Here on TopTenWholesale.com, we have published guides and pointers on social media marketing, content marketing, SEO, Facebook marketing, and other ways to help B2B companies build online presence and visibility. But, how about if your business has mostly relied on referrals or word of mouth over the years and you are just starting to delve into the exciting world of online marketing?
If you are reading this beginner’s guide to B2B online marketing, it means that you are at the point where you are already willing to explore new possibilities and that in itself is already a crucial move, which, unfortunately, some companies are still hesitant to make. In an August 2012 report by WebMarketing123.com, 37% of B2B marketers surveyed reported low to no social media engagement. While social media is just one aspect of online marketing, it is a good indicator of companies’ reception of new media as a marketing platform.
B2B online marketing might get a bit confusing especially at the start when you would have to decide which social media channels and advertising platforms would best suit your business. And how about search engine optimization and paid ads? It is easy to get lost amidst the sea of online tools and platforms available, but you may also see it as an exciting challenge that will open new doors of opportunities for your business.
Recent industry reports consistently indicate a rise in the number of B2B companies that have increased spending on online marketing activities. Measuring ROI and online metrics is still proving to be a tough challenge overall, but the fact remains that B2B marketers perceive online marketing and social media engagement as a positive investment. So where exactly is the best place to start?
Build your brand.
Branding has become essential for B2B companies. As a matter of fact, many of the biggest international brands are B2B companies including GE and Microsoft. Your brand is the identity of your company and is your most valuable asset.
One thing to keep in mind is that all marketing campaigns are geared toward promoting your brand and thus, there is a need to ensure that the brand – your brand – has a strong foundation to begin with. And how do you establish a B2B brand online?
Provide valuable content.
Content marketing makes an excellent springboard for initiating a B2B marketing campaign. All written and visual content you produce must reflect your brand. Start by providing useful and informative content on your company website. The B2B company website or your home page is where all your marketing campaigns will lead to (thus the term, “landing page”). It should be organized and uncluttered, provide an overview of your products, and make it easy for web visitors to get in touch with you.
- Organize your web pages. Usually, all you need is a Home page, a Products/Services page, an about page, and a contact page. Sometimes, it is necessary to add a Shop (which could be an external page linked to your site). Other websites include a blog, a press page, a testimonial page, and a news center. Still others devote pages for one or two main products. It is up to you to choose and the decision would usually depend on the nature of your business.Try to keep the number of pages to a minimum. People will not bother to read very long paragraphs so try to make your content concise and to the point. It goes without saying that you need to use a professional tone and the text should also be error-free and grammatically correct. In short, create content that effectively communicates your brand, builds credibility and trust, and makes prospects want to engage in business with you.
- Optimize for search engines. Attract organic traffic (meaning, web visitors who find your site via search engines) through search engine optimization (SEO). This can be done through the use of relevant keywords in your headings, sub-headings, and body. Images may also be optimized. There are so-called search engine “spiders” that “crawl” across web pages from time to time. These spiders determine what type of content is found on your pages and how relevant or important it is in relation to your targeted keywords.Generally, your web pages are more likely to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs – the page that pops up when users enter a query in Google, Bing, and other search engines) if it is optimized for keywords and contain updated, relevant content.
- Be strategic. All the organic traffic you get will amount to nothing if you fail to create a landing page that converts. For instance, you can generate leads that do not result in conversions because you end up having your time wasted communicating with a less-than-ideal client, who had not been properly informed at the onset of the sales process. In other words, your website should be able to educate prospects and help them make informed decisions.
There are plenty of web development companies that can assist you in content creation and branding. They employ experts who can help advance your online marketing campaign to cover social media, automated email marketing, paid advertising, ROI measurement, and other B2B online marketing activities. But before anything else, as a new B2B marketer, you must develop a consistent marketing identity that will be the driving force behind all online marketing efforts.
Aside from seeking the help of experts, you should also take it upon yourself to stay up to date with the latest marketing trends in order to gain strategic advantage over competition.