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B2B brands need to shake up their approach to digital

Within a B2B organisation, your digital marketing options can seem limited, with B2C brands dominanting the digital space. Kerrie Malone, account manager at The Marketing Pod, explains why and how you should break out from 'safe' marketing tactics.

Within a B2B organisation, your digital marketing options can sometimes seem limited. With B2C brands dominating the digital space, many in B2B tend to stick with ‘safe’ marketing tactics, such as sending out emails with well-placed call-to-actions and posting regularly on LinkedIn. 

There’s a reason that B2B marketers rely on these 'safe' marketing tactics, such as emails with well-placed call-to-actions and regualar LinkedIn posts – they work. They’re tried and tested, which means that you’re likely to see a good ROI (if you do them right!). However, it’s also likely that your competitors are doing exactly the same as you are.

Today, up to two-thirds of the B2B purchasing process is conducted online before prospects interact with anyone within your organisation (CustomerThink). With this in mind, you need to consider whether your business will stand out from the crowd if you stick to the same old digital marketing strategy, or if you could benefit from trying something new.

Ready to switch up your organisation’s approach to digital? Here’s where to start.

Press record

Video marketing may not seem like a cutting-edge technique, but it's set to take off significantly this year. The good news is that you don’t need to invest in any fancy equipment - from Snapchat stories to live streaming on Facebook - it's never been easier to create and share videos across your social platforms using just your smartphone.

So why the renewed interest in video, a format that’s existed for decades? To put it simply, video content is a great way to engage your audience. A recent study found that people are 10 times more likely to engage, embed, share and comment on videos than blogs or related social posts (Content Marketing Institute). It makes sense – in a timeline full of text and static images, a video is most likely to grab your attention.

Videos can be particularly useful for B2B brands, as you can use video content to give your business a voice and face, creating a personal touch that can sometimes be lacking in the industry. Make sure the information you record is concise and easy to digest, because as engaging as video can be, users are unlikely to watch one that’s feature-length. And as with all content, you’ll need to ensure it’s relevant and interesting to your audience.

Top tip: Take your videos offline too! We had great success when we used video direct mail as part of an account-based marketing campaign. 

Get an AI advantage

Artificial intelligence (AI) may seem like a futuristic notion, but the reality is that many businesses are already using AI to improve their processes across all departments, including marketing.

Rather than providing a set output when given a specific input (as traditional computers do), machine learning enables AI solutions to learn from the inputs they’re given, so they can optimise their response. This means you can feed relevant data into your AI solution, and it will make connections between data from different sources and learn from it.

This provides B2B marketers with a key advantage – the ability to collate data from different sources, from event leads to website forms and social media interactions, as well as achieve a well-rounded view of your audience. You can then use this information to personalise all of your communications, ensuring that you’re sending content that resonates with customers and prospects.

As we move towards the new era of GDPR, if your audience feels that your communications aren’t relevant, they’re likely to request for you to delete their data. Utilise AI’s machine learning capabilities to tailor your content and prevent your prospect list from dwindling. AI is also particularly useful if you’re taking an account-based approach to your marketing, as providing prospects with content that’s relevant to their organisation and stage within the buyer journey should help them connect with your organisation and feel valued.

Top tip: Use AI to increase your open rate! There are a number of email marketing tools that use AI to determine which subject lines, keywords and call-to-actions your recipients are most likely to respond to.

If you only do one thing…move past LinkedIn

As an agency, we’ve found that B2B organisations love to be active on LinkedIn – it’s their safe space in the ever-changing world of digital. Suggesting they branch out to platforms like Facebook and Instagram, however, can sometimes be met with shock and confusion: "Aren’t they for B2C companies?".

In a word, no. A simple way to decide whether you should have a presence on a particular social platform or digital space is to consider whether your audience is in that space – if they are, then you should be there too. Don’t be intimidated by the visual nature of platforms like Instagram, which can be a great way to give your audience a ‘behind the scenes’ look at your day-to-day activities and build a connection along the way. See Cisco’s account for a great example of a B2B brand doing well on Instagram.

You’ll also need to curate your content so that it’s appropriate for each platform, as the audiences will be slightly different on each. You’re likely to have an overlap of followers across different accounts, so make sure you’re not just regurgitating the same content. For example, while you may push a whitepaper on LinkedIn, photos of your products and services in action will be more suited to Instagram.

Top tip: When thinking about expanding your digital presence, don’t forget about podcasts! Could you contribute to a podcast that aligns with your brand values, or is popular in your industry?

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