In today's digital age, business-to-business (B2B) companies have many marketing channels they can leverage to reach and engage their target audience and buyer personas. With so many options available, it can be pretty overwhelming for B2B marketers to determine where and how to focus their efforts while managing budget and maximizing results.
As a social media consultant, I have worked with various B2B businesses and I can tell you that the key to success for effective B2B marketing is to ensure you’re utilizing a strategic mix of channels that align with your overarching marketing and sales cycle. This article will highlight some of the most widely used B2B marketing channels, define their purpose, highlight their benefits, and offer some tips for making the most of each one.
Whether you are hoping to generate more leads, increase brand awareness, or drive revenue growth, developing a sound B2B marketing strategy across the right channels for your SaaS business can help propel your organization to the next level.
The Evolution Of B2B Marketing
The B2B marketing landscape has evolved significantly over the past couple of decades. In the early 2000s, tactics were more traditional, as they focused primarily around attending trade shows, using print advertising, sending direct mail, and utilizing cold calling. Now in this digital age, we can thank the internet for bringing about major shifts, with digital marketing, social media, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and website development playing a critical role. With new technologies and strategies emerging all the time, the B2B marketing toolbox continues to expand, making marketing automation more seamless. The key is to embrace innovation while leveraging proven channels that align with your business goals.
So, how exactly do you use each b2b marketing channel most effectively? Let's get into it, starting with social media.
How To Use Each B2B Marketing Channel
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing has become an indispensable component of any B2B marketing strategy today. Platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube allow brands to engage and build relationships with their target audiences online. B2B marketing teams who aren't utilizing social media are missing out on massive exposure potential and the chance to directly interact with key decision-makers.
The main benefits social platforms offer include driving brand awareness, lead generation, enhanced customer engagement, and leveraging advanced targeting capabilities to get your content and messages in front of your ideal customers.
Use it for: Social media platforms provide numerous options for getting your brand and content in front of relevant audiences through organic and paid campaigns. You can promote thought leaders, run targeted ads, participate in online industry discussions, host live events, and provide helpful resources to position your organization as an authority.
Metrics to watch: Impressions, engagement rate, likes/comments, click-through rate, and lead conversion rate will all reveal how well your organic and paid social media content is performing.
Pro tip: Focus the bulk of your social media budget on LinkedIn, as 80% of B2B marketing leads come from this professional network. With over 800 million users, LinkedIn provides access to decision-makers across every industry. Tailoring your messaging and ad targeting specifically for the LinkedIn audience will yield the best ROI.
Email marketing is another effective channel within the B2B marketer's toolbox due to its cost-effectiveness, versatility, and ability to directly engage with target audiences. With the ability to segment and personalize messaging for different personas and buyer journey stages, email marketing can feel like a 1:1 conversation with each individual recipient. Developing high-quality, value-driven email campaigns through CRM software while tailoring your key segments will be a smart long-term investment for any B2B organization.
Use it for: The main purposes of B2B email marketing include generating leads through gated content offers, retaining and growing business with existing customers through loyalty and advocacy campaigns, driving conversions by promoting offers and CTAs, and building brand awareness through informative newsletters and announcements.
Metrics To Watch: Conversion rate, unsubscribe rate, and deliverability rate can all help track the success of email marketing campaigns. Optimizing these KPIs will ensure your emails are resonating with audiences, leading to sales.
Pro Tip: Leverage segmentation and personalized messaging as much as possible. By dividing your lists into demographics with shared interests and needs, you can craft hyper-targeted emails that speak directly to each subscriber. Personalization tends to boost open and click-through rates, so invest time into understanding your various audience segments.
Content marketing is an essential component of any B2B marketing strategy as it involves creating and sharing valuable, relevant content like blog posts, eBooks, case studies, guides, videos, and more in order to consistently attract, engage, and nurture a clearly defined target audience. By taking the time to understand your audience’s pain points and interests, you can develop an insightful content strategy that provides solutions rather than sells. With regular, high-quality content, you can build an audience that keeps coming back for more.
Use It For: Use content marketing to establish thought leadership, generate leads, enhance SEO, educate customers, and build brand awareness. By consistently publishing engaging content optimized for search and sharing, b2b companies can organically reach and convert target audience.
Metrics to Watch: Website traffic, lead generation, backlinks, social shares, engagement rate, and sales revenue influenced by content reveal how well your content is resonating with audiences, contributing to business growth.
Pro Tip: Focus on quality over quantity when it comes to content. Well-researched, expertly crafted content tailored to your audience's needs will outperform high volumes of mediocre content. Take time to develop a strategic editorial calendar and promotion plan for each piece of content that is created.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an integral channel that involves optimizing your website content and architecture to rank higher in the organic SERPs (search engine result pages) on search engines like Google. B2B buyers heavily rely on search to research and evaluate products and services during the buyer journey. By focusing your SEO efforts on target keyword phrases that prospective customers are searching, you can earn increased qualified organic website traffic and leads over time.
Use It For: SEO for B2B includes driving more website visitors, generating leads, building brand visibility and authority, and boosting conversions from organic search. Ranking high for industry keywords enables you to be found by your target buyers.
Metrics to Watch: Organic traffic growth, keyword rankings, backlinks, website speed and mobile optimization, and conversion rate from organic search will demonstrate the impact of your optimization efforts.
Pro Tip: Focus your SEO strategy around creating content that targets industry topics and buyer keywords that are directly relevant to your customer. Optimize each piece of content for specific keywords, and promote it to earn backlinks from authoritative sites.
Paid Search or PPC
Paid search marketing, also known as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, is a digital marketing channel that B2B brands should also leverage. With PPC, you purchase text ads on search engines like Google that appear above and below organic results when users search for your target keywords. This allows you to put your brand and offerings directly in front of potential clients as they actively research solutions to their challenges.
Use It For: Paid search can generate high-quality leads by enabling you to put your brand in front of motivated searchers, increasing website traffic and conversions. It allows marketers to compete for keyword real estate when you may not rank organically yet. PPC ads work well with organic SEO, as the combined efforts bring more visibility.
Metrics to Watch: Click-through-rate, cost per click, conversion rate, cost per lead/acquisition, and return on ad spend are what you should pay attention to in order to optimize targeting, bids, ad copy, and landing pages to maximize your budget.
Prop Tip: Align your paid search strategy tightly with your high-value target keywords and existing SEO approach. Use ads to bring immediate traffic while you work on long-term organic rankings, ultimately getting referrals.
Display advertising is a highly visible marketing channel that B2B brands can incorporate to reach new audiences. Display ads encompass any visual ad formats displayed on third-party websites, including banner ads, native ads, pop-ups, video ads, and more. With diverse formats and placements, tailored messaging, and continual optimization, display ads can bolster your brand visibility and attract high-quality traffic to your site.
Use It For: The main purposes of display advertising for B2B include increasing brand awareness and visibility, retargeting website visitors across the web, reaching specialized audiences, and driving traffic to your site.
Metrics to Watch: Impression volume, click-through rate, cost per click, conversion rate, and cost per acquisition will reveal the best placements, audiences, and ad strategies to maximize results.
Pro tip: Align your display approach with your ideal customer journeys. Use generalized branding display ads to build awareness, then deploy targeted product and service ads to retarget or nurture prospects down the funnel.
Video marketing is a versatile channel that B2B brands can incorporate into their strategy. Video content like explainer videos, customer testimonials, webinars, animated infographics, product demos, thought leadership interviews and more can uniquely engage your audience and convey key messaging in a dynamic, visual format. From video ads to YouTube channels, video marketing generates significant ROI when purposefully executed.
Use It For: The main outcomes of video marketing is to increase brand awareness, educate prospects, generate qualified leads, humanize your brand, and drive conversions. Video content tends to be highly engaging and shareable when optimized for relevant keywords and platforms.
Metrics to Watch For: Views, completion rate, social engagement, inbound links, lead generation, and ROI will help you see the impact of your video content.
Pro tip: Repurpose your existing text-based content into video format to increase engagement. For example, turn your popular blog posts and eBooks into animated or narrated videos.
Podcasting has emerged as a powerful content marketing channel for B2B brands looking to establish thought leadership. Podcasts involve creating serialized audio programs and distributing episodes through platforms like Apple Podcasts, Spotify and other apps. For B2B, podcast topics can range from industry trends to product training to executive or influencer interviews and more.
Use It For: The main goals of B2B podcasting are establishing thought leadership, generating brand awareness, driving website traffic, lead generation, and audience engagement. Producing high-quality podcast content positions your brand as an authority.
Metrics to Watch: Number of listeners, downloads, reviews, shares, website traffic driven, and leads generated will provide insight into your audience reach and engagement.
Pro tip: For further distribution, repurpose podcast audio into shareable video and text content. You can also transcribe key podcast quotes into social media posts and blog articles to maximize value.
Webinars are an impactful marketing channel for B2B brands to connect directly with their audience and showcase expertise. Webinars allow you to deliver valuable insights, case studies, product demos, training and more in an engaging virtual format. With interactive elements like polls, Q&As, and handouts, you can create an immersive webinar experience. Webinars provide immense opportunities to engage customers and prospects through targeted education and valuable information.
Use it For: The main goals of B2B webinars are lead generation, thought leadership, product demonstrations, customer training, and developing brand authority. Webinars position your brand as subject matter experts.
Metrics to Watch: Registrations, attendance, engagement rate, leads captured, and conversion rate of leads to customers helps to optimize promotion of your webinar content.
Pro tip: Repurpose webinar content into multiple formats after the live event. Turn the recordings into gated videos, blog articles, and social posts to extend the content value.
Event marketing is another effective channel for B2B brands to directly engage their target audience face-to-face. This includes participating in industry events like trade shows, conferences, and seminars or hosting your own branded events. From sponsored booths to speaking sessions to VIP dinners, events allow you to creatively showcase your brand and experts.
Use it For: The main goals of event marketing include increasing brand awareness, establishing thought leadership, generating new sales leads, and networking/building relationships. Events allow potential customers to engage with your brand, products, and employees in-person.
Metrics to Watch: Attendee reach, leads captured, pipeline generated, customer engagement, and overall ROI will guide future event planning.
Pro tip: Have a strategic pre-event and post-event strategy to maximize value by incorporating other channels. Promote the event and your presence extensively beforehand through email, social media, paid ads, and outreach campaigns. Follow up with all leads and continue nurturing event connections.
Key Takeaways For Optimizing Your B2B Marketing Channels
As we see, the B2B landscape is vast, but with a strategic approach, you can create an integrated channel mix that delivers results for your organization. Each channel serves unique purposes for goals ranging from brand building to lead generation. By understanding the strengths of each channel and aligning tactics with your overarching objectives, you can develop an integrated approach that delivers strong results.
Now that we’ve gone over all the effective B2B channels, the next step to take is to look at the best marketing softwares to help with automation and implement your marketing efforts. For more B2B sales tips, make sure to subscribe to The CMO newsletter to get the latest insights straight to your inbox.