BtoB online marketing is much different than BtoC marketing. While online marketing today allows you to reach a broad (but still targeted) audience at a cost effective price, BtoB marketing still takes targeted prospecting in order to reach your ideal audience. While most online ad platforms like Google Adwords and Facebook advertising offer a wide range of targeting options, they still don't offer the account/company specific targeting that most effective BtoB marketing campaigns need.
While most online ad platforms like Google Adwords and Facebook advertising offer a wide range of targeting options, they still don't offer the account/company specific targeting that most effective BtoB marketing campaigns need.
In order to be really successful at BtoB online marketing, you can't just rely on your usual online marketing strategies, which are mostly consumer focused.
Why not? Here are a few reasons:
Search Engine Optimization is predicated on a user proactively performing a search query for your product or service in order for your website to show up in the search engine results. Many (if not most) companies and decision makers are not actively scouring the internet looking for solutions to their problems.
Most online advertising platforms use demographic and behavioral information when it comes to targeting options for your ads. The key thing here is that the targeting is aimed at individual users, not companies. And even with highly targeting lists, with the exception of LinkedIn Ads, you still have no idea what company someone works for.
So what do you do?
When it comes to BtoB online marketing, you have to be proactive and methodical in your marketing. Fortunately, online advertising today offers a bunch of options when it comes creating highly targeted marketing campaigns. But you still have to do some legwork, which we will talk about below.
The key to online BtoB marketing is to know exactly who your prospects are and to build highly targeted online advertising campaigns to turn cold leads into warm ones. A successful campaign should build awareness, interest, and soften up your prospects so your sales team can go in a step ahead of your competition.
Just 34% of B2B organizations say they touch leads with lead nurturing on a monthly basis. (B2B Marketing Insider)
Enterprise level organizations and sales teams may call this Account Based Marketing, where you market on a one on one level. This method offers some additional online targeting methods to soften those cold leads up before the sales team moves in.
Below are the steps you can take to build a highly effective online marketing campaign that will make your sales team love you.
1 – Understand who your ideal customer is
If you don't have a clear understanding of who your ideal customer is, then none of this will work as you will be running highly targeted marketing campaigns at a vague audience.
Before you start you should know what industry you want to target, company size, demographics and any other criteria you will use to narrow down who your ideal customer would be.
Examining the profiles of your best accounts, feedback surveys and market analysis, are all things you should be doing before you ever start an online marketing campaign.
Know who you want to target.
2 – Build targeted prospect lists
Now that you know the exact type of client you want, you can start building your prospect list. Maybe your sales team already have a few lists they have built, if not, start a new one. This is the area where BtoB and BtoC marketing diverge. With BtoC marketing, you can rely mostly on ad platform targeting tools to build your list, with BtoB marketing, you will be building mostly by hand.
There are several tools you can use to help with your list building (see below), but it is largely a manual process as you will need to pick through companies trying to find the ones that match your criteria.
The size of the list really depends on your industry, your goals and the resources you have in place. I think a 50 or 100 company list is a good place to start as it will force you to build a highly targeted list. If you have the resources though, feel free to big larger lists, but make sure you have enough resources on hand for the follow-up stage of this process.
When you are building your list, you may find multiple people's information for a single company, I like to add anyone who may be relevant as you never know who the influencers are in a company and I'd rather warm up several people with targeted advertising than just one.
Here are some prospect building tools you can use that will do most of the heavy lifting for you.
Zoominfo – They have a highly trusted database and their List Builder product is great for building highly targeted email lists.
Data.com – Formerly JigSaw, now owned by Salesforce, this product delivers highly accurate business data and makes targeted prospecting a breeze. Great option if you already use Salesforce as it has tight integration with its CRM and is cheaper for its CRM users.
Aeroleads – They have a Chrome extension you can use to build targeted email and phone lists and you search the LinkedIn, Google, CrunchBase, just to name a few.
LinkedIn – LinkedIn is the best social platform for BtoB prospecting and their Sales Navigator tool is tops when it comes to mining the treasure trove of data inside LinkedIn for advanced list building. Sales Navigator will make list building a breeze.
3 – Soften your list up with targeted advertising
Now that you have a highly targeted prospect list, you will then create an online advertising campaign to get in front of your list so you can start building awareness and interest for you company.
While sales teams do steps 1 and 2 as part of their prospecting, it is this step where we part ways with sales, at least for the time being. Normally, with list in hand, the sales team would start their outreach, either by email, phone or in person. What we will do is soften the list up first with targeted advertising before we get to the outreach stage. It's like in the military where you call in air support before you begin your land invasion, you want to soften your target up before you move in.
83% of B2B marketers use content marketing for lead generation. ~ Content Marketing Institute
This advertising campaign will run for a few weeks, giving your prospects time to see your messages. Some may take action on your ads, turning your previously cold lead into a very warm one for your sales team.
Best practice for an ad campaign? Offer something useful that your prospective client may be interested in. One that I find that works well is a case study that solves a problem the prospects on your list might have. White papers, ebooks, etc all work as well, just remember the more specific you can tailor it to your list, the more likely they will be interested and engage with you.
So where do we advertise?
Facebook Custom Audiences – With Facebook Custom Audiences, you can upload your prospect list and Facebook will match your information (email, phone #, etc) against their database and identify Facebook users on your list. From my experience, match rates can range from 30-80%, depending on the type of list you have. Once your list is created, you can then start creating ads.
* Here is a good article on Facebook advertising to give you some ideas on incredible targeting options they offer, even for BtoB companies.
Facebook Remarketing – If you're not running Facebook Remarketing, I would set it up. Once you begin the next stage of doing outreach, it will allow you to market to people (if they visit your website to learn more about you) who you were not able to target initially with your advertising campaign.
LinkedIn Ads – You cannot import your own email lists into LinkedIn for the purpose of advertising (you can add that list to your contacts and then import to your LinkedIn account and then connect with them personally) and you will need an audience size of at least 1,000 people in order to run an ad campaign. The good thing is that you can target by company name, so you should have no problem getting most of your list into an ad campaign. You will most likely have to expand your audience a bit to reach your 1,000 minimum, but I'm sure you can add additional criteria and still have a very targeted audience to advertise to.
Twitter Tailored Audiences – Twitter Tailored Audiences allows you to upload an email list to build a targeted ad campaign on Twitter. You can also use a list of Twitter handles to target. While email matches have been found to be quite low, around 10-25% match rate from what I've seen, you can still reach part of your list using Twitter Ads.
Google Display Network – I was originally going to include Google Customer Match as an option until I read they expressly state you can only use data that has been acquired firsthand such as previous customers, newsletter signups, etc. While it's still possible to do, it's against their ToS. While you can't use your prospect list, you can still do some targeted advertising with the Google Display Network. While this is a broader approach than the rest of the options above, I still like it as an alternative.
Only 20% of CMOs leverage social networks to engage with customers. ~IBM Survey
Using the Google Display Network, you can geo-target by exact physical address, with a minimum of 1Kilometer radius around that address. So if you have a prospect's company address, you can run a campaign targeting their location and further refine by demographics, behaviors and interests in order to limit who will see your ads. The nice thing with this method is that you can potentially target everyone at the company with banner ads, video or text based ads.
Use all of the above in combination for best results
The idea of the ad campaigns is to generate awareness and interest in your company, softening them up for the next stage, which is outreach. You want to bring them back to your website where they can engage with your content and learn more about your business. You can decide if you want to gate content behind a contact form or not, but remember you already have their information and will be reaching out to thems
You can decide if you want to gate content behind a contact form or not, but remember you already have their information and will be reaching out to them shortly, so not really a need to gate anything. When you might want to gate the content is when you are using marketing automation software and want to see the exact people who are coming back to the site with the list you are targeting. This is very powerful information as you now know the hot ones on your list to target first. It went from you targeting them to them coming to you and asking for help, sweet!
While you most likely won't reach everyone on your list, if you use all of the above methods, you should be able to get in front of most of the people on your list at least a few times before outreach begins.
4 – Start your outreach
Now that you have softened them up, start your outreach. Email or phone, however you do it. Hopefully, they will have some awareness of you and they are no longer 100% cold. Same thing as your content, don't go right into your sales pitch, offer something valuable to them first like a step by step how you solved a problem that they most likely have.
Give them value to chew on and then follow up again. Now you have softened them up twice before you got to your sales pitch and have hopefully generated enough interest to get a meeting and their valuable time to work your magic.
I like to include links in my emails that bring readers back to the website to read relevant content. Why? Once they visit the website, besides consuming the content that they are interested in, they are now on a remarketing list so we can further market to them via Google Adwords, Facebook or even Twitter via their remarketing ad options.
Now work your sales funnel
So once the above steps are completed, you can follow whatever sales funnel strategy you already have in place to turn these prospects into clients.
Does this take time? Yes. Does it work better than just cold calling a prospect list you purchased? Yes!. Most companies will never have the time or discipline to do something like this, it's much to easier to just buy lists and Robo-call the hell out of people, hoping to grab that o.0001% of people who might have a slight interest in this sort of backward BtoB selling.
I told you BtoB marketing (quality BtoB marketing) is much different than your traditional BtoC online marketing strategies. The problem is that most businesses try to apply BtoC marketing strategies to their BtoB marketing and get lackluster results.
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