As different as B2B and B2C companies are, they still share the common goals of lead generation and business growth.
Finding the best marketing strategies for either business model can be time-consuming … maybe even a little tricky. That’s why we’ve condensed them into one article with two lists — one for B2B, and the other for B2C.
Use the linked tables of contents to explore the approaches, backed by updated data from industry experts and sources.
Get a complete understanding of how to plan an effective marketing strategy: Download our FREE Annual Marketing Plan Template.
Click to jump to section or scroll to read all.
Top 10 B2B Marketing Strategies
Top 5 B2C Marketing Strategies
Top 10 Business-to-Business (B2B) Marketing Strategies
Curious about what business professionals think of different marketing strategies? We compiled data from recent B2B surveys and reports, then identified which marketing strategies were most successful across industries.
Here’s a list of the top 10, in no particular order:
Inbound marketing is by far the most effective B2B marketing strategy. It’s built to attract, engage, and delight customers with meaningful content that provides sought-after solutions and connections.
Traditional marketing methods — even some discussed in this article — tend to inundate (and usually annoy) prospects and customers with irrelevant information. The disruptions try to force engagement. Inbound, on the other hand, invites engagement by strategically placing messaging in the right place at the right time to the right people in order to drive website traffic and leads. As a result, visitors feel both in control of and part of the experience.
Inbound marketing is effective because it:
- Works for businesses of any size or type
- Creates more knowledgeable prospects
- Can be easily integrated and managed using customer relationship management (CRM) and content management systems (CMS), like HubSpot
Fast Fact: 80% of corporate decision makers favor getting brand information through an article or blog series over ads
Content marketing emphasizes education over selling as the best way to influence buying behavior. This strategic marketing approach uses content to attract and convert prospects while they perform online searches.
Content relevance is key. It must focus on the pain points and needs of specific buyer personas, leads, and/or buyer’s journey stages. Otherwise, content is less likely to attract those best aligned with purchasing a product or service.
Tailored content can take the form of infographics, pillar pages, podcasts, blog posts, white papers, webinars, and ebooks. Video is currently the highest-trending B2B content marketing format. Nearly 70% of B2B marketers rank short-form, animated, and explainer videos as the best budget spend for engagement value.
It’s important to note that content marketing isn’t synonymous with inbound marketing. Content marketing is an important component within an overall inbound plan because of its focus on content that drives action. However, unlike inbound, the approach doesn’t incorporate other top marketing strategies to create experiences that build and strengthen business-buyer relationships..
Content marketing is effective because it:
- Draws prospects through the sales funnel
- Grows brand visibility, credibility, trust, and appeal
- Aligns relevant content, target markets, and key decision makers
Fast Fact: 78% of B2Bs use lead conversions as a content marketing performance metric
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
Social media marketing focuses on providing users with content they find valuable and want to share across their social networks. Content tailored for each social media platform (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram) fosters engagement and promotes your brand. Ultimately, it increases your visibility, website traffic, and growth potential.
Social media marketing can also influence SEO. To be clear, social media isn’t a ranking criterion, so it can’t impact actual SEO rankings. However, social media shares can improve SEO performance beyond wider content distribution. They provide more backlinking opportunities, potential for improved brand and search-term rankings, and brand humanization that builds trust.
Social media marketing is effective because it:
- Reduces marketing spend while increasing high-quality leads
- Drives brand engagement, “humanization,” and trust
- Supports and improves SEO performance
Fast Fact: 90% of B2B companies use LinkedIn for social media marketing, and with good reason. More than half of B2B buyers consider LinkedIn their “go-to” platform for help in making purchase decisions.
Get our Complete Guide to Social Media Marketing for B2Bs
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
Search engine optimization (SEO) targets keywords prospects most often use in online searches to increase website awareness and traffic. Content built around a keyword strategy appears in search engine results so prospects can readily engage with it. Otherwise, you’re left to hope they find it on their own. SEO helps you reach audiences that self-identify as being interested in your product or service through their search behaviors.
There’s a common misperception that SEO is a stand-alone approach. However, on-page and off-page SEO leverages many marketing tactics to build a solid foundation for effective inbound marketing.
Search engine optimization is effective because it:
- Continues to evolve in-step with search engine technology advancements and user best practices
- Simplifies searches for potential customers interested in your product or service
- Is an effective way to keep your brand competitive with similarly situated companies without solely focusing on product price
Fast Fact: 61% of B2B marketers stated that SEO and organic traffic generate more leads than any other marketing initiative.
LEARN MORE: BEYOND PRODUCT KEYWORDS: 4 COMPONENTS OF A MODERN SEO CONTENT MARKETING STRATEGY
SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING / PAY-PER-CLICK
Search engine marketing, or SEM, is a tool companies use to grow their website traffic through paid online advertising. One of the most popular SEM methods is pay-per-click (PPC). Essentially, a company sponsors (buys) online ads that show up in search engine results (SERPs) or on specific social media platforms.
Specific keyword searches and/or defined online audiences trigger the appearance of PPC ads. The search engine (or other third-party host site) charges the company sponsor a small fee every time the ad is clicked. It’s a literal “pay per click.”
Search engine marketing is effective because of its:
- Breadth in online tools and reach
- Cost-effectiveness in generating high visibility
- Adaptability to multiple markets and audiences
Fast Fact: Paid ads have a 200% ROI and can increase brand awareness by 80%
ACCOUNT BASED MARKETING & AD RETARGETING
Account Based Marketing (ABM) uses highly personalized campaigns built around targeted sets of B2B accounts. ABM may identify new contacts within existing customer relationships, or help with pursuit of companies with similar, desirable business attributes.
Due to its narrow focus, ABM provides marketing and sales teams with a lot of advantages. The sales process is generally faster, which makes for more cost-effective and efficient use of marketing resources. With all of the things ABM is, though, it’s important to remember that ABM isn’t the same as outbound marketing. It’s much more considered, personalized, and strategic than impersonal, generic outbound outreach.
Similarly, ad retargeting uses browser cookie-based technology to identify users who visited your site but left before converting or buying. The cookie generates targeted advertisements in those users’ next web searches, even if the searches aren’t related to your site. Retargeting is an effective conversion tool because it repeatedly gets your brand in front of your chosen ABM campaign audience.
ABM is effective because it:
- Streamlines sales cycles by targeting high-value accounts
- Lends itself to visitor segmentation and tailored messaging
- Leverages technology to automate and manage campaigns
Fast Fact: On average, B2B companies found annual contract value (ACV) increased by 171% after ABM implementation
EARNED MEDIA & PR
Earned media (or “free media”) is exposure that’s generated by voluntary — and unpaid — sources.
Earned media includes word-of mouth referrals, press mentions, backlinks, social shares, and by-lined trade publication articles. Each is an effective way to increase brand awareness, web traffic, and conversions…but there’s more.
Earned media is a powerful way to reinforce brand credibility. Prospects highly value social proof and non-marketing buzz when evaluating a company, and having a solid unpaid online presence can tip a purchase decision in your favor.
Public relations (PR) works in much the same way, but it’s a little more nuanced regarding communication. Media outlets (TV, print, radio, and social platforms) are leveraged to nurture business and brand relationships with the public. PR is deliberately built around the messaging you want distributed through multiple marketing channels.
Earned media and PR are effective because they:
- Are generally “free” advertising channels
- Are voluntary and, therefore, have instant perceived credibility
- Increase awareness of valuable, educational, and trustworthy content
Fast Fact: Earned media accounts for 25-40% of all traffic and lead generation
B2B marketers are reaping the benefits of email marketing. Nearly 65% report having an email strategy in their marketing mix helped them reach their business goals.
Email marketing is a versatile tool for interacting with recipients who opted in to email communication. You can use it to promote new blog articles, send newsletters, recommend new advanced content pieces, or otherwise leverage the touchpoint. The convenience of email access encourages recipient engagement. Workflow automation makes it easier than ever for marketers to distribute the right content at the right time.
Email marketing is effective because campaigns:
- Reach targeted audiences and encourage conversions
- Drive website traffic
- Cost-effectively generate substantial return on investment
Fast Fact: Email marketing ROI is an impressive $36 for every $1 spent
RELATED: TOP 7 EMAIL SUBJECT LINE BEST PRACTICES FOR B2B SUCCESS IN 2023
In-person and online trade shows remain a top B2B networking tool. Physical, virtual, or hybrid events allow professionals within a specific industry to connect and also demonstrate their latest products and services.
Industry events go beyond giving companies the chance to establish or strengthen relationships with key partners, customers, and prospects. They are an ideal place to learn about market trends and opportunities, and gain insights into competitors.
The pandemic-driven “new normal” compelled creative use of technology to augment trade show opportunities.
In-person and online trade shows are effective because they:
- Focus on meaningful interactions and relationship-building to support marketing goals
- Are generally well attended, creating a target-rich environment for lead generation and loyalty program enrichment
- Provide opportunities for businesses of every size to access the same audience and information
Fast Fact: 65% of B2Bs define trade shows as an “invaluable part of their marketing strategy”
Conversational marketing is just that — a conversation. Real-time interaction via a chatbot or live chat gives prospects and customers ready access to information. Also, there’s the added benefit of addressing follow-up questions immediately.
Personalized, relevant engagement vastly improves the user experience, increasing the likelihood of getting referrals from happy customers. For businesses, conversational marketing methods typically cut the time buyers stay in the sales funnel. Relationships are established faster, leading to quicker conversions.
RELATED: 5 Awesome Examples of B2Bs Using Chatbots
Conversational marketing is effective because it:
- Removes layers of impersonal lead capture and creates an authentic, personal customer experience
- Fosters clear communication by putting customer requests and company responses in the appropriate context
- Strengthens relationships as bots can also recommend additional content to supplement buyer education, which may include user-generated content
Fast Fact: 80% of business queries and questions can be managed using a chatbot
a comprehensive b2b marketing strategy
Taken individually, most of the strategies we listed provide limited marketing campaign clout. However, inbound marketing aligns the heavy-hitters: Combining SEO, SEM, content marketing, social media, and earned media strategically generates qualified leads, strengthens customer relationships, and successfully builds brands.
Learn how to incorporate the most effective marketing techniques into your inbound marketing program. Click the link below to get our free guide and start today!
Top 5 Business-to-Consumer (B2C) Marketing Strategies
As an inbound growth agency focused on helping complex B2B industries grow, we don’t lay claim to B2C marketing expertise. However, in our market research we found some compelling marketing strategy examples that inform 5 key B2C practices:
IInfluencer marketing leverages the reputations and social followings of “experts” in specific fields to promote brands. Influencer endorsements and product placements provide the best returns for B2C businesses. Results are so consistent that 61% of marketers include influencer marketing in their planning strategies.
The appeal of influencer marketing is considerable, but there’s a note of caution: Followers are increasingly insistent that influencers be transparent about their advertising and sponsorship deals. If an influencer isn’t upfront, 20% of their audience will “unfollow” them. This could mean a hit to your marketing returns.
Fast Fact: 61% of customers trust influencer recommendations, while only 38% trust branded social media content.
B2C businesses aren’t solely relying upon influencer and viral marketing or other forms of earned media to manage their brands. Nearly 75% of B2C marketers use paid media channels to distribute content.
Social media advertising (e.g., Facebook ads) and promoted posts are the most popular paid media options. Marketers use them 91% of the time.
Essentially, a company buys a link-based ad that appears in search engine results (SERPs) when specified keywords are searched. The search engine (or other third-party host site) charges the company sponsor a small fee every time the ad is clicked. It’s a literal “pay per click.”
Fast Fact: On average, paid media represents 39% of a business’s total marketing budget
VIDEO & AUDIO CONTENT
Video and audio content continue to be two of the top B2C trends. Short-form video is already a staple for 33% of B2C marketers because of its use on social media. Video drives marketing strategies for raising brand awareness (49%), product advertising (44%), and increasing revenue (43%).
Audio content — specifically podcasts — has been slow to catch on in the B2C space. But, that trend is turning for a couple of reasons. There’s an increased desire for immersive brand experiences that revolve around the power of voice. It’s thought that larger market segments can be reached as personalities and messages connect with listeners on a more “human” level.
Fast Fact: 23% of B2C marketers are using podcasts to reach and engage their buyers via audio subscription content.
eCommerce is a B2C stalwart, and hasn’t slowed down even after the pandemic receded. It’s estimated that nearly a quarter of the world’s population bought products online last year, so competition is fierce. Savvy marketers see the pandemic-driven ecommerce explosion as ideal for dynamic, customer-centric marketing.
On-site personalization, the mobile shopping user experience, and subscription-based services are key focus areas. Companies that are responsive and flexible will likely earn a greater share of the $6.5 trillion in ecommerce sales projected for 2023.
Fast Fact: By 2040, it’s estimated that 95% of all purchases will be made through eCommerce
Conversational marketing in B2C is no different than B2B, except that it’s even more of an expectation by consumers. Conversational marketing is a real-time interaction via a chatbot or live chat. The tools provide self-service opt-in (a growing demand for 40% of customers) and immediate answers to questions (a top priority for 75% of customers).
Personalized, relevant engagement vastly improves the user experience, but there are other benefits for B2Cs. Engaging in meaningful conversations gives businesses the opportunity to “humanize” brands by telling the stories behind them, and demonstrating company values. Over 80% of customers want to buy from companies that align with their values.
Fast Fact: 47% of customers are receptive to buying a product or service using only a chatbot
Every Strategy Requires an Effective Marketing Plan
Ready to ramp up your marketing efforts, but unsure of where to begin? Reach out to us or check out our complete guide to building an annual marketing plan for any size of business.