What’s Trending: Innovations in B2B Marketing
June 7, 2021
B2B marketing is having a moment.
Or, to quote Hamilton, “Scratch that — this isn’t a moment, it’s a movement.”
It started with the idea that B2B doesn’t have to be boring. That led to the realization that B2B can’t afford to be boring — that staid and dry content is no longer a viable option.
With these epiphanies in mind, B2B marketers are reinventing strategies and finding new tactics for reaching and persuading a business-minded audience. Marketers are natural-born tinkers and testers, and we’ve made considerable progress in just a few short years.
For this roundup, we’re looking at new ideas in B2B marketing, including tips on globalization, user-generated content, employee advocacy, and beyond.
What Marketers Were Reading and Sharing Most Last Month:
“Content marketing is an investment that impacts your business strategy, branding management, audience engagement, and thought leadership,” says Ascend2’s Todd Lebo.
The catch, however, is that marketers need to be able to prove how their efforts are contributing to the bottom line. We have the tools to measure how content affects revenue — but are we getting the best use out of them?
Ascend2 and Komarketing recently conducted a survey to see how marketers are doing with measurement. According to the survey, 66% of B2B marketers find it difficult to measure the performance of a content marketing strategy. Todd and his team bring the key takeaways from the survey, along with advice for next steps, in this article.
Remember those 90s bumper stickers that said, “Think globally, act locally?” It turns out, that’s good advice for brands as well. Businesses that operate around the world need to have a consistent brand voice, but at the same time need to respect and embody the culture of each local audience.
The solution, says Lisa Buyer, is “Glocal” content strategy, with a global strategy that can be adapted to speak to local audiences. “Smart ecommerce companies localize every aspect of their interaction with their customers — from content and SEO to item descriptions, billing, and customer service,” she says.
One surprising element of localization: SEO research. Keywords that make perfect sense in English may not translate directly into other languages. It’s crucial to have a local team that adapts SEO research to suit each audience.
B2B marketers are constantly on a quest for more authentic, diverse and engaging content. According to Michael Brenner, employees are an often-overlooked source for all three. “People buy from people — not brand names and logos,” he says. “Content marketing from your team breaks down the logo and creates face-to-face interactions between your audience and the people behind your brand.”
Michael offers a few innovative ways to get employees’ voices into your content in this article. My favorite: Have employees host video content, rather than hiring someone outside of the company. “Why hire out for a video host when you have a team full of employees to be the public face of your company?” As a bonus, employees have a more thorough knowledge of the brand’s values and culture than a third-party video team would.
To take authentic content one step further: Why not co-create content with your audience? Crowdsourced content can speak more directly to your intended audience (since the creators are part of that audience). Not only that, it can help you identify up-and-coming influential experts to co-create content with in the future.
TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden shares his tips for success with user-generated content, including benefits to capitalize on and pitfalls to watch out for. One caveat, says Lee: “While there are many upsides when done well, it’s important to know that it’s possible to over rely on a community for content creation too, so don’t overdo it. Also, genuine recognition inspires better work and can motivate participants to share future crowdsourced content more enthusiastically than something that is more transactional.”
We all know that B2B marketing is still marketing to people; moreover, it’s marketing to the same people that B2C companies are trying to reach. The mythical creature that is the “B2B buyer” doesn’t, strictly speaking, exist. But does that mean B2B marketers should be striving to emulate B2C in all things?
Peter Weinberg and Jon Lombardo do a great job of breaking down the distinction between the two disciplines. While B2B and B2C can employ the same strategies, B2B tactics will be different. For example, a toothpaste company may be targeting “anyone with teeth,” and having the widest possible reach on every channel is a reasonable tactic. However, “If your target segment is people who buy cyber-security solutions for enterprise companies, ad targeting is important,” Peter and Jon say.
In short, there are plenty of commonalities between B2B and B2C, but it’s important to stay aware of what makes B2B unique, and adjust your tactics accordingly.
Social media marketing is one spot where B2B and B2C tactics diverge. B2C social media is more about attracting attention, where B2B is more about engaging with existing and potential buyers. According to Jock Breitwieser, social media should be considered a bottom-of-funnel exercise for B2B: “Getting over the mental block of seeing social media as a passive presence-building platform instead of looking at it as a legitimate sales channel that your prospects prefer is important for engaging with prospects in the right way — fearlessly,” he says.
That’s not to say, of course, that every social interaction should be a sales pitch. Jock recommends thinking of it as a long-term investment in building relationships — but to keep those sales goals in mind as you engage.
We believe that LinkedIn is an amazing resource to connect brands with a relevant audience. That’s the reason LinkedIn Marketing exists, after all. But connecting with your audience goes beyond just the traditional marketing functions. Sprout Social’s Ronnie Gomez observes that “A strategic presence on the platform can attract high-caliber talent, support your sales funnel and establish a foundation for future partnerships.”
And speaking of B2B vs. B2C, Ronnie says that marketing on LinkedIn shouldn’t be considered an exclusively B2B tactic. “LinkedIn is a goldmine for B2B marketers, but that doesn’t mean B2C companies should discount a strong presence on the platform. Its higher-educated, higher-earning users hold serious purchasing power,” she says.
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