There are hundreds of blogs that will tell you what the best B2B marketing channels are. In reality, each channel is important and serves a purpose. The most important part of choosing and building your channel strategy is not about which is better, but about which is more suitable for your needs. In all likelihood, you’ll end up using a number of the digital tools and platforms listed below within different campaigns.
The purpose of different B2B marketing channels
[newsletters, sales emails, cold emails]
B2B email marketing is generally informative, useful, and more targeted than B2C. They can serve a different purpose based on the type of email.
Cold emails are a form of outbound marketing, i.e., contacting prospects that haven’t come to you first. These emails are useful for building brand awareness and your database.
Other types of email campaigns can be very targeted. If you’re sending specific offers to specific audiences, this will help with pipeline building and conversion. Emails can also be used as a soft nurturing technique. For example, sending regular newsletters, updates, or new content retains existing relationships with your database.
[whitepapers, blog posts, eBooks, case studies, product demos]
Content marketing is a relatively broad term. To some people this just means longform content, for others content marketing permeates all your B2B channels.
Either way, the point is that it’s versatile and therefore a very valuable channel. Content marketing strategies can be tailored for a number of objectives – from positioning yourself as a thought leader, informing your audience about your offering, or prompting lead conversion. Different types of content will achieve these different goals.
Overall, consistent and regular content marketing will generate interest, shaping your brand’s reputation and building your audience.
Social media marketing
[sponsored ads, organic social posts, videos]
Social media platforms are an accessible way for you to keep in touch with your audience. Posting regularly helps businesses maintain engagement and continuously grow their potential audience.
It’s also a great highway for supporting traffic to other channels. Most B2B companies use social media as a way to update people on their activity, discuss ideas or advice, post new blogs, and direct subscribers to a different channel.
[webinars, virtual events, podcasts]
Digital marketing is another broad term, so we’re using it here to discuss trending high-value B2B strategies. Webinars, podcasts, and virtual events are the latest digital marketing channels that are increasingly popular with B2B customers.
Their benefit really lies in their substance. Businesses can provide a lot of value using these mediums which accelerates their brand building. For this reason, and because they’re less faceless than some other options, they provide the opportunity for deeper user engagement.
Search engine optimisation (SEO)
SEO achieves several goals: improving your website authority, boosting website ranking, and driving search traffic. You can optimise your touchpoints for specific keywords, making it easier for your target audience to find you.
This is great for building brand awareness with new audiences.
PPC is the sister to SEO. Also using keywords and search terms, PPC allows B2B companies to sponsor webpages and bid on ranked positions.
The objectives here are generally the same, but this is more suitable for faster results. It can also help you gain leads while you build your organic ranking. The only thing to note is that these results may include less qualified leads, or less engaged audiences.
A website almost doesn’t need an introduction. It’s the primary communication channel for any B2B brand and their existing or potential customers.
Instead, let’s discuss how you can optimise your website’s value.
- Google analytics – Integrating analytics tools will allow you to analyse your audience demographics, audience behaviours and website performance.
- UX – The user experience is really important and understanding how to optimise these will greatly benefit your click through rates. For example, simple navigation, attractive CTAs, or an intuitive journey.
- SEO – Applied to websites, SEO will build your domain authority and improve your rankings from organic search.
- Content marketing – You can use content marketing to create a buyer journey on your website. This also means your audience doesn’t have to leave to take action. For example, including high-level messaging, then product messaging, with a ‘download more’ option underneath.
Integrating B2B sales and marketing channels
This isn’t really a ‘channel’ so to speak, but it is important to mention. Your sales and marketing cycles should be closely linked in order to effectively nurture prospects from awareness to conversion stages.
The workflows for each should also then be aligned. So, make sure when considering your marketing channels, that you think about how these will integrate with your sales channels.
The difference between outbound vs inbound marketing
Outbound vs inbound marketing are two perspectives which will change how you use these channels. Inbound focuses on drawing in the audience to the brand. Using value-led messaging and tuning into your customers, the aim is to attract people who are interested in your brand. Outbound marketing on the other hand approaches prospects without first understanding their level of interest.
Therefore, in an inbound strategy, your channels will have a different objective than they would with an outbound one.
Why you should use a mix of B2B marketing channels
Creating a specific channel strategy for activity is important – as they are used for different things – but integrating each one within an overarching B2B marketing strategy is even more beneficial.
For example, a user’s buyer journey can be accurately mapped against your channels. A standard lead generation campaign may flow as follows:
- Attract: Social media advertising leading to gated content
- Nurture: Email marketing campaigns delivering related articles, blogs or case studies
- Convert: Sales emails inviting for a demo, free trial or call
On top of these primary activities, prospects will likely engage with your organic posts on social media channels, explore your website, or research you on search engines.
So, integrating them all into your marketing strategy just makes sense. It will help align your brand positioning, building a stronger reputation with your audience, and benefits your conversion rate optimisation. When every channel is working together to reach common objectives, your results will be better across the board.
Best practice for sustainable B2B marketing
Align with your audience
When choosing what channels and strategies to use, first and foremost ensure you’re aligning with your audience. If they primarily use LinkedIn, focus your efforts here. If they respond well to email, make email marketing your priority.
Nevertheless, most marketing strategies and campaigns will include channel strategies for social media, content, and email. Some may include webinars, events, or even podcasts.
B2B audiences tend to expect different engagement from business marketing channels than B2C. B2B buyers resonate with informative, value-led messaging and marketing assets. Understanding your audience’s pain points is therefore the crux of a successful B2B marketing channel strategy.
A good way to do this is to create sub-channels for specific target audiences. Emails that are tailored for different buyer types within an organisation, web pages designed for a single industry, or webinars hosted around a pervasive sector challenge all fit the bill.
It’s also useful to understand on which channel each of your audiences spend their time and tailor your activity towards the majority audience for each channel.
Less is more
This doesn’t always feel true, especially on social media, because everyone is posting constantly, trying to be heard. We’ve fallen prey to this conception ourselves in the past. Now however, we’re focused on activity that is less frequent, but has greater purpose.
There is definitely a need to keep your marketing channels active. An established digital presence builds brand authority and is a great resume for prospects to check. But posting, publishing or emailing your database too often will lead to audience fatigue and annoyance.
Doing less also gives you room to create more high-value content. Whether it’s a new blog or an inbound marketing email, less frequent activity relieves your resource and improves engagement. Your activity can be of higher quality and your audience will be more receptive to hear from you.
High-quality posts that don’t just add to the noise may not always go viral, but they will get you more genuine engagement that’s relevant to your business.
Add value for B2B
The best way to get results is to add value.
If your activity is providing actionable advice, touching on real pain points or providing a unique insight, then your audience should find this much more useful than disruptive techniques. Again, you may see less engagement, but you might start to see a higher clickthrough rate and better leads come through.
However, this doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice personality for education – we’re all human at the end of the day and there’s value in creating fun, cultural, or just personable posts every now and then.
Again, it’s tempting to put on a persona on digital marketing channels. However, people are responding to authenticity more and more. People more educated about marketing, meaning they can see through ‘tactics’. Therefore, starting your engagement with authentic messaging will make your customer relationships more sustainable long-term.
For example, for lead nurturing campaigns, people are more likely to respond to an email written as if by a human vs a generic sales email.
Use B2B channels strategically
As with any marketing activity, always come back to your marketing strategy. This will help with all the above; being consistent, remaining authentic to your brand, aligning with your audience and so on.
Most importantly, whichever channel you use, create a sustainable strategy.
A sustainable approach is encompassed by several things;
- Results – Don’t expect instant or overly ambitious results. Each channel will have different levels of engagement or success, so understanding this is a good place to start. It’s also important to give it time. You’ll need to build up activity and be performing consistently over a relatively long period of time before seeing results.
- Incremental improvement – Keep testing, monitoring and optimising performance on each channel. You may only see small changes, but this is a good way to learn what works and what doesn’t, so you have the knowledge to succeed consistently.
- Practices – You need to be using sustainable practices to get lasting results. Using clickbait may get more engagement, but it won’t lead to loyal customers. Putting activity out too frequently is unsustainable for you to produce, and for your audience to engage with.
- Infrastructure – Putting in the work upfront to understand your audience, collect data, research the market, implement automated workflows, and so on, will help sustain activity. With this structure in place you can keep up, change or scale your activity based on your needs more easily.
Outsourcing B2B channel marketing
EV provide full service outsourced marketing, meaning we create strategies that integrate all relevant channels and touchpoints. Our multi-disciplined team can provide everything you need from design to content to digital expertise. With our support, you can deliver multi-channel marketing campaigns that make an impact.
If you want any help with your B2B channel marketing or just want to learn more, get in touch.