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B2B 101: How To Connect With Customers Online

Written by Taylor Hawes

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

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A great viral video or a commercial during the Super Bowl will turn a brewery into a pop-culture sensation, but your business isn’t so lucky. As a vendor of business-critical technologies and services, your job is to eschew “cool” for intelligence, and that means connecting with customers in a different way. The traditional marketing channels may not bear the same fruit for your B2B business, but these methods will make hay in ways you never thought possible.

 

Build a Great Website

Your website is the gateway to your customers. It’s a first impression, lead generation tool, marketing piece, and sales pitch all in one. With so many hats, a solid B2B business needs a well crafted website in order to build communication with potential customers.

Regardless of the specific aesthetic, layout, or tone involved in your online storefront, a strong business website builds trust. Coherent product descriptions ensure that those searching for an appropriate vendor can make an easy assessment. Contact information makes potential clients feel safe in the knowledge that they can contact your company on a moment’s notice. Finally, landing pages for product offers and demos maximize your conversion rate and reach a broader audience in the process.

 

Use the Right Social Media Channel

Social media is frequently billed as a “magic bullet” for companies, reaching widespread audiences and building a following while encouraging engagement. While this is true, to an extent, no one can be everything to everyone. Your company, particularly as a B2B enterprise, has a focused clientele, and that clientele exists in a specific place.

Perform your market research and determine where potential clients exist and use target your approach on that basis. LinkedIn, in particular, provides an excellent opportunity to connect with thought leaders, and become one yourself. The professional context and contact breed more meaningful interaction than a Facebook like or Twitter retweet. Furthermore, you’ll save money, observe better results, and glean a better understanding of what content resonates with your market.

 

Become an Authority

B2C businesses have the unique privilege to build lifestyle brands predicated on concept, entertainment, and brand image. B2B businesses are not so lucky. When convincing other companies to select your products, your sales pitch will carry far more weight if you’re viewed as an authority than if you’re latest video went viral. That means tackling your marketing in an entirely different manner.

Content marketing was, is, and continues to be the most effective method of marketing in the B2B realm for the reasons mentioned above. Establishing your niche as a though leader in the industry and providing informative articles, videos, and other forms of media from that position builds confidence with customers and encourages engaging conversation that can generate leads. A slick branding aesthetic is a great visual impression, but substance is an asset few other methods of marketing can touch.

 

Build Your Email List

With the availability and ease of social media, many businesses ignore the potential of email marketing at their own peril. While it’s true that writing stellar subject lines and building content tailored to the platform is essential for success, the inherent benefits of email are difficult to ignore.

Posts on social media platforms must compete with other posts that effectively dilute the impact of marketing content. Email represents a direct link to the customer, meeting them in a distraction-free setting and therefore communicating information to greater effect. For this reason, an extensive email list is worth far more to your business than a well-followed Twitter account.

Make it a focus of your marketing efforts by making optional registration clear and easy, and delivering content that’s valuable and without fluff. Offer product demonstrations with an email registration or include an opportunity to sign up for your weekly industry newsletter with a well-highlighted registration box on your website. Tailor content to the platform by avoiding pandering, communicating your message quickly and without tricks, and soliciting feedback for future content so that your audience gets what they want, and are therefore more likely to stick around.

Engaging potential clients and customers online is an effective, low-cost way to build leads, drive conversion, and maintain solid relationships with returning visitors. As a B2B business, your circumstances are unique, but presenting your company in the right light, going where your customers are online, building your reputation, and focusing on email are all great ways to turn those circumstances into opportunity.

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