B2B internet marketing may not be as visible as B2C marketing online, but that doesn't mean it's any less critical to the sales process.
However, B2B digital marketing can be more complex: a purchase often has a longer and more convoluted sales cycle: it is less likely to be spontaneous and may involve multiple buyers in the decision process.
However, a number of studies have shown that B2B technical buyers' primary influence is from online information rather than offline. So it's important for your B2B marketing strategies to include the internet as a primary point of influence for customers throughout the purchase cycle. This is particularly true for technology products such as software and services.
B2B purchase decisions typically involve 3 or 4 types of buyers, and your B2B internet marketing strategy must consider how to reach out to each type:
Also, because more and more of the purchase decision process occurs online, your B2B internet marketing strategy must include providing relevant information to help your prospective customer through each of the four stages of the purchase cycle:
Here are some key data points from studies of business buyer decision making, and the top tips to keep in mind as you develop your B2B internet marketing strategy:
Search engine marketing is critical for your website success... the is the #1 source of data for B2B technical buyers today.
Research shows to keep a B2B homepage simple. Multi-column layouts are too busy for many potential customers who are looking for easy-to-find information about your company and product. Graphics are fine, but only that which relates directly to your product and business.
Technical buyers are looking for meat (product specs, vendor comparisons, whitepaper downloads, pricing, case studies, testimonials) and not sales information. Buyers now are gathering this information from the web and making vendor short lists before even connecting with vendor sales people. If you don't have it on your website, you might not even make the first cut.
A good way to think of the data you need to influence a technical buyer: consider the information typically requested in a RFP. 80% of those questions are the same regardless of the specific customer and need. You should have the data to answer those common 80% already on your website. This helps your customer get the information they need before they even go to RFP... and it will help you when it comes time to respond to an RFP.
But don't "hide" them on a Testimonials page only. In addition, weave customer stories throughout your site on the pages where each particular testimonial is the most relevant. For example, if you have a testimonial on how great your customer service is, put it on your customer service page. If you have product-specific testimonials, put them on the relevant product page, etc.
Best of all are testimonials that address a particular area of concern that prospective customers may have. For example, for a SaaS product that might be security of their hosted data. Put that testimonial on the page where the prospective customer's concern may be raised.
Use the Google Alert tool to monitor your company name & variations, your
product/service name, names of key employees, and names of your
competitors: www.google.com/alerts .
Since distributor websites are a close third to your website and the search engines, pay attention to ways you can take advantage of distributor websites in your marketing strategy. This is especially important if your distributor has a larger brandname or presence than you do.
Consider how your B2B technical buyers utilize social media in your segment. For most B2B companies, this will be LinkedIn, but don't rule out other social media also if it is important for your buyers. I do believe all software companies should have a social media marketing strategy, even if it's not a heavy focus. Here is what your B2B internet marketing using social media should include:
As the technical buyer is short-listing vendors in the Research phase, secondary influencers also become important: online trade publications, business publications, etc. They are looking for independent validation of the information they have found on your website, and third party reviews or testimonials on your product or service.
Focus on these 7 tips above, and you can develop a comprehensive B2B internet marketing strategy that will provide the key information to the technical buyer at each of the four stages in the purchase cycle, hopefully allowing you to influence their decision in your favor.
Now put your strategy into action by using our Marketing Plan Template Package to write down and implement your B2B digital marketing strategy. You can also find the marketing plan package as well as other tools and templates in our Seven Steps Store here.