8 Business-to-Business Marketing Strategies that Really Work

by Adam Basheer, on 27-Jul-2017 16:28:17

What do business professionals think about marketing in the business-to-business (B2B) environment? We examined survey results and reports* that compiled data on the topic and created a list of eight B2B marketing strategies commonly recognised as successful regardless of industry.

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Here’s what we found:

Referral Programs

A referral program, in this context, is a term used to describe a systematic approach companies take to incentivise people to tell others about their products or services. Implementing specific affiliate programs, customer referral programs and partner programs is intended to offer the instant credibility of existing customers to grow a customer base.

Referral programs are effective because they:

  • Leverage the recommendations of happy customers
  • Authentically recognise customers’ loyalty and reinforce it

B2B Marketing Insight: Customers referred by other customers have a 37% higher retention rate and a 16%-25% higher lifetime value. 

Word of Mouth Plus

So many people tell me that the way they have grown their business is primarily through word of mouth. In today’s world, this extends to a conversation that’s created through efforts other than paid advertising. It can take a variety of forms – a social media testimonial, a television or radio mention, a newspaper article or editorial, social or business groups talking about you and more. The key is that it is unsolicited and can only really be gained organically.

They are effective because they:

  • Are unsolicited and therefore, have perceived credibility
  • Increase awareness and be seen as trustworthy

B2C Marketing Insight: 92% of consumers around the world say they trust word of mouth or friend/family recommendations above all other forms of promotion

Trade Shows

Trade shows remain a top B2B networking tool, as they gather companies within a specific industry into one location to demonstrate their latest products and services. Rarely open to the public, trade shows give companies the chance to establish or strengthen relationships with key industry partners, customers and prospects.

Trade shows are effective because they:

  • Encourage face-to-face interactions and relationship-building
  • Are typically well-attended, creating an ideal environment for lead generation and list building
  • Allow businesses of every size access to the same audience and information

B2B Marketing Insight: 67% of all tradeshow attendees represent a new prospect and potential customer for exhibiting companies

Online Advertising

Online advertising is a tool that companies use to grow their website traffic through search engines or specific websites. Pay-per-click (PPC) is the main method where a company bids for an ad in search engine results when keywords related to their product or service are searched. The higher the bid, the better the positioning of the ad and the more likely you are to get clicked on. Every time the ad is clicked, the company pays the search engine (or other third-party host site) a fee.

Online advertising is effective because:

  • It can target specific terms and therefore target markets
  • It is a means to generate broad awareness
  • It’s easily adaptable to multiple markets and audiences
  • Can be good for lead generation

Online Marketing Insight: Informational/educational content is distributed via online advertising 96% of the time


Ever noticed how you were searching for a product on the internet and then suddenly see ads for that same product wherever you go on the net. Well, that’s remarketing. Most website visitors do not convert on their first contact with your site. Remarketing uses browser-based technology to identify users who visited your site but left. It allows for targeted advertisements to appear in those users’ subsequent web searches and interactions, even if they’re not related to your site specifically. Remarketing is an effective tool because it repeatedly gets your product or service in front of audiences that are already interested. 

Remarketing is effective because it:

  • Recaptures the attention of people who have already been to your website
  • Generates high click-through rates
  • Lends itself to visitor segmentation and tailored messaging 

Online Marketing Insight: Remarketed ads led to a 1,046% increase in branded searches and a 726% lift in site visits after four weeks of remarketed ad exposure 

Search Engine Optimisation

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of increasing awareness about, and traffic to, a particular website or web page by making sure it appears among the top search results on search engines like Google. 

While social media, email, banner ads and other marketing tools generate website visits, SEO visibility is particularly important because search engines are the primary way users navigate the internet. It automatically increases your audience in a relevant, targeted way because they self-identify as someone who wants, or at least is interested in, your product or service category. 

Search engine optimisation is effective because it:

  • Continues to evolve to keep pace with mobile and local search engine optimisation
  • Simplifies searches for customers interested in your product or service

Online Marketing Insight: 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, and 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results

For tips on how to improve your SEO ranking, you can download the beginner's guide here.

Content Marketing

Content marketing emphasises education over selling to influence buying behaviour. This strategic marketing approach focuses on creating and distributing information relevant to prospects’ needs to attract those most likely to purchase your product or service. Content can be tailored to reflect what you learn about leads over time, and may include varied formats like infographics, webpages, videos, blogs, white papers, webinars and eBooks. It’s important to note that content marketing is not the same as inbound marketing (see below). Content marketing is an important component to an overall inbound strategy, but it does not integrate other marketing methodologies to maximise content value.

Content marketing is effective because it:

  • Leads prospects through the sales funnel
  • Grows your company's visibility and credibility
  • Engages your target market with relevant information 

Content Marketing Insight: In 2015, content marketing generated 3X as many leads as traditional outbound marketing, but cost 62% less

For steps on how to develop a content marketing plan for your business, you can download the free guide here.

Inbound Marketing

The inbound methodology is by far the most effective B2B marketing strategy because it leverages the strengths of the majority of the other online marketing strategies to attract, convert and close customers. Unlike traditional (outbound) marketing methods, inbound earns the attention of customers and pulls them to company website by producing meaningful content. Because messaging is relevant and appears in the right place at the right time, inbound invites customers to you and educates them in the way that is helpful to your sales.

Inbound marketing is effective because it:

  • Engages your target market with relevant information 
  • Leads prospects through the sales funnel
  • Creates more knowledgeable prospects
  • Reduces the time from initial contact to making a sale

Inbound Marketing Insight: Companies are 3X as likely to see higher ROI on inbound marketing campaigns than on outbound

If you are interested in growing your business online, you can download the Beginners Guide to Inbound Marketing here.

Taken individually, most of the strategies listed provide limited marketing weight. You need an overall marketing strategy and then put them all together in a good marketing plan to have real success. However, if you were to choose one, then inbound marketing is a combination of many of the main online techniques and also works well with a sales team to deliver a well-rounded, cost-effective marketing approach that generates qualified leads, strengthens customer relationships and successfully builds your business.

If you are not sure which marketing activity is right for your business or need further advice, please contact Fit 4 Market, marketing strategy and inbound marketing specialists.

* source: The State of Inbound Report 2015 by HubSpot

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Fit 4 Market are Marketing Strategy and Inbound Marketing specialists, operating in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

Topics:Marketing StrategyB2B