There are plenty of B2B marketing challenges that businesses face. For one thing, the sales cycle, from demand generation to actually closing a sale, is a long stretch of road filled with bumps.
Not to mention that trying to stand out among a sea of competitors can be extremely difficult and overwhelming.
To top it all off, Covid-19 has ensured that traditional marketing and sales tactics cannot be counted on for bringing in leads and closing deals.
Having said that, it is not that B2B companies are not succeeding in sailing ahead in full force. So, how are they managing it?
The thing is, every business has its own share of challenges and battles. How far you can go depends on how well you overcome the barriers.
In this article, we discuss the biggest B2B marketing challenges faced by B2B businesses along with their probable solutions.
But let us begin with the first things first.
The Types of B2B Marketing
Even a few years earlier, B2B marketing was mostly about cold calls, organizing seminars, participating in tradeshows, and so on. But they alone don’t work anymore because the buyers are looking elsewhere for information on B2B businesses.
You guessed it right. The buyers are mostly spending their time online. Did you know that according to research, 75% of B2B customers use social media for making a purchase? This is why B2B marketing is shifting online.
Here are the main types of digital B2B marketing that are in full swing today:
Social Media Marketing
Just about every business you can think of has an online presence, and this includes being present on social media as well.
Like it is mentioned above, social media plays a crucial role in the decision-making process of B2B buyers. Hence, to entice these buyers, B2B businesses across all niches are putting out content on Instagram, YouTube, Linked In, Facebook, etc., because that’s where their target audience is.
An excellent social media marketing strategy typically brings in a good amount of organic traffic, establishes you as a thought leader, and also helps you stand out in the crowd of your competitors.
Content marketing sits at the helm of the marketing world. Any business that does not have its content marketing strategy in check inevitably perishes. Content marketing involves blog posts, articles, white papers, ebooks, YouTube videos, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook posts, infographics, and so on.
Businesses use different forms of content at different times, depending on what stage of the sales funnel the lead is at.
For instance, you can post articles and introductory videos to generate demand. This is the awareness stage of the sales funnel, where potential customers realize they require your product or services (or both). This content is ideally free and non-gated, meaning customers do not have to divulge their personal information to view it.
Once the buyers get deeper into the sales funnel and reach the interest and decision stages, the next step is getting the prospects to sign up for mailing lists in exchange for a gated content, which can be an ebook, whitepaper, or any other piece of long-form content.
Email marketing is one of the most effective outbound marketing practices today. It is one of the traditional marketing strategies that still holds its ground. Businesses of all types, shapes, and sizes utilize emails as a means of nurturing existing customers, following up with a prospect, for reviving the connection with a dormant customer.
Emails are also great for generating leads and for keeping existing as well as prospective buyers updated on the latest offering from the company.
The best thing about emails is that they can be personalized and tailored to the prospect in question, depending on what stage of the funnel they are at. And, personalized communications engage B2B buyers more than general advertisements.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Companies that you cannot find on Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) do not exist. Regardless of how good a product or service you offer, if you are not findable online, you are as good as non-existent.
Social media marketing and email marketing work to get traffic to your B2B website, but content marketing with the help of SEO is still the biggest organic traffic puller.
SEO can work wonders when it is coupled with content marketing at every stage of the buyer’s journey and the sales funnel. Discussing just how important SEO is for B2B businesses is beyond the scope of this article. But you can find out more in this article here.
Now that you know the types of marketing mostly used by B2B businesses, let us discuss the challenges associated with these types of marketing faced by the B2B marketers.
Top B2B Marketing Challenges
Just like any other business, B2B companies face their fair share of challenges. And, while some of the challenges might be specific to industries, here are the common ones that ail most B2B companies that are new to the digital marketing arena:
Setting Yourself Apart
Let us start with the most obvious challenge for B2B marketers – standing out.
Back in the day, big corporate companies with large marketing budgets would dominate the market with aggressive campaigns that included TV and radio advertisements. However, the internet proved itself to be a great equalizer.
Today, small and medium-sized businesses are giving large corporations a run for their money. In fact, these corporations have found that they need to focus on internet marketing to survive and thrive in today’s market.
The internet has made it easy for just about anyone to create a brand and start selling. However, the downside to this is that it is easy for your competitors as well. In an age where starting a business is encouraged, it can only be a little too difficult to set yourself apart from the other brands in your niche.
The solution is to build trust among your target audience. The only way to stand out and drown out the noise is to become a trusted thought leader within your industry. How do you achieve that? We will discuss this later in the article.The only way to stand out and drown out the noise is to become a trusted thought leader within your industry. Click To Tweet
Integrating New Technology
Technology is advancing in an unprecedented way with each passing day. While these advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science, blockchain, and so on are meant to make business processes more streamlined, you cannot deny that the initial days of implementing these were filled with disruption.
This is why for many businesses, technology can be a blessing because they have new ways to streamline their business processes and generate more revenue. However, others often consider technological upgrades a curse.
Indeed, integrating new technologies is difficult. Currently, marketing automation, SEO, social media, content marketing, etc., all need to be integrated for businesses to keep themselves afloat. While many businesses manage to do this, they find it difficult to integrate other technologies that may come along.
Scaling businesses with advanced technology and integrating technology into business processes is one of the biggest challenges faced by most B2B businesses.
There is no straightforward solution to this challenge. You have to incorporate technology to stay afloat in this competitive market, and the only way to ensure that it causes minimal disruption is to continuously train your human resources and encourage them to stay updated.
As it turns out, it is not enough to merely create content for your customers. Creating content doesn’t mean anything until your customers find it valuable. In other words, it’s how, where, when, and why you present your content to customers. This is where managing your content comes into play.
Managing your content involves centralizing, assessing, and knowing how to repurpose it to make the most impact. If your content is up to date and easily accessible, if it brings in a steady flow of traffic and helps to generate leads, it means you are managing your content well.
If you are still finding it difficult to pull traffic with your content, know that you are not alone. It is one of the major challenges faced by many B2B businesses. What you can do to combat such a scenario is to hire the services of a digital agency that can help you understand and implement proper content management strategies that are specific to your industry and can bring in traffic.
Tailoring Content for Customers at Each Stage of The Journey
It can be difficult to make sure that your up-to-date content is valid for customers at every stage of the buyer’s journey. Content marketing is essentially personalizing content, tailoring them to the needs and interests of each prospect.
The content you create and show a prospect who is at the awareness stage or the top of the marketing funnel would be vastly different from that you would send someone already interested. So, tailoring your content to your customer’s needs is just as important as the content itself.
The challenge with the above is coming up with topics of content for prospects at each stage of the sales funnel. The solution? Use keyword tools and content idea generators like HubSpot to come up with new topics. Also, follow your competitors to understand the kind of topics that they post that receive the most attention online.
Analytics tools are your friend too, in this respect. Find out the kind of content that receives the most traffic and which topics fail to create a buzz.
B2B Lead Generation
Lead generation is another common challenge that B2B marketers face. As you may already know, it can be difficult to get leads consistently. It is even more difficult to get the leads that you value as a B2B company.
Consistent lead generation requires well-planned marketing campaigns, which start with creating valuable and engaging content. This point ties into the two before this because it is vital to manage and tailor your content to be more effective in attracting, nurturing, and converting leads.
Discussing all the best strategies for lead generation is, again, beyond the scope of this article. But you can visit here for 6 B2B lead generation techniques that really work (with special tricks and hacks).
Training Your Team
Training their in-house team is a challenge that B2B companies find themselves facing every now and then is when experimenting with a new marketing strategy.
How do you, who have always depended on traditional marketing practices, shift to digital marketing? You either hire new talents to get the work done or train your existing employees. Both of which can be expensive and a lengthy process.
The best solution is to hire the services of a digital marketing agency instead that specializes in your industry.
Best Practices You Should Follow to Combat B2B Marketing Challenges
Now that you have a gist of the challenges that B2B companies face, here are a few things you ought to follow to solve the issues discussed above:
High Quality, Engaging Content
We cannot stress this enough: content is crucial to your success as a budding B2B company. There is a reason that according to research 68% of B2B marketers say that they have successfully used content marketing to build trust and credibility among their target customers. But not just any content. You need to drum up content that you know your target audience wants from you. While the information needs to be top-notch, you also need to ensure you communicate it properly to engage your prospects.
In other words, you need interactive, informative, and relevant content. Interactive content drives your lead generation and nurturing, and informative and relevant content yields a high Return on Investment (ROI), helping the sales team close more leads.
Become A Thought Leader
Becoming a thought leader is essentially becoming a credible, reliable source of value. Why is this important? For one thing, you will have more people visiting your website for a variety of reasons.
You can successfully establish yourself as a thought leader by continuously supplying information-laden, valuable content to your target audience. They will begin to not only trust you but see you as someone who really has a solution to their problems. Thus, with high-quality engaging content, you will not just stand out among your competitors but will generate high-quality leads as well.
The more value you offer your visitors, the more likely they are to purchase a product or become ardent followers or subscribers, or both. In other words, this will help you secure solid leads that are sales-ready.
Your current customers and prospects are also more likely to refer new prospects to your material, hence adding more leads to your funnel.
As the famous blogging pioneer Elise Bauer puts it,
“Become a thought leader in your field and it won’t matter as much how big you are.”
Treat Your Customers Like Humans
As a B2B company, you are trying to sell your brand to another business. However, this business is made up of people, making them a tangible, human entity. And, that is precisely how you should treat them.
Many B2B brands make the mistake of not treating their buyers as people, but as an entity or an enterprise, forgetting the fact that their prospects are ultimately driven by emotions.
In practical terms, you must tailor your marketing to focus on the humans behind the businesses you are targeting. Be sure to understand what they want, their pain points, and their vision. Be sure to tailor your content accordingly. The tone of your content should be conversational, evoking emotions in your prospects in the process. Creating a B2B buyer persona can help you in this aspect.
Retargeting Is Vital
Never underestimate the power of retargeting. With a lot of your marketing campaigns, you will inevitably end up reaching out to people who visit your website or engage with your content but are either not interested, do not have the budget, or are unable to take a call.
If you are thinking why waste time and money on broad campaigns like these, think again. You can ‘retarget’ them to become a lead or a customer since according to research, retargeting prospects who have shown a level of interest in your brand can increase visits to your website by 700%.
Retargeting generally involves directing paid ads and emails to people who have visited your site or social media profiles or have engaged with your content but have not progressed any further.
The fact that as per the same research mentioned above, 88% of marketers say site retargeted ads perform “at least as well or better than other outbound channels,” should tell you how important retargeting is.
Context & Repurposing
Context is everything today. As mentioned, how you present your content to prospects is vital. In other words, you ought to take context into account if you want to be effective in your marketing.
In practical terms, this means you need to tailor your content to your audience and the platform in question. For instance, for Instagram one-minute videos that go straight to the point will work best because it allows you to post 60-second videos.
However, you can afford to experiment with longer videos on your YouTube channel. Similarly, you can discuss a subject in great detail on your blog, but you will have to keep things short and sweet on your Facebook and Instagram captions. Plus, you can always direct your audience to your content on different platforms.
Align All Teams Towards a Common Goal – Customers
Aligning all your teams is critical to ensure excellent customer experience, and in turn, high business growth. How?
In today’s world, a high-quality product or service is not enough. Customers value customer experience just as much as the product itself, if not more. In other words, poor customer service is a dealbreaker.
Since the sales you make depends on your customer’s experience, you must strive to constantly ensure your customers are happy. This is where the marketing team, sales team, customer service team, and content team work together to ask and address the customer’s complaints, requests, pain points, etc.
For example, your sales team receives a customer query that can be created into a full-blown blogpost, thus helping others who might have the same question regarding your business. Personalized, engaging content is also required to sell a product or attract leads.
You need content that helps your current customers and educates potential buyers too. And, all the topics of such content can come from your teams facing the customers, i.e., marketing, sales, and customer support team.
And there you have it. As you can see, B2B marketing challenges are typically different from B2C marketing challenges. That said, they can certainly solve the aforementioned challenges if they employ the B2B practices mentioned in this article.
Every good B2B practice mentioned in this article revolves around good content, whether it’s creating content or repurposing and repackaging it to suit different platforms, target audiences, and situations. In this respect, good content is content that engages and educates people.
If you are looking for a digital marketing agency that can help your business overcome B2B marketing challenges and thrive in the online arena, consider contacting us at OneIMS.