What exactly is business-to-business (B2B) marketing? Let’s first start by defining the term “marketing.” Marketing is the process of promoting goods or services that satisfy a customer’s wants and needs. According to educator Peter Drucker, the purpose of a business is to create a satisfied customer, therefore the two basic functions of a business are marketing and innovation. “It [marketing] is the whole business seen from the point of view of its final result, that is, from the customer’s point of view” (Drucker, p. 38). Marketing, overall, is a method of attracting customers through value creation and relationship building.
How does business-to-business (B2B) marketing differ from business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing? In the book Fundamentals of Business-to-Business Marketing, the author discusses how “the distinction between business-to-business and consumer marketing is not based on the types of goods sold but on the customers addressed” (Kleinaltenkamp, pp. 129-130). Are you selling your product or service to another company or organization? If you answered yes, then you are a B2B company and should be utilizing B2B marketing tactics which differ significantly from business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing strategies. The main differences between B2B and B2C marketing are the two distinct audiences being targeted and the methods used to engage the audiences in each channel.
Now we will take a closer look on how to set tangible promotional goals by outlining best B2B marketing practices, specifically how to market to business-to-business companies in the industrial automation realm.
Lead generation and improving conversion rates are the top marketing priorities according to B2B marketers. A survey by Episerver finds that the largest external threat to B2B manufacturing organizations is increasing new customer acquisition costs (Episerver, p. 24). One study reveals that approximately one-third of B2B professionals are unsure which marketing channels most influence revenue growth (MarketingCharts). Therefore, what are ways that B2B companies can promote their goods or services with the best likelihood of high ROI? Below are a few best practices to ensure your company is maximizing its B2B marketing efforts to generate leads.
- Invest in your company’s website. Roughly 40% of B2B direct to customer marketing spend in the United States is allocated to a company’s website (Outsell, p. 33). This trend has been consistent throughout the past decade.
- Ensure your website is mobile friendly. In 2017, it was reported that 87% of B2B marketers have mobile friendly websites (eMarketer, slide 22). Nearly half of all B2B digital advertising spending is on mobile vs. desktop (MarketingCharts)
- Focus on search engine optimization. 44% of B2B marketers in the U.S. believe search engine optimization and marketing to be an effective lead generation method (Chief Marketer).
- Actively engage your customers and prospects on social media platforms. According to a 2019 survey, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are the most popular social media platforms for B2B marketer (Social Media Examiner).
- Utilize an e-mail nurturing program. Use this tactic to communicate new products/services, promotions, product updates, and other interesting company news. This will help build trust with customers and prospects while simultaneously educating these individuals about your products.
- Curate and promote content to build thought leadership. Content marketing helps to build brand awareness, educate your audience, build credibility, generate leads, nurture leads, and build loyalty of existing customers.