Source: Content Standard (Skyword)
Business to business marketing (or B2B) is the second-most common type of marketing today behind B2C (consumer), with nearly as many new factors to evaluate efficacy. But what are the most important areas to pay attention to when marketing businesses, and where is the best place to start?
Here are 10 ways to improve B2B internet marketing efforts.
Raise Brand Awareness
For nearly three decades, if one needed to make a physical copy of a document, a “Xerox copy” was made (today, shortened to “copy”). To make a copy people would “Xerox” something. Xerox had such successful branding that it literally became synonymous with making a copy.
The goal of any businesses is the same: to stand out from competitors and become a staple in their consumer’s life. This is the holy grail of content marketing.
Brand awareness starts with the first touch points. It is important to understand how and where the audiences will engage with a brand, fortify those positions and then create new ones. After all, if a business fails to reach the right people, nothing else matters.
- Research and implement effective keywords. Keywords still matter, all the more so because enough people are convinced that they don’t. It’s not enough to saturate a website with a phrase or two (in fact, Google usually penalizes this kind of activity). You need to research the specific keywords pertinent to your industry, and see just how often and how heavily they are used by your competition. Pick out the most competitive keywords which have specific relevance to each of your pages, and use a particular keyword on each page as your primary focus. Balance standard keywords with “long-tail” keywords, which are three or more keywords that form a phrase or sentence. Instead of just including “sporting goods” in your articles, maybe write a post that includes the words “Where to find cheap sporting goods” to capture that traffic. While it draws from a much smaller starting audience – it attracts a much higher percentage of that audience, as compared to standard keywords.
- Update your content regularly. Content sells. While new content sells better, existing content can be updated to include a new media element, an infographic for example, or reposted to a social network. This practice is also known as “upcycling.” Did you get a good reaction from a particular blog post six months ago? Recap the same content in a video, and post it to your company’s YouTube channel. The change in presentation will make the post seem more fresh and relevant, while reaching substantially different aspects of your primary demographic. Please note, the effectiveness of this idea does rely upon different forms of expression being staggered over time – as opposed to releasing a blog, a slideshow, and a video all at once.
- Use popular forms of digital media. Infographics like this one are growing in popularity. They present valuable written information, boiled down to simple and eye-catching visuals. Even if a person isn’t paying direct, conscious attention to the artwork involved, the point is to break up the paragraphs of text. Another key multimedia element of business-to-business marketing in today’s digital environment is video advertisements. These elements will help make your post more entertaining to read.
Have an (even modestly) Contemporary Website
Although this may sound pretty straightforward, so many businesses still ignore this. Even if most leads are generated through cold calls or word of mouth, having a website is still an important asset. For all intents and purposes, the website is the digital storefront, the leadership team, and the core values of a business. It’s the essence of the organization or brand. Visitors check websites to learn about products and services, and more importantly, to make sure a business is respected and legitimate. It can bear a great deal of burden on the advertising, marketing, and customer service departments without constant supervision.
Here are a few tips for ensuring that a website is maximizing output:
- Maintain simple, smooth, and easy-to-use navigation. Your website needs to be fast, clearly organized, and easy to navigate. Studies suggest that the longer it takes for a webpage to load, the higher the bounce rate for that page. Kissmetrics found that a loading time of 4 seconds leads to a page abandonment rate of 25%. Links need to be clearly positioned where potential clients will see them, and they need to take them quickly from point A to point B.
- Educate your potential leads. A website shouldn’t just engage customers, it should inform them as well. It should be abundantly clear what a business offers and how it can fulfill a particular customer’s want or need. So, what exactly is it? Why do they want it? How does one set themselves apart from top competitors within a certain niche? These are questions that a successful website should to be able to answer through clear definitions and rich, well-organized content, including interactive media.
- Distribute backlinks. No, really, get them out there. Backlinks are the heart and soul of digital marketing. The best website in the world won’t do anything if nobody sees or hears about it. By attaching a web address to personal profiles, forum signatures, and email signatures businesses can gain traffic and consistency. Wherever possible, it should also be associated with any other pertinent contact information, such as phone number and physical address. This is typically referred to as your NAP (name, address, and phone number), and the more consistent these are online, the more likely a website will be served up as a result. There are other marketing tools to use in promoting the existence of a website, but nothing matches the importance of good backlinks.
- Stay astride current trends in digital marketing. With the increasingly competitive nature of business-to-business marketing, it is more and more important to keep ahead of the next big thing. This includes SEO strategies, lead generation, content strategies, and email marketing campaigns, among many other integral parts of the overall operation. Don’t just look at current trends, look for information on what people are expected to be doing two, five, and even ten years down the road. It might sound impossible, but there are specialized resources for this available online, including a number of leading digital marketing blogs with a keen eye for what lies ahead.
Pay Attention to Analytics & Measurement (they are Crucial)
There’s little use in trying to implement new marketing strategies if no attention is being paid to how well the old strategies performed. By utilizing historical data, businesses can more accurately predict trends and strategize for future marketing campaigns.
- Use the latest intelligence gathering tools. Digital marketing firms today offer technologies which have yet to enter the public consciousness. For example, there are multiple types of heat maps, software which displays a given web page with an overlay, showing where its visitors tended to congregate, click, hover the mouse, and otherwise focus their attention. This information is displayed by means of a colored “map” resembling an infrared “heat vision” display, hence the name. You can even track where each visitor to your site within a certain time period came from, and at what point they dropped their connection with your website. You can follow their link trail through your site’s pages, and even view video displays of their journey. Other information, increasingly crucial in today’s world, will tell you whether they connected via a desktop computer or a mobile device.
- Reach out for client feedback. Digital feedback can be gathered through different means, and this kind of direct input is more valuable than ever. Exit polls and email surveys are two examples of popular forms of customer polling that are in widespread use today, but a third form – often neglected – is social media. People have a tendency to use social media as though the things they say will only reach the eyes and ears for which they are intended. From social media a lot of intimate, personal feedback as to what works and what doesn’t can be gleaned from posts and tweets on networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
- Implement strategies based on areas of improvement. One of the marketing mindsets to most effectively take off in the digital era has been that of inbound marketing. Take a set of data, either direct (through surveys and the like) or indirect (through analytical tools measuring traffic, conversion rates, and so forth) and use it to implement improvements a website and marketing strategy. Keep a website well-organized by altering or removing elements which appear to be causing visitors confusion. A common culprit here is an image, or emphasized text, which looks as though it ought to be a link, but isn’t. When someone clicks on what they think is a link, only to find out that it’s non-interactive, their interest in continuing through the site plummets. Above all, provide VALUE at every step and understand each of those steps in the audience’s customer journey.
Additional Tools and Resources
Here are a few additional suggestions for use in promoting your business within a B2B environment. Each one figures prominently into two or more points which have already been addressed.
Use B2B email marketing effectively. Email marketing campaigns are an often-underrated way to reach out to interested customers and encourage them to spend more time considering your products or services. More consideration, and more time spent, equals greater sales and consistently, B2B email subscribers spend more on those companies with whom they are subscribed than they do elsewhere. This article offers a few specific tips on how to maximize the effectiveness of your B2B email campaign, so as to reach additional subscribers and better hold their interest. This one from Autosend.io takes into account advice from eighteen recognized B2B internet marketing experts and other experienced professionals. Here’s a hint, just to get you started: creativity is key, as much in email marketing as it is elsewhere. Think of emails as another medium for the conveyance of interesting and rewarding content, and proceed accordingly.
Remember to use Social Media tools! We touched on the importance of social media earlier in this article, but not the tools that can make social media easier for you. HootSuite allows you to manage several different social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, all while pulling valuable analytics. For a longer list of potential resources, check out Mashable’s article.
With the growing prevalence of online tools, it’s difficult to overstate the importance of creating a strong digital presence online. Even if your sales are made through different means, just having a strong website and social media following will prove to potential leads that your business is the one to be trusted and revered. Contact to find out more today!