By Rieva Lesonsky
Do you own a company that markets business-to-business? If so, you know how important face-to-face prospecting and selling is for success. You’ve got to network, work the phone, make sales calls and more. But increasingly, B2B marketing is happening online—and if your small business is still relying too much on in-person marketing methods, you’re going to fall behind the curve.
Your business website is the essential starting point for online B2B marketing. Today, the sales funnel of B2B has changed, with buyers typically conducting much of their research online before ever reaching out to a company to make a purchase. Where once you could reach out to prospects personally, now it’s equally important to draw them in through online marketing and content that gets them interested, provides information and answers their questions. That way, by the time they contact you, they’re halfway sold on your product or service already.
But with so many digital marketing options, how do you know where to focus your online marketing efforts? State of B2B Marketing 2015, a recent report by Regalix, has some useful insights.
- Don’t be stingy. Eighty-two percent of respondents in the study plan to increase their online B2B marketing spending this year. In fact, more than half (52 percent) will spend over 50 percent of their marketing budget on digital this year, up significantly from 36 percent last year. What they’re not spending on: print marketing materials, such as brochures and print ads, are in decline.
- You gotta have a website. Websites dominate B2B marketing in terms of how much money is spent on them, how effective they are and how vital they are to success. But your website can’t just sit there, static: Website content is critical to the B2B sales process. B2B marketers say website content is their most effective type of digital marketing content; 76 percent see it as “indispensable” for 2015, and 67 percent will spend more on it this year.
- Then SEO the heck out of it. Search engine optimization is the number-one area where B2B marketers will spend this year, and one of the most effective. Improving your website’s rank in organic search results is what drives those buyers looking for, say, “recycled toner printer cartridge supplier” right to your door, er, website.
- Diversify your content. What specific types of content work best in B2B marketing online? In addition to case studies and white papers, the most effective content formats, webinars/webcasts are paying off for more companies, and 65 percent of respondents plan to spend more on online videos this year.
- Get social. Not surprisingly, LinkedIn is the big winner for B2B companies, with 85 percent planning to spend more on it this year. Seventy-eight percent will spend more on Twitter and 70 percent on YouTube. However, nearly half (48 percent) say they’ll cut Facebook spending.
- Make it mobile. Here’s where the study and I part ways. The study theorizes that mobile marketing isn’t effective for B2B companies, noting that few are investing in it. While it’s true that B2B decision-makers typically research purchases at work (on their desktop or laptop), if you know any busy executives, you know that just as many of them rely on tablets or even smartphones to work at home, on the road or on the train to work. Personally, I think ignoring mobile in your B2B marketing is a huge mistake—and small business owners who get out in front of the pack by developing mobile-friendly content for the B2B prospect will win big.