The 7 essentials of B2B digital marketing + 4 best practices driving growth in 2019

Discover how these 7 essentials of B2B digital marketing and 4 advanced best practices can transform your ROI in 2019

The digital transformation of B2B marketing and sales is a truth you can’t afford to ignore. According to Forrester, today’s business buyers are making up their minds online.

• 60% prefer not to interact with a sales rep as their primary source of information
• 68% prefer to do their own research online
• 62% develop selection criteria or finalize a vendor list based solely on digital content

So, what exactly is digital marketing? Simply put, it is any marketing activity that takes place online. However, it is anything but simple. The range of tactics, technology and platforms is overwhelming. But, with the right B2B digital marketing strategy and execution, you can very efficiently connect with the people who are most likely to become qualified leads and guide them toward making a purchase.

B2B digital marketing generates leads and moves them along the buyer’s journey

Digital marketing is the most powerful way to effectively target B2B decision makers at pivotal moments as they move through the buyer’s journey — from awareness of their problem to consideration of possible solutions to their final decision to purchase from you.

You should look at your marketing efforts as revenue levers you can pull to increase the flow of opportunity to your organization. The goal is to keep as much of those opportunities as you can by maximizing each phase of your marketing and sales funnels. These phases form ratios that you can use to make decisions about where and what to spend.

For digital marketing, there are four levers:

  1. Traffic: Your efforts to create awareness and visibility that translate into interest
  2. Conversions to Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs): Your ability to convert interest into inquiry
  3. Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs): The number of MQLs that have the interest and urgency to engage in a sales cycle
  4. New Clients: The leads that you convert into customers

There are a myriad of tactics you can use to engage each of these levers. But they must work in tandem to respectfully guide a buyer through their decision-making journey.

As a bonus, we’ll also cover these 4 advanced best practices that will turbocharge your B2B digital marketing efforts:

A. Video: How visually engaging content can shorten your B2B sales cycle
B. Retargeting: How to use remarketing to attract and convert more B2B leads
C. Marketing Automation: How to streamline your workflows to increase efficiency
D. Analytics: How to use data to optimize your B2B digital marketing

As you learn more about the 7 essentials of B2B digital marketing, keep these practices that are required for success in mind:

For digital marketing, there are four levers:

  • Know your buyer personas in order to target them
  • Distribution through the best channels to reach them
  • Engaging messaging
  • Visually appealing design
  • A strong call to action for a compelling offer
  • Nurture leads once they are acquired
  • A clean hand off to sales

Download the bonus guide: “The Complete B2B Digital Marketing Campaign Manual”

Follow these specific action steps on how to build a B2B digital marketing machine using the tactics explained on this page.

—The 7 essentials of B2B digital marketing—

The best B2B marketing gets better results because it makes these elements work together. You don’t have to dive into all of them immediately, but your goal should be to set a timeline for building out a robust digital ecosystem that aligns with your overall B2B marketing strategy.

1. Targeting: How to find and engage the right B2B leads

Your sales team doesn’t pitch every person they see on the street — and your digital marketing shouldn’t try to engage every person on the internet. That’s where targeting comes in. It uses available data to select a particular audience to direct your marketing message to. By segmenting potential prospects by specific demographic, psychographic and geographic details, targeting enables you to reach the right person on the right device at the right moment.

However, targeting is not magic or automatic. You must have a clear picture of your buyer personas before you set up targeting — otherwise you are just guessing. The good news is that once you define your audience, your targeting can be further refined as your ads run and collect more data.

The best B2B digital marketing strategies depend on having a clearly identified target audience. With proper targeting, the effectiveness of your messaging and content to attract and convert leads greatly increases. There are two major benefits to B2B targeting:

  • Advertising can be created with greater specificity, improving the chances of delivering a more impactful message at the right time in the buyer’s journey.
  • Your marketing budget is applied more effectively with ad campaigns focused on prospects who are most likely to purchase.

The importance of B2B buyer personas

To maximize these benefits, you should test different offers against each segment of your audience to gain the greatest possible understanding of how to best engage each one of your buyer personas.

We cannot stress this enough; you must have a clear picture of each stakeholder in your sales process. What is their role in the company, what problems are they worried about, what are their goals and what do they care about? These are some of the questions that your buyer personas should answer. Use everything you know about your current prospects and customers to inform your targeting of new leads.

For tips on how to create buyer personas to enhance your digital b to b marketing, read this blog post.

Implementation tip for LinkedIn

LinkedIn offers granular targeting options for subsets of your B2B target audience by company type, title, seniority level, position and job function. For example, if your final decision maker is a vice president of operations and your key stakeholder is a facilities engineer, you can create two campaigns that target their job function and add a secondary targeting requirement for level of seniority. This granularity gives you the ability to test different calls to action and content assets for each of your buyer personas. You can then use what you learn to improve the effectiveness of your other digital marketing efforts.

2. Website: How to turn your site into your best B2B sales tool

Back when every company first realized that they had to have a website, the standard was to describe the basic facts about the business — basically a static brochure on the internet. But today, the most effective b-to-b websites are dynamic industry resources that provide valuable information while capturing sales leads.

A truly great B2B site doesn’t just describe what you sell. First, it reframes the pain points and problems of your prospects — and then educates them on how your unique features and benefits deliver the optimal solution. It should clearly direct them to take specific actions, while providing insights that reinforce why your solution is a better choice than your competitor’s.

4 things a website must have to engage prospects:

  • Appealing visual design
  • Compelling and inspiring messaging
  • Clear action steps
  • The right tracking

Is your current site generating leads or sabotaging sales? Assess it now by asking yourself these six questions.

Landing pages are the center of your digital marketing ecosystem

A landing page is a single, stand-alone page on your site dedicated to one particular topic. A site visitor “lands” on the page after clicking on a link in an ad, search results, a social post or other content like a blog post.

The sole purpose of a landing page is to convert site visitors into leads. An effective landing page is designed to inspire and convince the viewer to complete one call to action (CTA).

The basic components of an effective landing page

Every aspect of a landing page should contribute to the desired result of having the viewer complete the Call To Action. If your B2B web marketing agency designs a page that does not include all of these components, you need to ask why.

  • A short and persuasive headline that sets up the offer
  • A subhead that frames the offer with a hook
  • An image or video that shows the quality of the offer
  • Brief copy that explains the benefits of the offer
  • One clear, compelling CTA that entices the user to click to get the offer
  • A short form that must be completed to get the offer
  • Social proof such a testimonial quote or reviews that highlight the value of the offer

How a landing page functions within a B2B digital marketing campaign

STEP 1: A person clicks on a link in an ad, social post or search result that brings them to the landing page to learn more.
STEP 2: The person is intrigued by the offer and fills out a form on the landing page. (This action converts them from a visitor into a lead.)
STEP 3:
 The information from the form is stored in a database or customer relationship management (CRM) system.
STEP 4:
 Using that data, additional marketing is targeted to the lead.

Don’t miss “The Complete B2B Digital Marketing Campaign Manual”

Discover our proven process for implementing the 7 essentials of B2B digital marketing to drive leads and sales. It includes a checklist and recommendations for making these elements work harder together.

3: Content: How to attract and convert leads with B2B content marketing

Content refers to any combination of words and images that are posted on the internet, such as blog posts, videos, website pages, social media posts — and everything else you see online.

Content marketing is the creation and distribution of relevant and valuable content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience. By consistently delivering quality content over time, B2B marketers build a relationship with their target audience and drive prospects to become customers.

Instead of pitching your product or service, content should provide useful information and insights that address the concerns and pain points of your buyer personas. This builds trust and loyalty during the awareness and consideration phases of the buyer’s journey, making it more likely that the prospect will choose your company over a competitor when they reach the decision stage.

In additional to building long-term relationships, the short-term goal of B2B content marketing is to encourage prospects to share their contact information in order to receive more valuable information.

The most effective type of B2B content for generating and converting leads

  • Blog posts and articles
  • Videos
  • White papers and guides
  • Email newsletters
  • Social media posts

Map your content to pain points and the buyer’s journey

In the awareness phase, potential prospects are not only learning about your ability to address their problems, but they are learning more about their problem and all of the possible ways to solve it. Create ads with eye-catching visuals and engaging messaging, and blog posts that contain keywords for search engine optimization to attract new leads. Remember that the words that will capture their interest at this stage are those that describe their problem — not those about you.

In the consideration phase, prospects are looking for the optimal solution to their problem. Your goal is to build trust, so you must provide content that delivers a deeper level of detail and expertise. Focus on a calls to action that gauge the interest of prospects, like newsletter signups or downloads of gated content, like white papers and guides.

In the decision phase, prospects need proof that choosing your company is the best decision. Provide them with case studies and testimonials from customers with similar pain points that you’ve helped solve. Offering demos and discounts are also effective in this stage. Your goal is to remove fear.

Pro tip: Serve, don’t sell. Don’t sabotage your B2B content marketing efforts by including a “sales-y” CTA too early in the buyer’s journey. Calls to action like “request a demo” or “start your free trial” only belong in the decision phase, when prospects are actually ready to buy. In the early stages of the buyer’s journey, you should not be selling!

4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): How to make it easy for B2B prospects to find you

When someone is looking for information online, they usually start by checking a search engine. SEO is a process that attempts to improve the rankings of your site or an individual landing page in the rankings of search engines. The goal of SEO for B2B is to increase the quantity and quality of traffic to your website in order to generate more leads.

The two powerful benefits of SEO for digital marketing in B2B business

  1. Visibility and rankings: Increasing visibility makes it easier for prospects to find you when they search for something you have to offer. Ranking is how high your site shows up in search results — this is critical because the first five results of a search query receive 75% of clicks and the first page of results receive 92 percent of all traffic from the average search. So if you show up the second page of search results, prospects won’t even know you exist.
  2. Web traffic: Increase the visibility and ranking of your site and the number of new visitors it receives will follow. More visitors means more opportunities to convert prospects into customers.

How to improve SEO for B2B websites

SEO has gotten a reputation as the “dark arts” of digital marketing because search engines are constantly tweaking their algorithms that affect how and why sites are ranked. A whole crop of specialists have popped up offering hacks and tips for staying ahead of or cheating the system. Don’t fall down the rabbit hole of these so-called shortcuts. Improving your search result rankings takes time. Focus on these two foundational elements consistently over the long term and the results will take care of themselves: keywords and authority.

Keywords are the currency of search

Keywords are the words or phrases that people type into a search engine when they are looking for information. Including these keywords in your online content increases the likelihood that people will discover your content.

It is important to research and choose keywords that have high search rates (lots of people are looking for them) and, ideally, low competition (not very many other web pages featuring them).

Keywords must also naturally flow within your messaging. Jamming every keyword under the sun into every message may lead a prospect to find you, but if your language feels forced or clunky, people won’t stick around to convert.

Authority is how search engines know your content is valuable

Essentially, authority means your content can be trusted to be a source of subject matter expertise. Creating high-quality, relevant and enlightening content not only increases your performance in search engines, it also ensures that the people who discover your content are more likely to be your ideal prospects.

Types of SEO that affect search result rankings

On-page SEO focuses on content that viewers read when they visit a page of a website.

Off-page SEO refers to other sites or social media posts that link to your site. The more sources that link to your site, the higher search engines will rank your site for having desirable, relevant content.

Technical SEO includes several factors of how a site is developed and coded such as loading time, image compression, CSS file optimization and tags. You don’t have to know what these terms mean, but make sure whoever manages the backend of your site does.

The difference between organic and paid search results

Organic search results appear based solely on the quality and content of the pages that most closely matches the search query based on relevance. You earn the organic traffic from these search results for “free” by improving your keywords and authority.

Paid search results are provided by advertisements that include the links that show up at the top of a results page in addition to the images and links that appear on the right side of the page. These search results are subtly labeled “ads” or “sponsored.” You buy the paid traffic from these search results by paying for the placement.

The basic components of an effective landing page

Every aspect of a landing page should contribute to the desired result of having the viewer complete the Call To Action. If your B2B web marketing agency designs a page that does not include all of these components, you need to ask why not.

  • A short and persuasive headline that sets up the offer
  • A subhead that frames the offer with a hook
  • An image or video that shows the quality of the offer
  • Brief copy that explains the benefits of the offer
  • One clear, compelling CTA that entices the user to click to get the offer
  • A short form that must be completed to get the offer
  • Social proof such a testimonial quote or reviews that highlight the value of the offer

How a landing page functions within a B2B digital marketing campaign

STEP 1: A person clicks on a link in an ad, social post or search result that brings them to the landing page to learn more.
STEP 2: The person is intrigued by the offer and fills out a form on the landing page. (This action converts them from a visitor into a lead.)
STEP 3:
 The information from the form is stored in a database or customer relationship management (CRM) system.
STEP 4:
 Using that data, additional marketing is targeted to the lead.

5. Social Media: Why being active on the right platforms matters for B2B companies

Social media refers to websites and apps designed for users to share content and have conversations online. Digital marketers use social media to communicate with prospective and current customers and drive traffic to other content.

If your company does not already have a B2B social media strategy, you need to accept the fact that it is not going anywhere anytime soon. Social media platforms are designed and engineered to get people to keep scrolling through their feeds multiple times a day. More importantly, social media drives real business results.

75% of B2B buyers are influenced by social media when making purchase decisions. Among C-level and VP-level buyers, that number jumps to 84%.

Social media is an effective tool for driving traffic to site pages and other content, communicating with individual prospects and customers, employee engagement and recruiting.

Which social media platforms are best for B2B?

The list of which social media channels that are most popular with consumers is constantly in flux. But for B2B companies, it is usually a waste of resources to jump on the newest or trendiest channels — instead, focus on which ones your buyer personas are active on and where they look for industry-relevant content.

LinkedIn: A professional networking site where users create resume-like profiles, share industry expertise, join industry specific discussion groups and search for jobs, new hires or potential clients. LinkedIn is excellent for thought leadership in your industry and giving you more visibility to prospective employees.

Facebook: The world’s largest social network, where users share and comment on messages, photos, videos and links focused on status updates, current events and memes. Paid video campaigns with headlines aimed at solving problems can be incredibly effective.

Twitter: A micro-blogging platform where users share and respond to short messages limited to 280 characters with photos, videos and links, including personal status updates, professional thought leadership, breaking news, memes and opinions. Twitter is amazing for listening to the market, engaging in immediate conversation and staying top of mind with certain buyer personas who love to stay in the know.

Instagram: A social platform for sharing and commenting on photos and videos. People buy with their eyes and Instagram can add dimension to your brand while resonating with potential employees and millennial decision makers.

YouTube: A video hosting platform where users can upload their own videos and watch and comment on videos posted by others. You must have video as part of a healthy and engaging marketing mix — period.

Pinterest: A social platform where users curate collections of images grouped by personal or professional interests. If you have buyer personas who are creative and love to find new ideas, this platform is a game changer.

Types of social media posts that engage B2B prospects and customers

No matter which social media channels you choose, the most important thing to do is post content that your target audience will find interesting or entertaining. A good gut check is to ask yourself, “If I didn’t work for this company, would I still look at this social media post?”

  • Links to your existing content, like blog posts
  • Tips and how-tos
  • Customer pain points and the product features that address them
  • Highlights of company culture
  • Industry news
  • Employee profiles
  • Before and after photos
  • Client testimonials
  • References to pop culture
  • Look behind the scenes
  • Survey/quiz questions
  • Trivia or other games/challenges

For more ideas plus tips on launching and growing your social media presence, read this blog post on best practices for B2B social media in 2019.

6. Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC): What makes it the most efficient way to drive traffic and leads

Pay-per-click advertising is an online business model in which advertisers pay every time a user clicks on one of their online ads. Typically, you pay for clicks that send visitors to your site, but on some platforms, you can also pay for other actions such as video views, likes or shares. (This is in contrast to traditional advertising, such as print or broadcast, where advertisers pay a set amount per ad based on media placement and the number of estimated impressions.) So instead of paying to place an ad and just hoping people notice it, you only pay when someone actually engages with your ad.

Types of PPC ads for B2B

There are three different kinds of PPC ads for B2B: search, display and social. Each category is based on where they appear.

Search ads appear within the results of search engines for desired keywords. Advertisers bid on keywords in an open auction, so the cost per click will depend on which keywords you choose and how in-demand they are. So, if many advertisers are bidding for the same keywords, the cost per click will be higher. Search advertising is very effective since users are already interested in the topic they are searching for.

Display ads appear on different websites or apps. The styles of display ads range from banner ads at the top or sides of web pages to rich media and interstitial ads that take over an entire page. Unfortunately, display ads are so ubiquitous and obtrusive that many people tune them out. As a result, their average click-through rate is less than one percent. Most display ads are placed through ad networks where an advertiser may not know which sites their ad appears on. However, display ads placed directly with industry-specific sites such as trade publications can still be effective at reaching specific niche audiences. 

Social ads appear on social media sites or within the feed of content posted by users. The style and functionality of these ads varies widely by platform, but all are based on targeting by demographics and interests. This ability to hyper-target makes social ads very highly attractive for B2B companies.

Which social platform you choose should be based on the behavior of your buyer personas. However, LinkedIn offers clear advantages for almost any B2B marketing campaign plan. For descriptions of the variety of ads available on LinkedIn and how to use them, read this blog post.

The unique advantages of PPC ads

While every B2B internet marketing agency recommends PPC for the effectiveness of precise targeting and the efficiency of only paying when someone engages, PPC advertising also delivers the following benefits.

Data on performance: Every platform provides advertisers with robust data on click-through rates and conversions.

Optimization: Thanks to that data, it is possible to tell how effective each ad is performing and adjust accordingly. By tweaking and testing different elements of ads, advertisers can compare which work best and improve performance over time.

Budgeting precision: Each PPC ad campaign is based on a predetermined budget, usually capped per day or by the month. So, when the number of clicks reaches that amount, the ad is paused.

7. Email: How to turn this business staple into a B2B marketing powerhouse

Email has a bad rap. There’s an overwhelming volume flooding our inboxes and annoying spam sneaks past our junk folders. Despite these perceptions, email marketing is a still a powerful and highly effective B2B marketing tool — if you use it to deliver relevant and helpful content.

It’s estimated that every $1 invested on email marketing generates an average return of $38.

There are three types of emails that every B2B email marketing strategy should include:

  • Transactional: Provides customer service and handles logistics
  • Promotional: Generates sales through launch announcements and time-limited offers
  • Relational: Nurtures relationship with subscribers through valuable content and exclusive offers

Transactional emails are sent when a new or existing customer takes an action such as placing an order or requesting service. Unfortunately, most companies don’t put much thought into them. However, this is an opportunity for you to stand out by providing clear communication and excellent service. Remember, every touch point with an existing customer is an opportunity to turn them into a repeat customer and an evangelist for your company. What extra incentive or detail can you add to turn a run-of-the-mill transactional email into an exceptional interaction?

Promotional emails that announce new products or offer discounts can be highly effective in the short term. But sending emails that are solely sales-focused too often will diminish their impact.

Relational emails are designed to nurture new leads and delight existing customers. How? There are two options:

  • Email drip campaigns
  • Email newsletters

How email drip campaigns can cause a flood of sales

Drip campaigns consist of a set number of emails sent automatically on a predetermined timeline. Also known as lifecycle emails, autoresponders or behavioral emails, these automated series of emails can be used to nurture leads, upsell existing customers and reengage previous customers who have not purchased recently.

They are sent based on audience segments that you want to engage or triggered by actions like downloading a white paper or visiting a certain page of your site. Each drip email is sent from a queue of prewritten emails that can be personalized by name and company info.

You can repurpose existing content for a new audience, educate customers on how to use your product or reward your best customers with special insights and offers. For more ideas and five types of successful B2B email marketing campaigns that align to different stages of the buyer’s journey, read this blog post.

Pro tip: A great subject line is a key that unlocks conversions.

Writing short, clear, yet creative subject lines is the most important part of any B2B email. Your subject line must intrigue the reader and entice them to open your email. It is recommended to A/B test different subject lines to see which performs better and optimize your sends accordingly.

Why email newsletters are the most valuable asset B2B marketers can build

Email newsletters are sent to subscribers at a recurring interval on an ongoing basis. The content within each send varies but generally follows an established theme and template. The key is to include information that subscribers find interesting, inspiring or useful.

Also referred to as B2B enewsletters, they are an excellent means of qualifying and nurturing leads. By subscribing, they have expressed an interest in your company, and by clicking links within subsequent enewsletters they indicate a desire to further engage. Newsletters are also a cost-effective way of staying top of mind with prospects and existing customers. By providing helpful tips, enlightening stories and exclusive offers, you increase their loyalty and likelihood of doing business with you.

Email newsletters can be scheduled on a monthly, weekly or even daily basis. But be careful, sending too many or poor-quality emails will have a negative impact on your effectiveness. So, set your schedule based on the amount of relevant, well-executed content that you can reasonably produce on a regular basis.

While most types of digital marketing can only engage any particular customer for a short period of time, well-written, beautifully designed B2B email newsletters can build a long-term relationship with individual customers, increasing their lifetime value.

Get your free guide: “The Complete B2B Digital Marketing Campaign Manual”

Everything you need to do in one place. This easy-to-read manual tells you how to implement a successful B2B digital marketing ecosystem.

Bonus: These 4 best practices will turbocharge your B2B digital marketing

Once you have the seven essentials of BtoB digital marketing in place, you can implement the following four B2B digital marketing best practices to greatly improve your efficiency and effectiveness.

A. Video: How visually engaging content can shorten your B2B sales cycle

Videos perform better than other types of content across every type of digital marketing. They receive more engagement in social media posts and improve the performance of site landing pages because people stay on the page longer to watch them. (Did you watch the video near the top of this page?)

Videos aren’t just enjoyable to watch; they drive real business results. According to a study by Google, 70% of B2B buyers watch relevant videos at some point during their buyer’s journey.

Types of videos that move prospects through the buyer’s journey

Thanks to their highly visual and captivating nature, videos are extremely effective at engaging leads throughout all the phases of the buyer’s journey. By delivering the following styles of videos to prospects at the right time, you can make a positive impact on their decision to purchase.

Explainer videos – Awareness phase
Highlight a pain point of one of your buyer personas followed by an overview of how the features of your product or service solve the problem. Explainer videos are typically two minutes long.

Slice-of-life videos – Awareness and consideration phases
Highlighting your employees and company culture can be a fun way to form a more personal connection and convey the values that your company stand for. The length of slice-of-life video varies based on subject matter and concept.

Webinars – Consideration phase
These live video presentations are structured to take a deep dive into challenges facing your industry and outline trends and solutions — including the value your company provides. Lasting between 30 minutes to an hour, they also often contain an interactive component where viewers can participate by asking questions via a chat function.

Interview videos – Consideration phase
Interviews with executives or other topic experts within your company are an excellent way to showcase expertise and thought leadership. Interview videos are also easy to edit into longer and shorter pieces for different uses.

Product demo videos Decision phase
Demonstrate product features and functionality while describing their benefits to your buyer personas. They can be animated, filmed in the field or recorded as a presentation. Length can vary based on the complexity or number of features.

Testimonial videos Decision phase
Interviewing your best customers in their offices or at a neutral location about the challenges they face and how you help them to overcome them is the most compelling way to sell your product or service. There’s nothing more convincing than hearing someone describe, in their own words, their experience with a company.

B. Retargeting: How to use remarketing to attract and convert more B2B leads

Retargeting, also known as remarketing, is a paid digital advertising tactic of serving dedicated ads to people who have visited a certain website.

You’ve probably experienced this phenomenon or heard someone else tell a story about it happening to them. You search or shop for a particular product and then suddenly you see ads for it everywhere. That’s retargeting. Executed poorly, it can seem like that product is following you everywhere you go on the internet.

But with a little research and planning, you can retarget engaging ads based on which phase of the buyer’s journey your site visitors are in.

Retargeting B2B prospects based on the buyer’s journey

Retargeting platforms have the ability to display individual ads based on specific sections or pages of your site that a visitor viewed. This means that you can create ads with messaging that directly addresses the needs of different prospects at different stages of the buyer’s journey.

Here are a few examples of how you can tell which stage of buyer’s journey that prospects are in, based on which sections of your site they have visited.

Awareness phase: Top level pages that do not focus on specific products or services such as your about page or blog. Try running retargeting ads that drive to landing pages with gated content to capture leads.

Consideration phase: High-level pages that convey general information, such as product categories or service area. Run retargeting ads that highlight more in-depth content like case studies or webinars.

Decision phase: Secondary-level pages, such as individual product descriptions or case studies. Run retargeting ads that drive requests for a demo or price sheet.

How the technology behind retargeting works

Retargeting uses a small piece of code placed on a page of your website. This code, often referred to as a pixel, does not affect the appearance or performance of your site. Each time a new visitor views your site, this code leaves an anonymous browser cookie. (A cookie is a small piece of information that websites store of users’ computers.) Later, when those visitors view other sites, the cookie allows your retargeting provider to know when and which ads to display to each individual. This ensures that only people who have visited a specific page of your site are shown a specific ad.

C. Marketing automation: How to streamline your workflows to increase efficiency

Marketing automation refers to the process of using software to complete various activities that would otherwise be done manually. Streamline your process and tools to maximize your impact. Here are the most popular types of marketing automation.

Sending marketing emails: For drip campaigns, you can set a trigger to automatically send an email whenever someone fits assigned criteria, like completing a certain task or hitting an order threshold. For newsletters, you can automate the scheduling of email sends in addition to the maintenance of your lists.

Scheduling social media posts: There’s no need to sign in to each social platform and make every post individually. Scheduling tools automatically publish your content to the assigned social platforms at optimum times or based on a schedule you set.

Campaign tracking and reporting: A robust digital marketing ecosystem requires a lot of moving pieces and types of content. Reporting tools can track the different components of your campaigns and compile data on their performance over time.

D. Analytics: How to use data to optimize your B2B digital marketing

Marketing analytics is the practice of measuring and studying data points to gain insights on the performance of marketing initiatives. Marketing analytics tools gathers data from various sources and combines it into a comprehensive view. And when pulling it all together, remember your revenue levers.

The benefits of B2B marketing analytics

  • Understanding of the return on investment (ROI) of your marketing efforts
  • Overview of marketing trends for specific timeframes
  • Comparison of which efforts are performing best and why
  • Forecasting of results and impact on revenue

Pro tip: Successful digital marketing teams live and die by their dashboard.

A comprehensive view of your marketing metrics is presented in a dashboard that presents the information in a visually easy-to-understand manner. While it is tempting to track every single metric you can measure, customizing a dashboard that displays only the metrics that actually matter will make your insights stronger and your efforts more impactful.

The difference between metrics and analytics

Metrics refers to individual data points, while analytics is the practice of putting those data points in context and deducing actionable insights.

Types of metrics that fuel B2B digital marketing analytics

Each element of B2B digital marketing generates different metrics. Understanding them — and choosing to pay attention only to the ones that correspond to your marketing strategy goals — is paramount to optimizing the efficiency and effectiveness of your business-to-business digital marketing campaigns.

Here is a list of possible metrics that you can analyze:

Metrics for B2B websites

Visitors: The number of users who comes to a site.
Page view: Each time a page on a site is loaded by a web browser.
Session: The series of activities taken by a visitor on your website; i.e. (where they go and what they click on). Sessions expire after 30 minutes of visitor inactivity.
Bounce rate: The percentage of people who visited a page but did not take any action or look at any other pages as compared to the total number of page visitors.
Time on page: The average amount of time visitors spend on a site or page.
Interactions per visit: Which actions visitors took on a site or page.
Traffic: The total number of site or page visits in a given time period.
Traffic by channel: The total number of site or page visits per referral source (i.e., search results, social media posts, email, etc).
Traffic by device: The total number of site or page visits per device type (i.e.,., smartphone, tablet, desktop, etc).
Ratio of new traffic to returning traffic: The percentage of net new site or page visitors received compared to the total amount of traffic.
Call to action (CTA) click-through rate: The percentage of total clicks on a CTA as compared to the total number of page or site visits.
Submissions: The number of people who filled out and submitted a form on a site.
Conversion rate: The total number of actions taken on a lead magnet as compared to the total number of visits.

Metrics for B2B content and social media

Engagement rate: The total number of engagements (i.e., comments, clicks, likes, etc.) as a proportion of the total number page or post views.
Follows and subscribes: The total number of people who’ve opted-in to see new posts.
Shares: The total number of times a post or page has been shared.

Metrics for B2B pay-per-click ads (PPC)

Impressions: The number of times or frequency that an ad is displayed.
Clicks: The number of times a user clicks on an ad.
Click-through rate:How often an ad is clicked compared to the total of times it is shown.
Cost per click: The average amount paid for each click received
Cost per conversion: The actual cost paid to acquire a lead calculated by dividing the number of clicks by the number of leads generated.
Impression share: The percentage of times an ad is actually shown compared to the total number of times it potentially could have been shown.
Conversion rate: The number of times a user clicked on an ad and completed the desired action within a certain window of time.
Quality score: An estimate of the quality of your ads, keywords, and landing pages that is assigned by search engines.

Metrics for B2B email marketing

Open rate: The percentage of emails opened by recipients compared to the total number of emails sent.
Opens by device: The total number of emails opened on each type of device type (i.e., desktop, smartphone, tablet or wearable).
Click-through rate: The percentage of total clicks on a link or call to action within an email compared to the total number of emails opened or sent.
Delivery rate: The percentage of messages actually delivered to recipients’ inboxes compared to the total number of emails sent.
Bounce rate: The percentage of undeliverable emails as a proportion of the total number of emails sent
Complaint rate: The percent of emails flagged as spam compared to the total number of emails sent.
Unsubscribe rate: The percentage of subscribers who opt out of your email list over a given period of time.
List growth: The number of new subscribes compared to the number of unsubscribes.

What next? How will you take advantage of B2B digital marketing?

Now that you have an understanding of the essentials and best practices, here’s what you should keep in mind as you build out your B2B digital marketing ecosystem.

Remember the revenue levers of B2B digital marketing:

  • Drive traffic
  • Convert the traffic from interest to inquiry
  • Convert Marketing Qualified Leads to Sales Qualified Leads
  • Nurture the leads who aren’t ready to buy yet
  • Close the deal
  • Drive repeat business, referrals and evangelism
  • At every stage of the buyer’s journey, retain as many of the leads that you paid to acquire as possible.

Follow these four core principles of B2B digital marketing:

  • Know who you are targeting
  • Clarify how you define success
  • Budget for consistency
  • Use strong calls to action

For tips on following these four principles, read this blog post.

Where to start with B2B digital marketing?

The first step of building an effective B2B digital marketing machine is to identify all of the owned, earned and paid assets that you already have available from all of your business-to-business marketing efforts plus other departments in your company. Then map out how you’ll create the pieces you’re missing.

For a checklist and explanation of owned, earned and paid assets, read this blog post.

Ready to optimize your digital marketing efforts? Download our bonus guide, “The Complete B2B Digital Marketing Campaign Manual.”

This checklist and roadmap of our proven B2B digital marketing process for driving leads and sales is yours to use whether you decide to work with The Marketing Blender or some other B2B advertising agency.

Want to review anything?

Whatever types of B2B marketing strategies you explore, be sure your plan includes these essentials and best practices. You can click these links to jump to that section:

  1. Targeting: How to find and engage the right B2B leads
  2. Website: How to turn your site into your best B2B sales tool
  3. Content: How to attract and convert leads with B2B content marketing
  4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): How to make it easy for B2B prospects to find you
  5. Social Media: Why being active on the right platforms matters for B2B companies
  6. Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC): What makes it the most efficient way to drive traffic and leads
  7. Email: How to turn this business staple into a B2B marketing powerhouse

A. Video: How visually engaging content can shorten your B2B sales cycle
B. Retargeting: How to use remarketing to attract and convert more B2B leads
C. Marketing automation: How to streamline your workflows to increase efficiency
D. Analytics: How to optimize B2B digital marketing

A word of warning: Don’t confuse these B2B marketing tactics with a B2B marketing strategy

You may see consultants and B2B advertising companies pitching some of these tactics as the best B2B marketing strategies. Don’t be fooled. A real strategy is a roadmap for delivering the right message to the right people at the right time. Digital marketing tactics are an incredibly effective means of reaching people. But to maximize your impact without wasting your money, you need an actual plan to make your tactics work together. Any B2B digital agency worth their salt will recommend starting with your overall strategy. You can also do it yourself — just use the tips on how to create a smarter B2B marketing strategy outlined here.

Don’t forget your free copy of “The Complete B2B Digital Marketing Campaign Manual.”

Thanks for reading. We’re Blender, a full-service B2B marketing agency in Dallas–Fort Worth that uses digital marketing to accelerate growth for clients across the nation in competitive industries including software, professional services, healthcare and manufacturing.

Pro tip: Not all digital partners are created equal.

Click here for a list of what to look for when you compare B2B marketing companies.