B2B Marketing Channels: A Search for a Better Strategy in 2023
03 Jan 2023 By: Michael Kansky
Updated: 08 Feb 2023
What are your B2B/SaaS marketing goals for 2023? Do your current strategies and channels you use deliver the desired results? Chances are you are looking for a better option, better marketing strategy to generate results for your business.
The beginning of every new year is a great time to reevaluate current B2B lead generation strategies and look into new ones. Business-to-business (B2B) organizations rely on marketing to engage potential buyers and generate sales. Digital channels became a goto strategy to reach target audiences for most B2B companies. Yet, the current state of online advertising(PPC) for B2B organizations is not ideal.
Many B2B organizations are finding traditional methods inefficient and expensive. Business directories are overcrowded and largely ineffective. Social media channels, while attractive, are not producing the desired results in B2B marketing. The nature of B2B sales cycle is complex and lengthy. There is a need to build relationships with other businesses. It is crucial for B2B companies to utilize a variety of marketing channels to reach and engage their target audiences.
In this article, we examine the challenges of online advertising for B2B companies. We explore long forgotten and new to 2023 B2B marketing strategies to help you choose the right mix.
The OGs: Current Popular B2B Marketing Channels
PPC advertising AKA Google Ads: “ A Lazy Marketer’s Tool”
Google Ads remains one of the most popular forms of online advertising for B2B companies. However, some organizations find it inefficient and costly. Google Ads often fail to reach target audiences and lack any type of customization or optimization options. That makes them hugely ineffective for B2B companies. Furthermore, the competition for these networks is high, making it difficult for organizations to stand out from the crowd.
Close Variants of the Google Kind: An Example of Google Ads Missing the Mark
Google Ads technology has trouble keeping up with demand. Let’s consider a simple example of the “exact match” keyword type. In the B2B space, an exact match is most appealing as businesses want to target very specific searches. For example, our company, HelpSquad, is in the B2B space targeting people searching for “outsource live chat,” “live chat service,” “live chat agents,” etc. terms in Google. If we set up “exact match” keywords for those, Google Ads sends us people searching for “live chatting,” “live chat,” “live chat with AT&T,” “chat rooms,” “chat with singles” etc.
While we’re sorry to disappoint, chatting with singles is not exactly our forte. People who google these terms are not our target audience. Google calls the phenomena of ignoring the “exact match” keywords “close variants”. Basically, Google decides what is a close variant. It then produces clicks – paid clicks that completely miss the mark. Don’t forget that Google is in the business of making money from ads, so it needs clicks.
Additionally, remarketing campaigns may result in duplicate marketing to the same people due to Google’s foul play. Contacting Google and demanding the “exact match” keywords treated as an exact match, the response advises to “please review your campaign searches regularly and add keywords you do not want to trigger your ads for to the negative keywords list.”
Well, that would mean yet another almost daily to-do that is never complete. Just in case of the “live chat with AT&T” term alone, how many companies would we need to keep in the negative keywords list to tackle just this one term? Brutal!
Two is a Company, More is a Crowd: Overcrowded Ad Space Results in Higher Costs
In addition to all the complexities and imperfections of Google Ads, your ad might show in the list of five or more ads. There was a time when Google was showing two ads per page. Today, up to ten ads might appear for some of the terms. That means that a business is competing with nine other companies for one term. That also means that the bid to stay in the game rises, sometimes resulting in an astronomical per-click payment. We have paid $100+ per click in the past. For some companies with high margins and high average sale prices, this could make sense as return on investment (ROI) remains healthy, but not for most.
If you want to use Google Ads for your B2B business, be prepared to spend $10k+ monthly to get some results. Our opinion is Google Ads consumption will gradually decline and will be replaced by a more robust and effective lead-producing engine, most likely not Google’s.
Directories: Lost in Sea of Listings
Business directories like G2, Capterra, Clutch.io, and other review sites are popular for B2B marketing. However, many companies find these platforms overcrowded, leading to inefficient use of resources and difficulty in reaching target audiences. Furthermore, many organizations struggle to optimize their listings in order to gain maximum visibility. The inability to track the ROI is another pitfall of the directory B2B SaaS marketing path.
Social Media: Big Audience, Little ROI
Social media platforms promised a potential solution to online advertising for B2B organizations, as they have a wide reach and engaging user experience. Yet, while they have been successful for consumer-focused businesses, B2B companies have found it difficult to leverage social media. Once again, due to a lack of return on investment, many companies opt out of these platforms. Twitter and Facebook, for example, prove to be largely ineffective for B2B marketing due to the platform’s consumer-orientated focus, lack of customization options, and inability to connect with target audiences.
Current B2B SaaS Marketing Tools Prove Ineffective
Conclusively, the current state of online advertising for B2B organizations is concerning. Google Ads prove to be inefficient and expensive. Business directories are overcrowded. Social media is not producing quality leads.
To overcome these challenges, B2B companies should explore alternative solutions different digital tactics. By focusing on platforms relevant to their business, B2B companies can get acceptable ROI and a steady influx of leads interested in their product or service.
New Kids on the Block: Alternative Marketing Channels for B2B SaaS Companies.
So what are some alternatives to the ineffective methods? Here is a list of our favorites which we hope could help you choose the right mix that works for you:
- Account-based marketing (ABM)
- Conferences and trade shows
- Content marketing
- Direct mail
- Email marketing
- Field marketing
- Partner marketing
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Traditional media
- Referral marketing.
In addition to listing all the current mediums, we are ranking their effectiveness by 🚀 (1-5, 5 being most effective) and cost by 💲 (1-5, 5 being most expensive).
Ready for take-off? Let’s go. 🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀
Top 5 Effective Tactics you can implement now!
In this eBook, we will highlight 5 of the most effective marketing tactics that are easy to implement and are proven to generate leads.
Account-Based Marketing (ABM)
Account-based marketing (ABM) is a targeted approach to marketing that focuses on engaging specific, high-value accounts. In ABM, the marketing and sales teams work together to create personalized campaigns for a select group of target accounts, rather than casting a wide net with generic messaging. ABM can be particularly effective for B2B companies because it allows them to align their marketing efforts with the needs and goals of specific accounts. This also helps build long-term relationships with key decision-makers within those accounts.
Examples of ABM at Work
Successful examples of ABM in the B2B space include tech company Terminus’s “Flip My Funnel” campaign. The company used targeted advertising and personalized content to drive engagement with key accounts, resulting in a 300 percent increase in annual contract value.
Another example is software company Pardot’s “One-to-One” campaign, which used ABM tactics such as personalized landing pages and direct mail to drive leads and closed deals with target accounts. Chet Holmes explains the ABM strategy in an easy-to-understand and follow language in his book, The Ultimate Sales Machine.
Is ABM strategy a good fit for your company?
|This strategy is good for companies with an ARPA of $5k+ per year.||
Conferences and Trade Shows
Conferences and trade shows are events that bring together professionals from a particular industry or market. They provide an opportunity for attendees to learn about new products, services, and ideas, as well as network with other professionals. Participating in or exhibiting at conferences and trade shows can be an effective way for B2B companies to reach a large, targeted audience. It also helps build brand awareness and credibility.
However, it is important for B2B companies to carefully evaluate the cost and potential ROI of conference and trade show participation, as these events can be expensive. In order to maximize the impact of an event, B2B companies should have a clear goal in mind. These may include lead generation, networking, or product launch, among others. Create a plan to achieve that goal – schedule meetings with potential clients, create a compelling booth display, etc.
Is event strategy a good fit for your company?
Content marketing refers to the creation and distribution of valuable, relevant, and consistent content – like this article! 🙂 The purpose of this strategy is to attract and retain a clearly defined audience and to ultimately drive profitable customer action. In the B2B space, content marketing can take many forms, such as blog posts, ebooks, infographics, webinars, and case studies.
Content marketing can be an effective way for B2B companies to educate their target audiences about their products or services. It can also establish thought leadership in their industry especially if the blog content you publish targets specific industries. For example, software company HubSpot’s “Inbound” content marketing campaign, which included a blog, ebooks, and free marketing tools, helped the company generate over 50,000 leads and $100 million in annual revenue. Another example is technology company Intel’s “Intel Free Press” content marketing.
Is content marketing strategy a good fit for your company?
|Content marketing is designed to bring prospects already interested in a product or service to your website. The only downside is the timeline of three months or more to see the results. However, if done correctly, this could be the catalyst for a B2B SaaS success. An example of effectiveness of inbound marketing is in front of you. You are on our website, reading our content which you found on Google.||You will need to invest in 2-3 excellent writers and a keyword researcher.
Be prepared to produce at least 3-4 of utmost quality pieces of content monthly.
|This strategy is good for, and IMO, must be implemented by all companies, established or startups.||
Direct mail marketing involves sending physical mail – postcards, brochures, or catalogs – to a targeted list of recipients. While direct mail may seem old-fashioned in the digital age, it can still be an effective marketing channel for B2B companies, particularly for reaching a specific, targeted audience.
To maximize the impact of a direct mail campaign, B2B companies should ensure that the mail piece is relevant and valuable to the recipient, and includes a clear call-to-action. In addition, it can be helpful to track and test different elements of the mail piece (such as the subject line, offer, or design) to see what works best.
Is direct mail strategy a good fit for your company?
|Ah, an all but forgotten medium. Though direct mail sounds like ancient history, we still recommend implementing it as an auxiliary medium in addition to another campaign you are doing. For example complimenting ABM campaigns with direct mail postcards or letters.||Postage fee + printed media cost, very insignificant.||Direct mail is suitable for all B2B SaaS companies and should be used as a supplementary campaign.||Make direct mail campaigns personalized for each target. We have seen the use of video postcards having a positive impact. Learn more about video mailers here|
Email marketing involves using email to send promotional messages to a list of subscribers. This type marketing can be an effective way for B2B companies to nurture leads, promote products or services, and stay top-of-mind with their audience.
To maximize the impact of an email marketing campaign, B2B companies should segment their email list based on factors such as job title, industry, or location, and tailor the messaging accordingly. In addition, it is important to optimize the subject line, sender name, and design of the email to increase the likelihood that it will be opened and read.
Is email marketing strategy a good fit for your company?
|Though email marketing works really well for B2C businesses, it can prove ineffective for some B2B outfits.
Sending an unsolicited email to a decision maker might be treated as an annoying nuisance. You may consider using email marketing campaigns as an auxiliary to another campaign medium but never a leading or sole medium you rely on to generate results.
Do not, under no circumstances, consider buying an email list to blast your campaign. Most emails will end up in SPAM folders and more importantly in GMAIL SPAM folders which is owned by Google which also manages the most popular search engine, which also has a power to blacklist your domain.
|This strategy is suited for all companies, in all industries and all sizes.||One way to make email marketing effective is to use highly targeted drip campaigns.
Only if you have enough data on each individual you are targeting with your drip such as place and time of employment, education, professional achievements, their pains and wins should you even consider launching the campaign.
Also you have to be the perfect composer of an email. Become truly a master of composing an engaging, sincere and powerful email.
See some great examples by Alex Banayan in The Third Door
Field marketing refers to marketing activities that take place outside of an office or storefront. They engage customers or prospects in a face-to-face setting. Field marketing can be an effective way for B2B companies to generate leads, build relationships, and create buzz around their products or services.
Examples of field marketing activities in the B2B space include product demos, experiential events, and speaking engagements. To maximize the impact of field marketing efforts, B2B companies should carefully plan and execute their activities, and measure results.
Is field marketing strategy a good fit for your company?
|An obvious cost is human resources. We recommend watching “The Founder”, it is an excellent movie showing the journey of McDonald’s which began with Ray Kroc played by Michael Keaton going door to door selling milkshake machines.||This strategy is good for location based companies with an ARPA of $20k+ per year.||Host an event or a conference that your target audience would want to attend. A captive audience right there with full intent and attention is invaluable.|
Partner marketing involves partnering with other companies or organizations in order to jointly promote products or services. This type of marketing can be an effective way for B2B companies to reach new audiences, and to leverage the credibility and resources of their partners.
Examples of successful partner marketing campaigns in the B2B space include software company Adobe’s “Adobe Creative Cloud for Teams” campaign, which partnered with creative agencies to offer discounted subscriptions to Adobe products, and resulted in a 20% increase in sales. Another example is tech company Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s “Co-Marketing Program,” which partnered with solution providers to create joint marketing campaigns and resources, and generated over $1 billion in pipeline revenue.
Is partner marketing strategy a good fit for your company?
|You will need someone with experience to head your campaign. Do not implement a partner marketing campaign yourself if you do not have significant experience promoting partner programs in the past.
You will also need an experienced sales person, designer, software engineer and a marketing team. So yes, expensive, but so worth it.
If you decide to implement partner marketing, do it only if your gut tells you that you have the right team to do it. Your team’s focus must be partner marketing and only partner marketing, do not implement a partner program with the team that only does it part-time, it will fail.
|This strategy is good for companies with enough in the bank to be able to invest in a partner marketing program for up to 3 years with potentially very little results.
Budget needed varies but expect to invest $1mil+
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of optimizing a website in order to improve its ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs). SEO can be an effective marketing channel for B2B companies because it allows them to reach their target audience at the moment they are searching for products or services like those offered by the company.
To improve SEO for a B2B website, it is important to conduct keyword research, optimize the website’s content and structure, and earn high-quality backlinks from other reputable websites. In addition, B2B companies should track and analyze their SEO efforts in order to identify what is working and what can be improved.
Is SEO strategy a good fit for your company?
|SEO increases the quantity and quality of traffic to your website from search engines. When done effectively, SEO can have a significant impact on the visibility and success of your business.
Some of the most important factors to include are quality and relevance of the website’s content.To be effective, SEO must be incorporated into the overall design and strategy of a website from the start.
It is also important to regularly review and update the website to ensure that it is up-to-date and in compliance with the latest search engine guidelines.
Overall, the effectiveness of SEO can vary significantly depending on the level of competition for the targeted keywords. However, with a well-designed website and a targeted SEO strategy, it is possible to see significant improvements in search engine ranking and website traffic. These factors will help supply a steady stream of warm leads to your business daily with $0 spent.
|This strategy is good for companies of all sizes.||
Traditional media refers to marketing channels such as print, radio, and television, which have been around for decades. While traditional media may not be as popular as it once was, it can still be an effective marketing channel for B2B companies.
Is a traditional media strategy a good fit for your company?
Webinars are online presentations that are usually conducted via video conference and allow attendees to participate remotely. This can be an effective marketing channel for B2B companies because they allow them to reach a large, targeted audience in a cost-effective way, and to showcase their expertise and thought leadership.
To host a successful webinar, B2B companies should have a clear goal in mind. Some examples of these are lead generation, product launch, or education. Then, create a plan to achieve that goal – promote the webinar, prepare engaging content and follow up with attendees. In addition, it is important to test and optimize various aspects of the webinar, such as the title, description, and format, to increase attendance and engagement.
Is Webinar strategy a good fit for your company?
|Webinars can be an effective way to reach and engage a target audience. They allow for real-time interaction between the presenter and the audience. This can serve as a cost-effective way to deliver information and connect with potential customers.||This strategy can help generate leads and gather contact information from potential customers. All you need is an interactive slide deck, good delivery, and an easy to use webinar software like Zoom.||
Word-of-mouth and referral marketing alludes to the promotion of a product or service through recommendations from satisfied customers or other trusted sources. Word-of-mouth and referral marketing can be an effective way for B2B companies to generate leads and build credibility. Potential customers are more likely to trust the recommendations of their peers or industry experts.
To maximize the impact of word-of-mouth and referral marketing, B2B companies should focus on providing excellent customer service and creating a positive customer experience, as satisfied customers are more likely to spread the word about a company. In addition, B2B companies can encourage referrals by offering incentives to customers who refer new business.
Is referral strategy a good fit for your company?
|Become a customer fanatic. Really! Build a culture in your organization that treats every customer like a hero, thru and thru. Bring a culture building consultant to help with that.
Having accomplished a healthy, customer-focused culture will also decrease your churn, which will improve your top and bottom lines
|This strategy is good for and must be implemented by all companies.||Consider incentivizing customers to share their experiences with friends and family through referral programs or other promotions. Make it easy and rewarding.
Host events or experiences that allow customers to interact with your business in a unique and memorable way. This can create a positive association with your brand and encourage people to share their experiences with others.
This effective strategy is not talked about enough, undeservedly.
Growth hacking is creative, low-cost, and unconventional marketing strategies and tactics to achieve rapid growth. The goal is to regularly conduct experiments, which may include strategies such as A/B testing, that will lead to improving the customer journey. Then, companies may replicate and scale the ideas that work and modify or abandon the ones that don’t. Growth Hacking is often associated with startups and small businesses that are looking for ways to quickly scale and achieve market traction.
Growth hacking requires a mindset that is focused on experimentation and optimization.
Dropbox became a $4 billion company within a short two years by using nothing but a growth hack.
Is a growth hacking strategy a good fit for your company?
|Growth hacking is hard to achieve yet it can be one of the most effective strategies to get new business fast.||It is hard to determine the cost of a growth hacking campaign but typically they are very inexpensive.||This strategy is good for startups or single digit market share companies.||Besides hiring an experienced growth hacking agency you may consider building the campaign in-house.
Typically focus on finding a web property where your target audience already hangs out in large numbers. Find a way to use this web property to organically inject a reference to your product or service.
A good example is AirBnB growth hack where the founders realized that people who were looking for accommodations often searched Craigslist. The founder offered an option for AirBnB providers to copy their AirBnB listing to Craigslist with one click. The result? Immediate access to a large market of target users.
B2B SaaS Marketing: A Search for a Better Option in 2023
There are a range of alternative marketing channels that can be effective for B2B companies. It is difficult to rank these channels from best to worst, as each has its own strengths. Each can be more or less effective depending on the specific goals and audience of a B2B company. It is important for B2B companies to diversify their marketing efforts and to regularly evaluate and optimize their use of these channels.
If you have any further questions or need additional assistance, please don’t hesitate to ask us. Or if you found the media that works for your company and need assistance in converting/prequalifying prospects, please give HelpSquad 24/7 live chat service a try!