B2B Internet Marketing Strategy and the B2B Buying and Selling Process

Developing an effective search/SEO and social media plan can be tough. Start by aligning your prospect’s buying process with your selling process.

B2B Internet Marketing Strategy: Educate prospects about the benefits of your solution through the generation of expert content.

Creating thought leadership is the primary reason B2B companies participate in social media. Begin with a blog and the consistent creation of blog content. Case studies, whitepapers, and articles are typical formats used in the B2B blogging world. Blogging two to four times per month is the right level of effort.

Too many companies can’t get past their fear of the time required and never start. My suggestion is to aim for great content, but make sure you create lots of good content. Not every post needs to win an award, or be a thousand words. Keep your posts in the 250- to 500-word range. If an article swells beyond that, break it into multiple posts.

The trick is to consistently create content that provides value to your customers or that provides insight into your company’s personality and values.

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B2B Internet Marketing Strategy: Repurpose or reformat content for various online platforms.

Your blog platform is the canvas upon which you capture thoughts and work through difficult problems. Writing and posting the actual blog entry is just the beginning, though.

You can take that same thought and use it across various online platforms:

  • Capture it in a video and post it on YouTube;
  • Convert it into a presentation and use it on sales calls, at tradeshows, and upload it onto SlideShare.net (a presentation sharing website);
  • Use it as content for your newsletter; and
  • Present that same thought on a customer webinar.

Thinking is the hard and time-consuming part, so multiply that work. Think once and apply that thought many times, in many formats.

B2B Internet Marketing Strategy: Distribute content through social media.

It is relatively simple and quick to distribute blog posts, videos, and presentations via social media:

  • Tweet a link to your blog post on Twitter – repeat every few weeks as long as the post is relevant;
  • Post a link to your blog or video on Facebook and Google+; and
  • Share posts and videos through your LinkedIn profile update and LinkedIn groups.

B2B Internet Marketing Strategy: Position content directly in the path of prospects through better search engine exposure and participation in relevant social media activities.

Blog content, quasi-website content, has a big advantage over traditional website content. Within a blog post, you have the opportunity to drift from the words you normally use to describe your products and services. You can more naturally talk about the problems your offering solves and therefore can achieve good search engine ranking for important niche keyword phrases.

However, content is not limited to the blog posts, videos, and presentations we’ve talked about so far. It also includes traditional website content – homepage, product or service pages, catalog pages, etc.

Search engine optimization (SEO) — getting your content to rank at the top of the search engines — is critical to getting noticed at the exact moment prospects have a need for your products or services. Using best practices for SEO can help your website dominate the search results page, making your company one of the first places a prospect looks for information and services after he’s identified a need.

Beyond SEO, consider participating in appropriate search and social paid advertising activities to include:

  • Search engine pay per click,
  • Facebook and LinkedIn, and
  • YouTube.

B2B Internet Marketing Strategy: Strengthen brand awareness – create buzz.

Expanding your reach and creating a bigger following strengthens brand awareness. The bigger your following the more people (aka potential customers) that see your expert content. Your goal is to grow the number of:

  • Subscribers to your blog, YouTube channel, SlideShare page, and newsletter;
  • Followers on Twitter;
  • Fans on Facebook;
  • Connections on LinkedIn;
  • Friends on Google+; and
  • Attendees to your webinars.

B2B Internet Marketing Strategy: Engage prospects through social media and a highly converting website content.

Lay out website content in a sequence aligned with the information needs of prospects. You should provide features and benefits, handle objections, and provide solutions to the most common pain points that customers encounter. Think about the flow of past conversations with prospects and align your website content to follow a similar path.

The job of your website is to sell. Your job is to understand how effective your SEO, social media, and paid advertising campaigns are at driving traffic to your website and how well your website converts visitors into prospects or customers.

Adding calls to actions matched to the appropriate content and the needs of prospects will increase the chance of generating a lead or of a prospect “buying now”.

Use Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools to track important metrics like number of visitors by source, bounce rate, time on site, and ultimately conversation rates. Don’t be afraid to test alternatives. Sometimes a small tweak to a form or rearranging content can make a big difference in conversions.

B2B Internet Marketing Strategy: Eliminate buyer risk, demonstrate value and simplify the buying process and decision.

Participating in social media and building out information rich website content is important, but it’s the quality rather than the activity that makes the difference. Just like the feeling we get when confronted by a pushy car salesperson, selling too hard in social media and sloppy disjointed website content make prospects skeptical about doing business with your company.

To be taken seriously in social media you need to give as much as you get. If you want your blog to gain traction, you need to interact with other bloggers by leaving comments on good posts and referencing other blogs that you either agree with or take exception to in your posts. Similarly, you can’t expect people to engage with you on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, or even YouTube unless you take the time to interact with their content.

Social media messaging should be 10% selling, and 90% listening, sharing, and providing value. Website content should be accurate, easy to understand and navigate, and credible.

B2B Internet Marketing Strategy: Encourage satisfied customers to help promote your brand.

The lifetime value of a customer is measured both by the revenue and margin they generate and the referrals they provide. Client testimonials have always been important, but social media allows you to share the experience of satisfied customers with a much larger group.  It also allows dissatisfied customers a huge platform to air their distress.

Add snippets of testimonials on your homepage, product and service pages, and about us page; then link from the snippet to a webpage containing the complete testimonial. In addition to written testimonials, capture video testimonials and integrate them into your site and blog, and of course post them to YouTube. Other social platforms can be used to leverage the good will of satisfied customers as follows:

  • Ask them to brag about you on Twitter or retweet case studies articulating the great success they achieved by working with you.
  • Encourage happy clients to comment on your Facebook or Google+ posts.
  • Ask for LinkedIn recommendations.

If you do receive negative feedback, social media is an ideal platform to handle it. It allows you to broadcast customer service “wins”, showing your company’s dedication to customer satisfaction. Social media feedback also allows you to quickly identify processes and services that may need to be updated.