Technology has reshaped business in so many ways. Specifically, the widespread use of the internet, computers, and smartphones has changed shopping as we know it. Customers now rely on the internet when looking for new products and good brands.
Naturally, marketing strategies in the days before the internet won’t work in today’s digital world. Instead of waiting for sellers to knock on their doors or call them, consumers actively search online for items they want. Even business owners use Google to look for the products and services they need.
So, business-to-business (B2B) startups are not exempt from building a strong online presence and digital marketing strategy. This article discusses the basics of digital marketing and how B2B startups can use it to their advantage.
What is digital marketing?
In simple terms, digital marketing refers to all marketing activities done online. Also called online marketing, this kind of marketing uses digital platforms to help you reach your target market and convince them to try your product or service.
How different is digital marketing from traditional marketing?
Many principles of traditional marketing are still adopted in digital marketing. The goals of both types of marketing are the same, after all.
The key difference is simply the medium through which messages are communicated from the business to the audience. Traditional marketing is done via TV, magazine, newspaper, and radio. Meanwhile, digital marketing is mostly done on websites and social media.
Main digital marketing services include the following:
- Web design
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Social media marketing
- Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
- Content marketing
- Email marketing
How is B2B digital marketing different from B2C marketing?
Since B2B companies like yours deal with other businesses, you are more likely to get bulk orders. Companies that transact with you are also more open to purchasing pricey products as long as they see your products’ value. So, your B2B business has a higher earning potential than most business-to-consumer (B2C) firms.
On the other hand, B2C companies focus primarily on acquiring customers and keeping them loyal to their brand. So, when it comes to marketing, B2C companies rely on letting individuals know about their latest products and offerings and convincing them that they are better than their competitors.
B2B startup marketing involves finding customers, too. But unlike B2C companies that need to adjust frequently to the changing demands of the public, B2B startups need to focus on providing excellent products and services to specific firms. B2B companies should also foster good working relationships with their clients to secure long-term deals.
A key clarification: the kind of B2B digital advertising you need to do also depends on the type of B2B e-commerce your company belongs to. If you are a B2B SaaS business, you should know that SaaS digital advertising involves investing in brand awareness and acquiring as many customers as possible.
How can B2B startups master digital marketing?
Here are 6 tips to get started with B2B startup digital marketing.
1. Start with researching customers’ needs
What does your ideal customer look like? If you can’t answer this question, you’re in serious trouble.
Knowing your customers is the foundation of business success. So, take time to research and define your target market. Don’t worry about changes, because your target customers can be “redefined” as you go along.
As a guide, however, you can ask yourself the following questions:
- Who is my audience?
- What do they like and dislike?
- Are their purchasing power the same or different? What about and buying habits?
- How would I define my customers’ needs and how can I address them?
- What is their preferred platform for communication?
Detailed marketing research will help you make informed decisions about your businesses and is a good way to measure your results objectively. After finalizing your buyer persona research, look at demographics. Hyper-targeting will save you both money and time in marketing.
Plus, if you know who your prospective customers are, you can craft products and services that directly respond to their needs and wants. Your marketing messages will also be more suited to their taste. Make sure to get feedback for improvement from your customers, too.
If you have no idea where to start, focus on one segment of customers. Google Analytics can help you understand who consumes your marketing content and how you can reach the prospects you want to tap.
Besides Google Analytics, it pays to set up a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to deal with general relationships and interactions with your customers. Using CRM helps you manage customer information, forecast sales opportunities, keep records of service or product issues, and organize your marketing campaigns.
2. Set clear goals and align them throughout your channels
What do you wish to achieve with your marketing campaign?
Whether it’s increasing your sales or boosting brand awareness, you should set a clear goal for every campaign and make sure that you are meeting these goals across channels — which means that your website, email marketing, and social media marketing strategies should be in line with your current and general marketing aims.
Brand awareness, audience education, and credibility building must be the top three focuses of marketing according to a 2019 study about B2B content marketing. Let’s have a look at how you can hit these three goals with your B2B marketing strategy:
- Improving brand awareness — B2B social media marketing campaigns are incredibly useful for introducing your company’s identity. Who are you and what sets you apart from your competitors? Make sure to answer these questions with your campaign. A distinct brand voice, visual style, and core values are some of the most important things to have.
- Educating your audience — Customers don’t just check out your website to see prices and new listings before they buy something. They also do independent research to see if you are credible. So, showcase your content marketing skills by producing insightful blogs, informative videos, reports, and e-books to prove that you know what you’re talking about.
- Building credibility — Positive reviews, awards, and other forms of social proof are great for earning your customers’ and prospects’ trust. Flaunt them on your website and social media accounts.
3. Build upon your existing network
Owners of early-stage startups know that reaching out to friends and business acquaintances is a good place to start when building networks. Meet them over coffee, call them via phone or video conferencing, or send them an email.
Ask them to link you to their friends who might be interested in your business. There’s a reason word-of-mouth marketing has been effective since time immemorial. Plus, in the age of the internet, a human touch goes a long way!
And while we’re on the subject of sending emails, we might as well talk about email marketing. Emails are people’s preferred medium of communication for business-related conversations. Research about the companies that you want to sell your products to and find out how you can get in touch with them.
Send a personalized email to the person in charge and ensure that the email contains details about how your product or service can solve their existing problems or how it can drive their profits.
Just don’t resort to spamming because that will be a big blow to your credibility!
4. Apply SEO techniques on your website
Even if your website contains all the information your clients and prospects need, they won’t find it if you’re on page 10 of the Google search results. That’s where search engine optimization (SEO) can help you. SEO is constantly evolving, but it’s good to know two key components:
- On-site SEO: Do keyword research and insert relevant keywords to your site so that search engines can help you and your searchers find each other.
- Off-site SEO: Monitor which sites link back to your website and make sure you are building links through posting guest articles on other websites related to your niche. This way, you will boost your site’s authority and establish yourself as a leader in your field.
Additionally, don’t forget to ensure that your website loads quickly, and offers an excellent user interface and user experience. The core principle behind improving your SEO ranking is making sure that individuals find your website useful and convenient.
5. Use social media for business
Depending on the type of your business, there are social media platforms that can give you an edge.
Nonetheless, it won’t hurt to set up a social media page on the most popular platforms, namely Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Use business versions of social media for easier management of messages and access to analytics and automation (e.g., automated responses to FAQs). Analytics are especially important for tracking the success of your marketing campaigns and deciding future directions in marketing.
An important reminder for social media marketing is to repurpose and not simply repost content for various social media channels. Content marketing for B2B SaaS involves re-imagining how a post can be made attractive and useful on different social media sites. For instance, if you write a blog, you can extract content from it and post it as a discussion point on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a useful tool for B2B startups because it is a social networking site for professionals and firms. By being on LinkedIn, it will be easier for your potential customers to discover and interact with you.
6. Leverage referral marketing
In a previous section, we talked about how posting testimonials and reviews can be helpful for attracting new customers. The strategy of referral marketing is not far from word-of-mouth. In fact, there is a natural incentive for people to recommend a product that they have tried and enjoyed. So, you can take advantage of this instinct by giving referral incentives to customers who recommend your products or services to a friend. But wait, there’s more — you can cultivate a great reputation, publish excellent content and social proof, and convince people who have not purchased your product to recommend it to others.
Your B2B startup can compete with the bigwigs, and the online world is often called the fairest playing field for business. So, polish your digital marketing skills and make sure you’re doing the following:
- Research your customers
- Set clear goals
- Keep on networking
- Apply SEO strategies on your site
- Set up business social media accounts
- Use referral marketing