Whether you’re launching your first product or launching a new product in a new market, if you’ve found yourself reading this guide, it’s likely you’re looking for a place to start.
Whether you’re in the software business, manufacturing, finance, healthcare, business services, or a brand new startup, it’s important that B2B marketers at every experience level know how to recognize the best opportunities for reaching their ideal buyers.
Our B2B marketing strategy framework will allow you to:
Use research to make data-driven decisions about marketing campaign targeting and be able to back up tactics to your leadership team
Gain a full understanding of your market and ideal customers to bring more relevant traffic to your website
Develop messaging that resonates with your ideal buyers
Create and optimize a web presence not just for visibility, but for conversions too
Build a brand and brand assets that are credible and impactful to potential prospects
Create a strategy that generates, qualifies, and converts marketing leads, but most importantly, increases sales
We want to mention this early on: your marketing strategy should be continuously revised and optimized. One of the most important aspects in marketing is tracking which tactics are successful and which ones need to be revisited. With the pointers in this guide, we’ll give you the tools to measure the effectiveness of your strategy and learn how to improve.
A lot of what we’ve written in our guide is based on our own experience of overhauling the EBQ brand and restructuring our marketing team last fall. You can see that since taking our own advice and making some adjustments to our strategy, we have seen a dramatic increase in marketing-qualified leads of over 1000%!
Like all things in marketing, results do vary. And it’s important to note that success in marketing happens gradually over time as all the smaller pieces of your strategy begin working together in unison.
We hope every marketer, salesperson, founder, and anyone else reading along find some useful takeaways from this guide to help their marketing plan reach its fullest potential. Let’s get started!
Data: The Starting Point
Identifying your ideal customer profile(ICP) and buyer personas is the first step in building the foundation for an effective marketing strategy.
Developing these profiles is not solely a marketing responsibility. Mining and interpreting this data should be a group effort with contributions from your company’s leadership, sales, product team, data analysts, and any other team that plays a part in shaping your customers’ experience.
A lot of what you learn about your customers becomes elements of account-based marketing (ABM).
ABM is a strategic approach to B2B marketing that targets specific company accounts and the individual prospects in the organization that are involved in purchasing decisions.
Having a clear picture of your ideal customers helps you avoid wasting your marketing and sales budget or even building a list of unsuitable target accounts and prospects.
We want to make a clear distinction between ICP and buyer personas here:
Ideal customer profile: Describes firmographic and technographic attributes of the specific companies targeted in an account-based strategy
Buyer personas: Describes the individuals that typically make up the buying committee at target companies for your type of product
Before we get into the details of how to aggregate this data about your ICP and buyer personas, let’s
review the type of information to look for when initially building this ideal customer profile.
For your ICP, you’ll want to know the following about the companies you should target:
Firmographic: Industry, company size, revenue, geographic location
Technographic: Relevant tools in their tech stack
And for your buyer persona, the following attributes should act as a baseline for learning about the individual prospects you should target:
Role in the purchase decision
There are two types of approaches you might take to gather this data, which will depend on whether you have existing customers or are starting at zero.
Approach #1: Working with existing customer data
If you already have an existing customer base for your solution, creating an ideal customer profile starts with a look at past and present customer information in your database and the patterns that can be derived from it.
Common sources for this type of data about existing customers include:
Your existing sales funnel
Your database Sales calls
Look for patterns such as which type of company is the most prevalent in your existing database and which category your best accounts fall under. Ask yourself:
Who has actually purchased your product?
Which methods of targeting and segmenting have worked in the past?
Take these answers, turn them into a coherent metric, and use the trends in your data to build out your customer profiles.
Approach #2: Gathering data from scratch
Maybe you’ve yet to build a large enough customer base from which you can pull this data. Your focus should still be on gathering the most reliable information for defining your ideal buyers.
You can use credible third-party data about your industry and solutions like yours as a starting point, then supplement it with primary data about your specific buyers.
There are a few methods for retrieving this primary data when you don’t have a large enough sample size of customer accounts to reference
Conducting one-on-one or group interviews with customers or your suspected personas
Developing online surveys targeted at possible personas (offering incentives to complete these research surveys works well too)
Using sales development reps for cold outreach to speak directly with leads and validate suspected markets
Requesting feedback from sales teams about conversations they’ve had with prospects and customers
Solicit insight and feedback from the product team about buyers’ needs and common pain points in the market
Notice that there are two main perspectives we’re interested in for this research—your buyers and your internal teams.
Of course, speaking directly with those who are most likely to purchase your product is necessary for understanding your buyers. But you should always seek input from the people who are actually responsible for selling your product too.
Salespeople and SDRs spend their time trying to better understand your buyers in order to sell to them better, so they have a unique big-picture perspective on what an ideal customer looks like.
Here’s an example survey created in Google Forms that we use to poll our sales teams and get an idea of the ideal buyers for our outsourced Customer Service offering:
Your persona research shouldn’t end at basic insights about industries, job titles, and seniority. Gathering qualitative data about buyers’ goals, challenges, and decision drivers is crucial for fully understanding how you should speak to them through your marketing.
In the example persona survey pictured above, the second question uses stock images to represent possible buyers, and it’s not included thoughtlessly. It actually provides valuable insight into the perception of our buyers, their personality types, and their level of professionalism. Aim to gain this type of insight when performing research directly with customers and prospects also.
Qualitative information that is often most useful for B2B tech companies includes:
How they prefer to communicate (over the phone, through email, via live chat, etc.)
How many people at the company are involved in purchase decisions
Which applications make up their current technology stack (you can use tools like BuiltWith to find this information)
Knowing these more personal details about your ideal customers, how they work, and what drives them to purchase is an important piece of the foundation that your entire marketing strategy will be built on.
We wrote at length about the qualitative attributes you should know about your buyers in this blog post about well-defined B2B buyer personas. You’ll need these details when completing the market analysis discussed in the next chapter.
Market Analysis: Determine Customer Need
Now that you’ve conducted your initial buyer persona research, you can start identifying the needs of your customers and how your solution helps meet those needs.
In order to market to prospective B2B buyers, you need to know the organizational goals they’re trying to accomplish and what’s stopping them from reaching those goals. Start with a list of pain points based on the common challenges of your persona’s industries and job functions, and then figure out how your solution helps solve those pain points.
Let’s dive into this concept with a pretty simplified example. Pretend you’re launching a new customer relationship management (CRM) platform meant for small and medium businesses. Without your solution, what are some of the common pains that your ideal buyers experience?
“I waste too much time on manual data entry.”
“We don’t have the money to invest in a CRM.”
“Nobody on my team knows how to use CRM software.”
“I don’t have time to transfer my existing data to a new CRM.”
Pain points sum up the organizational challenges and day-to-day responsibilities of your persona’s roles, as they relate to your solution. These statements condense the customer research you completed in step #1 and turn the data into actual problems we can solve.
Once you have your list of common challenges, it’s time to outline exactly how your solution can help buyers overcome those challenges and reach their goals.
So, how does your hypothetical CRM solution solve each pain point?
This target market analysis is step #2 of laying the foundation for your overall marketing strategy. We advise starting with the most common high-level pain points that differentiate you from competitors, then explore more specific feature-focused challenges as your strategy develops and you learn more about your buyers.
Messaging: Speak Their Language
The next step in building your B2B marketing strategy is to develop the messaging that will be used throughout your initiatives. Messaging is the way you speak to your prospects and customers, and the goal is to find the messaging that resonates best with your buyers along different stages of the sales funnel.
The persona research and market analysis you performed in the previous steps are both active ingredients for creating effective messaging. Think of it like a math formula:
Figuring out what messaging resonates well with your customers isn’t only useful for marketing. Sales teams can also use the messaging that you develop to navigate conversations when nurturing opportunities.
With the right messaging, interactions with buyers become more natural, your brand becomes more trustworthy, and you prove to your prospective buyers that you understand their world. Messaging encompasses all of the following:
Addressing the most pressing pain points in your buyers’ field
Mirroring the appropriate tone and temperament
Using terminology and phrases that are common or trending in the target industries
Addressing the right pain points
Now it’s time to sift through and narrow down the pain points determined during your market analysis, prioritizing them by relevance based on your customer data. Especially when starting out, you shouldn’t focus on too many pain points or else your messaging might be too hard to follow.
Keep in mind that each individual buyer will have different priorities, so start with a value proposition that is general enough to grab the attention of most of your personas. (Later on in this guide, we’ll provide tactics for further personalizing your marketing to buyers’ various priorities.)
Let’s go back to our CRM platform for SMBs example. The customer pain points we focused on in the market analysis were:
Too much time spent on data entry
Can’t afford a CRM
Don’t know how to use a CRM
No time to transfer data to a new CRM
Which of the pain points are most prevalent amongst your buyers? Before making any assumptions, remember: every marketing decision should be driven by hard data about your customers.
Let’s say your data reflects that buyers are most concerned about wasting too much time on data entry but not being able to afford a high-quality CRM solution.
This makes sense, considering that the other two pain points and your solutions for them (intuitive user interface and integration capabilities) are more feature-focused and narrow in scope. They’re less likely to apply to every customer.
So now we’ll focus the messaging of our main value proposition on the remaining pain points:
Using the right tone
Matching the tone your buyers use to communicate helps them feel connected to your brand and adds credibility to your marketing. Depending on aspects of your buyer persona, such as their industry or seniority in their role, they might use a more formal or casual tone in their business communications.
Don’t approach buyers in an overly serious or technical tone if your data shows that your buyers prefer a more laid-back temperament. And vice versa, you don’t want to appear too bubbly if they prefer to speak in a more formal manner.
Bear in mind that professionalism is important in B2B messaging either way. Don’t get hung up on choosing between these two options for your messaging:
Finding the right phrasing
Using the right words and phrasing in your messaging is equally important for creating a credible perception of your brand and for developing messaging that resonates with your ideal customers.
Your marketing should show prospective customers that you speak their lingo, that you know all about their industry and environment, that you are the solution to their organizational problems.
Not only should you reflect your customers’ typical vocabulary, you should also express your value statements in a way that conveys the benefits gained from using your solution instead of just describing what your product can do.
Take the value propositions you came up with in the first few steps, translate them into the language of your ideal customers, and focus on how it benefits the customer:
Now, we can combine our conclusions about which pain points, tone, and wording to use to create one succinct value proposition:
“Save time with a functional yet affordable CRM that auto-populates your data and keeps it all in one place, built especially for small business.”
When it comes to picking the exact right words and phrases to base your marketing efforts on, a new kind of research is required: keyword research. Choosing which keywords to focus on will determine the success of your entire marketing plan. We’ll devote the entire next section of this guide to keywords, so buckle in.
Messaging summed up
Impactful messaging helps you prevent shouting into the void with your marketing. The right messaging gets the right buyers to listen and recognize that you have something valuable for them.
In order to engage with your ideal customers, you first have to get their attention. This means not only getting them to look at your company but getting them to read further. Good messaging accomplishes just that.
Choosing the right keywords is the last piece needed for the foundation of your B2B marketing strategy. Keywords establish a data-driven direction for marketing initiatives, help relevant buyers who are actively searching for solutions like yours find you, and if done correctly, enhance your brand visibility online.
Keyword research accomplishes a number of important objectives for your strategy:
Tells you exactly which keywords people are actively searching for online
Helps you identify relevant content opportunities that could enable you to rank higher on search engines for relevant search queries
Allows more precise targeting for paid advertisements and organic search engine optimization (SEO) strategies
We suggest starting your keyword strategy at the product page level since, as we’ll elaborate on later, product pages are a primary conversion point for selling online.
The most important concept to understand when it comes to keywords, and SEO in general, is the user’s search intent for each keyword. When someone types a query into Google, they’re thoughtful and deliberate about the words they use in order to find the specific information they’re looking for.
You may already have a perception of how someone would search for your product online, but you shouldn’t only rely on your own knowledge or assumptions to make decisions about keywords. Instead, you should be able to back up your conclusions about the keywords you target and the intent behind them with hard data about how searchers use them.
Broad keywords vs. long-tail keywords
Going back to our CRM platform for SMBs example, you could choose to target “CRM” as a keyword for your new platform. But this strategy most likely won’t be an effective use of your SEO efforts and ad budget.
Targeting broad keywords like “CRM” is a risky strategy for a couple of reasons:
Competition: Inexperienced marketers instinctually target broad keywords, so you’re competing against more established companies for your rank. Also, huge enterprise companies typically have the budget and resources to earn higher rank for broad keywords, so the chances of a newer company out-competing them is slim to none.
Search intent: What are people looking for when they search “CRM” on Google? You can’t really know for sure. They could be looking for a definition, they could be researching the history behind the technology, or they could be looking for a new platform that’s nothing like yours. Even if you were able to rank for this broad keyword, your efforts would be wasted on too many users who are unlikely to ever buy from you.
Instead of casting a wide net with broad keywords, we suggest targeting many long-tail keywords in order to have a better chance at ranking higher and appearing in more relevant searches.
Long-tail keywords are phrases typically containing 3 or more words that target a more niche segment of searchers. Long-tail keywords are usually searched less frequently than broad ones, but they are generally easier to rank for and can help you get your message in front of the right people.
Start with a long list of keywords that you believe are related to your product then reverse engineer those search terms, adjusting them through research to better align with how consumers use search engines to find solutions like yours.
Thanks to all that research you’ve done about your ideal customers by this point, you should have at least some guesses about which qualifiers are most applicable to your product or company. For the best results, avoid broad search terms like “CRM” and instead target a long-tail keyword like “CRM software for small businesses.”
To determine which long-tail keywords are relevant for your buyers, you need to come up with hard data that validates the qualifiers you’re using when developing these more niche search terms.
Qualifiers are words that further describe a keyword. Searchers use them to narrow down what they’re looking for from an online search. For example, “for small business” is a qualifier of your hypothetical CRM platform because searchers using the phrase are most likely not interested in enterprise solutions.
There are a few free and inexpensive tools we recommend for keyword research starting out. We’ll begin with the end-all-be-all king of the search engines: Google.
Using Google for keyword research
The best free keyword research tool out there is Google search itself, which provides real-time insight about which long-tail keywords are actively being searched.
When initially building your long list of keywords, head to the Google homepage to see exactly what people are searching via the search field’s auto-complete function.
As you begin to type your broad search term, you’ll see a drop-down list of suggested searches. You can tell from the screenshots above that the suggestions get more specific as your search term does, allowing you to build a large list of long-tail keywords.
There are a few hypotheses we can make about the search terms that appear under “CRM software:”
“CRM software meaning”is likely a search performed by someone looking for a definition with little intent on making a purchase soon
“CRM software reviews” is a search likely performed by someone further along in the sales funnel looking for information on specific products in order to make a more informed decision, but the term may not apply directly to your product page
“CRM software for small business” might be a search done by someone in the awareness, consideration, or decision stages looking for CRM software that aligns with their specific needs
The related searches at the bottom of the search engine results page (SERP) and the expandable “people also ask” section can be helpful during this process as well. As you look through these suggested keywords, you can make some inferences about the search intent behind each one.
It’s also important to look at the SERPs of the keywords you’re interested in to see what type of pages are ranking for both the organic search results and paid ads.
This tells you what kind of content, relevant to the keyword results, is valued by Google, as Google generally ranks pages based off of positive user interaction.
Looking at the results can confirm or disprove your assumptions about search intent, as well as inspire future ideas for relevant content. This practice should also help you to better understand the user search intent, as you can see what information best satisfies their search.
Once you have your list of long-tail keywords suggestions, it’s time to narrow down the list to the most valuable keywords for your particular page.
Using Moz to determine keyword value
Capturing as much attention as possible with your keywords is the goal, but you want to make sure you’re getting attention from the right people. Keep in mind that while “CRM software” may be searched 120,000 times in a month, the 850 searches performed for “CRM software for small business” will get you closer to your potential buyers.
Moz is a reliable resource for learning about specific long-tail keywords, as opposed to other tools (like Google Keyword Planner) which focus their search metrics for broader keyword categories.
We use Moz to measure several important factors about long-tail keywords:
Search volume: How many times the specific keyword is searched monthly
Difficulty: How difficult it is to rank higher than competitors for the same keyword
Organic click-through rate (CTR): Estimates the percentage of clicks available to organic search results compared to other search elements like ads and snippets
Priority: Combines the other 3 metrics to identify ideal keywords that have high search volumes and CTR with low difficulty to rank
Search volume is one of the primary indicators that a certain keyword is worth pursuing. But in order to reach your most relevant buyers, you need to analyze how the other metrics can help or hurt your targeting.
A keyword might have a high search volume but is nearly impossible to rank for and/or doesn’t provide enough opportunity for actual clicks. On the flip side, you might easily rank for a keyword, but there just isn’t enough search volume to make any impact.
It helps to lay all of these metrics out in a single table to determine which keywords are worth pursuing:
Notice in this analysis that we use our own metric: intent. We don’t rely too heavily on Moz’s default priority metric but instead prioritize the inherent search intent associated with each keyword. Our search intent metric is based on an arbitrary but consistent scale from 1 to 10.
In our analysis, keywords that have a difficulty under 50, a score of 5 or above for intent, and a score above 50 for CTR and priority are the ones we consider ideal.
You should look for the sweet spot where you find a large enough search volume, CTR, and search intent paired with a low enough amount of competition. Luckily, Moz offers a free trial to get you started with your own keyword research.
Using SEMrush to outrank your competitors
When it comes to understanding how to outrank your competitors, you need to take a deep dive into those other companies’ keyword efforts and see what is and isn’t working for them in the search results. SEMrush is one practical tool for investigating competitor’s SEO strategies.
With SEMrush, you can find a considerable amount of information about:
Competitors’ website traffic analytics
Keywords they rank for
Pages on competitors’ websites that bring in the most visitors
Their text and display ads
Which keywords lead to which of their pages
The information you gather from SEMrush helps you complete another important part of your keyword research: an SEO competitive analysis.
Moz has their own guide for performing a competitive analysis, but essentially, this analysis allows you to compare your competition’s SEO standing against your own. The competitive analysis helps you identify gaps in your keyword strategy, as well as link building opportunities that give your site more authority and increase your reach.
Building a Marketing Team
Now that you’ve laid the foundation for your marketing strategy and gotten to know your ideal customers, it’s time to find the right people to carry out your vision.
It might come as a surprise the amount of work that goes into implementing even a simple marketing plan. Launching a new B2B marketing strategy is no one-person job. You need reliable problem-solvers on the ground helping you bring all the intricate details together.
At the bare minimum, there are 3 marketing roles you should be looking to fill: Content Specialist, Digital Specialist, and Visual Designer.
Before we get into what each role entails, we think it’s worth noting that many companies launch successful B2B marketing campaigns by outsourcing day-to-day marketing tasks to specialized firms, while the overall strategy and direction is developed by their internal leaders.
There are a few main reasons outsourcing marketing initiatives can be beneficial for a company:
The outsourced firm specializes in the marketing services they provide, so they have experience, a proven process, and they often provide certified specialists
It saves you money by placing the responsibility for all the costs of hiring, managing, and supplying resources for the team on the outsourced firm
Outsourcing allows you to allocate more time to high-level strategy and growth instead of focusing on the minute details and managing employees
In the case of software company Onit, an outsourced EBQ Marketing Department was employed to create content and manage their email marketing automation platform, resulting in a dramatic increase of email opens and click-through rates.
It’s easy to see why choosing the right people to implement your plan can make or break your marketing strategy.
You may build your team slightly differently than how we break it down here, especially since many marketers are multifunctional. But let’s talk about the 3 main specialties that the members of your team should be able to cover.
Content drives your digital marketing strategy, packaging your messaging in an easy-to-digest way in order to inform and offer value to online visitors beyond a hard sell. The key responsibilities of a content specialist include:
Write engaging website copy that educates visitors about the company and products
Create short and long-form blog content published on a consistent basis
Write tactical content like email copy and sales enablement collateral
Regularly post on and moderate social media channels for the brand
Of course, a first-rate ability to write, including know-how when it comes to grammar and style conventions, is a necessity for this role. But apart from writing skills, content specialists should have a grasp of general marketing concepts and tactics, as well as the capability to understand the technical aspects of your industry and how your offering fits into the landscape.
The digital specialist on your team plays a crucial role in driving new visitors and leads to your website and content, handling the more technical areas of building your online presence and launching campaigns. Key responsibilities of a digital specialist include:
Run email marketing campaigns through marketing automation software
Implement paid social media and search engine ad campaigns
Use analytics to track conversions and the success of campaigns
Research and collect data to inform marketing decisions
Help develop and troubleshoot issues with your company’s website
The visuals that represent your company are an important factor in building a credible brand, and the visual designer you recruit should be able to convey the value of your offerings in a cohesive and appealing way. Visual designers take on the following responsibilities:
Establish visual branding and apply it consistently throughout content, including logos, colors, fonts, and more
Design graphic elements, layouts, and illustrations for your website, blog content, ads, social media, and printed collateral
Design the user interface/user experience (UI/UX) for your company’s website with the goal of keeping visitors engaged
The role of visual designer requires a specialist who understands basic design principles, as well as your overall vision and where you want to stand in the market. We’ll talk more about the importance of building a cohesive brand in the next chapter.
Building a Cohesive Brand
Brand building is something that’s difficult, if not impossible, to put a price tag on—the actual ROI a company gets from a well-designed, impactful brand can’t truly be measured. Because of this, many non-marketing leaders initially see little incentive to invest the time and money it takes to build a cohesive brand.
The truth is that a cohesive brand has the ability to lend invaluable credibility to your solution. The look and feel of your branding becomes synonymous with your company’s name, and good branding creates strong associations between your product and the value it provides.
Inconsistencies in your brand personality or tone can create friction in the user’s experience. It’s important that all of your assets are on-brand, so you don’t distract from your messaging and miss out on opportunities.
Especially as an organization grows, branding becomes increasingly important. It promotes brand recognition, which is what gives users that “aha” moment where they subconsciously connect the dots between your visuals and your core message.
Look & feel
Establishing your branding early on helps you stay consistent throughout all of your marketing efforts from the get-go. At this point you may have a rough draft of your logo or a few different ideas for color schemes, but now it’s time to finalize your logo, brand colors, fonts, and graphic style.
Hopefully, you’ve recruited or outsourced your visual designer by this point. But at the very least, developing a memorable brand requires an understanding of:
How to establish a direction for your brand
Basic graphic design principles
Which colors and elements work well together to represent your brand personality
What kind of variants will be needed for different usages (for example, digital vs. print)
As a company that’s been around since 2006, our logo has gone through a few makeovers. So we don’t mind using ourselves as an example of both the do’s and don’ts of logo design. Here’s a comparison of our previous logos and our current iteration:
There’s a few takeaways to be gained from this logo redesign, including the significance of color choice and simplicity in design. No matter the style or form your logo takes, you should aim for a modern design that helps you stand out (in a good way).
Choosing the right color scheme for your company comes down to how you want to define your brand personality, and of course your brand personality should align with what you know about your ideal customers.
We recommend choosing at least 3 main colors to use throughout your branding. It may seem like a small detail, but choosing the right color can actually increase brand recognition by up to 80%. For EBQ, we went with a colorful yet modern palette that is somewhat playful without overshadowing our professionalism and business expertise.
Some interesting facts to consider when choosing the signature colors for your branding:
The color blue appears in 61% of logos for top technology companies, which implies a higher level of effectiveness and sense of credibility for tech branding.
The color black is said to represent traits like “luxury” and “formality” in branding.
Perceptions of colors are not universal and can vary from culture to culture. You may need to tailor your branding depending on where your buyers are located.
Font choice is important because your selected font will become the vehicle by which you deliver most of your marketing messages. Choose a font style that matches the look and feel you’re going for with your brand, but remember that it should not distract or detract from what you are writing to your prospects and buyers.
Fonts affect the readability of your content, so you should give careful consideration to even the small nuances, like whether you’ll use a serif or sans serif font (fonts with or without the fancy little feet attached to the letters).
Once your branding elements are finalized, it’s important to create brand guidelines that document your style and can be shared with anyone who creates visual assets for your company. Here are some snapshots straight from the book of EBQ brand guidelines:
Your brand needs to be portrayed clearly and consistently across all channels, and a detailed set of brand guidelines ensures that your website and content looks the same whether you do it all internally or hire someone else to design it for you.
Website: Your Biggest Asset
Now it’s time to bring your ideal customer profile, data-driven keyword strategy, and brand guidelines together to build your most important marketing asset: your website. All of the content on your website should be based on a well-defined buyer persona, and every design decision should be based on your branding.
A well-designed website that offers a satisfying user experience adds credibility to the content and message you display there, making your content something people will be more likely to share.
For B2B tech companies, there are a few main goals you should have for your website:
Guide visitors to your product or service pages to push them toward the consideration and decision stages of the buying process
Become a hub of information with valuable and relevant blogs and long-form content
Create landing pages and forms that convert visitors into leads
Starting out, it can be beneficial to find a few websites with an overall look that is close to your vision and attempt to recreate some of the elements you like, tailoring them to your own branding and content.
We recommend designing your website on WordPress and using a WordPress theme that grants you a high degree of customization through tools like WP Bakery, even without requiring a professional web developer. The WPBakery Page Builder, gives you full control over how every section looks, feels, and where things are placed with just a simple drag and drop.
Solutions like these allow you to look the part of a multi-million dollar company, even on the budget of a startup. The ability to manipulate every detail of your website design is crucial for the longevity of your marketing campaigns because eventually you will want a degree of customization that traditional templates just can’t provide.
For example, there is no other website out there that looks exactly like our EBQ website because every section is tailored exactly to our specifications. This is the same type of work that our Marketing Specialists provide for clients, so contact us and let us assist you in building a high-quality custom website if you need help getting started.
Anatomy of a product page
Your product pages, the pages where you give a full introduction to your solution and what value it provides, are a main destination you want your visitors to end up at.
Whether they land here through a Google search or navigate to it themselves from another page on your site, these visitors tend to be looking for specific information about your product, often have a higher level of purchase intent, and could be further along in their buyer’s journey.
Whereas visitors landing on a blog page or homepage could have varying reasons for coming to your site (research, job searching, serendipity, etc.).
So how do you optimize your product pages to make sure you provide the information they’re looking for?
Your visitors won’t want to keep reading unless you understand them first. The market analysis you performed in step #2 can be of help here, as your product page is the place where you can outline all the big pain points that your solution helps solve.
The written content on these pages should be based on your SEO keyword strategy, which is why we suggest starting your keyword research on the product/service level. Your data-driven approach to researching keywords should help you compete in the search results, so relevant visitors will be more likely to find these pages.
The page for our Appointment Setting service is one of our most clicked-on pages, and we have a well-rounded keyword strategy to thank for the high search ranking and the amount of traffic we get here.
It’s important that all of the elements on your product pages are search engine optimized. Ultimately you should provide the best user experience possible, including adhering to technical SEO best practices.
This is referred to as on-page optimization and includes elements like:
Optimizing the loading speed of page elements, especially for mobile
A page title based on the primary targeted long-tail keyword
Correct hierarchy of meta titles on the page (<h1> for page title, <h2>, <h3>, etc.)
Meta descriptions that include relevant keywords and concisely state the value that can be gained from the content, used to describe your page on the SERP
Short, easy-to-understand URLs that includes the primary keyword and matches the <h1> title of the page
Content is optimized for featured search snippets by including a concise definition or description of the primary long-tail keyword in the form of a paragraph, list, or table
Take a look at this section of our Appointment Setting service page:
Because of our effective use of on-page optimization, this section now appears in position #0 (the pop-out snippet) and position #1 for the search term “B2B appointment setting,” a high-volume yet relevant keyword for our industry.
The more steps you take to get visitors on your product or service pages, the more chances you will have to convert them to leads and even customers. Some things you can do to get the most out of these critical web pages include:
Link to your product pages in relevant pieces of content
Incorporate branding and attractive visuals throughout every design decision
Include an attention-grabbing call-to-action (CTA) to get visitors to take the next step
The secret to increasing visibility and driving traffic to your website is content. We wouldn’t be able to rank at position #1 and #0 for the term “B2B appointment setting” if it wasn’t for our complex and thoughtful content strategy.
You should aim to become a thought leader in your vertical with your content, showing readers that you’re a reliable resource and planting the idea in their head that they can trust you to help them. Don’t give visitors the hard sell through your content, but instead provide value and credibility through information.
To give you some insight into how much content we’ve written around the appointment setting topic, take a look at our blogs published in that particular category within the span of a little less than one year:
Our blog posts are typically around 2,000 words. There have been studies suggesting a correlation between posts around this length and a higher search ranking.
It may seem tiresome to create this much content that actually provides value to your readers, but outsourcing the task of content creation is a common way for marketing teams to save time and money. The Marketing Specialists at EBQ can help with this process.
Each of our headlining topics are approached from a similar psychology and keyword research approach that we’ve outlined in previous sections.
The ultimate goal of your content strategy should be to create an internal spider web effect on your website, which users can navigate through to explore many commonly asked questions around the category.
Content for each stage of the buyer’s journey
What are you trying to accomplish with each piece of content you create? You should have distinct goals for every blog and other content pieces you produce.
When planning your next piece of content, it’s helpful to think about the different stages a buyer goes through before making a purchase decision:
Awareness: The buyer becomes aware of the problem they have that your solution solves, but may not know about your solution or potential alternatives yet. In this stage, it’s your job to further educate buyers about their problem and generate interest in your product as a solution.
Consideration: The buyer is now weighing the pros and cons of your solution, your competitors, and alternatives. For this stage, create content that points to the tangible benefits you provide and make comparisons against the alternatives to differentiate your brand.
Decision: In short, this is the stage where a prospect decides whether or not to buy, so content should be focused on nurturing those prospects to a close. Blog content is not a priority for this stage, so focus instead on providing content like case studies that outline the clear value of your solution that can be shared with prospects based on relevance to their industry and persona.
There may be fewer readers closer to the decision stage as the funnel narrows, but these visitors are typically more rewarding because they’re much more likely to buy. You should create content for visitors at every stage, so you’re able to capture as many opportunities as possible.
There are two post-sale stages of the buyer’s journey that are worth mentioning here:
Growth: This is the stage customers experience as they go through onboarding and adoption of your solution. Look for opportunities in blogs, website copy, tutorials, and collateral to add value to the growing customer relationship through upselling and cross-selling.
Delight: In this stage, customers find out what level of support your company provides as they become regular users of your product. The goal here, obviously, is to delight your customers, which can be done through different content types that ensure they have all the information they need to get the most out of your solution.
You probably won’t write too many blog posts targeting these last two stages, as they typically don’t generate sales directly. However, modern marketers should be mindful of the value that can be gained during these post-sale stages and always look for content opportunities to delight customers in every stage.
We developed our B2B Buyer’s Journey Tool to help people in various roles know exactly how they can contribute to guiding buyer’s through the different stages of a purchase. You can find that tool here: B2B Buyer’s Journey Tool by EBQ.
Creating valuable content
Undeniably, it’s a challenge to consistently publish good content that provides tangible value for your readers. Getting results from a content strategy happens gradually over time while your web of information grows, so marketers have to be persistent and always look for the next way we can meet the needs of online visitors.
One method of content ideation that has helped us answer the most pressing questions of our buyer personas is browsing through the question-and-answer site Quora. Engaging on forums where people who meet your ideal customer profile discuss their daily concerns gives you useful insight into what topics will catch their attention.
Of course, it’s important to publish content on a regular basis to see those gradual effects unfold, but you should always prioritize the quality of your content too.
Here are a few tips for producing high-quality content that keeps readers engaged:
Put yourself in the shoes of the intended reader and provide content that teaches them something new and relevant to them
Outline your business case for writing a particular piece of content as a reference for your internal team to understand how your product fits with the topic
Provide concrete examples of the points you make and actionable takeaways for readers to use as a guide
Link to other relevant content you’ve published throughout each content piece and make sure to use relevant keywords for the anchor text of links
Anticipate further questions readers may have after reading your insights in order to provide more information and keep them from leaving the page to search for it elsewhere
Structure writing in a logical way using elements like section headings, bold fonts, and bulleted lists to break up large blocks of text and make content easier to follow
Use branded visuals to give further context, make content more appealing to read, and promote brand recognition
Double check spelling and grammar to avoid simple mistakes that could damage the credibility of your content
In the next sections, we’ll discuss how to create your overarching marketing plan, including how content fits into that plan.
Inbound & Outbound Strategy
A proper demand generation strategy involves both inbound and outbound efforts. This means sometimes you make the first touch by reaching out to prospects, and other times you focus on leading them to make the first move.
Both approaches, outbound and inbound, rely on the competent use of your ideal customer research, market analysis, and messaging about relevant pain points as a foundation.
You should start with overall business goals (like increasing sales), then use those as a basis for developing marketing goals (like increasing marketing leads), then use the following tactics as the tools for achieving those goals.
Perhaps the most effective outbound strategy, especially for B2B companies, is employing sales development reps (SDRs) to call on cold leads and leads generated through marketing efforts (marketing-qualified leads, or MQLs).
An SDR’s ultimate goal is to get prospects to take the next step by setting sales appointments for your closers. Before setting an appointment, SDRs qualify prospects against your set qualification criteria to determine that the lead fits your buyer persona. Along the way, they perform prospect discovery, which provides individual insights that the sales rep can leverage. Using SDRs to cold call and set qualified appointments saves time for your closers, making your entire sales pipeline more efficient. If you’re interested in learning more about this process, check out our Ultimate Guide to B2B Appointment Setting.
An SDR team is important to your marketing efforts because they bridge the gap between marketing and sales.
Following up on marketing leads with a live voice from your company can give prospects the extra push they need to look into your solution further.
Many times, this sales development function falls exclusively under the sales umbrella of an organization, although their efforts should be aligned with your marketing goals too. We’ll focus the rest of this section on inbound marketing efforts, so you’ll know exactly how to generate those MQLs.
So, how do you get potential customers to make the first move and contact you? The inbound tactics that are considered most effective for B2B companies utilize both organic and paid efforts working in sync.
The goal for your inbound strategy is to lead prospects to your website, get them to contact you or collect their information through form submissions, then add them to your database for follow up and nurturing.
In this guide, we’ll give you the full rundown on three of the best organic and paid inbound approaches: search engine marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing.
Search engine marketing
By now, you have a validated list of keywords related to your product to target for your search engine marketing (SEM) efforts. Now it’s time to actually implement your well-rounded keyword strategy to help your company show up higher in the search results and draw more visitors to your site.
SEM involves both organic and paid efforts:
Organic search: This is where your hard work on keyword research and content development pays off and gives you the opportunity to attract customers organically.
Pay-per-click (PPC): Paid ads appear at the top and bottom of the search results with an “ad” label and are ranked based on paid bids on keywords, relevance, and quality of the ads.
The success of your organic inbound strategy depends on the continuous development of tactical content built around the keyword strategies we discussed earlier.
We’ve provided some tips for optimizing your keywords and content for search engines throughout this guide, but how do you organize all the different pieces to develop a holistic content strategy?
Content ideation: Use your insights about the priorities and pain points of your buyer persona to identify how you can best help them with their day-to-day work and their long-term goals.
Keyword research: Gather hard data about how your ideal buyers are searching for answers and how much demand there is the information you plan to provide.
Content creation: Understand a searcher’s intent to determine how you can best meet their needs with your content and how your solution ties into their objectives.
Visual support: Develop impactful visuals that add credibility to your content, promote brand recognition, and improve the overall user experience.
Technical optimization: Follow all on-page optimization best practices to help search engines better understand the content on your pages and its relevance to searches being performed.
We don’t just want to try to get our information on the SERP and hope someone will click on it. We want to make sure we provide useful answers to the questions being asked.
The results we’ve seen from our SEO and content efforts based around the keyword “B2B appointment setting” are a perfect example of how the 5 steps mentioned above come together to create more awareness and interest in a brand.
Pay-per-click Google Ads
You may have noticed that we appeared a third time for the “B2B appointment setting” keyword. The top search result we circled is one of our PPC Google ads.
Google Ads are an effective way to supplement your organic efforts through paid efforts. They can be particularly useful early on when you don’t have the luxury of ranking for a top SERP position.
We won’t get into the specifics of our PPC approach here. But we recommend utilizing a well-targeted Google Ads strategy as a component in your B2B marketing campaigns.
Mastering Google Ads is an artform, but you can start with Google’s Help Center as a resource for optimizing your ads as you start building them.
We should mention here how important it is to track the effectiveness of your keywords, especially if you’re using a SKAGs strategy that is focused around specific long-tail keywords. The main way of tracking which keywords are actually leading to conversions is by using UTMs.
A UTM is a simple code attached to the end of a URL that tracks where and how a visitor found your page. You can include the UTM link in your ads or other platforms and use a tool that tracks lead source, such as a CRM or marketing automation platform, to see what the visitor searched and which ad they clicked on before filling out a form or requesting a demo on your site.
Take a look at the UTM that tracks visitors landing on the EBQ Appointment Setting page after clicking on one of our Google Ads:
From this example, we can see that the UTM tracks several different factors about how website visitors arrive:
“utm_medium=paid” tells us that the visitor found the page through a paid ad
“utm_source=google” tells us they found us on Google
“utm_campaign=appointment_setting” tells us the ad is part of our campaign called “Appointment Setting”
“utm_term=b2b_appointment_setting” tells us they found the page through the search term “B2B appointment setting”
You’ve likely seen these long strings of code in URLs you’ve visited before, but most of us pay them no mind. However, UTMs are a powerful tool for marketers to tackle one of the biggest challenges in marketing, attribution—knowing the origin of the leads that you generate.
Tracking information about how users find pages helps us know which keywords and channels are effective, so we can confidently continue doing what works and revise tactics that aren’t working.
You can feed all of this information into your marketing automation platform and CRM to see the exact point a prospect converts to an MQL (and later, a customer) and determine which of your long-tail keywords are directly contributing to your pipeline and revenue.
Social media marketing
In many ways, social media has completely changed how companies market their products and services. Even for B2B companies, social media is a powerful tool for engaging ideal customers in a place where they come to express themselves and participate in an online community.
The wider your reach across channels, the better, but that doesn’t mean all social networks are created equally for B2B. LinkedIn is by far the most effective social platform for B2B marketers, and its users will be the most relevant for your messaging (you can probably guess why).
Similarly to SEM, marketing on social media encompasses both organic and paid efforts:
Regular updates & content
Posting on social media sites organically (as opposed to sponsoring posts) can be hit or miss, especially with how often social networks update their algorithms. But it’s still worth posting updates about your company, your original content, and sharing relevant posts to show users that you have an active online presence.
Like most things in marketing, building a following and a community around your brand takes time. But more importantly, it requires you to actively engage your audience and stoke the conversations happening there.
In many industries, the decision-makers you should be targeting are logged into LinkedIn during the workday and are already in the mindset to consider new solutions that will help them reach their organizational goals.
Other major social sites like Facebook and Twitter are better for B2C but can be worth pursuing, especially if you post frequently enough, work toward building your community, and interact directly with your audience. It all comes down to determining who your buyers are and how you can reach them best.
For the best results from your paid social media marketing, however, we’ll focus exclusively on LinkedIn and the targeting capabilities it provides.
We’re not just speaking from our own experience when we say LinkedIn is the most effective social media site for B2B marketers. In fact, 59% of marketers generate B2B leads on LinkedIn versus the 26% who do so on other social platforms.
B2B professionals spend a lot of time with content on LinkedIn, and running ads on the platform can help you seize this opportunity to reach and convert your ideal customers.
Long-form content provides a fruitful opportunity to capture new leads on LinkedIn. The content offered in your ads should be informative pieces like guides, ebooks, and whitepapers, which give visitors new ideas to take away from each piece.
A few of our general tips for advertising long-form content on LinkedIn:
Write thought leadership content—an innovative perspective that shows you’ve done your research and know what you’re talking about in your particular space
Focus on providing value for your ideal customers instead of trying to actually sell your products through your ads
After collecting contact information from leads on LinkedIn, promptly follow up with outbound SDR efforts
Offering valuable content is never about the hard sell. Though it is an exchange of goods and services, in a way. The goal is to reach users who are willing to exchange their personal details for the insights you provide, selling content for the price of contact information.
LinkedIn makes it easier for both marketers and users to complete this exchange by offering embedded forms that leads are more likely to fill out. See below:
You can integrate LinkedIn forms with your own database or marketing automation platform through a tool like Zapier. When users click “Download” on your ad, a form is opened directly on LinkedIn. This form looks more trustworthy to your buyers and typically autofills the details from their LinkedIn account, reducing the number of steps they have to take before submitting the form.
Another significant benefit of using LinkedIn ads is their unrivaled targeting capabilities in the form of account-based marketing, a key component for B2B marketing.
You can target LinkedIn users based on dimensions like job function, location, industry, and seniority:
You can also upload your own lists of specific contacts or companies for a more hyper-focused account-based marketing strategy.
You can also use a retargeting ad strategy through LinkedIn, targeting users who have already visited your website or even specific pages on your website. This tactic is especially useful for reaching buyers in the consideration or decision stage of their buyer’s journey, who need just a little more encouragement or a reminder before purchasing from your company.
Many new marketers struggle with being confident enough to launch a paid campaign, which is a pretty rational concern considering one small mistake could end up costing you a lot of money. If you need guidance on running paid campaigns, you can always contact the experienced Marketing Specialists at EBQ to help you build an effective ad campaign.
Nurturing Leads Through Email Marketing
Once you guide visitors to your site and collect their information, there is still more you can do to nurture these leads from an inbound perspective.
Perhaps the most effective method for nurturing prospective customers further down the funnel and closer to a purchase is through the use of email marketing automation.
At EBQ, Pardot is our marketing automation platform of choice because, as a Salesforce product, it smoothly integrates with our Salesforce CRM and allows advanced capabilities for B2B segmenting and nurturing. For further reading, our B2B Marketer’s Guide to Pardot goes over a lot more of the complex features of the platform.
One of the most essential features for any email marketing strategy is the ability to create complex drip campaigns that nurture awareness for your leads over time.
Email marketing drip campaigns
In email marketing, a drip campaign is a series of emails that encourage leads to engage with your content over time, sent to strategically segmented contact lists and personalized to the needs of recipients.
In Pardot, we use Engagement Studio to design drip campaigns that isolate and target our various types of buyers. There are a couple main ways most B2B campaigns are segmented:
Buyer persona: Separating contacts by their roles, industries, which offering they’re interested in, what content types and topics they prefer, etc.
Buyer’s journey stage: Are they in the awareness, consideration, or decision stage? Tailor the content you send them to how close they are to making a purchase.
Here’s an example of a drip campaign we built in Engagement Studio to promote our B2B Buyer’s Journey Tool, segmented by buyer persona:
The reason we segmented by buyer persona for this particular campaign is because our emails give content suggestions related to a person’s role in their company, providing value based on their responsibilities within the organization.
You can see from this example that drip campaigns can get relatively complex, branching off into different directions as a result of various decisions. You can choose the next email in the series based on how frequently leads are opening and clicking through content. For example, send the next email in 3 days if they interact frequently or wait a full 7 days if they haven’t opened any of your emails yet.
With unlimited options for how a drip campaign can be structured, it can be tricky to figure out the right email flow to maximize opens and click-throughs.
We find that many companies invest in an expensive automation tool like Pardot and then don’t even utilize email drip campaigns (its most effective feature) or the platform at all. Luckily, our certified Marketing Specialists are experienced in a number of automation platforms and can be a second pair of hands for your marketing initiatives.
Lead scoring through automation
One way to differentiative cold vs. warm prospects in Pardot is by using a system of lead scoring to record which elements a prospect has interacted with and grade them according to the value you place on each element. An element might be a page view, an email click, a form submissions, or anything else that is tracked through Pardot.
Lead scoring allows you to set a threshold at which a prospect converts to a marketing-qualified lead. You can use automation rules to create specific lead routing rules that work best for your organization.
Product page visits, for example, might result in a higher boost in lead score, as they often reflect a stronger purchase intent. This is one way of qualifying leads through inbound marketing, measuring their level of interest in your company, and segmenting by buying stage.
We’ve talked about offering valuable content and collecting buyer information throughout this guide. Well, landing pages are where these elements finally come together—the bread and butter of your inbound marketing strategy.
Landing pages house your lead forms, which collect visitor information in exchange for content downloads and other marketing offerings.
“Gating” your most sought-after content, meaning requiring a form submission before providing the download, is one of the main ways to generate leads in B2B marketing.
A well-designed landing page conveys the value of that particular gated content and provides a convenient user experience that encourages visitors to complete the process. At EBQ, we build all of our landing pages and lead forms from scratch, which is another reason to have a highly customizable website.
Above is an example of one of our standard landing pages, used for a PDF download of our Best Cold Calling Scripts for Software Sales. This landing page is designed effectively for a few reasons:
Simple and clean design that incorporates our branding
Clearly states what the visitor will receive
Outlines the main benefits of the marketing offering
Includes a relevant CTA
Don’t make your landing pages too complicated or ask for too much in your forms, or else you risk the visitor leaving the page before submitting their details. Here’s an example of one of our simple landing pages:
The purpose is to guide contacts into your CRM for further nurturing from sales. There are a number of ways you can configure how leads appear in your sales database, which is in its own right a professional specialty (you can always contact our Salesforce Administration Specialists if you need assistance effectively integrating your CRM).
The most important aspect of integrating your CRM with your marketing automation platform is understanding the lead source of each contact. Addressing the major marketing concern of attribution, the lead source field within your automation platform and CRM tells you which channel the prospect found you through.
We also utilize an additional field named “lead source description,” which is the point of conversion to an MQL for a prospect. Typically, this field is sourced from a completion action tied to a completed form submission, such as “downloaded the Appointment Setting guide.”
Knowing the type of content that ultimately gets a prospect to convert provides insight into their needs and can inform communications later on when both marketing and sales are determining how best to nurture them.
As in our Buyer’s Journey form above, we can also collect useful qualitative data about individual leads through custom form fields, which can be leveraged throughout the sales cycle.
Once that first visitor fills out your form, submits their info, and downloads your marketing offering, you’ve just generated your first marketing lead. Congrats!
Now, it’s time to continuously measure and improve your strategy. Quantifying your marketing efforts helps you make data-driven decisions about:
Which tactics you should keep using and which to eliminate
Where to spend your marketing dollars
How to better invest in your marketing team
How to create future campaigns
This guide should get you started on developing your own B2B marketing strategy, and we wish you luck on reaching and converting all those B2B buyers out there.
Remember, should you ever need us, EBQ is always here to answer questions and help execute marketing initiatives alongside your team.