B2B Online Marketing Uses the Same Mediabut Differently
As you can see, successful B2B companies use all the online marketing vehicles that are available. In fact, B2B marketing involves all the same media as B2C marketingjust used differently.
Let’s work through the list of online marketing vehicles, and how you might use them for B2B marketing:
- Website marketing. The centerpiece of all online marketing activities is the company’s website. This is especially so with B2B companies, as your website can host all the information and support information that business customers need to inform and justify their purchasing decisions. Focus on creating an information-rich site, easily navigable by current and potential customers. (You don’t, however, have to include ecommerce functionality; depending on the type of products and services you sell, you may still want to drive customers to a live salesperson to gather more information and consummate the sale.)
- Search engine marketing. Search engine marketing is all about optimizing your website for searchthat is, performing search engine optimization (SEO) that improves your ranking on search engine results pages. SEO is extremely important to your B2B marketing efforts, as you use keywords to filter out consumer traffic and gain the attention of business purchasers. You’ll need to work carefully to select just the write business-focused keywords, and then optimize your site to properly focus on these keywords.
- PPC advertising. PPC advertising is probably less important for B2B companies than for B2C companies. That’s because fewer business purchasers are influenced by those ubiquitous text ads that appear in the margins of search results pages. That doesn’t mean that you should rule out PPC advertising from your online marketing plan; just make sure you bid on the right business-focused keywords, and relentlessly test your campaigns to ensure you’re achieving the results you desire, in terms of either prospects or ultimate sales.
- Display advertising. Display advertising, in the form of banner or similar ads on targeted websites, is one online marketing vehicle that might not be right for all B2B companies. While you can target display advertising on appropriate industry-focused websites, you may find that the results don’t justify the expenditures. Even with this focus, display advertising is the most mass marketing-like of all online marketing activities, and may provide the targeted results you can achieve with other online media.
- Email marketing. Most B2B companies consider email marketing an essential component of their online marketing strategy. Email marketing is best suited for communicating with current customers and identified prospects; it’s less appropriate for soliciting new prospects. (Unsolicited email is considered spam, and you don’t want to be seen as a spammer.) Establish an ongoing campaign of individual mailings and newsletters to provide news and information to your existing customer base, and use individual emails (sent from specific people in your company) to establish and build personal relationships with potential customers. You can even use email to solicit and receive orders from your customer base.
- Blog marketing. Many companies have found success in creating a company blog. They post articles of interest to their customer base, and use the forum to provide more insight into the company’s inner workings. A blog is a great way to impart important information on a regular basis; you can also use a blog to generate discussions with your customer base.
- Social media marketing. Social networks are the hottest online marketing media today. While social media isn’t great for attracting new prospects, it is ideal for building relationships with existing customers and identified prospects. This communication can be one-way (in the case of Twitter), or an ongoing two-way conversation (in the case of Facebook). Facebook, in particular, is terrific in building strong customer relationships; it creates a community of loyal customers that feeds on the information and discussions found there.
- Video marketing. Videos, distributed either via YouTube or on your own website, help to put a personal face on your company and products. You can use videos to communicate news and information to your customers and prospective customers, or to demonstrate how to use various products and services. It’s a great way to educate your customer base while at the same time reducing customer support costs.
- Podcast marketing. Along the same line, audio podcasts help to give your company a voice. Many companies create weekly podcasts that talk about industry developments while at the same time subtly promoting themselves and their products.
- Online public relations. PR is probably less important in the B2B space than it is in B2C marketing, but it still has a place. Use your PR staff to get mentions in other industry media, including websites and blogs that your business customers read on a regular basis.
This article just scratches the surface of how you can use online marketing to attract and maintain business customers. While the Internet is probably more useful for maintaining relationships with existing customers, you can also use specific online media to make initial contact with prospective customersand then feed those leads to your sales staff to develop.
In any case, the Internet should be an important component of your company’s marketing strategy. B2B marketing is all about building relationshipsand online marketing is great for doing just that.