The Top 5 Marketing Channels B2B Software Providers Should Focus On in 2022

December 8, 2021
Contributor: Amita Jain

Brands with more digital touchpoints are more likely to capture consumer attention. Use these marketing channels and best practices to reach customers where they spend the most time.

Modern B2B buyers are tech savvy, channel agnostic and acutely aware of what they need—meaning brands need to work harder to get their attention and earn their loyalty. Buyers shift back and forth between channels and they spend 27% of their time during the buying process researching independently online.

To engage prospects in this nonlinear purchase journey, you need to understand how they interact with different marketing channels and then use multiple channels for outreach. This creates more touchpoints and increases the likelihood of them responding to your message. 

According to a Gartner survey, marketers use over a half-dozen channels to drive brand awareness and generate pipeline opportunities (full report available for clients). Social media, Google ads, SEO, and other cogs work together to drive brand visibility, leads and revenue. 

The larger question for marketers is, which channels to invest in and for what purpose? Below, we discuss the five most effective B2B marketing channels that drive results for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers, and the best practices for each. 

1. Email for mid- and low-funnel marketing

Email, even as the oldest form of digital marketing, still endures as an effective way to reach prospects.

It supports mid- and low-funnel engagement opportunities to drive purchases among buyers who show more propensity to buy. It can be used to retarget prospects, spur product selection and deepen relationships with existing customers.

Not to mention, email is a valuable source of insights for other channels, since it’s an owned, first-party data asset, and is largely immune to changes in data privacy standards.

One of the missed opportunities for marketers using this channel is ineffective email personalization due to a lack of proper audience segmentation. Here are some best practices to help you unlock the full potential of emails.

Best practices for effective email marketing:
  • Use data segmentation in lead generation forms. As you collect visitor data on your website, segment it with parameters such as profession, job title and industry, and use it to design personalized emails for specific user groups.
  • Set up prebuilt email templates. Give marketing-approved templates to the sales outreach teams to target broader user segments more effectively.
  • Create mobile-friendly emails. The number of users opening emails on mobile is increasing, so make sure you use responsive designs.
  • Use email retargeting. Leverage information about existing customers to retarget them with personalized emails. It can be a great way to source leads for cross-selling and upselling.  

2. Social media for top-of-funnel reach

Social media is one of the most powerful top-of-funnel marketing channels to increase brand awareness and generate leads. According to the Gartner’s CMO Spend Survey 2021, marketing budgets for paid social advertising and organic social media have risen the highest among all channels.

A good social presence ensures your brand is discoverable when buyers draw on social networks to piece together information about your product.

B2B buyers generally use LinkedIn and Twitter to search for and follow a company or a product. Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are used to unearth educational content to discover more about the product, evaluate multiple options and find out how fellow users review the product, while also sharing their own experiences and opinions about your company and product.

Here are some best practices to strengthen your marketing efforts on social media.

Best practices for social media marketing:
  • Look for communities where target buyers are active. Prioritize discussion groups, peer forums and social channels where your audience is actively consuming content and engaging in conversations.  
  • Use your website and app data to retarget prospects. Social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter allow advertisers to build custom audiences based on their existing contacts, web visitors and app users. Use these options to target users who have previously interacted with your brand.
  • Know your goal when choosing between the cost-per-click (CPC) and cost-per-impression (CPM) models. CPC is best suited if you wish to target specific buyer profiles like certain job roles, while CPM is more effective at the early stages when the goal is to prioritize reach over clicks.
  • Create videos to increase engagement. Incorporating short videos can drive higher user engagement. You can use them to showcase your product, share tips, funnel users to other content and feature customer testimonials. (“4 Best Practices To Optimize Your B2B Video Marketing Effort.”)

3. Review sites to build trust and interest

Leveraging review websites where customers post testimonials can give buyers more confidence in your product (or service) and generate interest. 

People trust what their peers say about a product or service, and reviews help them resolve their primary concerns. This makes review sites the best source of word-of-mouth marketing for B2Bs and gives sales a great jumping off point to contact prospects. 

B2B software providers with 10 or more reviews on Gartner Digital Markets see a 127% increase in visitors to their product pages.

Use third-party review sites to get more eyeballs on your products, keep a pulse on your target audience and generate trust in your brand. Follow these best practices to make them an effective part of your sales and marketing mix.

Best practices to use software review sites for marketing:
  • Seek out the review sites most important for your business. Choose a site your target audience frequently visits to make purchase decisions and make sure your product or service can be found there. You can search top rated software review sites with queries such as “top software review websites” or “reviews for X software.”
  • Solicit feedback and reviews from customers. Ask your customers to review your product on third-party review sites, as well as your own website. Use testimonials to highlight aspects about your software such as pricing, features and ease-of-use.
  • Use PPC (pay per click) and account-based marketing (ABM) to get an edge over competition and better reach the target audience. Review sites can help you reach broad audiences or narrow it down with attributes such as job title and industry.

4. Organic and paid search is oxygen for marketing

Organic and paid search marketing is about improving your findability on search engines like Google. It’s vital to establish an effective online presence, as around 68% of all online connections begin with a search query.

The only difference between organic and paid search is that the former focuses on naturally building the domain authority of your website to appear on search results, while paid search uses paid methods to increase your ranking and reach an audience quickly.

Continuous changes in search algorithms and compliance with data privacy standards are some of the major challenges for B2B marketers in organic and paid search marketing. (See “How to Target Audience Without Third-Party Cookies.”)

Here are some best practices to increase the efficiency of your search marketing and advertising efforts.

Best practices to improve organic and paid search marketing:
  • Increase the amount of site content with SEO-friendly practices. A go-to search engine optimization tactic is to improve your web pages with content that focuses on high-value keywords as well as ensuring the overall quality of your content.
  • Go beyond keyword mentions to align content with buyer search queries. Search engines reward content that answers users’ queries. Align your content to buyer search behavior by including longer, more conversational titles like “how to” or “what is.” 
  • Connect personalized landing pages with programmatic ads and ABM. Direct user segments to pages designed specifically for them for more precise targeting. Programmatic ads can work well to initially capture broader user groups and ABM can further narrow your targeting by using buyer intent data to reach high-quality leads.
  • Give clear CTAs in paid search and display ads. Make sure your ads lead users to immediate conversion points on your website such as a lead capturing form. For paid search, include CTAs like “schedule an Appointment” and “get a Quote.”  

5. Webinars and podcasts to establish thought leadership

The COVID-19 pandemic reallocated budgets for physical events and conferences, enabling a significant uptake in virtual events. And these online events are here to stay.

Webinars are live events that feature both audio and video, and podcasts are a pre-recorded, audio-only marketing medium. Both offer a good way to reach niche, more informed audiences as typically targeted by B2B marketers.

Since they are long-form media formats, they allow you to discuss a topic in detail and establish thought leadership within your industry. 

Here are some best practices to make webinars and podcasts a part of your B2B marketing channels:

Best practices for using webinars and podcasts for marketing:
  • Call experts to your virtual events. Audiences are always eager to listen to people of stature from the industry. You can invite relevant experts with high authority, like a CEO, founder or industry expert to provide insights.
  • Conduct a Q&A to build more engagement. Give your viewers more to take away from your webinars by soliciting questions and letting your experts answer.
  • Choose between a webinar or podcast by asking yourself: What’s my goal? Do you want to generate leads or do you want to provide instructional content? If the former is your main goal, webinars can help you connect with users in real-time. Podcasts are great when you want to talk generically about a subject, and they give you more control over the discussion.

If you’re still not sure which channel to focus your efforts on, here are some trends on how your peers are spending their marketing dollars.

3 Key Shifts for B2B Marketers from Gartner CMO Spend Survey 2021:
  • Increased spending in pure-play digital channels. CMOs are allocating 72% of their overall marketing budget to digital channels, whether paid, owned or earned.
  • Prioritizing investment in paid search. B2B marketing leaders are spending significantly more in paid search, which typically follows a pay-per-click (PPC) model, where you pay only when a prospect clicks on your ad.
  • Social media has emerged as the top channel. While established channels like email have been the go-to for B2B, marketers are shifting their attention to social media. More than 50% of B2B marketing leaders have increased investments in social media. Not to mention, they are experimenting with diverse platforms in the mix, from LinkedIn to Instagram.

Source: Gartner CMO Spend Survey 2021

Start small and diversify as you go

You don’t have to use all platforms, all the time. Start with low-cost practices and small-scale efforts on channels where your users are active, and go on to test out the effectiveness of each.

Learn how to curate content that aligns with your marketing channel and buyers’ purchase journey with our Lead Management Guide.

Amita Jain

Amita Jain covers B2B content creation and strategy to help businesses reach their marketing goals. She received her master’s degree from King’s College London, U.K. Exploring the world of art and reading fiction are some of her usual happy distractions outside of work. Connect with Amita on LinkedIn.

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