B2B suppliers must embrace and sustain ongoing digital change if they want to stay competitive in the future.
- Over 70% of B2B decision makers prefer remote or digital interactions,
- Over 70% of B2B buyers spend half their research time online,
- In 2022 the average buyer uses 10+ channels as they journey through the buying process.
So, what do today’s B2B buyers want?
This is a complicated question. However, getting the right answer is essential for selling to today’s business audience.
As the B2B industry continues to evolve, digital marketing is more than a nice to have – it’s a must-have.
The last few years have intensified the need for B2B businesses to shift their focus to digital marketing. Why? Because digital marketing drives revenue.
To succeed in B2B, it’s no longer acceptable to have a subpar buying experience.
In this blog, we’ll take a look at how you can use digital marketing to create value for today’s B2B buyers and the strategies you need to employ to make sure they find you when they’re researching online.
How to Create Value for Changing B2B Buyer Needs
The way B2B buyers research, compare, and buy has drastically changed in the last five years
The days when buyers would simply talk to their sales rep or meet prospective suppliers at an industry event are disappearing.
With digital at the helm, most buyers start their purchase journey online – even if they ultimately purchase offline.
In fact, recent Google research shows that on average, 67% of purchases for multiple industries were influenced by digital.
According to the same study, before making a purchase, today’s typical B2B buyer might look at online categories, perform multiple Google searches, and visit branded websites.
They look for product specifications and brand comparisons and try to find the best deals or promotions.
In fact, you could say, the B2B buying experience is trending towards a more consumer-based approach. Where the buyer conducts their own research before making a purchase – similar to the way consumers read reviews and compare products on Amazon.
Engaging modern buyers requires a more proactive approach to marketing. The right digital marketing strategies help people make and act on decisions faster. And they will do their due diligence. Digital empower today’s B2B buyer to research rapidly and make decisions in the moment.
But you need to be visible within their research phases to stand a chance of being selected.
So, how do you build a digital marketing strategy to engage today’s B2B buyers?
The Core Pillars of a Modern Digital Marketing Strategy
If you want to drive long-term growth for your business, the right digital marketing strategy is a must. With the right approach in place, you can better meet buyers at every point in the purchase journey and optimise for long-term growth.
Here are the four core pillars of a modern digital marketing strategy:
SEO (Search engine optimisation) helps boost the visibility of your content. If you get it right, for B2B specifically, it helps your buyers build trust and confidence in your business and helps you drive traffic with intent: Do they want to learn? Are they ready to buy? The keywords inform this. Plus a lot of B2B terms aren’t crowded yet so it’s easier to compete for them and boost rankings.
In short, SEO is the process of optimising your website to rank higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs) to increase the amount of traffic your website receives.
When customers are looking for products or services during the research phase, they often turn to search engines, such as Google. That’s why being found on the first page of the search results increases your chances of driving traffic to your site to ultimately convert them into sales.
SEO is the backbone of digital marketing and is made up of different elements:
- On-page SEO – the content you see on your website including product pages, landing pages and blogs.
- Off-page SEO – any activities that take place off the page, mostly gaining backlinks or inbound links.
- Technical SEO – anything that involves the back end of your website and anything that affects the performance of your website such as site speed.
- Local SEO – a local SEO strategy helps you appear for customers who are searching in your local area and drive footfall to your business.
Pillar 2: Content Marketing
Content marketing is the promotion and creation of content assets to help you generate brand awareness, traffic to your website, demand generation, and new customers. In summary, it allows you to provide value to your customers by creating informative content that helps to answer customers’ questions and solve their problems by offering your products and services.
One of the main reasons customers turn to search engines is to find knowledge about specific topics, products and services. Make sure that the content you produce and promote should match the search intent of your customers, so make sure it matches their intent at various stages of the customer journey.
But, why is this fundamental for B2B marketing today?
B2B businesses buy from those with an authoritative, trustworthy and reliable voice so you have a much higher chance of converting a prospect if they’ve seen your content and remember it – because it was helpful.
Key types of content include:
- Blog posts – they help to demonstrate your expertise in your industry and help to generate organic search traffic for your website. It will also help you get your brand to the top of the SERPs.
- Infographics – a visual piece of content you can use to provide information in an easy to read and digest way.
- Ebooks and whitepapers – help to provide website visitors with more information on the problems you can solve for them.
Pillar 3: Social Media Marketing
Just like content marketing, social media is critical to B2B brands that want to boost their reputation, build trust, and increase their sales. Being consistent and building familiarity is key!
Promoting your brand on these channels is the perfect way to build brand awareness and generate sales for your business.
There are different ways you can use social media for your business:
- Organic social media – every social media channel allows you to post organic (free) content. This will be shown to your community of followers and its reach can be limited.
- Paid social media – channels such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn allow you to create ads and pay to boost them to a targeted audience.
Social media is a great way to promote your brand, and content, increase brand awareness, drive traffic, sales and generate new leads for your business.
PPC, also known as Paid Search or pay-per-click, provides a way to drive traffic to your website and you only pay when someone clicks through to your website. For B2B, it allows you to target your budget towards those that are showing an intent to buy, so it’s better for ROI. You can get hyper-personalised here to make sure the ad resonates with the B2B buyer and they have a clear expectation that you can solve their challenge.
The goal of your ad is to lead searchers to click on your website and take valuable action such as purchasing a product.
PPC ads are determined by the keywords you select for your business. When searchers type these keywords or phrases into a search engine, such as Google, an auction takes place to decide which ad is shown. The ad that wins the auction is shown at the top of the search results.
So, in summary, how can you make sure you’re reaching your B2B customers effectively?
“Buyers expect education and helpful content“
B2B buyers expect to gain value from your brand. They expect free advice to help solve their key challenges. Remember, if you don’t satisfy these needs, they’ll go to a competitor.
“Don’t get comfortable with what works now“
The volume of change we’ve seen over the last few years has taught us one thing for sure: we can’t simply rely on things being the way they’ve always been. And so we can’t simply rely on the digital marketing approach we’ve always done.
“Digital marketing is even more important“
And they’ll primarily be looking for it on digital channels where they go for their research. That’s why it’s crucial for every step of the B2B buyer journey – from awareness through to building loyalty – that you have the right activity in place to drive traffic to your website and convert sales.
“Review and reposition“
Review what’s changed in your space and how your customers might have changed their buying habits, and then adapt your strategy accordingly.
If you’re unsure about digital marketing and how competitors might be reacting, request a free digital marketing audit from our website.