Defining B2B Marketing Channels & Strategies—How To Sell Business to Business

A comprehensive definition of B2B marketing channels to help you effectively reach your business buyers.

By Miva | March 22, 2023 | 7 minute read
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Like any type of marketing, B2B (business-to-business) marketing promotes products or services to a target audience. What makes B2B marketing unique is that the target audience is other businesses, rather than individual consumers. B2B marketing channels are the various mediums through which merchants market their products to these other businesses.

There are many different subcategories of B2B marketing, including B2B digital marketing, B2B content marketing, B2B email marketing, and B2B lead generation. Each is a form of B2B channel marketing. Well explore what these concepts mean in depth, but keep this in mind—as long as the intended buyer is a business, it’s important to develop a total B2B brand strategy that incorporates all of these methods. Getting the mix of elements right is the art of marketing for B2B, and should be unique to your individual business and the businesses you wish to sell to. Building your perfect mix begins with a clear understanding of which B2B marketing channels are available to you as a seller. When you have a strong B2B marketing strategy in place, you’ll be able to attract key decision-makers with precision and distinguish yourself from your competitors at a glance.

B2B vs. B2C vs. DTC: Differing Strategies for Differing Audiences 

Although they share basic similarities, B2B, B2C, and DTC marketing strategies will differ because they speak to different target audiences. The target audience is an important component of each marketing channel. To fully understand the distinctions between these models, let’s take a closer look at each in turn.  

B2B Marketing  

B2B marketing speaks to the needs of, and provides solutions for, other businesses. A B2B marketing team is working to win the business of just one person—the representative of a company who assesses prospective products or services. This person is making their buying decisions on behalf of their organization, and the ultimate decision will frequently go through multiple levels of approval. Because of this dynamic, B2B purchasing decisions will likely be motivated by logic, efficiency, and ROI. B2B marketing communications should reflect this by being straightforward, educational, and focused on building long-term client relationships. These are great B2B ecommerce best practices to keep in mind.

B2C Marketing 

B2C (business-to-consumer) marketing targets individual consumers and speaks to their needs and pain points. Consumers may be more likely than B2B consumers to be motivated by convenience, emotion, and competitive pricing. B2B content marketing tends to be more straightforward and shy away from these areas and stick to the facts. B2C marketing communications, on the other hand, may be short or punchy and will often focus on appealing to emotion and driving brand awareness.

DTC Marketing 

DTC (direct-to-consumer) marketing models are similar to B2C models in that they both target consumers. However, DTC businesses sell their product or service directly to the consumer, whereas B2C businesses may be resellers of another brand’s products. By selling direct, DTC differs from a classic B2B marketing channel which only sells to other businesses. While DTC companies often have their own marketing strategies, their product may also be promoted through their vendor’s marketing. New call-to-action

B2B Marketing Strategies 

When you’re starting to develop a complete B2B marketing strategy, the standard groundwork applies: you’ll need to define your target audience, research your competitors, and develop brand positioning so you can differentiate yourself. You’ll also need to gain a thorough understanding of your target audience’s purchasing journey. Your B2B marketing channels should be built around an understanding of where your customer is in this process, and then reaching out to them appropriately.

The B2B Marketing Funnel 

  • Awareness: Your prospective customer has become aware of your brand and the product or service you offer, perhaps via organic search, paid ads, or free content such as blog posts. All marketing channels for B2B  begin here, at the top of the funnel.
  • Evaluation: The prospect has engaged further with your brand, according to a criteria you have set, such as a specific action taken on your website. They’ve been qualified by your company’s marketing and sales teams and may have spoken directly with a representative. They are now in the process of comparing your business with your competitors to make a final decision. At this time, B2B marketing tools are focused on speaking to more specific customer groups, offering more specialized solutions.
  • Purchase: The prospect has decided that your company is the best fit for their needs and has moved forward with the sale.  
  • Retention: Your customer continues to use your product or service as your team nurtures the relationship through ongoing communication and engagement. B2B marketing platforms don’t move on after a customer clicks “Buy Now”—building customer loyalty after purchase is a key way to earn future business.

Digital Marketing for B2B  

A strong digital presence is a must for any business today, but B2B digital marketing is especially crucial. To create an effective B2B digital marketing strategy, start by thinking about your target audience, or buyer personas. The B2B marketing channels you should focus on will largely depend on the preferences of your target audience—where they spend most of their time online, what questions or terms they’re typing into search engines, which digital communication channels they prefer, and so on. 

Online content hosted on your business’ website is a fundamental piece of your B2B digital marketing strategy. In fact, nine out of ten B2B report that online content has a significant effect on their buying decisions. And considering that web development was the highest area of B2B marketing spend in 2021, it follows that the importance of websites in influencing B2B purchase decisions is only increasing.  

strong B2B website should have a well-designed user experience (UX) so that your buyers’ purchasing journey is as frictionless as possible. This is a key goal of B2B ecommerce website development. Elements of an optimized B2B UX strategy include:   

  • Accessible, straightforward information about your product or service. 
  • Clear directions on how to contact sales or customer service representatives for further information and support.  
  • A highly visible call-to-action (CTA) to schedule a demo of your product or service to increase conversion.   
  • Streamlined, intuitive navigation that functions across a variety of devices.  
Get Guide: 5 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Online Store for Mobile Shoppers

Specific B2B Marketing Channels 

The strategies you use across different channels will vary based on your target audience. Again, the best channels for B2B marketing must always be specific to your business’ products and customer preferences; however, the following channels can all be effective components of a B2B digital strategy.

B2B Email Marketing 

Email continues to be one of the most cost-effective marketing channels available. Segmentation and personalization options make B2B email marketing a great way to form a personal connection with your prospects and share valuable content. 

Email is also an ideal channel for implementing B2B marketing automation. With the help of marketing automation software, you can reduce time and resources while continuing to nurture your leads by automatically sending them the personalized content most relevant for their needs. Some B2B marketing automation programs also allow you to “score” your leads—to assess their interest in your product by measuring their level of engagement with your content.

B2B Social Media Marketing 

If you think social media isn’t an effective channel for B2B marketing, think again—nearly half of B2B buyers use social media at the beginning of their buying journey to learn about different solutions. While it may not be your biggest source of direct sales, B2B social media marketing is one of the best B2B marketing channels for building brand awareness—it was one of the top B2B ecommerce marketing strategies in 2021.

Learn how to write captivating marketing emails in this free guide.

B2B Content Marketing 

B2B buyers are often motivated by logic, education, and expertise in their purchasing decisions, making B2B content marketing an essential piece of your strategy. If you can position your brand as an authority in your industry through regular blog posts, whitepapers, guides, and other resources, you’ll build trust with prospective customers while providing them with valuable information to help them navigate their purchasing journey.

B2B Search Engine Marketing 

B2B search engine marketing goes hand-in-hand with content marketing—after all, your audience won’t be able to read your content if they can’t find it easily. Optimizing your website with keyword research and plenty of unique educational content can increase your search engine rankings and drive more traffic to your business.

B2B Webinars

B2B webinars are another valuable tool for B2B channel marketing because they offer a direct and engaging way to connect with potential clients and partners. By hosting informative webinars, businesses can share their expertise about their own industry for professional peers. Webinars can showcase products or services, and build trust with their target audience. Webinars can help businesses reach a wider audience, as attendees can join from anywhere in the world. Webinars can also provide a platform for businesses to collect feedback and insights from their audience, which can be used to improve their offerings and inform future marketing campaigns.

B2B Podcasts

B2B podcasts are a valuable tool for B2B channel marketing as they provide a platform for businesses to establish thought leadership in a more personal and entertaining way. Podcasts can offer a more conversational approach to sharing information and insights, allowing businesses to showcase their expertise. Podcasts can be consumed at the listener's convenience, making them a more flexible way to reach busy professionals. Podcast content can also be repurposed across various channels, such as social media, email marketing, and website content, maximizing impact and reach.

Pay Per Click (PPC)

Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising has long been a core tool for B2B growth marketing, as it is a well-established method for building and growing existing customer bases, while simultaneously reaching all new audiences. PPC provides businesses with a cost-effective way to drive traffic to their website. PPC advertising is highly measurable and allows businesses to target specific keywords and demographics, ensuring their ads are only shown to relevant audiences. This precision targeting can help businesses reach decision-makers within their target companies, increasing the likelihood of conversion.

Partnership Marketing

Sharing marketing goals with one of your business’ professional partners is an often overlooked channel. Partnership marketing is a valuable tool for B2B channel marketing as it allows businesses to leverage the networks and expertise of their partners to reach a wider audience and achieve shared goals. By partnering with other businesses that target the same audience, businesses can tap into their partners' established relationships and credibility. Partnership marketing can also provide access to new markets, products, and services, allowing businesses to expand their offerings and attract new customers.

How to Identify the Best B2B Marketing Channels For Your Business

Finding the best marketing channels for your business can be a trial and error process which requires careful research and experimentation. A great strategy is not perfected overnight—take the time to fully explore every sales method and build your insights as you go.

  • First, identify your target audience and their preferred communication channels. This could be through social media, email, phone, or other methods.
  • Next, research the various B2B sales and lead gen channels which your intended audience might use, such as LinkedIn, trade shows, webinars, and industry events.
  • Consider the cost, reach, and effectiveness of each channel. To determine which channels work best for your business, experiment with a variety of tactics and measure their success through metrics such as lead generation, conversion rates, and revenue generated.
  • Continuously refine your approach to focus on the channels that yield the best results.

B2B Marketing Trends 

What are the B2B marketing terms and trends you should be paying attention to? We’ve gathered a few of the most prominent ones below.  

  • B2B Influencer Marketing: Influencer marketing isn’t just for B2C models anymore. Partnering with well-known individuals in your industry, or with local influencers in your area, can help boost engagement and drive buyers to your company.   
  • Focus on B2B Brand Awareness: Nurturing the top of your B2B marketing funnel through educational content and a strong social media presence will increase your brand’s visibility so that when your audience is ready to buy, they’ll remember you easily. 
  • B2B Case Studies: Cautious B2B buyers want to see how your solution has supported businesses like theirs. Include regular case studies in your B2B content marketing strategy to increase credibility and showcase your success.  
  • B2B Customer Referrals: Because of the high value B2B buyers place on peer review, incentivizing your current customers to act as ambassadors for your brand can be an effective B2B marketing strategy.  
  • B2B Video Content Marketing: Every B2B channel marketing strategy should include video. Video is a powerful and versatile content marketing medium that is still growing, with 91% of businesses using some form of video for promotions—higher than ever before.
Click to see how Miva scored in the 2023 Paradigm B2B Combine Report (Midmarket Edition)

Channel Marketing to Businesses Starts By Understanding Your Customer

When it comes to B2B marketing, there are plenty of strategies and channels to juggle. B2B marketing channels simply give you an array of options for how to communicate with all of your potential audiences. Ultimately, the choice of which method you use should be based upon an understanding of your customers. By always keeping your audience and their needs and motivations top of mind, you’ll position your company to attract, engage, convert, and retain loyal buyers.

Want to learn more about what B2B buyers want? Access our free on-demand webinar, “Transforming Your B2B Business to Engage Ecommerce Buyers.”  


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Author's Bio


Miva offers a flexible and adaptable ecommerce platform that evolves with businesses and allows them to drive sales, maximize average order value, cut overhead costs, and increase revenue. Miva has been helping businesses realize their ecommerce potential for over 20 years and empowering retail, wholesale, and direct-to-consumer sellers across all industries to transform their business through ecommerce.

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