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The Benefits of Digital Marketing for B2B

In some ways, digital marketing can seem tough to break into for B2B companies.

For one thing, there’s the question of value, of whether the channels favored by digital marketers –including content creation, social media, email, and reputation management – are the right fit for their budgetary and time needs.

For another, there’s the simple question of how and where to start. This is particularly true for “hard” industries or niche businesses. When you work in high-level private security, manufacture an incredibly specific product, or deal with esoteric, dense concepts that the average consumer can’t possibly begin to understand, it’s easy to say that content marketing would be a waste of time.

But then there’s the other side of the coin. The documented, indisputable evidence that highlights just how effective digital marketing is for B2B lead generation and client retention. The fact that 70% of B2B invested more in content marketing in 2017, and 63% are extremely committed to it as a strategy.

What do they know about the effectiveness of digital marketing – and how can your B2B brand catch up? Let’s break down the four essential components of digital marketing for B2B brands and what they can do for you:

SEO-Focused Blog Content

Whether for B2B or B2C, content marketing is all about spreading information and creating genuine value for your brand by introducing your product or service to serious, interested leads. The core tenet of all content marketing, in our view, is the blog.

And, according to research brought to our attention by PR Daily, we’re not the only ones who think that way. In fact, according to some metrics:

  • Long-form blog posts generate 9X more leads than other types of marketing materials
  • Across B2B and B2C, 70% of people would rather learn about a company through articles than through a traditional advertisement
  • 52% of B2B brands say blogs are the strategy most critical to their marketing success; another 38% cite ebooks and white papers

Creating unique, branded content for your website is one of the single most important things you can do to get future customers to find and engage with your brand.

For one thing, creating a wide range of compelling content will allow you to begin a search engine optimization (SEO) campaign, allowing you to show up at the top of more Google results pages and increase your overall traffic in time. For another, having a roster of high quality content will allow you to “grease the wheels” when it comes to social media and email marketing, providing you with a vast treasure trove of material to share, promote, and deliver as you see fit.

And, finally, creating content is a way to highlight to your potential clients or colleagues that you’re a knowledgeable thought leader in your field, plugged into the latest and greatest happenings in your industry and willing to pass along insights and valuable information for free. This could go a long way toward securing the loyalty of your next client, turning them from a curious searcher into a lifelong partner.

Social Media Marketing

Among some B2B companies, there’s a reputation that social media is just for B2C. Even worse, for some, there’s a long-held perception that social media is a fad at best, and a marketing channel reserved for young people and “fluffy stuff,” at worst.

Well, while social media can be fluffy, there can be no denying that it’s proved its longevity – and value – as a platform for marketing. And as for being little more than the kid’s table? That’s also demonstrably false – and thinking this way could hold your brand back from making some truly valuable connections with other companies and B2B influencers.

The reality is that nearly a third of all time on the internet is spent using some form of social media. People of all backgrounds use these platforms every single day – including the individuals responsible for making high level, executive decisions.

In fact, according to MarketingThink, “80% of B2B decision makers visit vendor-independent communities, vendor-sponsored forums, and LinkedIn at least once a month”, and nearly half of all B2B decision makers (42%) use Twitter regularly.

As for value? Well, studies show that LinkedIn, when used effectively, actually boasts 6X the ROI of Google AdWords for B2B brands, while Facebook Ads boasts sophisticated targeting options, a low barrier to entry, and “some of the best ROI in all forms of advertising,” according to a report from Sprout Social. Sound like kid’s stuff? We didn’t think so.

The bottom line? The individuals and organizations you want to be engaging with are already using social media, whether for work or play. Why not reach them where they live?

Reputation Management

We use “reputation management” as a catch-all term for guiding the conversation about your business online in a positive direction, and it’s a key cornerstone of a successful digital marketing strategy today across industries.

While many B2B companies – accountants, contractors, lawyers, service providers – previously relied on “word of mouth” to secure new leads, online reputation management adopts the belief that the very concept of word of mouth has changed. Today, people aren’t just sitting down over coffee or attending formal meetings to network; they’re also exchanging ideas, recommendations, and opinions online, via Google, social media platforms, and industry-specific review and listing sites, ranging from Angie’s List to ZocDoc.

In today’s digital marketplace, earning positive reviews online could make your next lead take notice of your brand – while negative reviews could forever jeopardize your chance to close new deals.  Today, 88% of buyers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and 72% say that a positive review can improve their opinion of a local brand, according to SearchEngineLand. What’s more, a change in an online rating by as little as one star increase a business’s revenue by 5% to 9%.

Here at Geek Chicago, we partner with a national leader in reputation management software to deliver a seamless solution for your review marketing needs. We provide our clients with a review management workflow that lets you automatically reach out to your clients via text or email after you’ve completed their business, encouraging them to rate and review your brand on a variety of sites. If they have something negative to say, the would-be reviewer is directed to a direct line of communication with you – meaning that their negative post never gets a chance to see the light of day.

You don’t have to leave the word of mouth about your business up to chance! Instead, our tool will help you steer the conversation in the right direction – and help improve your SEO and social media standings, along the way.

Email Marketing

We know, we know. It’s email. It’s been around since the 1970s. It’s hardly the sexiest or buzziest marketing platform out there. But, in a lot of ways, that’s kind of the point.

Just as people spend an overwhelming amount of their time on social media, so too are we all constantly plugged in to email – particularly the sort of busy influencers who tend to make B2B purchasing decisions. Perhaps this is why 40% of B2B brands said that email newsletters were the most critical marketing channel for their success in 2017, and why a recent white paper suggests that email marketing, when used properly, can be nearly twice as effective as other marketing approaches for growth and retention.

Creating a valuable email newsletter – one complete with rich visual or multimedia content, interesting news and updates, informative blog posts, and even special promotions or offers – is one of the most important things you can do to keep would-be clients interested in and engaged with your brand in the long term. Even better, we’ve never had better access or knowledge about what makes an email truly successful – whether that means personalization, audience segmentation/targeting, or just developing a subject line that people will actually want to click.

Have any more questions about digital marketing for B2B? Ready to get started? Geek Chicago is here to help! Drop us a line today to see what our team can do for yours!

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Jason Finn

Founder & Chief Geek

Jason has nearly 20 years of consulting experience, predominantly in the technology space. Most recently he was the COO and Director of Technology for Rich Casto & Company, a national training and consulting organization in the real estate industry.
As a consultant for IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Envision Consulting Group (now IMS Health), Jason has served clients of all sizes, including Big Pharma, Fortune 500, and Global 1000 companies:

  • Allstate Insurance Company
  • AOL (America Online)
  • Astellas Pharmaceuticals
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Ford Motor Credit
  • Wockhardt USA (formerly Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals)
  • Norwich Union
  • PNC Bank
  • Reynolds and Reynolds

Sarunas Budrikas

Creative Director

Sarunas is a web design and development expert with hundreds of successful projects in his portfolio. He is passionate about delivering extraordinary user experiences for every client and consistently goes above and beyond everyone’s expectations. As an SEO expert and strategist, he can optimize your website, or app, to get the most out of it, day in and day out. Sarunas holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Kaunas Technology University, in Lithuania. Sarunas now lives in Chicago, and calls it home.

Alexandra Olsavsky

Client Experience Specialist

Alex specializes in content generation and social media promotion for Geek | Chicago clients, helping to solidify their presence in the online community. This includes blog writing, graphic design, co-ordination and design of weekly newsletters, and active engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Outside of Geek, Alex is a classically-trained soprano who professionally performs around the city of Chicago (most recently with the Chicago Baroque Band, and with the Rolling Stones for their "50 and Counting" tour).