What Is B2B Marketing: Definition and Best Strategies in 2020
There are many answers to the question, “What is B2B marketing?” In fact, Google finds about 15,000 results that include the exact phrase. The only problem is that most B2B marketing definitions are long-winded and difficult to understand. In the simplest terms, B2B marketing (business to business marketing) is the business process of creating relationships with other companies in order to sell them products or services.
In 2020, there are several important B2B marketing trends that all marketers should understand in order to adjust their B2B marketing strategies accordingly. So, let’s take a look at them and explain what marketing strategies for the business-to-business market work in 2020.
What Is B2B Marketing and Why It Matters?
Business to business marketing, the practices used by businesses to sell products or services to other businesses, are constantly evolving and maintain their relevance and effectiveness. Those who keep up with them and take advantage of the latest tools and strategies can capture the most lucrative business opportunities and achieve all their objectives.
In the past, business to business marketing happened largely face-to-face. Companies used to employ teams of sales agents, who would arrange meetings with the owners of other companies and try to turn them into paying customers. Today, most B2B digital marketing activities take place online, and they include B2B social media marketing, B2B web marketing, B2B content marketing, and others.
Because it can be difficult for companies to maintain a sharp focus on their core business and, at the same time, market their products and services to others, a B2B marketing agency like ComboApp is often hired to handle all marketing activities on their behalf.
B2B vs B2C Marketing: What’s the Difference Between Them?
Business to business marketing and business to consumer marketing have the same goal—sell products or services—and they rely on similar techniques and principles. The biggest difference between them is actually in their target audience.
Consumers are irrational creatures who select products and services based not just on their price and value, but also on their popularity, status, and other emotional factors. Businesses, on the other hand, make decisions predominantly based on price and profit potential.
In most businesses, there’s a specific group of individuals who make purchase decisions, and the goal of B2B marketing strategies is to hyper-target these select individuals and provide compelling arguments about why their products or services are the best.
Many marketing strategies for the business-to-business market are used when marketing to consumers, but they are tweaked to meet the unique needs of B2B marketers.
B2B Digital Marketing Trends and Best B2B Marketing Strategies in 2020
Marketing strategies rarely stay relevant for a long time. Some become outdated and fall out of fashion, some stop being effective, and some become replaced by more modern marketing strategies.
In the following section, we describe 10 B2B marketing strategies that are guaranteed to deliver great results in 2020. The strategies we selected are based on the current B2B marketing trends and supported by an extensive body of research conducted by experts from around the world.
1. Consolidation of Marketing Tools
In 2018, marketers could choose from over 8,000 marketing tools, which is a staggeringly large number considering that only around 4,000 companies were part of the MarTech landscape in 2016. To say that the supply of marketing tools has exceeded the demand for them would be an understatement.
Experienced B2B digital marketing experts are familiar with the countless tools that do nothing but extract readily available data from Google Analytics and turn it into a pretty dashboard—for the small fee of several hundred dollars a year.
2020 is the year when B2B marketers should take a step back and tidy up their toolboxes. If possible, choose marketing tools that encompass multiple functions. Not only will MarTech consolidation save you money, but it will also make it easier to train new people and process marketing data.
When you encounter a new, shiny marketing tool, ask yourself whether its value justifies its price. More often than not, you’ll discover that you can achieve the same results with an existing tool, even if it takes a few more clicks.
2. Going Beyond the Blog
Informative blog posts have been the foundation of B2B content marketing for years because they are relatively straightforward to produce (you just come up with an idea and hire a writer to turn it into a blog post). But marketing statistics indicate that other types of content are becoming increasingly important, sometimes even outperforming blog posts.
Millennials are now the biggest B2B decision-makers, and they love video marketing because videos can be easily consumed on mobile devices and generate a huge impact in just a few seconds. Google is aware of this trend, ranking video content higher than text-based content.
By including short videos in your blog posts, you can attract 3 times more inbound links and increase the time visitors spend on your website by 2.6 times. You can also tap into YouTube and reach its 2 billion users worldwide, many of which are your potential customers.
Companies that aren’t afraid to experiment with emerging technologies should consider virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) as two exciting ways to tell their brand’s story and present their products or services.
3. Marketing Personalization
According to Salesforce, 72% of buyers expect B2B companies to personalize their communications with them. For that to happen, B2B marketers need data—lots of it. They also need a suitable promotional strategy, and account-based marketing (ABM) seems to be the answer.
Also known as key account marketing, ABM is emerging as one of the most effective marketing strategies for the business-to-business market because it concentrates resources on a set of target accounts, relying on heavily personalized campaigns to engage each account.
Yes, it’s true that ABM requires more effort than traditional marketing because all promotional messages have to be written and designed in a way that addresses the specific needs and motivations of each buyer, but the amazing return on investment justifies it.
Back in 2013, 85% of B2B marketers said that ABM outperforms other marketing investments in terms of ROI, and the number has gone up since then. In addition to being a wise financial decision, ABM can also improve relationships with customers and, consequently, the reputation of the company.
If you don’t have enough human resources to personalize your B2B digital marketing campaigns for each target account, you should consider a partnership with a B2B marketing agency like ComboApp, which can help you achieve your business goals with comprehensive digital marketing solutions aimed to engage your target market, be it B2B or B2C, and produce tangible growth results.
4. Advanced Reporting and Data Visualization
B2B digital marketing experts today have access to such massive quantities of data that they sometimes struggle to make sense of it. Yes, Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, and other similar reporting tools have been around for some time now, but they represent only one category of reporting and data visualization tools.
Newer tools such as Google Data Studio make it possible to connect data from spreadsheets, Analytics, Google Ads, Google BigQuery, and other sources and unlock its power with interactive dashboards and engaging reports. Without any code or queries, Google Data Studio can transform your raw data into the metrics and dimensions so that you can arm the right people with the knowledge they need to make the right marketing decisions.
Large B2B companies with equally large advertising budgets can explore machine learning for marketing analytics. Despite still having a long way to go, machine learning can already help B2B marketers create new revenue streams, optimize their content, and reduce marketing waste.
5. Programmatic Advertising
Programmatic advertising, the automated transaction of buying and selling advertising online, has become the dominant form of digital advertising, and experts predict that about two-thirds of all digital ads are now programmatic, reaching around $84.9 billion.
The chief objective of programmatic advertising is to use analytics data to automate the bidding process and increase ad relevance. You can think of it as the next evolutionary stage of traditional ad buying methods to purchase ad spots.
The process itself is fairly easy to understand: A visitor lands on a website that serves programmatic advertising. Instantly, automated bidding begins to serve an ad to this particular visitor. After analyzing information on the ad space and the visitor (geography, demographics, interests, etc.), advertisers select the most suitable ad space and ad variation. This entire process happens in just a few milliseconds and without any human intervention whatsoever.
For B2B marketers, programmatic advertising is a great way of how to spend their advertising budgets more wisely and achieve better conversion rates. Over the next few years, programmatic advertising is expected to overshadow all other forms of advertising, and those who learn how to take advantage of it now will be positioned for success later.
6. Chatbots for B2B Lead Generation
Chatbots are software applications that use artificial intelligence to conduct conversations with users in natural language. Such applications are increasingly often being deployed on messaging applications and websites to help customers with common issues, but they can also be used for effective data mining and smart lead generation.
Based on sophisticated behavior analytics, a chatbot can engage a visitor at the best possible moment and offer a personalized solution. A single chatbot can chat with multiple visitors at the same time, speeding up resolution times and saving precious time for customer service professionals.
Most large enterprises have either already invested or are planning to invest in chatbots, and smaller companies are expected to follow suit very soon, as the technology becomes more accessible. By 2024, the chatbot market is expected to reach $9.4 billion, up from $2.6 billion in 2019, a compound annual growth rate of 29.7%.
7. Greater Emphasis on Mobile Apps
According to Usablenet, 78% of B2B companies believe that mobile devices and B2B e-commerce mobile apps are the future of their industry, which is why research firm Strategy Analytics predicts that growing demand will drive the B2B apps market to $140 billion by 2023, a staggering figure considering that there was barely any B2B apps market a decade ago.
B2B companies use mobile apps to sell products and services and share information about them, notify their customers and business partners of upcoming conferences, trade fairs, and expos, deliver software updates, provide customer support, and much more.
Mobile apps boost loyalty because they are always available with a single tap and can deliver push notifications with special promotions and discount coupons. They also improve efficiency and customer experience because they can take full advantage of platform-specific features. A well-designed mobile app can be much faster than a website with similar content and features, and it can remain accessible even without access to the internet.
The mere existence of a mobile app places the company behind it on the digital map and signals a certain level of trustworthiness and industry relevance. Today, developing a mobile app is more affordable than ever thanks to modern mobile app development frameworks like React Native, Ionic, Xamarin, and Adobe PhoneGap, just to name a few.
8. High-Quality Content
Content is the king—it always was, and it always will be. Last year, 41% of advertising budgets were spent solely on content marketing, and everyone who is familiar with the average conversion rate of a well-executed content marketing campaign understands why.
What all marketers who are tasked with B2B content marketing in 2020 need to realize is that not all content is created equal. In the past, search engines were not that smart, and they would happily index content without any substance or value behind it. That’s no longer the case today.
All major search engines are implementing quality algorithms aimed at helping their users find sites with high-quality content. In the future, it’s likely that artificial intelligence will be in charge of search engine quality control, making it impossible to rank high for websites with low-quality content.
As a B2B company, it’s in your best interest to come up with a well-thought-out B2B content marketing strategy as soon as possible. Figure out what your potential customers care about, what they want to know, and what obstacles they struggle to overcome. Use the information you gather to create an engaging multi-layered content plan that includes text, images, and video.
9. Email Marketing Is Here to Stay
For an advertising channel that’s nearly 40 years old, email remains exceptionally popular when it comes to B2B online marketing in 2020. In fact, 83% of marketers use it as their preferred mode of communication with businesses.
Email marketing is popular because it’s effective. 59% of B2B marketers say it’s their most lucrative channel in terms of revenue generation, and 80% of retail professionals indicate that email marketing has the greatest positive influence on customer retention of all advertising channels.
Marketers can thank smartphones for these encouraging numbers because open rates for email on smartphones have risen by over 40% in the last few years, while open rates on desktop computers dropped by over 18%.
On smartphones, incoming emails announce themselves with push notifications, and it takes a single double-tap to open them. Thanks to mobile data, smartphone users can receive, read, and respond to emails anywhere and at any time of the day.
10. Up-to-Date SEO Practices
It’s estimated that Google makes between 500 and 600 changes to its search algorithms a year. Many of these changes reflect the constantly evolving nature of the internet, but some are meant to increase the accuracy of Google’s search results and punish bad players who use blackhat marketing practices. What’s clear is that you must constantly update your SEO practices to avoid being left behind.
In 2020, your SEO strategy should take advantage of featured snippets, which are special boxes that show short selections of text above all other search results. Over 50% of clicks from Google originate from featured snippets, so ignoring them is guaranteed to cost you a lot of potential customers.
To have a chance of being selected by search engines for featured snippets, your website must be secure and use the HTTPS protocol. If you’re collecting personal information from visitors, make sure that you’re handling it responsibly and in accordance with privacy regulations like GDPR.
Because featured snippets play a huge role in voice search, it’s a good idea to optimize your content for conversational searches, which tend to be more specific, pointed, and personally relevant. Such searches are performed with the help of intelligent personal voice assistants, such as Amazon Alexa, Google Voice Assistant, and Apple Siri.
Technology has revolutionized every aspect of our lives, including the way businesses market their products and services to other businesses. The 2020 B2B marketing trends and strategies highlighted in this article paint a picture of a rapidly evolving industry where opportunities abound for those who manage to stay a few steps ahead of the pack. ComboApp is here to help you capture these opportunities and aid you with the implementation of a B2B digital marketing strategy that creates real business impact.
ComboApp is a full-cycle B2B marketing agency that provides a broad spectrum of services, ranging from app and web development and design to SEO and marketing promotion, making it a one-stop-shop for all companies that would like to take their marketing efforts to the next level without spending large sums of money on recruiting and maintaining in-house marketing teams.
Simply call us at 773.305.0886 or click on the Contact Us button in the header of this site and accelerate your growth through innovative digital solutions.