B2B Marketing offers a variety of choices for reaching customers wherever they are in the buying cycle. Make no mistake, buyer behaviors towards information discovery, consumption and sharing online have been significantly affected by changes in social technology.
At a conference I recently spoke at, an attendee made a statement that social media only works for consumer marketing. The reality many marketers forget, is that B2B buyers are people too. They have the same social needs and influences as anyone else. Social media, in my opinion and experience, is a great fit for business to business marketing.
Marketing with content has been a core part of B2B marketing for years and as long as there are long sales cycles with the need for education, there will be a need for content. Content that attracts readers through search engine optimization and social media channels can do its job of educating, persuading and guiding B2B buyers along the sales funnel. That’s why, when it comes to online marketing, the combination of Content, Social Media and SEO provide serious competitive advantage.
Content - Pretty much all B2B marketing starts with content. White papers, newsletters, blogs, video, presentations and any other text or media content types published online. Without content, search engines wouldn’t exist. What is it that social communities share with each other? Content! B2B marketers often find difficulty with continuously generating new blog content ideas, so generating more traffic and social interaction to existing content is essential for inspiring conversations and new topics to write about.
SEO – Any digital content that can be crawled, indexed and ranked by a search engine is an opportunity for optimization with keywords that customers use when searching for new vendors, partners and solutions. Each unique content object with it’s own URL or web address, creates a destination for other websites to link to and an entry point for search engines and searchers. A quantity of quality content that is easily and often shared socially creates a rich set of signals for search engines and B2B buyers. B2B SEO mistakes are pretty common, but can be overcome by expertise and experimentation. Based on a firm foundation, SEO can provide substantial lift on its own, but especially in combination with great content and social networking.
Social Media – Growing social networks, connecting with others through interactions and information sharing creates an audience that can support content promotion which might drive traffic and attract inbound links from other topically relevant websites. Links from other websites and blogs can serve as a signal for search engines to decide how to rank your content in the search results. Links from within social networks or media sharing sites can send B2B buyers directly to specific resource, product or services pages. Not every B2B company is ready for social media, but it’s likely that their customers and competitors are already there.
There’s a lot of common sense to the experienced marketer in this blog post, but after a very long time in the consulting business, I’ve found common sense to be the least common thing in most online marketing strategies. It’s easy to be aware of how individual tactics work best for a company, but it’s useful to take a step back and observe how highly effective marketing, like content marketing, search engine optimization and social media, can best work together.
At TopRank Marketing, we’re working with B2B companies ranging from McKesson to Marketo and recently, MarketTools and StrongMail, to develop coordinated online marketing programs that emphasize efficient combinations of SEO, Social and Content that can prove themselves within existing marketing strategy. As part of our own Content Marketing, we share exclusive case studies, tips and best practices through a client newsletter and pull selected resources for sharing in our Tips from the Top Marketing Newsletter which you might find useful.
If you’re a B2B marketer, are you using content, SEO and social media in a coordinated online marketing effort? As a buyer of business services, have you been influenced by content discovered by both searching and through social channels?