For as different as B2B and B2C companies are, there is distinct commonality in wanting to generate leads and drive business growth.
Finding the best types of marketing strategies to achieve these goals in either business model can be time-consuming… maybe even a little tricky. That’s why we’ve condensed the top growth strategies for successful marketing plan execution into one article with two lists — one for B2B, and the other for B2C.
Use the linked tables of contents or scroll through the blog to explore proven marketing approaches, all backed by updated data from a variety of industry experts and sources.
Get a complete understanding of how to plan an effective marketing strategy: Download our FREE Annual Marketing Plan Template.
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Top 10 B2B Marketing Strategies
Top 10 B2C Marketing Strategies
Top 10 B2B Marketing Strategies
Curious about what business professionals think of different marketing strategies? We took a look at recent survey results and reports that compiled data on the topic, and created a list of 10 B2B marketing strategies commonly recognized as successful regardless of industry. Here’s what we found, in no particular order:
Content marketing emphasizes education over selling to influence buying behavior. This strategic marketing approach uses content to attract and convert viable prospects while they perform online searches.
Content relevance is key, focusing on the pain points and needs of specific buyer personas, leads, and/or buyer’s journey stages to attract those best aligned with — and most likely to purchase — your product or service.
Tailored content can take the form of infographics, pillar pages, podcasts, blogs, white papers, webinars, eBooks. Video is currently the highest trending B2B content marketing format. Nearly 70% of B2B marketers rank short-form, animated, and explainer videos as a top budget spend, citing the growing engagement value as well worth the investment.
It’s important to note that content marketing is not synonymous with inbound marketing (more on inbound below). Content marketing is an important component within an overall inbound growth strategy because of its focus on content that drives action. However, unlike inbound, the approach does not integrate other marketing methodologies to create experiences that build and strengthen business-buyer relationships.
Content marketing is effective because it:
- Draws prospects through the sales funnel
- Grows brand visibility, credibility, trust, and desirability
- Aligns relevant content, target markets, and key decision makers
Fast Fact: 78% of B2Bs use lead conversions as a content marketing performance metric
Inbound is far and away the most effective B2B marketing strategy. Why? Simply put, it’s built to attract, engage, and delight customers with meaningful content that provides sought-after solutions and connections.
Traditional marketing methods — even some discussed in this article — tend to inundate (and usually annoy) prospects and customers with information that isn’t necessarily helpful or relevant. The disruptions attempt to force engagement, whereas inbound invites engagement by strategically placing messaging in the right place at the right time to drive website traffic and leads. As a result, visitors feel both in control of and part of the experience.
Inbound marketing is effective because it:
- Works for businesses of any size or type
- Creates more knowledgeable prospects
- Can be easily integrated and managed using CRM and CMS systems, like HubSpot
Fast Fact: 80% of corporate decision makers favor getting brand information through an article or blog series over ads
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
Social media marketing focuses on providing users with content they find valuable and want to share across their social networks. Content tailored for each social media platform (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram) fosters engagement and promotes your brand which, in turn, increases visibility, website traffic, and growth potential.
Social media marketing can also influence SEO. To be clear, social media is not a ranking criterion so it cannot impact actual SEO ranking itself. However, social media shares can improve SEO performance through wider content distribution, more backlinking opportunities, potential brand and search term ranking, and humanizing your brand by building trust.
Social media marketing is effective because it:
- Reduces marketing spend while increasing qualified leads
- Drives brand engagement, “humanization,” and trust
- Supports and improves SEO performance
Fast Fact: 90% of B2B companies use LinkedIn for social media marketing, and with good reason. More than half of B2B buyers consider LinkedIn their “go-to” platform for help in making purchase decisions.
Get our Complete Guide to Social Media Marketing for B2Bs
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
Search engine optimization (SEO) increases website awareness and traffic by targeting keywords and phrases prospects most often use in online searches. Content built around a keyword strategy appears in search engine results, which means a far greater likelihood of prospects engaging with the content, versus the slim chance of them finding it independently. SEO increases your reach and audience in a meaningful way — they self-identify as being interested in your product or service through their search behavior.
While there is a common misperception that it’s a stand-alone approach, on-page and off-page SEO leverages many marketing tactics to build a solid foundation for effective inbound marketing.
Search engine optimization is effective because it:
- Continues to evolve in-step with search engine technology advancements and user best practices
- Simplifies searches for customers interested in your product or service
- Is an effective way to keep your brand competitive with similarly situated companies
Fast Fact: 61% of B2B marketers stated that SEO and organic traffic generate more leads than any other marketing initiative.
SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING / PAY-PER-CLICK
Search engine marketing, or SEM, is a tool that companies use to grow their website traffic through paid online advertising. One of the most popular SEM methods is pay-per-click (PPC). Essentially, a company sponsors (buys) an online link placement that appears as an ad in search engine results (SERPs) or on specific social media platforms. The ad appears when keywords related to their product or service are searched or a designated audience is on the social platform. Every time the ad is clicked, the company pays the search engine (or other third party host site) a small fee for the visitor — a literal “pay per click.”
Search engine marketing is effective because of its:
- Breadth in online tools and reach
- Cost-effectiveness in generating high visibility
- Adaptability to multiple markets and audiences
Fast Fact: Paid ads have a 200% ROI and can increase brand awareness by 80%
ACCOUNT BASED MARKETING & AD RETARGETING
Account Based Marketing (ABM) uses highly personalized campaigns to pursue targeted sets of B2B accounts — either new contacts within different divisions of companies you already have relationships with, or identifying companies with similar, desirable business attributes and sending key contacts select content.
Due to its narrow focus, ABM provides marketing and sales teams with a number of advantages, including a faster sales process, cost effectiveness, and a more efficient use of marketing resources. With all of the things ABM is, though, it’s important to remember that ABM is not the same as outbound marketing. It’s much more considered, personalized, and strategic than impersonal, generic outbound outreach.
In a similar but separate vein, ad retargeting uses browser cookie-based technology to identify users who visited your site but left before completing a transaction or conversion. The cookie generates targeted advertisements in those users’ subsequent web searches and interactions, even if the searches aren’t specifically related to your site. Retargeting is an effective conversion tool because it repeatedly gets your brand in front of audiences that already demonstrated interest in your product or service — perhaps because your ABM campaign targeted them to begin with (wink).
ABM is effective because it:
- Streamlines sales cycles by targeting high-value accounts
- Lends itself to visitor segmentation and tailored messaging
- Leverages technology to automate and manage campaigns
Fast Fact: On average, B2B companies found annual contract value (ACV) increased by 171% after ABM implementation
EARNED MEDIA & PR
Earned media (or “free media”) is exposure that’s generated by unsolicited — and unpaid — sources.
Word of mouth referrals, press mentions, backlinks, social shares, by-lined articles you contributed to a trade publication, etc., are all examples of earned media in action. Each is an effective way to increase brand awareness, web traffic and conversions, but there’s more.
Earned media is a powerful way to reinforce brand credibility. Social proof, non-marketing buzz, and are highly valued by prospects when evaluating a company. Having a solid unpaid online presence can tip a purchase decision in your favor.
Public relations (PR) works in much the same way, but it’s a little more nuanced. Communication and audiences are orchestrated through use of media outlets — TV, print, radio, social platforms — to build and nurture business relationships with the public, increase brand credibility and image, and share the messaging you want presented. PR is instrumental in protecting and promoting your brand reputation online and through multichannel distribution.
RELATED: Taking an earned media approach to inbound marketing
Earned media and PR are effective because they:
- Are generally “free” advertising channels
- Are unsolicited and, therefore, have instant perceived credibility
- Increase awareness of valuable, educational, and trustworthy content
Fast Fact: Earned media accounts for 25-40% of all traffic and lead generation
B2B marketers are reaping the benefits of email marketing — nearly 65% report having an email strategy in their marketing mix helped them reach their business goals.
Leveraging email marketing allows you to promote new blog articles to subscribers, and send newsletters, recommended new advanced content pieces, and the like to those who have opted in to email communications. The convenience of email access encourages recipient engagement, and workflow automation makes it easier than ever for marketers to provide prospects and customers with the right content at the right time.
Email marketing is effective because campaigns:
- reach targeted audiences and encourages conversions
- drive website traffic
- cost-effectively generate substantial return on investment
Fast Fact: Email marketing ROI is an impressive $36 for every $1 spent
In-person and online trade shows remain a top B2B networking tool, as they gather companies within a specific industry into one location — be it through physical, virtual, or hybrid events — to connect and also demonstrate their latest products and services.
Industry events give companies the chance to establish or strengthen relationships with key partners, customers, and prospects; identify market trends and opportunities; and gain an understanding of what their competition is offering in the market.
The pandemic-driven “new normal” compelled creative use of technology to augment trade show opportunities.
In-person and online trade shows are effective because they:
- Focus on meaningful interactions and relationship-building
- Are generally well attended, creating a target-rich environment for lead generation
- Provide opportunities for businesses of every size to access the same audience and information
Fast Fact: 65% of B2Bs define trade shows as an “invaluable part of their marketing strategy”
Conversational marketing is just that — a conversation. Real-time interaction via a chatbot or live chat gets the right information in front of prospects and customers at the right time, and follow-up questions are addressed immediately.
Personalized, relevant engagement vastly improves the user experience, increasing the likelihood of getting referrals from happy customers. For businesses, conversational marketing methods typically cut the time buyers stay in the sales funnel. Relationships are established faster, leading to quicker conversions.
RELATED: 5 Awesome Examples of B2Bs Using Chatbots
Conversational marketing is effective because it:
- Removes layers of impersonal lead capture and creates an authentic, personal customer experience
- Fosters clear communication — buyers can plainly state their needs, and businesses can more readily understand and assist since there is appropriate context around the request
- Strengthens relationships as bots can also recommend additional content to supplement buyer education
Fast Fact: 80% of business queries and questions can be managed using a chatbot
Taken individually, the majority of the strategies we listed provide limited marketing clout. However, inbound marketing aligns the heavy-hitters — SEO, SEM, content marketing, social media, and earned media — to strategically generate qualified leads, strengthen customer relationships, and successfully builds brands.
If you’re interested in learning how to incorporate the most effective marketing techniques into your inbound marketing program, click the link below to get our free guide and start today!
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Top 5 Business-to-Consumer Marketing Strategies
As an inbound growth agency focused on helping complex B2B industries grow, we don’t lay claim to expertise in B2C marketing. However, in our research we found some compelling surveys, statistics, and data that inform these 5 key ways that B2C marketers are tending to strategize:
Influencer marketing leverages the reputations and social followings of “experts” in specific fields to promote brands. Influencers’ endorsements and product placements provide the best returns to B2C businesses so consistently that 61% of marketers are including influencer marketing in planning strategies.
The appeal of influencer marketing is considerable, but there is a note of caution. Followers are increasingly insistent that influencers be transparent about their advertising and sponsorship deals. If an influencer isn’t upfront, 20% of their audience will “unfollow” them — and that could mean a hit to your marketing returns.
Fast Fact: 61% of customers trust influencer recommendations, while only 38% trust branded social media content
B2C businesses aren’t solely relying upon influencer and viral marketing or other forms of earned media to manage their brands. Nearly 75% of B2C marketers use paid media channels to distribute content.
Of the paid media options, social media advertising and promoted posts (primarily on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube) are far and away the most popular at 91% usage. A close second is search engine marketing (SEM) and pay-per-click (PPC). Essentially, a company buys a link that appears as an ad in search engine results (SERPs) when keywords related to their product or service are searched. Every time the ad is clicked, the company pays the search engine a small fee for the visitor — a literal “pay per click.”
Fast Fact: On average, paid media represents 39% of a business’s total marketing budget
VIDEO & AUDIO CONTENT
Video and audio content are two of the top B2C trends. Short-form video is already a staple for 33% of B2C marketers, and the percentage is projected to nearly double in the next year. Why? Video is a social media staple. It drives marketing strategies for raising brand awareness (49%), product advertising (44%), and increasing revenue (43%).
Audio content — specifically podcasts — has been slow to catch on in the B2C space, but that trend is turning for a couple of reasons. There’s the increased desire for immersive brand experiences that revolve around video and audio engagement and, more simply, is the power of voice. It’s thought that larger market segments can be reached as personalities and messages connect with listeners on a more “human” level.
Fast Fact: Livestreaming content is the emerging go-to for B2Cs — creation and usage is hovering around 35%, nearly triple that of previous years’ metrics
eCommerce is a B2C stalwart. An estimated 2.41 billion people around the world bought products and services online in 2021, so competition is fierce. Savvy marketers are seeing the pandemic-driven explosion in ecommerce engagement as an opportunity to implement a dynamic, customer-centric marketing strategy. In addition to the tactics mentioned here, there is focused effort on ramping up on-site personalization, the mobile shopping user experience, and subscription-based services. Remaining flexible yet responsive in the ecommerce space appears to be the solution for getting a share of the $6.5 trillion in projected 2023 sales (that’s 22% of retail sales worldwide).
Fast Fact: By 2040, it’s estimated that 95% of all purchases will be through eCommerce
Conversational marketing in B2C is no different than B2B, except that it’s even more of an expectation by consumers. Conversational marketing is a real-time interaction via a chatbot or live chat that gets the right information in front of prospects and customers at the right time, allows them to opt for self-service (a growing demand for 40% of customers), and get questions answered immediately (a top priority for 75% of customers).
Personalized, relevant engagement vastly improves the user experience, but there are other benefits for B2Cs. Engaging in meaningful conversations gives businesses the opportunity to “humanize” brands by telling the stories behind them, and demonstrating company values. Nearly 75% of customers buy from companies that align with their values.
Fast Fact: 47% of customers are receptive to buying a product or service using only a chatbot
Every Strategy Requires an Effective Marketing Plan
Ready to ramp up your marketing efforts, but unsure of where to begin? Reach out to us or check out our complete guide to building an annual marketing plan for any size of business.
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Top 10 Most Effective Marketing Strategies for B2B and B2C