Digital marketing is big business. Global ad revenues exceeded $100 billion in 2018, primarily on marketing to consumers.
So what about B2B? This is a sector which traditionally has been driven by word of mouth, personal sales, relationship building, networking, and events. Does digital marketing have a role to play for B2B and if so, what is it?
Being ‘corporate entities’, we sometimes forget that businesses are run by humans like you and I. They are emotional creatures with wants and needs, the same as consumers. The B2B marketer needs to consider that there are some differences between consumers and businesses. For example a business will have multiple decision makers and a slow buying cycle. But at the end of the day these are simply people with a problem that needs fixing.
It’s estimated that 87% of purchase decisions start with an online search. These buyers are likely to spend no less time online as anyone else. As such, the opportunity for digital marketing to influencing B2B purchase decisions is significant. In essence you can, and should be utilising online channels in order to connect with and draw-in your target customers.
Where to start with your B2B digital marketing strategy
It’s sometimes difficult to know where to begin with your B2B digital marketing strategy. At Amplify Digital we follow a structured process that looks like this:
- Website audit – are the right tools in place for tracking website visitors and progress?
- Customer Analysis – clarity on who our customers are or who we want them to be. What is their need and how do we fulfil it?
- Competitor analysis – who are they and where are they finding their customers? What are our relative strengths and weaknesses?
- Messaging – what do we say to our customers to persuade them we are the right people to help versus competition?
- Targeting/channels – analysis to identify where our target customers hang out and how to connect with them.
- KPI’s and Reporting – which numbers are we looking to influence, how will we know if we are succeeding?
The defining factor for digital B2B is the targeting (who you going after) and channels (where online you will connect with them).
Today’s digital marketing channels can offer a surprisingly impressive level of targeting accuracy for B2B businesses which is probably being under-utilised by many including your competitors.
Although each of these steps look simple and straightforward, taking the time to think and research deeply and carefully before moving into the next will pay dividends. We all too often see businesses who miss or don’t complete a step which severely impacts the effectiveness of the end result.
How much should you spend on your B2B marketing budget?
How much money you allocate to your B2B marketing budget will depend on a number of factors, but a common rule of thumb suggests between 8% and 15% of revenue. If you are looking to scale aggressively then it can be over 30%.
The most important thing is to set a clear budget allocation and understand the role and risk of every budget line. You should be prepared to flex and adjust as you figure out what works and what doesn’t.
For more on how to decide how much money to spend on marketing, check out out article here.
If you need help, give us a call and we’ll send you a free list of recommendations to get you started!
Established businesses often fall into a certain level of routine. Repeating a range of tasks and activities that have worked in the past on the assumption they will continue to work in the future.
If you ask the person responsible for marketing why they do something a particular way and they say: “because that’s how we’ve always done it”, then it’s a sure sign that there is an opportunity to shake things up.
Growth marketing is an approach whereby you challenge all existing assumptions and take the view that the business is only scraping the surface of a much bigger opportunity.
What is a growth marketing consultant?
Armed with cutting edge knowledge of the latest marketing tools and techniques, a growth marketing expert can help with the following:
- take a fresh look at your business performance from a marketing perspective.
- establish realistic growth goals based on historic data and market opportunity analysis.
- develop an aggressive growth marketing plan to deliver on growth targets within budget constraints.
- train you or your team on how to execute the plan, or do so on your behalf.
What does a growth marketing consultant do?
True growth marketers will be unconstrained in their thinking around which methods can be utilised in order to deliver on your growth targets. They will ensure all appropriate conventional channels are in place then examine the potential for more unconventional approaches.
As long as they are legal and ethical, they are considered!
A growth marker will think relentlessly about who the target customer is and how to effectively identify and connect with them.
Much of the skill will be around their experience and understanding of the latest technologies and techniques that can be used to generate new business.
What does a growth marketing plan look like?
A growth marketing plan should start with an unfiltered list of opportunities.
Some examples of opportunities a growth marketing plan can uncover:
- New channels – are there some channels that the business has overlooked in terms of business generation?
- New customer targets – can your existing offering be repackaged for a new type of customer, opening up more sales opportunities?
- Upsell opportunities – is there an untapped area of demand amongst your existing customer base that you are well positioned to capitalise on?
- Partnerships – is there a mutually beneficial collaboration opportunity that could immediately open up your offering to a vast new audience?
The list should be long and broad with a view to narrowing it based on budget required, time/resource required, and likelihood of success. This narrowed list becomes a ‘testing’ roadmap with a view to rapidly trying out ideas and being prepared to fail fast. Once you identify initiatives that work you simple double down on them and shift more resource in so you can scale them.
You will find that growth marketers will often more likely enjoy working in startups and smaller businesses where they are unconstrained by the bureaucracy of larger businesses where there is a much lower appetite for risk and innovation – crucial for businesses looking to achieve rapid growth.
If you are like many B2B business owners and managers, you will have put some considerable thought into how to get people to visit your website. But once the visitors have arrived on your website, what are the key elements that will help convince them that you are the right company to do business with?
Social proof is a key element that will give website visitors confidence in your business.
Social proof is the ‘virtual queue out of the door’ that shows people that not only do you supply the product or solution that they want, but you are good at it. And that’s why other people are choosing to use you.
You might think twice about eating in an empty restaurant when there is a buzzing eatery a few doors up.
You need your site to emulate the buzzing eatery and not the empty restaurant.
You want to be the restaurant that makes people confident that they have come to the best place in town when they walk through the door.
Websites are no different.
How to demonstrate social proof on your B2B website
This is one of the oldest and well used tricks in the book. And for good reason.
Prospects will trust what other customers have to say more than they will trust what you say.
Testimonials need to be genuine and ideally use a photo of the happy customer. It will further increase trust.
Try and make sure any testimonials represent your typical customer. The more the prospect can relate to that person, the better.
Don’t use a testimonial that features a pensioner from Florida when most of your customers are middle managers based in south east England for example.
2. Case studies
Case studies are great if you have a slightly more complicated product or service.
Not only do they act as a form of endorsement, but they also give you a chance to demonstrate practical examples of how your product or service can help.
Again you should take care to create case studies that focus on the client segment that represents the greatest opportunity to your business, so that the prospect feels it’s directly relevant to them.
3. Ratings and reviews
The good thing about ratings and reviews is they are more independent and therefore considered more trustworthy than reviews that are shown directly on your website.
The downside is you have no control of what they say publicly. This can serve as a very strong motivator to ensure you are addressing issues and building a first class business.
There are plenty of places where customers can leave ratings and reviews such as Google, Facebook, Trustpilot, Feefo, reviews.io.
You should decide which will be most important for your business and encourage happy customers to leave you reviews there.
Some review platforms require a subscription. If you are just starting out, Google reviews is probably the best place to start.
4. Usage statistics
Unless you are en established player or a big brand, there is a fairly high probability that prospects on your website have never heard of you and will be visiting for the first time.
Usage statistics can help prospects understand that you are not a small bucket shop business but a serious and trustworthy player. If for example you have served over 10,000 customers or stock over 500,000 items in your warehouse you should say this. It tells the prospect that you are a serious player and can be trusted.
5. Live usage stats
If you have ever booked a hotel on a website like booking.com, you may be used to seeing messages like:
“This hotel was last booked 8 minutes ago” or “there is only 1 room remaining”
These are great examples of social proof using live data. Other examples that could work for you are:
“Sarah from Lincoln just placed an order” or “Pete from Birmingham just signed up for the newsletter”.
Also on job boards you see this quite frequently:
“We have over 8,000 candidates registered in London”.
These can really help prospects coming to your website get a sense that they are in a ‘busy restaurant’ rather than an empty one.
There are tools like www.fomo.com that can help you display live usage stats on your website.
Every business is different so some of these suggestions may be more relevant than others, but they should as a framework to help you think about what could work for your business.
If you are a business owner or manager, you will recognise that without customers, you are not going to hit your revenue targets.
It may be that you have an established client base, but what if you feel that your product or service is offering true value and you want find more customers to benefit from it?
You can of course start trawling through your personal network or Google, but it makes sense to ensure you are tapping into the knowledge and expertise of people who have experienced a similar challenge, or specialise in solving them.
Here are 5 sources of B2B marketing advice that can get you set off in the right direction:
1. Online Forums – these are a great way to tap into a large group of people. It will likely contain a mixture of business owners /managers like you, and companies or consultants looking to win you over as a client. Either way you can start to pull together a shortlist of ideas that you can use as the beginnings of a marketing plan. Check out LinkedIn Groups, Facebook Groups as well as standalone groups.
2. Networking Groups – networking groups are a wonderful way to connect with like-minded people and share challenges and ideas. Most towns will have a business networking group where, as well as an excuse to mingle over a glass of wine or beer, you may get some fantastic advice and even some customers! Check out British Chambers of Commerce and First Tuesday who both run business networking events.
3. Hire an in-house specialist – if you are really serious, you may decide that you need an in-house specialist. An experienced B2B marketer will be able to formulate a complete B2B marketing strategy for your business and then action it. You should set clear targets for them so they know exactly what their objective is.
4. Hire a B2B marketing consultant – if you don’t have the budget or resource for an in-house specialist, you can look at hiring a B2B marketing consultant. The good thing about using a consultant is that you can set specific targets and a specific budget and see how they perform without the long term commitment of an in-house specialist. The cost of a good B2B consultant should pay back in value to your business many times over.
5. Google it! – If it’s not a full strategy you are after and you just need some ideas to help you boost your enquiries, Google can be a useful resource. There are some great articles on websites like SmartInsights and Econsultancy that offer some fantastic advice on B2B marketing.
1. Update your Linkedin profile and connect with key buyers
LinkedIn has over 25 million users in the UK and 575 million globally. That means there’s a good chance there are potential buyers who you can contact in there. You can search for them based in location, company name, industry and lots more. Once you’ve found them, simply send them a connection request with a short note outlining how your company can help. Don’t go in with a hard sales pitch in your first message.
2. Offer your expertise for free
You won’t win any new customers until they know they can trust you. Offering something for free whether it be an ebook, a free consultation or a product sample will open the door to an honest conversation that can lead to a new customer.
3. Hang out where your target customers hang out
Obviously you need to be visible in order for customers to find you. Google ads will help with this but it’s worth thinking carefully about where your potential customers hang out whether it be forums, events or online groups. Make a regular appearance and offer help so you start to become a familiar and friendly face.
4. Write guest posts
Content is a crucial part of online marketing nowadays. But if you aren’t getting visits to your website, how do you get people to read your content? Guest posting is a great way to do this. Write some great content and share it with websites who’s readers will find it useful. They won’t all say yes, but over time you should be able to figure how and where you can get your guest posts published.
5. Have a sharp website
You should think of your website as your store front. It needs to look professional, presentable, trustworthy and inviting. Get your key messages across effectively using the right balance of words and images, and you will greatly increase the percentage of your visitors who go on to make an enquiry or purchase. Think seriously about getting help with this if you’re unsure. A good wordsmith and designer can work wonders to produce a website you will be hugely proud of.
The Office of National Statistics estimates that half of the UK workforce will be working remotely by 2020.
You might assume that working remotely with a team would deliver a number of disadvantages over working in the same office. However there are some surprising benefits with some managers claiming that working with a remote team is more effective than working remotely.
Advantages of working remotely
No commute time – in 2015, the ONS estimated the average UK commute time to be 57.1 minutes. As well as reducing stress, working remotely frees up a lot of time that can be put towards other things.
No distractions – office banter aside, offices are notorious for creating an environment that makes it difficult to focus on a single task. Working remotely can help you remain focussed on what’s really important.
More efficient use of meeting times – In an online call, when everyone is focused on the screen with only 1 person able to talk at a time, it’s much easier to stay on topic and deliver on the purpose of the meeting within the time slot.
Single point of focus – shouting across the office or jotting things down in your notebook does not deliver the same benefits as a single shared document that the team can collaborate on and use as the basis for daily efforts. Although this could be achieved in an office environment, it’s much easier when working remotely as it becomes the easiest way to communicate and share the plan.
There are of course also some disadvantages to working remotely, for example no more water cooler chat which can be essential for team bonding. You should be looking to get your team together in a social context now and again to facilitate the team dynamic.
So how do you manage a team remotely?
Here are our 5 essential tools:
1. Zoom for video or voice calls. Zoom enables you to connect any number of people by simply sharing a link. It’s simple for anyone to share their screen so everyone can focus on the same thing. Perfect for one-to-one catch-ups or large team meetings. Free for calls up to 45 min then around £11.99p/m.
2. Slack for messaging. Send messages, discuss and collaborate openly and share links to documents and resources. You can message individuals directly or create “channels” for particular subjects. For instance you may have a channel for operations and another for marketing, think of it like a bunch of WhatsApp groups, each containing a different set of stakeholders. You can easily tag people in conversations so they get an alert when you want to flag a message to them. If you’re using slack, there’s little need for internal emails. 😮
3. Trello for task assignment and tracking. Create a ‘Trello board” which you can use to assign tasks and track progress across your team. Each task becomes a card on your Trello board which you can assign to individuals, log relevant information, set deadlines, create checklists and much more. There is little more satisfying than seeing your tasks moving from an “in progress” to “completed” column. Like most of these tools, Trello lives online so anyone in your team can access it and view current status.
4. Google Docs – Draft and share documents with people inside or outside your organisation. Spreadsheets with Google sheets. Word documents with Google Docs, presentations with Google Slides. Very similar to Microsoft Office except free and easy to share/collaborate on documents. Google Docs also work fantastically well on mobile.
5. Webcam and noise cancelling headphones – If you conduct a lot of meetings, it’s worth investing in a good pair of noise cancelling headphones. They will greatly enhance the quality of your call experience and make you feel like you’re in the same room as the people you are speaking with. Similarly either a built in or external webcam, making sure you don’t have a distracting background when making calls.
As you would hope, all of these apps work as well on mobile as they do in desktop.
With your whole team is using these tools together, you can work pretty much anywhere in the world as long as you have a device and internet connection. Sadly there isn’t yet a tool that will eliminate time-zone issues!