SEO and business growth go hand in hand. It’s impossible to scale your B2B company without doing everything you can to appear on Google’s first page, but even organic lead generation drops off after the first result. Only 2.5% of internet users click the tenth position in Google.
There’s no denying that the competition is fierce, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
Although your competition is using SEO, they aren’t necessarily using it to its full potential (or at all). That gives you an edge, especially on social media sites like LinkedIn, where B2B receives an exceptional return on investment (ROI). Don’t wait for your competition to catch up.
In the B2B marketplace, 68.3% of all traffic comes from search engines, which rank your website and profiles. If that isn’t a reason to invest in SEO, we don’t know what will.
What Makes B2B SEO Different
Whether you’re an eCommerce dropshipping site or a SaaS business selling software, the fundamentals of SEO remain the same. Your goal is to drive more traffic to your website and social media pages by using a combination of on-site and off-site SEO.
- On-Site SEO: Focuses on technical aspects of your website. A highly optimized site is technologically sound, lighting fast, and as secure as possible. On-site SEO includes mobile and tablet optimization and standardization across all platforms and devices.
- Off-Site SEO: Focuses on the content of your website. Content relevant to your brand ranks higher on search engines because it shows you understand your target audience. It’s even better if you can provide said content in an industry-specific way.
Although every industry uses this basic template, there are a few differences that set B2B apart from the rest. B2B has a longer, more complex sales cycle that elongates the buyer’s journey.
Complex Sales Funnels
In most cases, a B2B company will have a 5 stage funnel: Awareness, Interest, Evaluation, Engagement, and Purchase. Other industries will use between 3-4, meaning marketers only have to attract customers at 3 or 4 stages and lead them down a shorter road to the finish line.
B2B companies need to be visible on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for every step of the sales funnel, but to do this, they need to know their audience inside and out. Marketers will have to put a lot of effort into grabbing the user’s attention and keeping them interested.
But you don’t have to see this as a bad thing. While a complex sales funnel means more upfront work, it also leads to more opportunities to earn targeted traffic at multiple stages.
B2B SEO can be challenging on the keyword front because there’s an added complexity across products, services, and the sales funnel. This means that lower volume keywords pull in more users in most cases. What’s more, B2B businesses need to use more keywords than B2C.
With that in mind, B2B SEO marketers really have to perfect their keyword research and adapt to their audience as their products or customers change. Marketers have to dig deep to find the most appropriate, search-ready terms for their audience to push them through the sales funnel.
In the B2B realm, your customers want to know that you know what you’re talking about. Your customers typically know what they want and aren’t fooled by the usual marketing tricks. They want to feel your confidence leap off the monitor, as that will instill confidence in your product.
In the evaluation stage, your prospects are considering their options. If you position yourself as an expert in your industry, you’ll be seen as a thought leader, which confirms that you’re one of, if not the best, option for their business. Don’t underestimate the value of personal branding.
You can implement your branding using Linkedin outreach automation tools, blogging content, guest posting, podcast appearance, video marketing, ebooks, and much, much more.
Lower Conversion Rates
In comparison to B2C, B2B businesses suffer from low conversion rates. B2B marketers have to play the long game, but that isn’t always easy in a world that prioritizes the here and now. Keep in mind that click-to-inquiry is still high, but click-to-sale conversion won’t be, and that’s okay.
B2B marketing initiatives should be more concerned with focusing on attracting the right site traffic, not grabbing everything they can. A successful strategy involves finding an audience that will continue to subscribe or use your product in the long term. Customer loyalty is essential.
B2B Lead Generation and Its Importance
Lead generation, a technique that involves acquiring useful information for building a list of potential clients, is a necessary strategy for B2B companies. That’s because B2B marketers need to find their prospective customers and clients before they can appropriately sell to them.
The State of Lead Generation for B2B Companies
According to Copper, 58% of B2B sales and marketing leaders shared that the quality of their leads is the most important metric of sales success. Outbound marketing, marketing persona, and contract/deal value are also seen as incredibly important for B2B marketing success.
Remember that the B2B sales cycle has low conversion rates; the more warm leads that land on their website and social media page, the better. Unfortunately, most B2B marketers don’t actually know where their prospects are coming from, making it harder to plan ahead.
It’s possible to become an overnight success story with one landing page, one tweet, or one LinkedIn blog post, but continued success can only come with a well-thought-out strategy.
So, how does one create a successful B2B marketing and outreach strategy?
How to Create the Ultimate B2B Outreach Strategy
To make your outreach strategy successful, you’ll need to apply the fundamentals of SEO. After getting the basics in place, you can start selling to your buyer persona, and market successfully.
Step 1: Create a B2B Buyer Persona
No matter what product you’re selling or the service you’re providing, creating a buyer’s persona is the most crucial step of your marketing strategy. A buyer’s persona is a customer avatar that’s created using qualitative and quantitative data from the competitors and market research.
Your business probably has multiple buyer’s personas, and it’s important to gain insight into their likes, dislikes, and opt-in point. What makes your buyer persona want to buy from you? What objections do they make before purchasing your product that you need to remedy?
Your buyer’s persona should include a person’s:
- Demographic (age and gender)
- Psychographics (views and goal)
- Pain points (struggles, obstacles, fears)
- Influences (favorite social networks)
- Professional status (job title, industry)
- Purchasing process (how they make decisions)
Since B2B has a longer sales cycle, you should consider how your buyer’s persona travels through your funnel. Remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing.
Step 2: Grasp the B2B Sales Funnel
The 5 step sales funnel (or cycle) is standard for most B2B companies, but that doesn’t mean that every B2B company should use the same tactics to reach the final stage.
Let’s look at the B2B sales funnel in-depth:
- Awareness Stage: At the awareness stage, your customers are looking for answers to their questions. They need resources, data, education, insights, and opinions from trusted sources. While the value of the lead is low at this stage, you can provide necessary information through content to help them move to the interest stage.
- Interest Stage: At the interest stage, your customers understand that there’s a solution to their problems. They’re now interested in learning more about your products and services. If trust is formed at this stage, they will transition to the evaluation stage.
- Evaluation Stage: At the evaluation stage, your customers are convinced that your product or service is one of the best solutions for their needs. It’s important to have an FAQ section that can confirm whether you’re the right option for them. Your honesty and integrity will build more trust in your audience and take them to the engagement stage.
- Engagement Stage: At the engagement stage, your customers are interacting with your sales force. They’re likely asking questions about your company and/or inquiring about a product demonstration. If your customers are happy, they’ll move to the purchase stage.
- Purchase Stage: At the purchase stage, your customers won’t automatically become loyal to your brand. Post-purchase engagement is needed if you want to cash in on referrals, as they convert 30% better than direct sales. You can use email marketing to keep your buyers engaged with your promotions and ask for reviews on your products.
Your sales funnel is complicated, so you may need a marketing team to make sense of it. If you feel that you can fit your buyer’s persona into each stage of your funnel, then you can start using your own analytics data to determine how your customers find your business.
Key stats, like average customer retention period, lifetime customer value, and average time to purchase, can be used to sell to your prospects and keep them around much longer.
Step 3: B2B Keyword Research
Your clients won’t purchase from you if they don’t know who you are. You can use the B2B sales funnel to tackle pain points at each stage, and you can do this by separating your keywords by:
- Top of the Funnel (ToFu): Top of the funnel includes the awareness and interest stages. Your keywords should focus on long-tail inquiries, like “why are my clients uncomfortable with using email to send documents?” Your ToFu prospects are looking for solutions to their pain points, but they don’t know what that is yet.
- Middle of the Funnel (MoFu): Middle of the funnel includes the interest, evaluation, and engagement stages. Your keywords should focus on medium-tail phrases, like “x vs. x,” “advantages of,” or “benefits of.” Your MoFu prospects want to know if your solution is the best of the best or whether they should consider other options for their business.
- Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu): Bottom of the funnel includes the engagement and purchase stages. Your keywords should focus on competitive, short-tail words like “services,” “development,” “solutions,” “maintenance,” and “management.” Your BoFu customers are interested in buying, but they need that extra push to reach the finish line.
Using keyword tracking software, like Google Analytics, can make your life easier. However, if you’re having a hard time starting your keyword research on the right foot, ask yourself:
- What issues are my personas facing? How can I solve these problems?
- How are my personas searching to overcome these pain points?
- How can I position my brand/product/services as the best solution?
- What features directly help with my prospects’ pain points?
- What are my competitors using as their keywords?
Keyword research will take up most of your time, but you will need relevant, decently performing keywords for your prospects to find you. These keywords should appear on your website and social media pages but beware of keyword stuffing. Google doesn’t like it.
Step 4: Create an Optimized and Scalable Content and Marketing Strategy
In B2B sales, especially SaaS sales, content marketing is 100% necessary to drive people to your business and product landing pages. When it comes to outreach, your prospects won’t take you seriously unless you create a name for yourself in your niche or industry.
Your blog will likely be your customer’s first connection to your brand, and it’s a significant aspect of SEO. Google likes brands that update their websites frequently, and you can easily use a blog to keep your site fresh, new, and exciting. Plus, blogs provide social proof.
An SEO-optimized blog includes link-building strategies, regular content, technical SEO, and on-page optimizations. Like with your keyword research, you need to spend a lot of time here developing a blog schedule filled with well-researched topics that appeal to your audience.
Whitepapers, eBooks, and Webinars
Whitepapers, eBooks, and Webinars are considered “high-quality content” because they take months to prepare but see high returns. You already have a place for your fast content (social media and blog posts), which brings in your readers, whereas your slower content sells.
Your eBooks and infographics should be used as “prizes” for opting into your subscriber lists. When creating this content, ask yourself if your audience will want to hand over their email (and all the correspondence that comes with it) for the free product or file you’re giving in exchange.
Social Media Pages (LinkedIn)
Social media marketing has earned a bad reputation in the B2B space because it doesn’t seem to work for them. While you can (and should) market your business on social media, you should primarily focus on LinkedIn. Here’s why LinkedIn is a lead generation gold mine for B2B:
- There are 774 million+ users on LinkedIn and 55 million+ companies
- 3 professionals sign up for LinkedIn every second
- There are over 2.9 million groups on LinkedIn you can sell to
- Advertisers see LinkedIn as a trusted platform
- 97% of the Fortune 500 are LinkedIn customers
You can use LinkedIn automation to build your network. Automation tools like Salesflow allow users to mass send connection requests and inbox messages without being flagged as spam.
Email and Inbox Marketing
While email and inbox marketing isn’t content marketing per se, it’s still essential. Email marketing still sports one of the highest ROIs around—$42 dollars for every dollar spent.
You can start collecting customer emails by asking for newsletter opt-ins on your website or when you’re running a contest or giveaway. If you sell software that has a free trial, you can keep those handy if they cancel or continue to use your service and need support.
Keep in mind that cold emailing isn’t as successful as it used to be, but cold inboxing still rules the day, especially on LinkedIn. The average reply rate to LinkedIn messages is 85%, and B2B companies often receive the best ROI because they’re able to speak to businesses directly.
Step 5: Personalize Your Messaging
At this point, you should have some clout in your industry and know where your customers like to hang out (hint: it’s LinkedIn). Landing a sale with your prospects is determined by your ability to build trust, and if you make them feel like you understand them, you’re already halfway there.
When conducting outreach, customize your message by including the prospect’s name, your company name, and any context you have about the recipient. If you found this prospect on a LinkedIn Group, tell them so. If it’s a referral, name-drop the person who referred you.
Here’s what a B2B LinkedIn InMail message may look like:
My name is (your_first_name), and I recently found you in the (linkedin_group) group. I thought your comment about (industry_specific_topic) was very insightful. I noticed you were looking for a software that solves (pain_point), and we believe our software (software_name) can help. Take this (coupon) for a free trial. If I’m right, feel free to drop me a message at (email), and I’ll extend your free trial.
Looking forward to connecting in the future,
(your first_name) (your_last_name)
As you can see, this sample message is personal because it refers to the recipient directly, and it shows you did your research. By offering a free trial without making the prospect ask, you practically guaranteed an opt-in. You’re also letting your product speak for itself.
You can use LinkedIn automation software to enhance your productivity and save time. Instead of sending messages individually, you can place tags in your messages that autofill.
Step 6: Send a Follow-Up
If your prospect doesn’t respond, or they responded but they didn’t use your coupon or another opt-in strategy, prepare to send a follow-up. Follow-ups work best after a meeting, but you can still ask how your prospect felt about your software as a reminder to use their free trial.
You should send at least 3 to 6 follow-ups per client unless they explicitly express they want to be left alone. Don’t give up after one follow-up. Remember that your demographic is busy and likely receives multiple messages a day, so you need to be persistent to get a sale.
Step 7: Make the Best Product/Service Landing Pages
Outreach is incredibly vital, but there’s nothing more paramount than earning that sale. All of the above steps help you get your prospects to the final stage: the landing page.
Sales landing pages are an art to themselves. You need to keep your prospects on the page by utilizing reviews, in-depth descriptions of your product or service, and rewards (like a “gift with purchase”) to entice your buyers. You also need to use SEO tactics to link directly to this page.
These B2B landing page examples should give you an idea of what we’re talking about. As you can see, these examples truly sell their products and services without being overly pushy.
George Denby specializes and focuses on digital PR while working closely with influencers. He is constantly pushing any limits established to generate high-return outreach campaigns that appeal to your business target. This way, George and his team at brandmatcher.io come up with the best answers to their brands and clients’ challenges.