THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO B2B MARKETING

MARKETING

man in brown jacket sitting at laptop

CONTENTS

19 min read

B2B marketing is difficult, and one of the most important parts of B2B marketing is understanding your audience.

Now I’m not saying this makes other aspects of marketing redundant, you still need to have an effective logo, a sound brand message, and a clear vision, but if you don’t know who you’re targeting, then all of this is pretty much pointless.

You can’t just close your eyes and hope for the best.

Who do you want to see your content? Who do you want to buy your product or service? Who are the customers that are going to make your business money?

After all, it all boils down to your bottom line.

If you don’t know this information, then it’s about time you created your ideal customer persona.

In the world of marketing, you need to understand the difference between targeting individual consumers and businesses. The way you engage them and the tactics you use are very different, and the success of your business relies on getting this right.

With that said, let’s dive into B2B marketing.

What is B2B Marketing?

B2B marketing stands for business to business marketing.

In its most basic sense, it’s exactly what it says on the tin.

It involves a business selling their products or services to another business. Easy right?

Some examples of these types of businesses include manufacturing companies who sell parts to make cars and warehouses which sell products in bulk to supermarkets.

B2B marketing campaigns are targeted towards key decision makers within a company as these are the people who will decide where the budget is spent. This job depends on the company, but the responsibility usually falls under a Marketing Director or a Marketing Manager.

Therefore, it’s crucial any campaign is targeted and engages these relevant people. However, it’s important to remember that these people are not purchasing for their own benefit, but are purchasing on behalf of their organisation.

As a result, the factors that drive their purchasing decisions are very different from B2C marketing which takes us nicely onto our next section…
person purchasing orange pepper

What is the Difference between B2B and B2C Marketing?

Let’s start with what B2C marketing means.

We’re keeping it nice and simple on the Canny blog as B2C marketing stands for business to consumer. You’ve probably already guessed that this means any business who sells directly to a customer.

We all engage with these businesses on a daily basis.

Greggs, Boots, ASOS, Netflix, and the major supermarkets are just a few of the biggies. These businesses are appealing to your needs, and trying to make you spend your money at their company rather than a competitor.

In contrast to B2B marketing, any purchasing behavior will be driven by personal motives. As consumers are spending their own money, the product or service has to fulfill their individual needs. It’s not about work anymore, it’s about what they want and need, and how the company can serve this demand.

As a result, B2B and B2C customers differ from one another as what they need is driven by different factors.

Let’s take a look.

Goal

In terms of B2B marketing, it all falls down to revenue. Customers want to know how a product or service is going to increase their bottom line and ultimately, make their business more efficient and profitable.

B2C customers are hooked by deals and bargains. They make more snap decisions and will be drawn in by discounts, rather than thinking about the long term reasons behind their purchase. This allows companies to be more fun and daring with their marketing efforts.

Reason for Purchase

Again going back to money, B2B customers are driven by logical and financial reasons. If a company can prove how their product can boost return on investment, customers are more likely to engage.

For an individual consumer, their purchasing decision is driven by emotion. If a brand can make an emotional connection with a consumer, their actual offering doesn’t have to be that valuable. Instead, they can rely on relating to a consumer and making them believe they understand their needs.

A great example of this is the Co-op’s current TV advertising campaign.

I’m quite soft, but it’s definitely worked on me!

In the advert, an elderly guy walks to his nearest co-op to recycle an empty plastic bag in the shop’s recycling bin. On his journey, the classic song ‘it must be love’ plays softly in the background, as he takes in the sounds, smells, and sights of the outside world.

It’s obvious the elderly gentleman enjoys being outdoors, and being able to recycle the plastic bag gives him a purpose. Ultimately, it gives him a reason to leave his home and do something with his day. Now I know it’s only putting a plastic bag in the bin, but it really pulls on the heartstrings!

The idea behind it is to let viewers know that the co-op now recycles soft plastics. But, as a result of featuring this heartwarming scene, I have actually started recycling at the co-op.

A job very well done.
woman wearing blue smiling

How They Engage

As B2B customers will usually have to get their decisions approved by those above them, they want to be educated about how a product or service can help. They need to know the ins and outs, and will only invest if they trust that the company can fulfil their needs.

B2C customers on the other hand don’t rely as much on education. Sure it’s good to know what the product does and the benefits it has, but these customers can be swayed by entertaining marketing campaigns. How often have you bought something because it looks good without understanding what it really does?

The Process

When it comes to making a decision, B2B customers like to speak with an account manager or a salesperson who acts as their direct point of contact. At Canny, we’re a perfect example of a B2B business that helps clients across a range of sectors. We always provide a dedicated account manager through the entirety of a project as we understand our customers need to be guided each step of the way.

For B2C customers, this isn’t an important factor. Individual consumers prefer to make purchases directly as there is less of a thought process behind their decision. They don’t require as much guidance or assistance as they have already made up their own mind.

The Purpose of the Purchase

When making a decision on behalf of an organisation, B2B customers think more about the longevity of the solution. They don’t want to invest in something that works now but will become redundant later as they’re responsible for justifying the budget.

As individual customers usually only answer to themselves, they’re not as concerned with the long term effect of their decision. A lot of purchases are made on impulse, and there is less consideration about where the money is spent. For example, if you spend £120 of your own money on a designer T-shirt and only wear it once, it’s only you that’s affected. You don’t have to give justification of your decision to someone else.

Now I know we said we were keeping it simple on the blog, but there is some crossover with these two marketing audiences. For example, although Amazon sells directly to consumers, they also sell to businesses who are looking for supplies.

Another example is Facebook, as although their content is catered for people browsing on the app, the social media giant also targets businesses looking to use facebook ads.

In these scenarios, it’s important to understand which marketing campaign is targeted at which audience by carefully segmenting your customer base. That’s why it’s so important to understand your customer personas in full, as a lot of companies target more than one type of audience.
man holding lighted gas lantern

B2B Marketing Guide

As we’ve discussed, for marketing to be effective, it needs to be targeted.

It needs to reach the right audience and play to their needs and wants.

Otherwise it will fall flat, and you could waste a lot of valuable time on something which doesn’t work.

With Canny’s Ultimate Guide to B2B marketing, we’re making sure that doesn’t happen!

Let’s get stuck into the nitty gritty.

B2B Email Marketing

Email marketing is a tried and tested way of reaching customers.

However, with so many emails flooding our inbox everyday how do you make your email stand out from the pointless garbage? It can be very easy for your content to get lost so making sure it’s engaging and captivating is crucial.

When you get it right, emails are a highly valuable way of turning subscribers into leads, who then become customers.

There’s also so much you can do with email. Once you have an email address you’re free to send customers updates, discounts, product launches, promotions, or any other information which is relevant to them. You can also take advantage of marketing automation platforms such as activecampaign and Hootsuite to make this process quicker and easier.

Unlike B2C customers, B2B customers want to know how your business is improving their business. They’re not driven by emotion, but instead rely on logic and raw data.

You need to concentrate on what matters to them such as time, resources, and money. How is your offering helping to take some pressure off them and make their job easier?

Other things to consider when crafting a winning email:

Subject Line

Before your subscribers become leads, the first thing they need to do is open your email.

Never overlook the importance of a catchy subject line.

Make your audience want to click on the email and intrigue them into finding out more. Your subject line shouldn’t give everything away as you want them to read your content, but it should conjure up enough interest.

Below are some examples of good subjects lines:

  • ‘10 ways to increase organic traffic to your website’
  • ‘The marketing guide that your business needs’
  • ‘Don’t miss these great deals!’
  • ‘How to grow your email list in 10 minutes’

All of the subject lines above spark interest and give the customer an idea of what the email is about without giving too much away. Using ‘how to’ is a great way of engaging your customers in the B2B industry as they want to be educated and informed.

Including a number in the subject line also makes the content more digestible, making people more likely to open your email.

Personalisation

Every customer likes to feel valued. They want to believe that you understand the challenges they are facing, and that you are reaching out to them on a personal level.

Something as simple as including their name in the subject line or in the body of an email, can make them more likely to open and click on your email.

It also strengthens the customer experience as it shows that you are sending the right content, to the right people, at the right time. The world of B2B marketing is very competitive, so by employing this simple tactic, you can make your content stand out against competitors.

A Clear Call-to-Action (CTA)

Customers should never have to think about what you’re trying to get them to do with your email.

Do you want them to download your latest eBook?

Do you want them to get in touch?

Do you want them to read your latest blog post?

Whatever the aim, make sure you use a clear CTA.

Simply putting ‘click here’ or ‘read more’ is very poor and doesn’t give the customer much guidance. Instead use direct CTA’s such as ‘download our free guide’ or ‘visit our product page’. This enables a customer to understand exactly what you want them to click on and increases the likelihood that they will fulfill the desired action.

Segment Your Audience

Not every email you create will be relevant to every audience. It’s probable that different subscribers will be at different stages of their buying journey.

As a result, the content you serve should differ depending on who you are targeting.

This is where email segmentation is important.

By understanding your audience and their needs, you can separate them into relevant lists. This allows you to tailor the content you send to increase the chances of it being opened and clicked.
digital marketing letters

B2B Digital Marketing

For any business to be successful it needs to be online.

It’s as simple as that.

We’re living in a digital age where content is being consumed online more than ever. The first thing companies do when they hear your name is plug it into Google. This is an easily accessible way to see what you do, what you’re about, and how you serve customers.

Your website is absolutely essential and could be the difference between a customer engaging in your offering, or returning back to Google and finding one of your competitors.

Every part of your website needs to speak to your core demographic. From the visual elements, to the section headings, to the body of the content, it needs to make people want to find out more and ultimately invest.

If you haven’t looked through your website in a while it might be time for a website audit. This helps make sure your site is still serving it’s users and is the best that it can be.

Never just create a website and leave it sitting. For it to be successful it needs to be up to date. As your company changes and grows, so should your website.

Now we’ve ranted enough about the importance of a website, what else is important in B2B digital marketing?

SEO, SEO, and More SEO

So now you’ve got a great website, it needs to be discoverable.

How are businesses going to find out about all of the great products and services that you can offer them?

In three words – Search Engine Optimisation.

This covers a whole array of things including giving your images alt tags, conducting keyword research, setting a meta description, and internally linking your content.

Essentially it makes it easier for customers to find and see your content. The more people that find your website, the more people will click on it, and the more people will convert to a customer.

Happy days!

PPC Campaigns

PPC marketing gets your content in front of audiences via search engines and other advertising channels.

By understanding who you are targeting, you can serve them with relevant content which they’ll click on. However, bear in mind that B2B buyers do a lot of comparison shopping before choosing to engage a certain company. This means you need to serve them in-depth content such as white papers and case studies instead of ‘quick deals’ which would attract a B2C consumer.
person typing on iMac

B2B Content Marketing

Now I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but CONTENT IS KING.

As a Junior Content Strategist, I’m a bit biased, but content is one of the most effective ways of attracting your target audience.

We’ve already identified that B2B customers want information which is informative and educational. They need to believe that you’re an expert in your industry, and that you know exactly what you’re talking about.

Content is the perfect way to prove this.

By producing in-depth, insightful resources that inform your customer about your industry, and explore topics that are relevant to them, you are demonstrating that you are the go-to company. They shouldn’t have to look any further, as your content should position you as the expert in your field.

By not being overly salesly, and approaching content from a helpful point of view, you are subtly converting leads into becoming customers. Content also supports your SEO activity as you can include keywords which users are searching for. This enables your content to rank highly on search engines which increases the likelihood of customers clicking onto it.

One of the first places you should start as a B2B company is your blog.

You should utilise this space to write about subjects that are relevant to your target audience. Your customers might not be ready to invest in your offering just yet, which is why content is so valuable. It helps them identify the problem, then seamlessly seeds in how you can help – without being OTT.

At Canny, one of the first things we advise our clients to do is set up a blog.

Whether you’re a construction tool hire company like our client YardLink, or a software company for nurseries like our good friends at Learning Journals, content is the answer. It never goes out of date, regardless of how long it has been on your website, so it will continue generating interest for the business years after it has been published.

However, a good habit to get into is conducting a content audit. This ensures that everything on your blog is up to date and reflects your brand messaging.

B2B Social Media Marketing

Social media for B2B marketing can be a tough nut to crack.

Whilst it’s a great tool and has so much potential, it needs a lot of thought to get right. It’s not enough to just post a few tweets and hope they do the job.

What’s more, is that you need to identify which social media channels work for your business. This will differ depending on the nature of your company, but understanding where the most engagement lies will help you get the most out of social media marketing.

For example, are your audience more active on Facebook or LinkedIn? You should use these insights to craft your social media strategy and invest more time into the channels which yield the most results.

In terms of conversions, social media is less successful than other marketing efforts such as content. Instead, it’s better to use this platform to build brand awareness, and attract people to your offering.

It’s also a great way of humanising your brand and adding a ‘face’ to the company. Especially when you’re appealing to other businesses, people like to work with people. They want to know who is behind the computer screen and what you’re all about.

The best thing about social media is that you don’t always have to be corporate. Show people who you are, introduce your team, and let them see what goes on behind the scenes.

You can also utilise these channels for sharing valuable information and resources.

Posted a new blog recently? Share it.

Launched a new service? Share it.

Have a new client case study? Share it.

You get the picture!

This is another way of adding credibility and expertise to your brand which is what B2B consumers love.
person using macbook air

B2B Marketing Reporting

Regardless of the type of campaign, whether it’s email marketing, digital marketing, content marketing, or social media marketing, you need to be able to create accurate reports.

This helps you measure your return on investment and ensures different tactics are working for your businesses. It’s pointless spending time and money on something which doesn’t work.

But without understanding the data, and pulling together a report, how can you track the effectiveness of campaigns?

When working in B2B marketing, a common issue you will face is revenue attribution. This basically means understanding where money is being spent. As we’ve covered in the blog, there will usually be a few people involved in the decision making process before you make a purchase. Remember a B2B customer is not spending their own money but is acting on behalf of an organisation. This means they need to be able to explain their purchasing decisions in full.

You will have to justify your reason for spending money and how the service is going to help grow the business. It can be a bit of a mind field, but thankfully we already covered how to create great marketing reports on the Canny blog.

The Ultimate Guide to B2B Marketing

I’ll go back to the first line of the blog:one of the most important parts of marketing is understanding your audience.

You could have the best ideas, the best product, and the best intentions, but without understanding who you’re targeting, you’re pretty much acting blind.

As a business, you need to identify whether you’re targeting individuals or organisations. This is absolutely essential as it sets the focus for your entire marketing strategy.

As we’ve discussed, what drives an individual purchase and what drives a business purchase is very different. You need to tap into these factors and shape your marketing efforts to suit. Individuals act on emotion, whereas organisations act very much on profit.

I hope you now have a better understanding of B2B marketing and what strategies you can employ to reach your target audience.

But, if you’re still feeling overwhelmed by it all and need some further guidance then why not reach out to a member of our team? With a vast portfolio of clients across a range of industries we know what it takes to make your brand stand out. We offer a complete solution from content creation, to web design, to branding to position your company at the forefront.