Originally published in Inside Supply Management Weekly
A growing number of manufacturers explore B2B digital marketing. However, many are still hesitant — if not skeptical — to dive right in. More than 75 percent of B2B marketing decision-makers report reluctance based on its perceived complexity. That’s despite an overwhelming majority (81 percent) who feel a successful B2B digital marketing strategy is key to business growth.
Digital marketing isn’t something to be left on the table. In fact, B2B digital marketing has influenced 67 percent of purchases among industrial manufacturing and pack-and-ship industries. It can dramatically increase qualified leads and shorten sales cycles.
Still, some B2B brands believe digital marketing is ineffective. Maybe they’ve tried such measures as sporadic blogging and display banner ads. They don’t see a return in a few months. So they chalk the whole thing up as a waste of effort and then abandon ship. This leaves a lot of potential behind.
Digital marketing for a B2B audience might seem overwhelmingly complicated or time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be. Generally speaking, our clients have seen the best lead generation results in the following areas:
1. Paid Search or PPC (Pay-Per-Click)
This measure is just as it sounds: brands pay search engines to display ads within search results. But — and this is important to note — you don’t pay until someone clicks on the ad. Think of it as PPC (pay-per-click), where the only cost you incur is for those people who click through to your website.
Start with a Google Ads account. It provides access to Google’s Keyword Planner, which can help identify the search queries commonly used to research products and services similar to what your company offers. Another tool is SpyFu. This analytics tool shows keywords your competitors use for paid search.
From there, start a small pilot program by developing three paid search ads in a single ad group of 10 to 15 closely related and highly relevant terms. Continue to add more ad groups and campaigns as you measure successes and increase your comfort level. Monitor the results and adjust messaging, imagery and calls-to-action until you arrive at a display ad that really drives people to your company’s website.
Google Analytics reports how paid search visitors find your company’s site and what actions they take once they get there. Any visitors who demonstrate behaviors that indicate high-quality prospects — individuals who download case studies or contact you — should be a good indication that your lead generation tactics are working.
2. Paid LinkedIn Ads
With LinkedIn’s ability to target job titles and industries — and the fact that 80 percent of B2B digital marketing lead generation comes from this platform — there should be no problem reaching ideal customers. Setup is easy. Simple start a LinkedIn Campaign Manager account. Then, use your company’s current customer list as a reference to select the appropriate job titles, industries and other factors. This will help you reach individuals who fall within your target market.
Then, turn your attention to messaging. Make sure it’s specific to customer pain points. Start by testing at least two ads against each other. About two weeks into your test, make adjustments to better reach your audience.
3. B2B Industry Newsletter Sponsorship
Though most industry publications offer media kits with fun features, try starting with email marketing. It will likely be the most effective way capture leads. Before you choose a particular publisher, conduct a little research. Figure out what email marketing tactics are available (email blasts, newsletters, etc.) and what the publication’s audience segmentation capabilities look like.
Also, ask your contacts at the publication if they can compile a small package for you to test. You’ll want to check whether the list is a proper fit for your company’s product or service. Be warned that you might be offered add-ons such as display media or podcast sponsorships. But don’t sign an agreement until you know that the email audience delivers a decent return.
4. B2B Trade Show Email Marketing
Chances are, you already have a trade show marketing strategy. Trade shows are great way to generate leads. If you haven’t yet purchased a trade show attendee list for pre-show emails, now’s the time. Let attendees know where to find you on the floor. Then, then keep the list handy to build your company’s email list. Beyond that, be sure to send out an email after the trade show to keep leads engaged.
B2B digital marketing is far from complicated. It’s just a matter of proper setup and testing. In fact, many manufacturers in the B2B space see measurable results in as few as two weeks.
With 10+ years of experience in marketing, Patty specializes in search, lead generation, and a customer-first strategy across the holistic buyer journey.
Patty Parobek, VP of Digital & Growth Strategy