B2B Growth Marketing Strategy in 2023
B2B growth marketing is a long-term approach to marketing that aims to grow a company’s customer base through a combination of customer acquisition and customer retention. While growth marketing incorporates many elements of traditional lead generation and sales, the additional element of ensuring that new customers remain happy and engaged is just as important.
Effective growth marketing begins with a solid framework, which has 5 pillars:
- Customer Personas
- Multi-Channel Customer Acquisition
- Thought Leadership Content Creation
- Marketing Funnel Optimization
- Data-Driven Strategy Refinement
We’ll begin by discussing the first of these components: tailored customer personas.
Identifying and targeting the right audience is one of the most important aspects of B2B growth marketing. Generating leads, and later, closing sales with an audience that will actually find your products useful long-term grows your customer base over time. These customers then become evangelists for your product, making your marketing spend even more effective.
To accurately target such prospects, your team should first create detailed customer personas. These personas, generally created by analyzing and interviewing your current customers, identify the demographic information and professional concerns of your most valuable prospects. This includes their:
- Expected Lifetime Value
- Job Title
- Pain Points
- Goals and objectives
- Superiors and performance evaluation
Below is an example of a simple customer persona:
Mark is a senior project manager at a mid-sized fintech company. His main responsibilities are managing planning and implementation of new software features, and creating a budgeting, staffing, and scheduling outline for doing so. He is judged by how well his team stays on schedule and on budget, as well as his ability to adjust for unforeseen challenges that arise during development.
Mark feels successful when his project estimates are accurate, particularly when those projects are complex or large in scope; when the team members he leads demonstrate trust in his leadership; and when he feels like his efforts are genuinely contributing to the success of his team. Mark’s day is made harder when unforeseen challenges arise during development; when he doesn’t have the ability to make informed estimates; and when the project management platform he relies on suffers from bugs or downtime. Customers in Mark’s position and industry tend to stay with platforms long-term, with expected LTVs between $30,000 and $45,000.
Having personas allows your team to craft content targeted directly to them. For example, if your target audience consists of mid-level fintech managers who struggle with project management like Mark does above, your articles should focus on the organizational solutions your product offers. Using personas in this way allows your company to speak to its target audience in language they understand and appreciate, which drives conversions and increases customer satisfaction.
Multi-Channel Customer Acquisition
Growth marketing requires your team to test many channels to find the most successful ones, rather than relying on one or two. But because budgets are limited, growth marketers will still need to prioritize which channels to focus their attention on, and doing so requires a strong understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of each. Some channels are suited to serving as centerpieces of a growth marketing strategy, while others are better in a supplemental capacity.
The table below divides the major B2B growth marketing channels into primary and supplemental, identifying both their pros and cons as well as which channels work best together.
|Channel||Description||Pros and Cons||Paired Supplemental Channels|
|SEO||Creating high quality content around commercially valuable keywords to generate organic leads||+ High Google rankings result in an ongoing stream of leads at no additional cost.
+ Content created for SEO can be reused in supplemental channels.
− Takes time to gain traction.
− Skilled team is needed to use SEO effectively.
|Email, LinkedIn, PPC|
|Webinars||Using informative seminars to speak directly to interested audiences by providing educational content.||+ Direct contact with your audience.
+ Educational content builds trust.
− Requires genuinely original and insightful content.
− Highly dependent on speaker charisma.
|Email, LinkedIn, ABM|
|Speaking Engagements||Sending a talented speaker to Industry relevant conventions to generate leads in person through educational talks.||+ Personal connection with your audience creates warmer leads.
+ High profile events lend authority.
− Time consuming to find and attend events.
− Requires a speaker with subject matter expertise, speaking ability, and sales talent
|Email, Webinars, ABM|
|Channel||Description||Pros and Cons|
|Email Marketing||Lead nurturing tool used to drive interested parties further down the sales funnel.||+ Low CAC and overall cost.
+ Excellent for reactivating cold prospects.
− Takes time to build a useful email list. Purchased lists are much less effective.
|PPC||Paying Google for ad space on the search results, thereby putting your website in front of searchers.||+ Rapid short-term lead generation.
+ Results are easily trackable.
− High CAC leading to low long-term return
|LinkedIn organic posting and advertising targeting business-oriented audiences.Paid version allows refined demographic selection.||+ Relatively low CAC when paired with existing thought leadership.
+ Can directly target high-value audiences.
− Gaining traction takes considerable time and effort.
|Account Based Marketing (ABM)||Focusing marketing and lead nurturing efforts on a narrow group of specific, very high value prospects.||+ Targets high value clients directly.
+ A single closed sale can justify the entire ABM campaign.
− A smaller number of targets makes for less predictable sales.
No matter which combination of channels you focus your marketing spend on, you’ll need to create content for it. In growth marketing, this content must be of genuine value to current and future customers. In other words, it must be thought leadership.
Thought Leadership Content Creation
Thought leadership content establishes your business as an industry authority and communicates to your audience that you respect their time. It builds trust with prospects, leading to higher conversion rates as well as increased customer retention. However, many companies mistake adequate content for true thought leadership and thus fail to produce what their marketing team needs.
True thought leadership content requires the writer to keep several factors in mind:
- Conciseness: One of the best ways to build trust with readers is by presenting high-value information quickly in an article. When readers come across an interesting concept presented sparely, it inspires them to read further, as they see that the company isn’t wasting their time.
- Format: Thought leadership content articulates complex information with relative ease. It abandons dense, text-heavy writing in favor of visual elements that convey information efficiently. It can be done with formatting and bullet points, tables and graphs, or custom images that illustrate complex concepts.
- Language: The terminology and reading level used in your thought leadership pieces should reflect the experience and skill of your target audience. For example, general 411 articles explaining basic concepts should use more elementary language while in-depth technical material such as white papers will include much more jargon.
- Medium: Both the channel your prospects see your content on and the device they use to view your content play a role in how you should structure that content. For example, if you’re publishing a piece on LinkedIn, ensuring that a reader can reach the end in 10 minutes or less—the length of a coffee break—makes it more likely they’ll engage with it.
Audience targeting is also a big part of thought leadership, and customer personas are once again valuable. Writing thought leadership with personas in mind allows your team to use language that signals to prospects that you’re a part of their in-group, and focus on the product features that are actually relevant to their pain points. It also allows you to target different stages of the marketing funnel, thus increasing conversion rates across the funnel. Fully optimizing this funnel is the next component of growth marketing strategy.
Marketing Funnel Optimization
The marketing funnel is a conceptual representation of the stages a prospective customer goes through from the time they first learn about your company, to when they finally reach out to your sales team or make a purchase. This funnel is visualized below:
Each stage of this funnel represents both an opportunity to connect with potential customers, and a chance of losing them entirely. Every stage calls for its own optimization techniques as well, which can be found in the table below:
|Marketing Funnel Location||Conversion Optimization Techniques|
|Discovery||Refine audience personas to better target actual prospects and create content that accurately addresses their interests.|
|Interest||Ensure your most highly trafficked pages offer original insights quickly and in a skimmable presentation, whether it be through text formatting, custom graphics, or even professionally produced videos.|
|Appraisal||Invest in increasing your broader industry profile by seeking out industry speaking opportunities, offering webinars and educational thought leadership, or working with a PR firm.|
|Confirmation||Provide easily accessible case studies, customer testimonials, and social proof elements that prove your real-world experience and expertise.|
|Conversion||Streamline your UX to make a conversion as easy as possible, with in-page contact forms, easy demo downloads, and simple checkout processes.|
Fundamental to all of these recommendations is understanding that while a higher conversion rate at each stage looks great for your marketing team, it’s only successful if you’re converting the right customers. A customer who makes a single, small purchase is far less valuable long-term than one who converts more slowly, but becomes an independent evangelist for your product.
Data-Driven Strategy Refinement
No strategy fully survives contact with the real world, making the final component of a strong growth marketing strategy a data-driven system of measurement, testing, and iteration. First, you’ll need to understand which metrics to track:
- Customer Acquisition Cost: The average cost of bringing in a single new customer, as calculated by dividing your total number of new customers by your marketing and sales spend.
- Customer Lifetime Value: The overall profit generated from a customer over the course of their lifetime.
- Customer Retention Rate: The percentage of your customers who continue to purchase your products or services. This is most easily measured for B2B SaaS and other subscription-based products.
- Up-Sell & Cross-Sell Rate: The percentage of existing customers who make additional purchases, or increase their spend with your company.
- ROI: The overall return on your marketing spend for a given period of time.
- Cost Per Lead: The cost of acquiring a single new lead, as calculated by dividing your total number of new leads by your marketing spend.
- Web Traffic: The total number of visitors to your website over a given period of time.
- Visitor to Lead Conversion Rate: How many web visitors will become leads, calculated by dividing your total web traffic by your total number of conversions.
- Clickthrough Rate: The percentage of visitors who click on a specific link, calculated by dividing the total number of people who see that link by total number of clicks.
After establishing a baseline for these metrics, you can then observe the effect of your growth marketing efforts on each, as well as take steps to ensure your strategy is effective. A simple but powerful technique for doing so is A/B testing, in which marketing teams change a single element of a web page, piece of content, or advertisement to see whether it produces a positive or a negative change.
Above all else, successfully iterating on your growth marketing strategy requires a great deal of patience, as any changes you make should be given ample time to take effect in a measurable, actionable way. Similarly, you should be careful to make only one change at a time so that you can have a better idea of the exact cause of any successful-seeming changes before reproducing them across their entire marketing program. By repeatedly measuring, testing, and iterating in this way, you can course correct before overspending on an unsuccessful strategy, and improve upon success.
Working with a Growth Marketing Firm
Creating and executing on a strong B2B growth marketing strategy requires a combination of unique skill sets along with the resources to maintain a team of specialists. Companies that handle growth marketing in-house typically take years to build their program.
Outsourcing growth marketing to an experienced partner is often the best option. Our agency specializes in working with complex B2B companies and has over 12 years of experience creating thought leadership-based growth marketing campaigns for companies like Salesforce, SoFi, and Logitech. Feel free to contact us if you’d like to explore a partnership.