29 May, 2011
The internet's power and ubiquity means that B2B buyers are relying on it as their most important research tool to source suppliers.
B2B suppliers must therefore place the utmost importance in web marketing, and must focus mainly on those online tactics that will produce the most success.
Sales lead generation
Gone are the days when brand-building alone was the measure of marketing success. Thanks to the direct and dynamic nature of the internet, sales lead generation has become the single most important strategic marketing commodity.
The internet offers a number of avenues to generate sales leads. These can include your own website, blogs, social media and online buying communities (such as IndustrySearch & MedicalSearch). Generating leads is just one part of the picture; it's up to you how efficiently and professionally you follow them up in order to ultimately win the sale.
The sourcing process for B2B products is rigorous due to the important nature of that which is being procured. It is therefore vital to constantly inform and educate your target market with information that establishes your company as a thought leader in your industry.
The effort exerted into developing your company's credibility in this way will provide an advantage over competitors. Content which establishes your company as a thought leader can include: product reviews, feature articles, case studies, white papers and news releases. Online buying communities are effective avenues for distributing such content, but it's up to you to ensure the information you provide is credible and informative.
Brand positioning has traditionally been a goal that only larger companies could aspire to. However in many ways the internet has levelled the playing field and this is no longer the case. Using online channels smaller brands are finding themselves in an ideal position to compete for brand awareness.
This represents an exciting brand-building opportunity for innovative up-and-coming companies. By associating and promoting your brand online within a targeted community that your market uses and trusts, your brand is positioned for online success.
Search engine exposure
Search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo are powerful tools. There are two main ways to tap into them to support your online marketing presence:
- SEA (Search Engine Advertising) – Choose keywords and phrases that are important to you, and run pay-per-click campaigns driving traffic to your website.
- SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) – Optimise your website or Storefront content to display in the search engine’s natural search engine results. These results typically get more clicks, so this is often seem as the first prize in search engine marketing.
Once upon a time the only way to demonstrate a product was face to face, however online videos are changing that. They are becoming increasingly popular and are now seen as a great way to demonstrate your wares to buyers online.
Inexpensive cameras can provide web-ready videos to put in front of prospects. All you need to do is put some thought into it, point and shoot, and then publish straight to the web. It's that easy.
Measuring return on investment (ROI)
One of the most important benefits of online marketing when compared to traditional marketing is its measurement and accountability. Businesses must quantify all their expenses and marketing investments are no different.
Some of the performance metrics your company should measure online include: sales leads, website traffic, article views and brand exposure.
So take control of your B2B online marketing and don't let the technology scare you. All the tools you need are out there and it doesn't have to be complicated. Just keep focused on your most important online tactics: sales lead generation, thought leadership, brand positioning, search engines and video. Then continually measure and track how these are performing and you're all set for maximum impact online!