Expert's Guide to B2B Marketing - 2020 Edition [W/ Examples]

Want to learn about B2B marketing?

You’ve come to the right place - we’ve gotten some insane results for both ourselves and our clients using B2B marketing.

  • We grew a BPM software from 0 to 200,000 monthly organic traffic using SEO & content marketing
  • We generated over $25,000 in revenue through a single blog post using content marketing
  • We’ve helped over a dozen B2B companies create a top-down marketing strategy, and execute it

So, suffice to say, we know a thing or two about B2B marketing.

And in this guide, we’re going to teach you all you need to know to get started.

This article is going to cover:

  • What’s B2B marketing & how is it different from B2C
  • How to set up your B2B marketing strategy, and where to get started
  • Which marketing channels are the most effective for a B2B company
  • Real-life examples and case studies of B2B marketing

So, let’s dive right in!

Don’t care about all the marketing theory? Click here to jump ahead to the B2B marketing strategy section.

What is B2B Marketing

B2B Marketing, or Business-to-Business Marketing, refers to any type of marketing strategy or tactic used for selling goods or services to a business or organization.

Any company that sells to other businesses is a B2B company and hence, does B2B marketing.

To give you some examples:

  • A digital marketing agency that services businesses does B2B marketing
  • A software company that sells enterprise software does B2B marketing
  • An accounting firm works with other businesses and hence does B2B marketing

B2B vs B2C Marketing

If you’ve worked both B2C and B2B, you’d probably agree with us:

There’s a HUGE difference between B2C and B2B marketing.

Here’s how…

B2B marketing targets individuals who represent the interests of a business. Thus, making the organization the customer (as opposed to the individual).

B2C marketing, on the other hand, targets the individual.

Meaning, there’s a gigantic difference in how each audience perceives and evaluates your product or service.

B2B MarketingB2C Marketing
Purchase motivationThe customer is driven by logic and facts. Emotion has less of an impact.

You don’t buy a marketing service because it makes you look cool, you buy it because of a promised ROI.

The customer makes, for the most part, emotion-based decisions.

You buy a Tesla because it’s cool to own a Tesla.

Purchasing processThe customer does heavy research about your product/service, team, etc…

They consider a lot of factors before deciding whether they want to work with you or not.

B2C marketing is less research-intensive. While some people do their research on a new product, most people buy an Iphone 10 because it’s an Iphone 10.
People involved in the purchasing processDepends on the situation, but it can be just the decision-maker, a team, a department, or the entire company management.The end-customer. In some cases, for major purchases, they discuss it with their family.
Marketing approachYou need to adopt a professional approach. Give the customers facts, data, and information on why it makes logical sense to buy your product/services.You can get away with a lot more branding than with B2B.

Your product might be inferior to the competition, but if it’s the Next Cool Thing, you can still get a TON of sales.

B2B Marketing Strategy

...And that’s it for all the theory.

Phew, we hope you didn’t get too bored.

Now, let’s talk about what counts: practice, and how you can get the best results out of your B2B marketing initiatives.

Whatever your business might be about, you’d need to follow these 3 steps to get started:

  1. Define Your Persona
  2. Pick the Right Marketing Channels
  3. Launch Marketing Campaigns & Test, Tweak, Repeat

And we’re going to teach you how to do each of them step by step, starting with…

Step #1 - Define Your Persona

Before you even start with your B2B marketing, you need to figure out WHO you’re selling to.

After all, if you’re marketing to the wrong audience, you’re setting yourself up for failure from day #1.

So, try to figure out the following about your ideal customer:

  • Demographics. Who’s the customer? What’s their position at the company? What’s their age, gender, etc...
  • Use-Cases. Who’s going to be using your product/service? Is it the same person as the decision-maker?
  • Pains and Needs. What problem does your product/service solve? What are the most enticing features or benefits that you offer?

Now, once you have a customer persona down, you might be tempted to completely forget about it and never mention it again.

Yeah, you’d be surprised how many companies do that.

But no.

The idea here is to gain some learnings from the persona, and reflect it in your B2B marketing.

Here’s how you can put the knowledge you gained into practice:

  • Pick the right tone of voice for your product or service.
    • Let’s say you’re selling enterprise software to international companies. Your brand should be 100% professional and formal.
    • On the other hand, if you’re selling to local businesses, you can get away with being more “playful” and less corporate.
  • Showcase the right features on your website. If you know which of your use-cases are most liked by your customers, you can make them more visible on your landing page. A lot of companies tend to mistaken what THEIR favorite feature is with what the customers really care about.
  • Showcase the right selling points on your ads. As with the website copy, you can tailor your ads to your ideal customer.
  • Create supplementary materials for each decision-maker. Let’s say, for example, you’re selling high-tech enterprise software to a not-so-tech-savvy CEO. You can create documents to explain how your product is going to benefit them in a less technical language.

Step #2 - Pick the Right Marketing Channels

Now, the next step is to decide which marketing channels you’re going to focus on.

Unless you’re a CMO with years of experience behind your band, this step can be a bit complicated.

See, in 2020, there are dozens of potential marketing channels you could be using - SEO, email marketing, PPC, and that’s just the start.

So, which ones should YOU be using?

In this section, we’re going to cover all the most popular B2B marketing channels, and teach you how to use them.

Feel free to skip head:

  1. SEO
  2. Google Search Ads
  3. Facebook Ads
  4. LinkedIn Ads
  5. Direct Outreach
  6. Content Marketing
  7. Offline Marketing
  8. Other Potential Channels

#1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a very popular B2B marketing channel.

The gist of it is, you optimize your web pages for terms surrounding your niche, and rank on respective search terms.

For example, let’s say you sell Project Management software to enterprise companies.

You’d want to rank for terms like “project management software,” “project management,” “task management,” and so on.

project management software google search results

Anyone that searches for these terms is most likely interested in your software.

You’d want to use SEO for your B2B marketing if:

  • There are a lot of search terms surrounding your product. If your product is something super innovative, you won’t have customers searching for it, so there’s not much SEO potential. In that case, you’d have to figure out a way to get to your customers (through other channels, which we’ll cover in a bit).
  • Your customer base is moderately large. If you only have, say, 500 total potential clients, you’re better off selling to them directly than by investing in SEO.
  • You’re willing to wait for 1-2 years to get results. SEO is a long-term game. It takes a lot of time to kick in, so if you’re looking for results tomorrow, this isn’t the right channel for you. It does however, reap in the biggest benefits in the long-term.

As for how to do SEO, there are a ton of guides on the web, but here are some of our favorite blogs on the topic:

And some of the best articles:

#2. Google Search Ads

If there are a lot of people Googling for products such as yours, you can take advantage of that through search ads.

This works pretty much the same way as SEO, but the difference is that you pay in order to pop up as a top result.

google search project management software B2B Marketing

You’d want to use search ads if:

  • Your niche isn’t too competitive. If you’re in an overcrowded or dominated niche, you won’t be able to get a positive ROI for your search ad campaigns. See, big companies with a large budget are willing to overinvest in Google Search Ads & drive up the average CPC, so that smaller competitors won’t even be able to afford to run ads. For example, in the email marketing niche, you’d see that the Cost Per Click for “email marketing software” as a keyword is around 25 USD. Unless you’re MailChimp, chances are, you won’t be getting your ROI from such keywords.

Want to learn search ads? Here are our favorite resources:

#3. Facebook Ads

FB Ads don’t need an introduction from us. You’ve seen them, clicked them, and bought from them.

facebook ads

But how good are they for B2B marketing?

Surprisingly, not that good.

You’d want to use Facebook Ads specifically if:

  • Your product is more “commercial”. Facebook Ads is good for targeting masses with similar interests, not decision-makers in large organizations.
    • DO: If you’re targeting small business owners
    • DON’T: If you’re targeting CXOs of medium to large size companies

To learn Facebook Ads, check out some of these top resources:

#4. LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn ads are famous for being hard to use and generally unintuitive…

But they’re PERFECT for B2B marketing.

The cool part about LinkedIn ads is that you can target the EXACT decision makers in specific companies.

You can target by all sorts of criteria, including:

  • Company size
  • Position at the company
  • Seniority
  • Industry

And more. So, want to target CMOs in medium-sized companies? Or maybe CEOs or large companies?

With LinkedIn ads, you can do both.

One downside with LI ads is that it’s significantly more expensive than Facebook ads, but if your CLTV is high (and with B2B companies it usually is), that shouldn’t be much of an issue.

You’d want to use LinkedIn ads if:

  • Your audience, at least occasionally, hangs out on LinkedIn.
  • From our personal experience, you’ll get better results targeting CXOs rather than small business owners, as they use Li more often.
  • You have a high CLTV, and a reasonable budget.

And if you want to learn how to use LinkedIn ads, check out these resources:

#5. Direct Outreach

The beauty of working B2B is that your customer lifetime value is (in most cases) considerably high (500 USD+).

Meaning, you can afford to have a dedicated outreach team manually hunting down prospects.

Usually, the process here is relatively straightforward:

  1. You use a VA to get a giant list of qualified leads
  2. Your sales or outreach team, on a regular basis, reaches out and tries to get the leads interested

The outreach itself can be done on LinkedIn through direct messaging, or through email.

You’d want to use direct outreach if:

  • You have a limited customer base (say, 5,000 leads world-wide), so it’s more reasonable to reach out to them one-by-one than do mass marketing
  • Your customer lifetime value is relatively high. Obviously, if you’re selling a $20 a month tool, you can’t justify having a giant sales team.

And if you want to learn how to do direct outreach, check out these resources:

#6. Content Marketing

Content marketing is another extremely popular B2B marketing channel.

The gist of it is:

  1. You create high-quality content around a topic that helps your target audience solve a problem.
  2. You promote the hell out of this article on channels where your audience hangs out at.

From our experience, most B2B companies can benefit from content marketing

The only case you WOULDN’T use content is if you have a limited # of potential customers world-wide, or if your audience does not hang out online in general.

If you want to learn content marketing, here’s what we recommend:

#7. Offline Marketing

In 2020, most B2B marketers are mainly focused on digital marketing.

But that’s not all there is to marketing. There are still a ton of offline channels you can use to get amazing results.

Some popular offline B2B marketing tactics you can try are:

  • Buy billboards around areas where your target audience hangs out in. E.g. business parks.
  • Buy a booth at a trade show within your industry. E.g. selling CRM software? Attend a CRM trade show. To find the best trade shows in your industry, use this.
  • Sponsor conferences where your audience hangs out. E.g. selling SEO software? Sponsor a marketing conference. Here’s an amazing example on how Ahrefs drove leads by sponsoring conferences.
  • Direct sales. Get your sales team to call prospects and try to set up a meeting. For the best sales-related content, check out the Close.io blog.
  • Attend conferences, meetups, or trade shows and directly network with leads.

#8. Other Potential B2B Marketing Channels

While those were the most popular B2B marketing channels, there’s still a lot of other channels you can try:

  • Run Quora ads. On Quora, you can target people who ask specific types of questions. E.g. selling an email marketing software? You can target people asking questions around email marketing. Learn more about Quora ads here.
  • Run Reddit ads. Reddit is pretty hit or miss for B2B, but for some niches, it can be a gold mine. For more on Reddit ads, check out this article.
  • Get featured on online media. Do your customers read TechCrunch? Or maybe NextWeb? If you can pinpoint the media your audience likes to read, you can try to get a feature there.
  • Establish partnerships. You can partner with companies that offer complimentary products/services and cross-advertise.

Channels That DON’T Work For B2B Marketing

If you’ve previously worked in B2C marketing, you might have had some success with specific marketing channels, which you now want to replicate in B2B.

Unfortunately, a lot of channels that do work for B2C, DON’T work nearly as well for B2B.

Here’s a list of the channels that you should avoid for B2B marketing:

  • Instagram is SUPER B2C - no business owner hangs out there to buy B2B products or services.
  • Pinterest is amazing for sharing visual, B2C content. Think, pretty infographics, recipes, that kinda stuff. Not that useful for B2B.
  • Social Media Marketing. This one’s a bit controversial, but in 2020, no one reads your company Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter page. If you check out the company pages of some of the best B2B organizations, you’ll see that they get a handful of likes at best.
  • Influencer Marketing. B2B influencers are a LOT more expensive than B2C, pretty much invalidating the entire channel. In B2C, you can sponsor a fitness influencer to post a pic of your wait loss product for $50 - $1,000 max. In B2B, you’d have to pay a lot more for an influencer to vouch for your product.

Step #3 - Launch Your Marketing Campaigns

Once you’ve picked your channels, it’s time to kick your marketing in high gear and press “launch!”

At this stage, you need to be constantly tracking and evaluating your ROI from each marketing channel.

Unless you’re doing that, you’re pretty much blowing money to the wind.

Here’s our personal methodology for managing our marketing campaigns:

  1. First, identify all the marketing channels you want to try. List out all the tactics, and identify what are the to-dos you need to complete to execute the campaign.
  2. Then, execute 1-3 marketing campaigns at a time with a small budget. Keep track and measure the results:
    1. How much traffic do you get from any given campaign?
    2. What % of the traffic checks out your product/service?
    3. What % of the traffic converts into a lead?
    4. What % of the leads convert into clients?
  3. Once you’ve tested all the campaigns you wanted to try, compare your results. Which ones performed the best?
  4. Identify the channels that got you the top results, and scale them up.
    1. If it’s direct outreach, it might mean scaling your outreach, or getting more sales people.
    2. If it’s SEO, it might mean getting more content writers or link-builders
  5. On an ongoing basis, constantly analyze your marketing campaigns. Run small-scale experiments when needed and try to figure out where you can make improvements.

3 B2B Marketing Examples & Case-Studies

What’s a better way to get inspiration for your marketing than by reading real-life, practical case studies?

Here are some of our favorite B2B marketing case studies on the web...

#1 - Apollo Digital SEO Case Study

B2B Marketing Apollo Digital Google Analytics

Apollo Digital (that’s us!) managed to grow a BPM / Workflow Management Software client from 0 to 200,000 monthly organic traffic in under 2 years.

Currently, the company ranks for several high-competition, high CPC keywords, and drives a ton of qualified leads.

Want to know what we did? Here’s a quick summary:

  1. Audited the client’s SEO strategy (includes keyword research). Removed keywords that were not relevant for the company’s interests, and added around a 100 new ones.
  2. Prioritized keywords that were potentially easy wins - high search volume, high CPC, and low competition
  3. Solved some technical SEO problems, including keyword cannibalization
  4. Implemented the practice of using SEO content outlines for delegating writing work

...And more.

For the complete SEO case study, head over here.

Curious on what else we’ve managed to accomplish? Check out our content marketing case study.

#2 - Content Mavericks Content Marketing Case Study

Content Mavericks Content Marketing Case Study

Chris Von Wilpert from Content Mavericks managed to create a mega-viral article and drive over $100,000 in revenue (i.e. clients for his content marketing service). Here’s how he did this:

  1. He created a long-form article breaking down HubSpot’s marketing strategy
  2. Promoted the hell out of it all over the web, which included:
    1. Running ads on Facebook and Twitter
    2. Reaching out management team from HubSpot and asking for a share
    3. Reaching out to marketing influencers and asking for shares

...And a lot more.

For the complete case study, head over here.

#3 - Appsumo Digital Marketing Case Study

Appsumo Digital Marketing Case Study

Noah Kagan managed to grow Appsumo to a multi-million dollar company with digital marketing.

Haven’t heard of AppSumo?

They’re basically a marketplace for lifetime deals on SaaS products. You can get some amazing deals at very low rates.

And today, AppSumo makes more money per employee than some of the biggest tech companies in the world.

So, what did Noah do to achieve this? You can get the full run-down in the case study here.

Other B2B Marketing Case Studies & Examples

Looking for more actionable case studies? Here are some of our other favorites:

And if these aren’t enough, you check out our COMPLETE list of the best digital marketing case studies on the web.

Conclusion

And that’s a wrap.

Hope you guys enjoyed the read, and got a good idea on where you want to go with your B2B marketing.

Need help executing everything we just taught you? We offer 360 digital marketing services, both for B2B or B2C niches. Get in touch and let us know how we can help!

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