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B2B marketing encapsulates several key elements. Defined by its audience (businesses), the most significant factor when determining how companies should market themselves is acknowledging what market they are serving. B2B marketing is different to B2C marketing and requires a specific approach. It is essential to look at the channels, tactics and strategies that lead to B2B marketing success.
B2B marketing promotes goods or services to other businesses, typically in large volumes, with lengthy sales cycles, to multiple decision-makers and companies with more complex needs than individual customers.
This article will further define B2B Marketing, the difference and similarity between B2B and B2C and their respective marketing strategies. Finally, we will illustrate with examples to help bring to life these core concepts.
B2B marketing & sustainable growth
B2B marketing allows businesses to increase brand awareness and nurture leads to convert these prospective leads into paid customers. The ideal scenario for B2B marketing is to develop long-term marketing relationships to drive sustainable growth.
When considering which B2B marketing strategy to implement, it’s essential to understand the buyer’s journey. The buyer’s journey is important when mapping out marketing strategies and how businesses implement such approaches. The three principal stages to consider are Awareness - Consideration - Decision.
In B2B marketing the awareness stage is when the customer identifies an opportunity or a problem. The consideration phase is when the customer has clearly defined and given a name to this problem or opportunity and is committed to researching how to solve it. The third and final stage is when the customer has decided on their solution strategy and has shortlisted a list of vendors.
B2B vs B2C
It is essential to acknowledge the difference in marketing approach when comparing B2C and B2B marketing approaches. B2B marketing identifies and challenges the consumer's needs represented by the company trying to reach out to such audiences. In contrast, B2C marketing is concerned with reaching out to the individual directly.
B2B differs from B2C in terms of strategies and applications used to drive awareness for their respective clients. For B2B marketing, the goal is to reach out to businesses that focus on ROI, efficiency, and expertise instead of targeting customers looking for deals and entertainment (B2C). For B2B marketing, the client's goal is driven by logic and financial incentive instead of B2C clients driven primarily by emotion.
When considering B2B marketing approaches, it is important to remember that clients like to work with a sales representative or an account manager/customer success manager. In contrast, in B2C marketing, the purchasing process is more direct. B2B lends itself to a more hierarchical structure in terms of people involved in purchasing decisions, whereas B2C customers can execute purchases with less approval.
The purchasing process within B2B places a greater emphasis on long-term sales cycles, longer contracts, and lengthier relationships with customers.
B2B & B2C similarities
Although B2B and B2C marketing differ in terms of how businesses and consumers interact online, they do hold some similarities in marketing strategies and sales processes.
Although the target audiences differ, B2B and B2C both involve buyers at the end of the process; therefore, identifying and developing your buyer persona before building a marketing strategy is essential for any business. Understanding and recognising your target audience and how they behave is key to your campaign success, regardless of whether you're a B2B or B2C business.
Marketing & sales alignment
Understanding how both marketing and sales work together provides a platform for improved lead generation. Marketing and sales must align for maximum conversion rates and new opportunities. Regardless of whether you’re B2B or B2C business, you will need to adapt this approach to close deals more effectively.
Brand awareness & adding value
Brand awareness is at the centre of any marketing strategy. Regardless of whether you are focused on B2B or B2C marketing, the aim is to increase brand awareness by engaging with your marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs) and converting them into loyal customers.
When considering a buyer's journey, a company must engage with the user at every stage of this process to maximise the chances of closing the sale. This will not only build trust and add value, but it will also further increase brand awareness.
Product launch marketing strategy
Although products will differ depending on whether the business is B2B or B2C, companies still need to adopt the most effective marketing tactics depending on the audience and platform. Having a clear vision of your marketing plans and target audience will go a long way in achieving your long term goals, regardless of whether targeting businesses or individual customers.
B2B marketing strategies
There are several strategies that businesses can use to help their B2B clients reach new levels of sustainable success. These include:
B2B email marketing
Ninety-three per cent of digital marketers use email marketing. Email marketing should align with B2B customers who think in a logical, ROI oriented fashion. Marketing campaigns must focus on factors such as time, money and resources. Newsletters are a critical component to email marketing success. Best practices include writing enticing subject lines, one CTA per email, a segmented and targeted approach and a responsive email design.
Every company should have a robust B2B digital presence. This is usually paid ads, SEO, a website and all other places where the company is active online. As previously mentioned, businesses need to define their audience through demographic research. Creating a website is also key for companies to drive awareness and allows customers to see their products or services before making a purchase decision.
SEO is a vital component of digital marketing strategies. Your website needs to be informative, original, and of value to be indexed by search engines and discovered by users.
Pay-per-click advertising is important for businesses to get their content and brand in front of new audiences. It is essential to analyse the ROI from PPC to measure the efficacy of PPC campaigns.
B2B content marketing
Content marketing is a key component within the larger B2B digital marketing strategy. For a content marketing strategy to be effective, you need to create valuable content in the awareness phase, educating the buyer on their pain points.
Eighty percent of decision-makers prefer to get information from an article rather than an advertisement. B2B marketing content for the buyer journey can include checklists, white papers, industry reports, webinars, case studies, ROI calculators and testimonials
B2B social media marketing
Seventy-five per cent of B2B buyers use social media when making a purchase. The challenge with social media is connecting with business customers. B2B social media will not be where the lead conversions occur; it sits more at the beginning of the buyer journey.
There is a significant difference between B2B and B2C digital marketing strategies. We see the vital importance of identifying and understanding businesses' target audience and what strategies they should adopt to win their attention and keep it. Companies should evaluate which strategies and by that means which tools best fit their marketing needs, based on the stage of the maturity of the business and its existing presence within the marketplace.