What are the best B2B marketing tactics? To answer that question, I’ve looked at 5 really excellent articles and the data from over 1,000 B2B marketing plans. The essence of this is not particularly surprising, but what we don’t want to prioritize might surprise you.
Four things you really need to have in place are:
- Basic inbound.
- Accelerated inbound.
- Targeted outbound.
- Tools for your sales people.
Let me unpack this a little bit and give you the 14 tactics that really make sense for you to focus on, and those that you might want to de-prioritize, or at least put to a very narrow purpose.
What they say
The first article we came across is from Krystle Vermes and it’s good. It outlines some great tactics that are recommended by practitioners. However, what I found was that the practitioner was recommending tactics that they use, which results in some bias. For example, somebody that’s a PR consultant is going to say that PR is a key tactic.
What I didn’t find is an awful lot of data comparing the efficacy of any of these tactics. There was a little bit on data, and in particular, around the data that’s used within a tactic, to optimize that single tactic. All up though, it is a good article and I do recommend reading it.
The next one is written by Dave Chaffey. He argues that only 51% of marketers develop a strategy that aligns to the company and its objectives and 93% of marketers use social media. Well, that doesn’t say that it’s a good tactic to use. It just says that they use it in some fashion. We’ve all got blogs and Twitter accounts and Facebook accounts and LinkedIn accounts, so we’re using social media. Does that mean that it’s a critical tactic?
For all that, it is a really good article that has been very well put together. Again, I’m going to recommend that you have a read of it, but read it in context. The fact that squillions of people are using a tactic doesn’t mean it’s effective. It just means that lots of people are using it. Worth understanding though.
The third article is from Ayaz Nanji. Again, another good article. Company websites remain the top channel for B2B marketers, with 81% rating it as effective. Email is second, with 71% rating it as effective. Now, this is the difference. Not who uses it, but how effective do those who are using it rate it. The ranking were: website, email, then SEO rounding out the top 3. Social was rated down at 41%, and blogs at 39%. A couple of key points from this. Firstly, that there is definitely a shift towards content marketing, leads can be harnessed from social, but pretty much getting names to do email with.
The fourth one is from Marcus Taylor of Venture Harbour. He suggests that websites and forms are the 2 primary barriers to securing leads, and as such they are the best things to spend your energy on getting right. There is a debate evolving around whether search, emailing, or social are the most effective means, but I believe they are all valuable.
Candidly, I don’t know there is such a debate, but there you go. Email marketing is one of the oldest successful channels, it has been enhanced by marketing automation, and developed analytics, and that’s the one that, frankly, is still working. Content marketing strategies should be creative, responsive, and tailored to the company. Search or SEO is more of a by-product of an effective website, rather than something to do in itself. A friend of mine who has an SEO business actually says the same thing; create great copy. There are some foundational things you want to do around search for that great copy to shine, but his argument is not that it’s about link building, but rather creating great copy.
The fifth article is in here because it was so popular; it has been shared 1,000 times on Facebook, nearly 1,000 times on LinkedIn, and 500 times on Twitter. Their basic conclusions are about social, and specifically, what should you do to optimize your social. Well, that begs the question, is social that important for you? That’s a question that I want to turn my mind to now.
B2B marketers are rapidly harnessing the possibilities of a wider range of online channels for promotion. The older, physical means of marketing content and generating leads are dropping in priority and popularity. However, the time honoured platforms of webpage and internet have not only outlasted the introduction of channels such as social media and search marketing, but they’re also rich with opportunity to perfect and develop their effectiveness. That is, they can get better. Content marketing, SEO, and pay-per-click are 3 valid, primary methods for optimizing these channels. Content marketing in particular has useful intersections with emerging social media channels that can be used as calls to action, in order to leverage traffic to these more traditional channels. Additionally, social media can also be used to generate leads, which can then be contacted through these core channels.
We need to use data before opinion, but you need a framework to understand the data or at least make sense of the data for your own business. We’ve drawn data from over 1,000 plans and the patterns are inconsistent, because what works from your business will be different from what works for another’s business. What works best for you is often a little bit situational, but we can use the data from those 1,000 plans to help. We use it to coach all of our Funnel Plan users on what they should be doing for their business, in their market.
The best B2B marketing tactics
For all of those caveats, there are some very consistent common patterns. I’ll know outline the 14 tactics that I believe, from the data, you should most be investing in.
1. Accelerate inbound lead generation:
- Paid search for highly-targeted phrases.
- Test paid search vs. promoted social for ROI.
- Optimised landing pages in ongoing split tests.
2. Basic inbound:
- A clear website with your story well-told.
- SEO-optimised blogging using long-tail phrases.
- Offer all visitors at least 1 digital asset for lead bait on your website.
- Trigger campaign for that asset.
- Nurture emails after trigger campaign.
- Remarketing for a different offer for those who visit but don’t opt in.
- Social to connect with and build your tribe, but optimise for email opt-ins, not ‘likes.’
3. Tailored outbound:
- List building via list vendors and LinkedIn.
- Customised outbound for the priority targets.
4. Channel readiness:
- Great tools and training for sales to use in meetings.
- Templated follow up emails and proposals.
I mentioned that our Funnel Plan users get weekly coaching emails, drawn from the data inside the plans. When you log into the application, you then get highly personalized coaching based on your plan and on companies selling in a similar context to you; for example by geography, size of company, growth rate and size of deal. This coaching lets you know that they are doing these things, which you’re not, and presents it for your consideration. This coaching, is very highly personalised, it’s like having a million dollar consulting partner on the books for $29 a month.
If you don’t have a Funnel Plan right now, get yourself a free funnel plan and start the process of shaping your thinking around what your strategy, your measures, and your tactics need to be.
- Dan Chatoor for research
- Our contributors:
- Hannah Sivalingam for production
- Hugh Macfarlane for scripting and presenting this week’s show