B2B Digital Marketing Best Practices for 2021-2022

In our 12 years serving clients in the digital marketing industry, we’ve had enough successes and failures to understand the best practices that apply to every digital marketing campaign. They are:

  1. Choose marketing channels based on your campaign goals, allocating your budget strategically
  2. Optimize your website’s conversion funnel for long term performance
  3. Use your marketing stack to systematize the marketing process
  4. Measure results and adjust accordingly

We cover each best practice in more detail below.

Choose Marketing Channels Based on Your Campaign Goals

Nearly every marketing campaign’s main goal is lead generation, but it’s helpful to be more explicit about what kind of lead generation you want to achieve. Begin by answering the following questions:

  • How much growth are you seeking?
  • How quickly do you need to see a return on your investment?
  • How much are you able to spend on marketing?

As with engineering, marketing follows the “good, fast, cheap – pick two” principle. The channels that are less expensive will either take longer to pay off, or worse, fail to deliver results (basic SEO). The channels that will get you results the fastest are expensive (PPC / SEM). And the highest ROI channels could try your patience (Thought Leadership SEO).

In the chart below, we break down B2B digital marketing best practices by channel, cost, time commitment and type of growth, and our bottom line for that channel.

Marketing Channel Monthly Cost Time Commitment ROI Bottom Line
Thought Leadership SEO $7,500 to $15,000 2-3 years 748% Thought Leadership SEO requires a long-term commitment, but produces excellent ROI.
Webinars $7,500 per webinar > 1 year 430% Webinars take a great deal of expertise and industry knowledge to produce and distribute effectively. With time, and a strong reputation of your expertise, they result in high ROI.
LinkedIn Organic $500 to $3,000 > 1.5-2 years 229% The relative ease of publishing organic content on LinkedIn is a big part of what makes it attractive. Content can be reused from a thought leadership campaign, and tailored to your precise LinkedIn audience.
Email Marketing $1,000 to $3,000 6–12 months 261% To make email marketing an effective strategy, you need a great message that is well written and well targeted, not an easy combination. The best way to get content is to reuse your blog articles which can push the cost down greatly.
LinkedIn Advertising $5,000 to $20,000 4-8 months 192% LinkedIn has the built-in advantage of an audience already interested in doing business, and LinkedIn ads can be very highly targeted.
PR $10,000 to $50,000 1.5 years 62% Old school PR is an unreliable and expensive lead generation tactic. PR should never be your only lead generation channel, but nonetheless, it can act as an X factor when combined with other channels.
PPC/SEM $3,000 to $30,000+ 2-6 months 36% A skilled PPC team can deliver leads almost immediately, requiring only some initial data collection and keyword research. The downside is that your costs scale with your results, leading to flat ROI over time.
Basic SEO $3,000 – $8,000 3 months Low Basic SEO is cheap, but that’s about all that can be said for it. Even if you’re in a niche with extremely low search competition, the lack of attention to search intent will hinder results.

When selecting marketing channels, it’s also important to figure out which combinations work well together. While this decision is fairly company-specific, here are some examples from our clients to stimulate ideas:

  • Repurposing content extends the reach of your work. We worked with a company in the industrial IoT space to produce thought leadership content for their website. They reused our content for an organic LinkedIn campaign, which went on to bring in 12% of their total leads. The same content later was again repurposed to form the basis for a series of webinars, resulting in an even greater share—14%—of their total leads.
  • Creating synergy with email and thought-leadership SEO. After some early success with an email marketing campaign, a staffing platform improved its email engagement rates by committing to thought-leadership SEO and then using that wealth of knowledge to bolster its monthly emails. Results: A quick 17% increase in click-through rate.
  • Boosting SEO success with PR. Looking to grow in a particular industry segment, a heavy equipment company was using a focused PR campaign. In addition, they ran an SEO campaign for lead generation. The PR campaign resulted in high quality links originating from news websites, which in turn boosted their domain authority. This led to higher Google rankings across the board, more traffic, and ultimately, more leads.

After determining goals and choosing the best channels to support them, the next step is to allocate marketing spend to each channel. Below are two examples of budgets from our B2B SaaS clients:

Budget 1: High Growth

Marketing Channel Annual Budget
Thought Leadership SEO $135,000
LinkedIn Ads $80,000
White Papers $30,000
Email $45,000
PR $180,000
SEM/PPC $190,000
UI/UX Consulting $50,000
Total: $710,000

This budget is based on a fintech startup with a significant part of its Series C investment earmarked for marketing and expansion. They maintained this high marketing spend for 2 years, then reduced it to:

Budget 2: Steady Growth

Marketing Channel Annual Budget
Thought Leadership SEO $180,000
LinkedIn Organic $30,000
Email $35,000
SEM/PPC $80,000
Webinars $60,000
Total: $385,000

In their third year, they dramatically reduced their PPC spend, instead choosing to rely on Thought Leadership SEO for the lion’s share of their lead generation. Now that this campaign was in its third year, they had the content and domain authority necessary to ensure high rankings and steady lead generation.

Optimize Your Website’s Conversion Funnel for Long Term Performance

The conversion funnel is the path that visitors to your website follow from their initial visit to becoming customers. You can look at your analytics (more on that later) to see how your organic visitors are moving through your site.

Consider these three visitors to your site and their conversion path:

    • The Buyer. This is as good as it gets: someone who arrives through searching a transactional keyword and is ready to buy. About 8% of these visitors make it through the funnel.
      • Conversion Path: Service Landing Page > Features Landing Page > Contact Form
    • The Troubleshooter. This is the most common visitor: a searcher with a problem that needs a solution. Our experience shows that 1.4 percent of these visitors get all the way through the funnel.
      • Conversion Path: Blog Article > Services Page > About Page > Contact Form
    • The Veteran: A visitor who has a lot of industry knowledge and knows exactly what they are looking for. Not easy to convert, just over 5% of the vets make it from start to finish.
      • Conversion Path: Industry Landing Page > About Page > Services Page > Contact Form

The visitors who are most ready to buy will often arrive on a website and convert in a single day, but these will only be a small fraction of the website’s traffic. The others, however, will take longer. Troubleshooters who convert will often do so over days, weeks, or even months. The same is true for veterans and researchers who arrive at your site through informational blog posts and white papers.

This is why understanding search intent is an important part of the equation. Effective website conversion optimization begins with understanding why visitors are on that website in the first place. A page that will be read by someone doing initial research, for instance, will get little mileage from a CTA that pushes for an immediate. Instead, these kinds of pages should suggest an email signup at most, or a similar, smaller conversion that brings a visitor into your lead nurturing system. This funnel optimization leads to significant long-term ROI, as the additional, longer cycle leads begin to convert into sales.

In order to collect the data you need to successfully bring people through the sales funnel, you need the right tools. That’s where your marketing stack comes in.

Use Your Marketing Stack to Systematize the Marketing Process

The previous best practices were about laying the groundwork for successful digital marketing. Next comes execution. The right marketing stack—also commonly referred to as a martech stack—will make your team’s job infinitely easier by automating lead tracking, streamlining your team’s workflows, and reporting the results of your hard work.

The primary components of most martech stacks are:

  1. A CRM (customer relationship management) platform to track leads and customer relationships
  2. A project management platform and related collaboration tools to improve collaboration and communication within your marketing team
  3. A CMS (content management system) for publishing and managing web content
  4. An analytics and reporting platform to track leading indicators and campaign performance

Each stack will also include other technologies and platforms depending on campaign needs. Some common tools included in martech stacks are Google Adwords for PPC management, Mailchimp for email marketing and list management, and SEO research tools such as ahrefs or Moz.

For instance, the major elements of our marketing stack are:

  • Hubspot for our CRM and email marketing
  • ahrefs for keyword research
  • Google Analytics for website reporting and analytics
  • Taskworld for project management
  • WordPress for content management on our website

We’ve found through testing that this is what works best for our team, but your marketing stack may look like:

  • Salesforce for your CRM
  • Moz for keyword research and reporting
  • Google Adwords for PPC management
  • Asana for project management
  • Oncord for content management

These first three best practices will lay the foundation for successful digital marketing. The final—and sometimes hardest—best practice is to constantly measure your results and optimize your strategy.

Measure Results and Adjust Accordingly

Once you have your goals defined, tools and technologies set up, and marketing campaign under way, you can proceed to begin the long-term process of refining your strategy.

At first glance, the data you can collect may seem overwhelming. It includes leading indicators like the raw number of visitors to your site, their average time on page and the number of pages they visit per session. These are excellent for showing progress over time, but less so for diagnosing specific problems. More helpful is data that shows conversion pathways, for instance: visitors that go from a blog to a product page and then connect with your sales team. This can allow you to find a page that is underperforming so you can update the page with a refresh.

Here are three common problems and their solutions:

  • High traffic but low conversions. Examine your website’s design and ensure it follows conversion optimization best practices. Review any pages that visitors often leave after viewing.
  • Low traffic from PPC/SEM. Reconsider your keyword targeting strategy. Focus on transactional keywords that indicate a searcher is truly in your target market.
  • Low SERPs after beginning an SEO campaign. Publish consistently, at least twice a week. Write thought leadership content that addresses search intent. Remember that your search rankings won’t rise until 4-6 months into the campaign.

Consistent tracking, analysis, revision, and reorientation will keep your digital marketing campaigns on target even through changes to PPC/SEM techniques, Google Algorithm updates, and customer behavior.

Getting Help with Your Digital Marketing

Finally, if you aren’t seeing the results you want, consider reaching out to an expert. We’ve been working with businesses in a variety of industries for more than a dozen years, and if you’d like our advice, book a call with us here.

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