. If that’s contacting your team, downloading a white paper, or requesting a quote, ask for it directly!
- Speed: B2B leads are impatient. If your website takes five seconds to load, 38% of your website traffic will bounce. Work with a developer to build a lightning-fast website that loads in two seconds or less.
Optimizing your website doesn’t sound very sexy, but it’s a critical part of converting leads. If you haven’t already optimized your website, do that first before you spend time and energy on other B2B marketing strategies.
2. Social media marketing
Now that your website is a mean, green conversion machine, it’s time to promote your biz on social media.
Yes, social is big in B2C marketing, but certain social media platforms work really well for B2B, too. You might not see a huge influx of leads from social media, but it’s an affordable way to build brand awareness and eventually find new clients.
Your mission (if you choose to accept it) is to use social media in a way that demonstrates your brand as trustworthy and a great company to work with. This means following B2B marketing best practices for social media, like:
- Remembering your hashtags: You want the world to find your social content, so use relevant hashtags (on platforms that support them) to put your content in front of the right decision-makers. Look up common industry hashtags or research which hashtags your leads are using.
- Using a social scheduler: You don’t have the time to log into every social platform, write a post, and manage your followers. Even if you’re a small brand, using a social scheduler enables you to plan ahead and be more effective with your B2B content marketing. Use schedulers like Buffer or Hootsuite to see your content at a high level, track replies, and schedule social posts. It’s the best way to do social media marketing in less time.
- Partnering with influencers (yes, really): 77% of your customers rely on the advice of industry experts, so why not ask those experts to work for you? This might sound a little strange, but yes, you can use influencers for B2B marketing. Just visit your LinkedIn feed and you’ll see influencers all over the place. From Gary Vaynerchuck to Neil Patel, there are plenty of B2B folks that are influential in different spaces. Engage them for promoted social posts, a Q&A interview or a co-hosted event to boost your social media reach.
3. Email marketing
Those 467 unread emails might be the bane of your inbox, but even so, email marketing is a must for B2B marketing.
B2B leads are used to checking their email (mostly) every day to gather information. Let’s look at the facts:
- 31% of brands say email is the channel that has the biggest impact on revenue
- 99% of email users check their inbox daily
- 79% of B2B marketers say email is the most effective channel
- B2B marketing emails actually have a 23% higher click-to-open ratio than B2C emails
You clearly need to add email marketing to the mix.
Oh, and did I mention that email marketing is affordable and scalable, especially with a CRM like Copper in your corner?
As long as you have the right tools, email marketing can deliver some real returns for your biz. Of course, it helps to follow a few smart strategies, too:
- Segment and customize: Don’t send a one-size-fits-all blast to your entire list. Segmented email campaigns get 50% more click-throughs than generic emails, so take the time to separate your list of leads. With a platform like Copper, you can write hyper-customized emails (complete with merge tags) to customize your email content for leads at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
- Watch your subject lines: You can’t judge a book by its cover, but B2B leads definitely judge your emails by their subject lines. In fact, 33% of leads decide to open an email based solely on the subject line. Don’t treat your subject lines as an afterthought. Spend time thoughtfully crafting copy that grabs leads’ attention without incurring the wrath of the spam filter.
- A/B test everything: The good news about email marketing is that you can test every component to see which version performs better. In fact, if you play your cards right, you can boost click-throughs by more than 120%. Split-test your subject lines, header text, CTA, colors, images — you name it. Remember, test only one thing at a time so you know what actually accounted for the change.
4. Content marketing
Remember, the B2B buying cycle can take months. B2B content marketing ensures that your leads don’t forget about you in the meantime.
The right content will keep your biz top of mind while all of the negotiations are happening, so don’t overlook the power of awesome content.
“Content” can mean so many things in the context of B2B, including:
- Online conferences
- YouTube videos
- Case studies
It may feel like a heavy lift to create content, but all of your competitors are doing B2B content marketing, too.
So, how can you stand out? Follow these quick tips to make your content the best on the internet:
- Follow the buyer’s journey: What do your leads want to see right now? Keep in mind that Awareness-stage leads are in a different headspace than your Decision-stage leads. Use a CRM like Copper to deliver the right content to the right person, at the right time.
- Feature other people: The best way to get traction on your content is to feature other people. Interview industry experts, do a roundup-style series, or feature your customers. This will make it way easier to write the content — and the featured folks will likely promote it to their networks, too.
- Produce videos: 80% of consumers buy a product after watching a video about it. Since 82% of internet traffic comes from video, your brand’s content strategy needs to lean heavily into video. All you need is a reasonably modern phone camera, a ring light, a microphone and a prompt. You can even do video editing right from your phone.
Master B2B content marketing with Copper
B2B digital marketing might sound like a slog, but this is your opportunity to be creative. You don’t have to paint your world in shades of gray or beige: B2B decision-makers are still human, and that means you need to think outside the box to pique their interest.
B2B buyers are tough customers, but the high-dollar contracts make it all worthwhile. Follow these four B2B digital marketing strategies to source more leads, close more deals, and win customers’ hearts.