Business to Business Digital Marketing Comes of Age …

Business to Business Digital Marketing has historically been a bit slower adopter of all things internet. However, as of late, a new sense of urgency is taking hold as businesses begin to realize how much they personally are using their digital devices and begin to get serious about developing their business presence online.  As BtoB comes of age in the digital marketing arena, what learnings from Business to Consumer can be applied ?  What are the major differences going to be between the two worlds ?  Is the human to human component the ultimate equalizer no matter the market?   What should the priorities be for a comprehensive Business to Business digital marketing plan ?

In the coming weeks, these questions will be addressed in this series of articles about b2b website best practices.  I addition to my own knowledge, I will be interviewing companies that are just getting started in the business to business digital marketing space and share their experiences with you. And finally, I would love to answer your specific questions in a future article, so please reach out to me directly to participate.

Key Learning – Go BIG or go HOME.

Does anyone else remember this time – oh so long ago – when you simply took brochures and put them on a web page?  At the risk of showing my … maturity… , I can tell you that in the beginning there was a lot of “brochureware”, which was easy to create but created no interaction with the site visitor.  They read and maybe they called or emailed.  BIG maybe.  Or they hopefully visited a retailer’s store to complete their purchase.

So, lesson number one – Go Big or Go Home.   GREAT business to business sites need the following top 10 key components.

    1. Branding – If you have branding established for your print materials, have your web design partner discuss how well will that translate online.  Make any adjustments to that branding before you begin to use it.  Once you begin your digital marketing in earnest, you will want to stay true to your original branding established so that the digital content that starts to propagate will be consistent.  It will be there a long time.  Do not assume that all graphics created for print will work well online.  What doesn’t translate well online?   Contact me for examples.
    2. Customer centered Site Content Map – Have you ever visited a web site that appeared to be well done, however when you tried to find what you needed, you couldn’t ?  Highly likely it was organized to fit the company structure, versus being organized to fit the way a customer sees the company’s products or services.  If you need to visualize the difference, contact me and I will share one company’s site with two different Content Maps and you can see which makes more sense to you.
    3. Use Rich Media – Images, Videos, Widgets, Downloadable content, Sharing Tools, etc. and make sure that all of this content is indexable by search engines.  This may entail hosting the content in places like YouTube, but the advantages are worth it.   Make sure all rich media is properly meta tagged so that anyone finding it in a google search gets back to your site for permissions to use it or better yet – to make a purchase.  Visual search will continue to grow in importance, so make our visual assets count.
    4. SEO, SEO, SEO – Do this with your content and your site structure organically if you can.  The extra effort in the beginning will pay off big time in the longer term.  While you are waiting for your own SEO ranking to take hold, place display ads and share your great native content on sites that are already ranking high in SEO for keywords that convert on your site.   Display ads can be lead generation oriented; however lose the sales pitch and instead provide valuable content.  This could include white papers, functional helper widgets like some type of calculator, or educational opportunities.
    5. Need for Speed – Fast loading pages are mission critical.  Make sure your pages have been optimized for speed.  Any web design firm worth their salt knows how to prep images and code lightly.  Make sure they know that you expect pages to load in 3 seconds or less.
    6. Mobile optimized or mobile friendly – The ongoing debate rages between building “responsive” pages that adjust to the screen size of the viewing device versus building specific content for specific screen sizes.  The answer is really in understanding how your customers will use your site on a smaller mobile device.  BE the customer.  What will they want to DO while they are mobile – it’s not likely to be reading lengthy content.  Once you know, design your mobile content with that in mind.  Then, with that as the base framework, add content detail that will be available on the desktop/laptop/tablet site.   This creates that synergy in your communications across all devices, yet differentiates each to leverage the advantages of each.
    7. Get Liked, Linked, Pinned, Friended, Yelped, Vined, Tweeted, Google Plussed, Instagrammed – I know it’s overwhelming!  However, participation lends an incredible amount of trust and power to your brand.  Find out where your customers are hanging out the most and be there the most.  For each social channel that emerges, reserve your company presence immediately, and at least post a splash page that directs them to other social channels until you have enough views to substantiate developing content specific for that channel.  Set guidelines in advance for how your employees can participate.  They need help also and this is a great opportunity to add some fun into the workplace and increase your employee satisfaction at the same time you are building your business reputation.  Hold contests for the most shared posts (you want quality here, not quantity).  Get creative!
    8. Create a digital marketing plan – Be sure to include:
      • Google, Yahoo, Bing
      • industry specific trade organizations
      • Industry specific educational organizations and schools
      • Any site that publishes content that attracts your customers
      • Bloggers, Conference sites, Certification sites, Community sites, Directories
      • Your best customers’ sites
      • Your best business partners’ sites
      • Your best vendors’ sites
      • Business ranking sites – BBB, Forbes, etc.
      • Award sites
    9. Measure, Analyze, Project – I call this the MAP.  Be sure to set up the right measurement tools.  Analyze the data easily by setting up automated reporting straight to your email so you don’t have to login to the measurement tool site.  Programs that offer alerts are the most helpful so you can set your goals to take action when you reach certain thresholds for customer visits, leads, or page views.   Project your growth rate – once you get started, you can easily create projections for your KPIs – Key Performance Indicators that will then feed into your sales forecasts.   Budget forecasts can also be easily computed based on the ROI from your digital marketing tools.  Remember, you can’t manage what you don’t measure.  Know your numbers.
    10. Don’t get complacent – the digital world is constantly changing, but the information is becoming harder and harder to sift.  What is important to know and act on?  A good review every 6 months by an outside consultant whose job it is to keep the pulse on all things internet will keep you focused on the right things at the right time.    (Shameless plug)

Follow these top 10 and you will be well on your way to mastering your digital presence – and likely beating your competition.   One of the primary stock analyst houses often uses company’s “digital IQ” to rate public company stocks.  It matters.

The danger of not following these best practices?

  • Your digital presence will not scale – and you will have to start all over again from the beginning.
  • Your digital presence will hurt your company’s reputation.
  • Your company’s dollars will be spent with no true ROI.

You decide.

This article was authored by Dawn Kole,  Digital DNA Marketing.  February 2014. Learn more at  Reach her :



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