This may be hard for your sales team to hear, but your B2B prospects don’t want to talk to them — at least not at the beginning of their journey. Just like traditional consumers, B2B decision-makers have migrated to a digital-first buying experience.
According to Worldwide Business Research, 75% of the B2B buyer’s journey is now done on digital channels. That means the vast majority of your prospects are beginning the buying process online — conducting research, comparing products, reading reviews and engaging with content — all before setting up a sales meeting. If you’re not part of the digital experience, chances are you won’t make the cut.
How can you build a digital marketing strategy that engages with B2B prospects in today’s digital-first sales environment? Here are 8 places to start:
According to recent data, 62% of B2B buyers say that a web search is one of the first three resources they use to learn about a solution. At some point in the buying process, a staggering 94% of decision-makers use search to explore their options. That means, for today’s B2B marketers, paid search is no longer a consideration — it’s an essential component of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy.
Paid search can take shape in many forms. For most B2B marketers, campaigns typically include branded keywords (the name of your company, products or services) along with keywords around related business topics, customer pain points, geographic regions and top competitors. Since the paid search environment is constantly changing, we always recommend a search engine marketing (SEM) expert to help craft a strategy that aligns with your budget and includes in-depth keyword research, compelling ad copy, optimized landing pages and ongoing monitoring and maintenance.
Did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google? Just as search engines are the first stop to research B2B topics, YouTube is the starting point for most video searches. As video content has become an increasingly important part of the B2B sales journey, an owned YouTube channel is a natural destination to house video ads and leverage existing video content like product demos, testimonials or educational videos. In addition to creating your own channel, YouTube offers a variety of advertising formats to expand your reach, including skippable and non-skippable in-stream ads, in-feed video placement, masthead ads, bumper ads and more.
As the leading social media platform for business, LinkedIn is a popular choice for B2B marketers due to its ability to precisely target business prospects based on industry, job title, company size and location. Advertising options on LinkedIn include paid posts and placements that appear within LinkedIn’s social feed or elsewhere on the platform as well as to their expanded partner networks, depending on your needs. These types of LinkedIn ads can come to life in many formats, including static and video options.
LinkedIn also makes it easy to promote content — like e-books, guides or white papers — with frictionless in-page forms that prepopulate fields with accurate member data and a more streamlined UX and better conversion rates. In addition to in-feed ads, LinkedIn also offers other direct messaging options within its platform, which can be a valuable test for bringing the face of sales to the front lines.
Facebook and Instagram
You may think that advertising on Meta-owned channels, like Facebook and Instagram, is limited to consumer marketing. But today, more B2B marketers are adding Meta to their digital strategies. According to Accenture, it’s more important than ever for organizations to take a broader view that allows marketers to see customers in their full lives and adapt to their ever-changing needs and priorities. And that includes reaching them on their preferred social platforms, like Facebook and Instagram.
For B2B marketers, these channels offer a variety of advertising options, from static ads to video ads. While Meta’s audience-targeting capabilities are not as precise as those of LinkedIn, you do have the ability to filter audiences by demographics and interests, making it a smart addition to your paid social strategy. For many of our clients, Meta is a powerful tool for retargeting efforts — a way to re-engage with prospects who previously have visited your website.
TV advertising was once out of reach for the vast majority of B2B marketers. But with the digitization of entertainment and the rise of ad-based streaming services, connected TV (CTV) has become a cost-effective option due to its ability to hyper-target audiences, including B2B buyers.
New CTV ad platforms, like MNTN, offer the ability to upload CRM lists and find potential buyers across 120 million households. Unlike traditional TV, CTV can track audiences by IP address and device, so you’re only reaching those coveted B2B prospects and not overbuying like you would on traditional TV networks. As CTV’s tracking capabilities become even more robust, this “new kid on the block” is a digital channel to watch, especially on the B2B front.
Rather than appearing as a traditional display ad, native advertising is designed to match the look, feel and function of the platform on which it appears. For example, the ad may appear on a news site alongside stories — with design elements that blend in with the site and become a natural part of the user experience. Native advertising is valued for its nondisruptive format and ability to engage users more organically in ways that seem more like editorial content versus traditional advertising.
If you’re a B2B marketer, chances are you’re already creating content like blog posts, articles, white papers or other educational material. Content syndication provides the opportunity to publish content on third-party platforms, thereby expanding your reach to a wider audience. There are several syndication platforms available, allowing you to target audiences that are most interested in your content. In addition to expanding your reach, when done strategically, syndication can positively impact your SEO efforts when content is backlinked from reputable sites.
Digital display advertising has come a long way since the first banner ad was launched in 1994. This “oldie but a goodie” ad option is ideal for reach — getting the most eyes on your marketing message.
Today, with the rise of more sophisticated programmatic ad buys, some networks offer the ability to filter audiences based on established criteria such as industry, job title, company size, location and more. Thanks to the automated, data-driven and real-time nature of programmatic display ads, the process is faster, cost-effective and more targeted than ever before. To further maximize efficiency, we recommend using display ads in retargeting efforts, where they can be served to B2B prospects who’ve already visited your website.
Final thoughts: Customization is key
When it comes to building a digital marketing strategy, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach. Every business is unique and every sales journey is different. That’s why we work with our clients to assess needs, define goals and align budgets before we develop a customized digital strategy.