When selling directly to other businesses, it’s important to understand which B2B marketing channels you’ll leverage to generate success.
Which channels you choose matters, as you’ll find that your target audience are very particular in how they engage with other brands. Spending your budget in the wrong areas will bring you no closer to your customers.
All you’re doing at that point is spending money aimlessly in hope that it connects in the way you want it to.
Marketing to businesses is a lot different from marketing to individual customers. Businesses tend to have a lot more requirements, focusing more on things like ROI and logic, rather than entertainment or emotion.
In this post we’re going to help you find and leverage the right B2B marketing channels to help you generate success.
Let’s start by providing a bit of an overview.
What are B2B Marketing Channels?
B2B marketing channels detail how you reach and engage with your target audience.
Businesses won’t just seek you out simply for existing. You need to make yourself known to them in some way or another, leveraging either B2B digital marketing, traditional media or a hybrid approach.
For maximum effectiveness, you will want to take advantage of online marketing through one or several social media platforms. Doing so is cost-effective, and allows brands to market themselves on a much larger scale.
And that’s not to say that traditional marketing (i.e. billboards and print materials) aren’t viable options. As you’ll come to learn, which B2B channels you choose will depend entirely on your buyer personas.
We can’t stress enough the importance of understanding who your customers are.
What is the Purpose of B2B Marketing?
The purpose of B2B marketing is to connect with other businesses, letting them know of your products and/or services to convert them into actual customers. It might not happen right away, but simply knowing who you are is enough to get them into your sales funnel.
B2B marketing applies to all types of sectors and the businesses who operate within those sectors. A software-as-a-service company (SaaS), for example, will utilise this type of marketing to sell products.
In terms of who you’re marketing towards specifically, B2B marketing campaigns typically aim towards any individual or individuals with control or influence on purchasing decisions.
It could be the marketing manager, the founder, or even someone at an entry-level position depending on the organisation.
Different B2B Marketing Channels You Can Use
Variety is the spice of life in terms of what channels you have available at this moment in time. There are multiple pathways to reach other businesses, some used more than others. If we’re talking popularity, then B2B digital marketing is a big one.
No surprises there.
It’s worth noting that not every B2B channel will serve the same purpose. Some channels could be used strictly to grow the identity of the brand. A communication platform like Twitter is perfect for relaying information that lands directly in and amongst customers (more-so when using the appropriate hashtags).
Since we’ve broken the seal and mentioned a social media platform (one of the B2B marketing channels available), we might as well mention them all:
- Email Marketing
- Digital Marketing
- Content Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
Below we’ll be breaking down each B2B marketing channel in full to help you work out which is the most viable for you and your brand.
Let’s start with email marketing.
B2B Email Marketing
The great thing about email marketing is how it can reach both individuals and businesses in one fell swoop, which is more than ideal if you’re one of those hybrid brands (B2B and B2C).
Emails are great for netting engagement. And engagement is great as it turns your correspondents into subscribers, and eventually, customers. Because businesses are a lot harder to market towards, you’ll need to adjust your campaigns to suit them and their specific needs.
You need to appeal to things they care about, like saving money wherever possible, or saving them time so that resources can be used in other important places!
Positive ROI is the equivalent of gold to these businesses, so if you can appeal to that in your emails then you should have no problems getting them to engage with you in the way you want.
Did you know that the average person sends and receives 121 business-related emails a day (Campaign Monitor). It’s hard to stand out in the inbox of others, unless you’re taking the necessary steps to cut straight through the noise.
Generating B2B Email Marketing Success
The easiest way to make your emails more appealing is by writing subject lines that are next to impossible to ignore. It’s your subject line that readers will see first if they have email notifications turned on.
Try to approach your subject lines in eye-catching and creative ways, doing so will ensure that they’re read, and not just shoved into spam. HubSpot recommends that you spend as much time on your subject line as the body of the email itself, and we agree.
Another way to appeal to your businesses is by segmenting your audiences. Not every email you distribute will appeal to everyone. Plus, not all of them will be in the same stage of your email funnel.
You get around this by grouping your lists and only sending them emails that they would deem relevant.
Brands that don’t have a large pool of customers to segment can grow their subscriber base by adding opt-in forms on their websites. These forms will gather customer information in one place, allowing you to eventually segment them based on their own preferences.
Ensure that your emails are optimised for mobile too. A whopping 42% of people will check, open and read emails on smartphones and tablets (Litmus).
If your emails don’t load properly, or the images are way too big for the screen, then this could have a negative impact on your efforts overall.
Nothing should be lost in email translation here!
To recap, you can generate B2B email marketing success by:
- Writing engaging subject lines
- Segmenting your emails
- Optimise emails for mobile
B2B Digital Marketing
Your digital presence is everything. It’s how the majority of other businesses will discover and interact with you. Businesses spend a lot of money in digital B2B marketing, and it’s easy to see why when you consider the global possibilities.
Here’s a quick rundown of what falls under B2B digital marketing for those not in the know:
- Paid Ads
Social media is technically a form of B2B digital marketing, but with it being so big we felt like it deserved its own section (more on B2B SMM later).
B2B digital marketing is more of a requirement than a suggestion, ask any established B2B company turning over big money and they’ll tell you the exact same thing. Your digital marketing efforts can’t function without a website.
Think about it.
Where are you directing all of that traffic too if the businesses that want to find out more don’t live anywhere near a brick and mortar location?
Sure, there might be a telephone number you can call, but how many B2B companies do you know gather leads exclusively by landline in the current day?
Generating B2B Digital Marketing Success
Step one in generating B2B digital marketing success involves having a website that is fully-optimised so that you are a lot easier to find.
Your site can be the most informative and engaging page on the internet, but it won’t gain nearly as much traffic if it doesn’t leverage on-page and technical SEO. What does that mean? It means having alt-text on all images, and meta descriptions on each page.
You can learn more about how to showcase the perfect website by reading our website checklist post here.
Off-page SEO is another way to strengthen your website and how easy it is to find. This involves coming up with effective external linking strategies.
Another thing to consider when deciding which B2B channels you’ll leverage is looking at paid advertising. Google ads and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising are great ways to get your products/services in front of your target audience directly.
PPC is a game of keywords, in the same way search engine optimisation – or SEO – is, only your efforts are a lot more targeted.
Without going into too much detail, brands bid on a variety of keywords, the top bidders will ‘win’ those keywords thereby appearing near the top of a Google search whenever those keywords are inputted.
Brands can choose to bid on keywords that relate to their products/services directly. Or, they can bid on keywords that loosely reference them in some way or another to grab the attention of people who aren’t searching for the brand name or its services directly.
Here’s an example of this in practice:
Let’s say you run a B2B business that sells cloud-based software. Bidding on keywords such as ‘data management,’ or ‘flexible work practices,’ despite being loosely related to your brand, will do more for your ROI than choosing keywords that are overly specific.
To recap, you can generate B2B digital marketing success by:
- Optimising your website
- Running paid search campaigns
- Target broad PPC keywords
B2B Content Marketing
We’re a big believer in content marketing and the benefits brands can draw from it. The same applies to B2B content marketing where the stakes feel almost higher.
Remember, businesses are a lot harder to appeal to. They’re driven by logic, not emotion. And how they navigate the internet is a lot more strategic. Which makes them perfect candidates for content marketing.
You see, content marketing, generally, is an indirect form of marketing. It doesn’t disrupt them in the same way that certain B2B digital marketing strategies do. An effective content marketing strategy can provide valuable information that tells viewers A) you know what you’re talking about, and B) you’re someone they need to know more about.
What’s more, content marketing and SEO go hand-in-hand. Meaning you can generate more traffic, and as a byproduct of that, more leads!
B2B Content Marketing Channels
In terms of specifics and B2B marketing channels, content marketing typically refers to optimised blog content that sits either on your website or another. Here’s a quick rundown of what falls under content marketing:
- Social Media
Again, a lot of what we’re talking about in terms of B2B marketing channels does have some crossover.
Some of the content marketing channels mentioned are both indirect and direct forms of marketing. Take Facebook ads for example, those can be direct in how they’re presented, or indirect if you were to run a dark ad.
A dark ad are essentially ads that are visible to the platform and the brand running it but invisible to the people seeing it.
So going back to our Facebook example, a dark ad would define any ad that doesn’t exist as a published post on a profile page. They don’t exist as organic posts or boosted social content.
Generating B2B Content Marketing Success
Anyone can have a blog on their website, but how many of those blogs are well researched, taking into account the various applicable pain points, and offer actionable solutions?
The times have changed, and while having a blog that promotes the day-to-day happenings of the business is great and all, unless you’re an established brand with a big following, no one is going to engage with you because of this.
Creating blog content that provides answers to popular problems is the play, more-so if you can structure this content to follow a similar flow to your sales funnel.
You see, some blogs have the power to work customers through multiple stages of your funnel right there and then. The fact that your content is optimised (and therefore discoverable on Google) means your audience is already in that prospect phase.
Quality blog content that answers their problems in engaging fashion will turn them into leads, and even generate sales in some instances!
For maximum visibility brands should be sharing this content on social media in some way or another. The ways you can promote this content is completely up to you. Some simply share a link to the post with an enticing caption attached to it.
Our advice would be to think outside the box a little. Try creating exclusive content that promotes your brand in interesting ways. Doing so could encourage your following to check out what you or an agency has written.
Video-based content is another great option for brands looking for engaging B2B marketing channels that really grab the attention of their target audience.
Utilising this type of content wherever you can will only strengthen your marketing efforts. This type of content is also a lot easier to share than a blog. And you can place it on various parts of your website too so that more people see it!
Looking to establish brand trust while raising the awareness of the brand?
To recap, you can generate B2B content marketing success by:
- Structure blogs as their own funnel
- Use social media to share content
- Leverage video/imagery where possible
B2B Social Media Marketing
Like having an optimised website, social media is a must.
You might think that platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are all for your regular consumers, but there’s a decent number of businesses that operate on these channels.
However, we should point out that these businesses won’t be as interested in your B2B social media marketing efforts, again due to how long the sales cycle is for businesses. That’s not to say that the platform is rendered useless as a B2B marketing channel.
Far from it.
Social media is the perfect B2B channel for meeting your brand awareness goals. These platforms give brands the perfect opportunity to flesh out their personality a little bit, while also communicating with customers straight up.
Another great thing about social media marketing is it’s mostly free (unless you run paid ads), and can be used to share other forms of content that you’ve created, as we’ve already touched on.
It can be tough to keep up with the latest social media platforms, so here’s a current list of the top six in order of most relevant for B2B businesses:
The last platform on the list (TikTok) is an interesting one. It’s also the new kid on the block compared to others in the list. It has the potential to succeed, with countless B2B marketers experimenting with the platform – including Adobe who got in early.
Adobe Mastering TikTok Early
Adobe was one of the earliest adopters of TikTok, and currently has millions of followers. Its second video on the platform garnered over 2 million views by appealing to the habits of those on the platform.
The video itself asked users to share with them the most creative creators on the platform. In turn, Adobe received a flood of responses.
Granted not everyone has the same level of clout as Adobe, but there’s lessons to be learned here. As in, how brands can utilise these platforms effectively. The brand continues to succeed on the platform by playing into the engaging nature of TikTok.
This methodology can be applied to all platforms, although some – like LinkedIn – are a lot more appealing to businesses, meaning some platforms are better than others at capturing leads.
Generating B2B Social Marketing Success
Let’s start there, by talking about the business-oriented social platform known as LinkedIn. This jobs website is where a lot of B2B business folk meet others and connect with them in some way or another.
In other words, this platform is a goldmine for getting other businesses into your sales funnel. Running LinkedIn ads is one way to do it, another is to grow either the brand’s official page, or the page/pages of those working for the brand.
One is an organic approach, the other is paid.
Taking the organic approach does take longer as you’ll need time to grow your stock on the platform but the results could be monumental in terms of generating leads. The easiest way to do this is to share beneficial knowledge and insight.
Getting your employees to share this content will only help with its traction, so get them to do that too.
That emphasis on brand is really underrated when it comes to marketing your business to other businesses. It’s the reason why you see so many brands reserving most of their B2B marketing budget to promote themselves instead of, say, their products.
“Brand is a long term sustainable competitive advantage that any business can create that is really hard to unseat. Whereas somebody else can copy your feature, someone else can copy your sales model. These other things are all short term, whereas brand is a long term, durable, sustainable competitive advantage.”
– Brad McGinity, CRO of 15Five
Again, this goes back to the benefits of brand awareness, which we’ve touched on many times at Canny.
To recap, you can generate B2B social media marketing success by:
- Leveraging LinkedIn to appeal to other businesses
- Lean in on brand awareness and brand campaigns
How Do You Choose the Right B2B Marketing Channels?
You should have a pretty good idea of the various B2B marketing channels there are available at this point. Now comes the hard part:
Working out which B2B channels you’ll utilise to reach other businesses.
Understand that every decision you make needs to be in service of whoever you’re marketing towards. To understand your customers on a deeper level you need to be creating buyer personas.
Buyer personas look at every aspect of your audience in terms of who they are, what position they have in the business, and everything in between.
Doing this gives you a rough outline of where they spend their time, which in turn, should highlight the B2B channels that are most likely to hit the mark and get them to enter your funnel. What’s more, you’ll have enough information to pivot if need be.
This is but one way to work out which B2B marketing channels are the best to use.
There are other ways.
Determine Your Brand Positioning
It’s important to understand where you’re currently positioned before you go spending money or dedicating time/resources on any B2B marketing channels.
To avoid this, you need to create a brand positioning statement.
This statement will tell yourself and other parts of the business exactly where you stand, taking into account your customer personas, your USP, your competitors, and your current price point.
All essential considerations when working out which B2B channels are the most viable, as knowing where you stand will ensure that your efforts are as effective as they can be, in line with where the business is at in its current form.
A brand that is low on the totem pole might not have as much leverage to try something bold, such as an expensive digital marketing campaign.
They might choose instead to focus on blog content, knowing that it’s a cheaper option and could yield tangible results in time.
To learn more about brand positioning and how you can work out where you currently stand, check out our blog here.
See What Channels Competitors Use
Another way to work out what B2B channels to utilise is to check out what your competitors are doing. Performing competitor analysis will only highlight the B2B marketing strategies used, outlining what works and gaps that you might be able to fill.
When scanning a competitor to see what B2B marketing channels they’re utilising, be sure to keep tabs on the following:
- The language used to entice customers
- Their results on these B2B channels
- What social media channels are they using
A good old fashioned SWOT analysis should tell you everything you need to know and then some. But yeah, there’s a lot you can learn from your rivals, just remember not to copy them too much as the businesses will notice something’s up.
Try to stay true to you in your B2B marketing efforts.
How to Choose and Generate Success Through Your B2B Marketing Channels
How confident are you feeling at this point?
We hope you feel confident in your ability to pick and choose the best B2B marketing channels, and succeed where other brands so often fail.
It’s easy to see why that’s the case when you stop and consider the number of B2B channels there are these days. With more variety comes more confusion which can lead brands down the wrong path if they have no idea where to market themselves.
Businesses are incredibly tough to market towards, so you need to ensure that your efforts are targeted and leave nothing to chance. Analysing your competitors, writing a brand positioning statement and creating buyer personas should keep you on the right track.
Need help with effective content marketing that connects you with other businesses? Or a website that connects you with your audience in a way your competitors can’t?
Talk to Canny.
We’re a creative agency that sets you up for B2B marketing success wherever needed. Get in touch to find out more.