We were curious about what business professionals thought about marketing. We took a look at recent survey results and reports that compiled data on the topic, and created a list of 10 B2B marketing strategies commonly recognized as successful regardless of industry. Here’s what we found:
Content marketing emphasizes education over selling to influence buying behavior. This strategic marketing approach focuses on creating and distributing information relevant to prospects’ needs in order to attract those best aligned with — and most likely to purchase — your product or service. Since communication is ongoing, content can be tailored to reflect what you learn about leads over time, and may include varied formats like infographics, webpages, podcasts, videos, blogs, white papers, webinars, and eBooks. It’s important to note that content marketing is not synonymous with inbound marketing (more on inbound below). Content marketing is an important component to an overall inbound strategy, but it does not integrate other marketing methodologies to maximize content value.
Content Marketing is effective because it:
- Draws prospects through the sales funnel
- Grows brand visibility, credibility, and desirability
- Aligns target markets with relevant information
Inbound is far and away the most effective B2B marketing strategy because it leverages the strengths of the majority of the other nine strategies to attract, engage, and delight customers. Unlike traditional marketing methods — or even those of the other strategies listed here — inbound earns the attention of customers and pulls them to a company website by producing meaningful content. Because messaging is relevant and appears in the right place at the right time, inbound invites visitors in rather than annoying them with interruptive traditional advertising.
Inbound Marketing is effective because it:
- Works for businesses of any size or type
- Creates more knowledgeable prospects
- Can be easily integrated and managed using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, like HubSpot CRM
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing focuses on providing users with content they find valuable and want to share across their social networks, resulting in increased visibility and traffic. Social media shares of content, videos, and images also influence SEO efforts in that they often increase relevancy in search results within social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram as well as search engines like Google and Yahoo.
Social Media Marketing is effective because it:
- Reduces marketing spends while increasing lead generation
- Provides metrics that give companies additional marketplace insight
- “Humanizes” brands and encourages conversions
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of increasing awareness about — and traffic to — a particular website by making sure it appears among the top unpaid (or “natural”) search results on search engines like Google, Bing!, and Yahoo. While there is a common misperception that it is a stand-alone marketing tactic, SEO is accomplished by many tactics working together and is central to an effective inbound marketing strategy.
While social media, email, banner ads, and other marketing tools generate website visits, SEO visibility is particularly important because search engines are the primary way users navigate the Internet. It automatically increases your audience in a relevant, targeted way — they self-identify as someone who is interested in, your product or service.
Search Engine Optimization is effective because it:
- Continues to evolve to keep pace with mobile and local search engine optimization
- Simplifies searches for customers interested in your product or service
- Is a cost-effective way to keep your brand competitive with similarly situated companies
- Explore more in this free SEO Survival Guide!
Search Engine Marketing/PPC
Search engine marketing, or SEM, is a tool that companies use to grow their website traffic through paid online advertising. One of the most popular SEM methods is pay-per-click (PPC) links. Essentially, a company buys or “sponsors” a link that appears as an ad in search engine results when keywords related to their product or service are searched. Every time the ad is clicked, the company pays the search engine (or other third party host site) a small fee for the visitor — a literal “pay per click.”
Search Engine Marketing is effective because of its:
- Breadth in online tools and reach
- Cost-effectiveness in generating high visibility
- Adaptability to multiple markets and audiences
Account Based Marketing and Retargeting
Account Based Marketing (ABM) is a B2B strategy that focuses on a targeted set of accounts using highly personalized campaigns. It provides marketing and sales teams with a number of advantages, including a faster sales process, cost effectiveness, and a more efficient use of marketing resources. With all of the things ABM is, though, it’s important to remember that ABM is not the same as targeted outbound marketing. It’s much more strategic, using methods like online retargeting to personalize marketing efforts.
Retargeting uses browser cookie-based technology to identify users who visited your site but left (or “bounced”) before completing a transaction or conversion. The cookie allows for targeted advertisements to appear in those users’ subsequent web searches and interactions, even if they’re not related to your site specifically. Retargeting is an effective conversion tool because it repeatedly gets your brand in front of audiences that are already interested in your product or service.
Retargeting is effective because it:
- Recaptures the attention and purchase power of “window shoppers”
- Generates high click-through rates
- Lends itself to visitor segmentation and tailored messaging
Earned Media and PR
Earned media (or “free media”) is publicity that’s created through efforts other than paid advertising. It can take a variety of forms — a social media testimonial, word of mouth, a television or radio mention, a newspaper article or editorial — but one thing is constant: earned media is unsolicited and can only be gained organically. It cannot be bought or owned like traditional advertising.
Earned media and PR are effective because they:
- Are generally “free” advertising channels
- Are unsolicited and, therefore, have instant perceived credibility
- Increase awareness of valuable, educational, and trustworthy content
A referral program is an umbrella term used to describe a systematic approach companies take to incentivize people to tell others about their products or services. Implementing specific affiliate programs, customer referral programs and partner programs within a marketing plan structure are meant to offer the instant credibility of existing customers to grow a customer base. “Referral programs” is often used synonymously with “referral marketing.”
- Referral programs are effective because they:
- Leverage the recommendations of happy customers
- Authentically recognize customers’ brand loyalty and reinforce it
Tradeshows remain a top B2B networking tool (especially when inbound tactics support event efforts), as they gather companies within a specific industry into one location for demonstrating their latest products and services. Rarely open to the public, trade shows give companies the chance to establish or strengthen relationships with key industry partners, customers, and prospects; identify market trends and opportunities; and gain an understanding of what their competition is offering in the market.
Conversational marketing is just that — a conversation. Real-time interaction via a chatbot or live chat gets the right information in front of prospects and customers at the right time, and follow-up questions are addressed immediately. Personalized, relevant engagement vastly improves the user experience. For businesses, conversational marketing typically cuts the time buyers stay in the sales funnel. Conversions happen quicker because relationships are established quicker.
Conversational marketing is effective because it:
- Removes layers of impersonal lead capture and creates an authentic, personal customer experience
- Fosters clear communication — buyers can plainly state their needs, and businesses can more readily understand and assist since there is appropriate context around the request
- Strengthens relationships as bots can also recommend additional content to supplement buyer education