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Like any type of marketing, B2B (business-to-business) marketing promotes products or services to a predetermined target audience. What makes B2B marketing unique is that the target audience is other businesses, rather than individual consumers.
There are many different subcategories of B2B marketing, including B2B digital marketing, B2B content marketing, B2B email marketing, and B2B lead generation. As long as the intended audience (and, ultimately, the intended buyer) of your marketing is a business, any marketing you do could be considered B2B marketing. When you have a strong B2B marketing strategy, you’ll be able to attract key decision-makers and distinguish yourself from your competitors—just like in B2C marketing.
Although they share basic similarities, B2B, B2C, and DTC marketing strategies will differ because they speak to different target audiences. To fully understand the distinctions between these models, let’s take a closer look at each in turn.
As we’ve established, B2B marketing speaks to the needs of, and provides solutions for, other businesses. Often, B2B marketing and sales teams will have one person from a company assessing their 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. Meanwhile, B2B marketing communications will often be straightforward and educational and will focus on building long-term client relationships.
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. B2C marketing communications may be short or punchy and will often focus on appealing to emotion and driving brand awareness.
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. While DTC companies often have their own marketing strategies, their product may also be promoted through their vendor’s marketing.
When you’re starting to develop a 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 in the eyes of your customers. You’ll also need to gain a thorough understanding of your target audience’s purchasing journey.
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 digital 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.
Your business’s website is a fundamental piece of your B2B digital marketing strategy. A 2018 study showed that 64% of B2B buyers conducted research on vendor websites before reaching out to a sales representative. 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.
A strong B2B website should have a well-designed user experience (UX) so that your buyers’ purchasing journey is as frictionless as possible. Elements of an optimized B2B UX strategy include:
The strategies you use across different channels will vary based on your target audience; however, the following channels can all be effective in B2B 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.
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 channels for building brand awareness, which was a top B2B marketing objective in 2021.
B2B buyers are 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 goes hand-in-hand with B2B 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.
What are the B2B marketing trends you should be paying attention to? We’ve gathered a few of the most prominent ones below.
When it comes to B2B marketing, there are plenty of strategies and channels to juggle. But 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.”
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.