Some of key differences in applying communication tools for B2B marketing are listed below.
Search engine marketing
Within some specialist markets, search volumes can be much lower meaning that search marketing will deliver few leads although they can potentially be high value. Using the Google Keyword Tool can reveal the scale of market demand. This can lead to intense competition, for example within professional services such as solicitors and lawyers leading to high cost per click in Google Adwords. In commodity B2B markets like office supplies search volumes can be much higher and can be effective in customer acquisition.
Given limited demand through search, online PR can be effective in generating awareness and demand for services. Content marketing based on whitepapers and videos which inform and educate are key communications tools, particularly in professional services markets. According to Rene Power, five options for video marketing in B2B services include corporate videos, staff interviews or guidance, customer testimonials, video blogging and hosting conferences and presentations.
Affiliate marketing tends to be less relevant for B2B marketing since volumes available for consumer marketing aren’t available to appeal to affiliates and often sites aren’t e-commerce enabled. They may also be different purchase to specifier meaning that the affiliate can’t be credited for the original lead. However, for retail B2B sites affiliate marketing is still relevant. Other forms of partnership, particularly influencers can be fruitful.
The use of online ads such as banners and rich media ads to achieve brand awareness and encourage click-through is equally relevant for demand generation in B2B marketers. Well known B2B brands like IBM are active in using this approach on technology trade marketing sites for instance.
Opt-in email marketing
While using email to build relationship is prevalent within B2B marketing, there are options for using email for acquisition. Renting permission-based email lists or placing ads in third-party newsletters can be effective too.
Social media marketing
Specialist communities can be developed within B2B markets. For example, Eloqua have developed an independent ‘Top Liners’ community and they are also active within the main social networks including LinkedIn, the leading B2B network.
Lead-generation and conversion optimisation
Many business-to-business websites do not involve ecommerce transactions. Instead, the model used is permission-based and within B2B marketing is often known as inbound marketing or content marketing approach. The marketing model used to acquire customer is:
- Inbound marketing focusing on search, online PR and display advertising used to attract website visits.
- Engagement devices such as video, whitepapers or other forms of market education material is used to encourage the visitor to interact with site and share information via social media.
- Offering access to permission-based content valuable to the visitor is used to generate leads via encouraging the visitor to register on the site, supplying an email address and profile information or sharing content via social media networks
- Leads are followed-up through personalised email sequences or where appropriate outbound phone calls where the leads are qualified as valuable.
In addition to follow-up where a user completes a form it is also possible to find some information from IP address of some business users (technically this is known as a reverse domain lookup).
Chaffey, D. and Ellis-Chadwick, F., 2012. Digital marketing: strategy, implementation and practice (Vol. 5). Harlow: Pearson.