As a marketer at a Canadian B2B business, you deal with a marketing budget that is finite and probably between two and five per cent of your company’s revenue. If you work at a large company, you may lead a marketing team that supports multiple strategies; however, if you’re the owner of a small business, you might do all your own marketing between taking sales calls or managing a storefront.
No matter how big or small your business or your budget, getting the most out of your marketing plan is critical for maximizing your return on investment, or ROI.
Finding the most lucrative marketing strategies for your company isn’t easy, and choosing from among the many options can seem daunting. Here are several marketing strategies that many Canadian B2B businesses have found successful.
A solid content marketing strategy means planning, creating, and distributing high-quality, useful content your target customers need or appreciate, including blog posts and articles, white papers, webinars, industry reports, and how-to videos. This strategy helps you create a trustworthy brand that builds a reputation as an industry expert. Content marketing can also generate goodwill by meeting your customers where they are and providing value before asking them for anything in return.
The trick to content marketing is knowing it’s a long game, so keep your focus on the customer, not your sales goals. If you do include a sales pitch or a call to action (CTA), make sure it’s hyper-relevant to the content and is positioned as a way the reader can tap your expertise to further their goals. You can also consider using a non-sales CTA like an invitation to follow you on social media or sign up for your newsletter — which will also be full of valuable content.
Search engine optimization is a strategy that focuses on getting website traffic from search engines like Google or Bing. SEO overlaps with content marketing; you need great content on your website to rise to the top of search engine results. But SEO is also about structuring your website, earning links to your website from other sites (called backlinks), and providing a great user experience on your website.
SEO best practices are constantly changing, so make sure you’re baking agility into your strategy today to future-proof your website. If that sounds hard, know that it’s worth it: One Forrester study suggests that SEO has an ROI of 611 per cent.
Pay-per-click advertising means creating digital billboards that pop up on search results pages. As the name implies, you only pay for a lead when a user clicks your ad. PPC ads are usually dynamic, so they only appear when prospects use certain search terms, visit certain websites, or take specific actions once there. It’s a great way to target narrow segments of your audience.
To get the most out of PPC, think of it as an experiment in which the goal is to find the keywords with the best ROI. Since you bid against your competitors for the same keywords, get creative by targeting long-tail keywords. Also, make sure that after users click your ad, they arrive at a finely tuned landing page that makes it easy for them to convert.
Social media marketing involves creating accounts for your business on social platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. With this strategy, you post regularly on the platforms where your customers are:
Share valuable information.
Point to your website content.
Brighten someone’s day.
If you think social media is only for B2C companies, remember that nearly all (95 per cent) of B2B marketers use social content to build their brands.
With so many social media platforms out there, it’s tempting to try to be everywhere, but that’s not necessary and is a sure way to stretch your team and budget too thin. Instead, pick one to three platforms your customers use most and focus there. You can add more platforms later if you like.
In your posts, include a quality image because there’s a direct correlation between image appeal and engagement. Finally, keep posts friendly and personal. Even a professional platform like LinkedIn is highly social.
Remarketing and retargeting are similar strategies your marketing team can use to make your sales funnel more efficient. Often, you’ll need to work closely with your sales team to find out which leads to target and what messaging will be most effective.
Retargeting means getting in front of a prospect again after a previous touch fails to convert. A common example is using cookies to serve ads to people after they leave your website. The key to successful retargeting is using messaging that breaks down one or more barriers to a sale, like pricing, trust, or quality.
Remarketing means sending messages to existing customers to upsell, cross-sell, or renew subscriptions, often through email. When you turn a prospect into a customer, ask for consent to send them non-transactional emails. It helps when you can entice them with valuable content that keeps them engaged with your brand long after their first purchase. Content that makes troubleshooting or maximizing their purchase works well, too.
Email marketing is exactly what it sounds like, but this strategy can be deceptively complex. Especially when combined with content marketing, remarketing, social media, and blog content, email can be highly effective. In fact, 81 per cent of B2B marketers use email marketing. This marketing channel is an important part of a B2B company’s marketing mix.
To achieve high click-through rates, make every word count, especially in the subject line. The competition in your prospect’s inbox is stiff. Establish one primary conversion goal for each email, and make that CTA stand out. Adding a secondary CTA is optional, but make it an in-text link so it doesn’t pull focus away from your main objective with the email. This second CTA is your plan B in case your primary CTA fails to convert.
Although digital marketing is wildly popular, 73 per cent of B2B marketers still lean on in-person events such as trade shows to reach prospects. And for 25 per cent of sales teams, in-person events are their highest converting strategy.
Trade shows come with a higher up-front cost than digital marketing efforts. You could invest in display equipment, create unique assets, and purchase swag to give away. If the trade show isn’t local, you’ll need to consider travel costs. To find out if your investment has paid off, build in ways to track your trade show ROI.
Traditional advertising, as opposed to digital advertising that takes place online, can feel a little old school, but print, radio, and television are experiencing a revival. In fact, 65 per cent of organizations still use traditional advertising in addition to their content (online) marketing efforts.
Unfortunately, traditional advertising can be expensive, especially if your audience is national or international. Choosing the right medium is critical to maximizing your budget, so learn what media your prospects consume — what radio stations do they listen to? — and build your strategy around that.
Influencer marketing is relatively new compared to the other marketing strategies in this article, but 46 per cent of top-performing B2B marketers have it in their toolbox. Essentially, you research the people and brands your ideal customer already follows online. Then, you team up with one of those people or brands to get your message in front of their audience. With the right partnership, you can tap into a ready-made audience of people who already need your product or service — and get an endorsement from someone they trust.
Influencers spend a lot of time and effort building their audiences. As a result, the best way to an influencer’s heart is to provide their followers with genuine value. Partnering with them to provide relevant, exclusive content is a great way to do that.
Choosing the right combination of marketing strategies for your B2B business is a process. There will be some trial and error, so consider starting with low-cost methods like social media marketing, PPC, and email marketing. You could conduct a competitive analysis and check out what your competition is doing, then try some of those strategies for yourself. Whatever you choose, find ways to track your ROI so you know what’s working well and what you could do better. Regardless, the right marketing mix will do wonders for getting your name out there, broadening your audience, and bringing more prospects into your sales funnel.