B2B marketing is a marketing practice of selling to other businesses. However, it isn’t nearly as straightforward as targeting consumers.
You have to find the right stakeholder, reach them with your marketing material, and properly qualify them for your sales team. There are four types of B2B marketing, which are producers, resellers, governments and institutions.
So where do you start? You have to fill your funnel with new qualified leads on a regular basis.
But businesses are fickle marketing targets.
Some drop off the face of the earth after devouring all the content you send them. Others give you their contact info but never open a single drip email.
Even worse, you often don’t know if you’re talking to the right decision maker.
The approach to solving these problems has to be different than targeting consumers. Getting started is the hard part, but that’s what this post is for.
What is B2B strategy? It can vary a lot depending on the person you ask. That’s why below you’ll find 10 of Ladder’s favorite go-to B2B marketing tactics to get you off on the right foot, as chosen by our top-rated marketing strategists.
And you’ll hear exactly why these are their tactics of choice when they work with our B2B clients.
Here’s what you’ll get with each tactic:
- The tactic name and average return on investment (ROI) based on prior tests with our clients
- Whether the tactic requires a media budget (denoted with $)
- A quote from the Ladder strategist that chose the tactic
- A brief description followed by a step-by-step implementation guide
At Ladder, we build software and offer services to help high-potential B2B businesses accelerate their growth. Is that something you need?
Jon’s Go-To B2B Marketing Tactics
Jon combines the active nature of LinkedIn Groups with the power of job title targeting to find the exact target customer our clients are trying to reach. There’s a reason we call him the B2Beast.
LinkedIn Group Targeting
ROI +17% – $
Why Jon picked this tactic:
LinkedIn allows you to target both public and private groups on the platform, making for a successful B2B marketing tactic. Groups can offer a pre-narrowed audience, i.e.: “Marketing Executives Group”.
Targeting a LinkedIn Group’s members is a great way to reach a business-minded audience that would be interested in your product. They’re already active in a group of like-minded professionals and are likely to be engaged with content relevant to your product when they see your ad.
Here’s how to use group targeting in B2B marketing:
Step 1: Start by making a list of groups that you want to target with your ad. Looking to target groups of email marketing professionals? Use keywords like “email marketing”, “newsletter”, etc… Find the right keywords for your product to target the right groups.
Step 2: Next, create a gorgeous ad – you can choose to reuse a high-performing ad from the past, but be wary of ad creative fatigue. The longer you show an ad, the more likely your audience is to have seen it. If they haven’t clicked already, they likely never will. Another approach might be better – and more easy to cater to the groups you’re targeting!
Step 3: Set your budget and timeline. Take a test-oriented approach – rather than dumping your entire ads budget into this test, try a smaller budget over the course of a week. $50 per day for one week with a total budget of $350 could get you all the data you need to make an informed decision about the efficacy of the test.
Step 4: Set a landing page for your ad. Where do you want your audience to land after they click your ad? Make sure your ad copy and landing page at least somewhat match each other. That way the ad and the destination make sense to the LinkedIn group members you’re reaching.
Step 5: Combine LinkedIn Group Targeting with another targeting layer, such as…
LinkedIn Job Title Targeting
ROI +6% – $
Why Jon picked this tactic:
Targeting your audience persona by what job title(s) they hold can be a very effective way of hitting the right people.
Here’s how to target LinkedIn members by job title:
Step 1: Talk to or research your current (and best) customers to see what job title they hold to inspire your targeting choices. Once you know which titles to target, set them in LinkedIn’s campaign manager.
Step 2: Create an ad for your job title audience. Talk to them on their level and based on their seniority. You won’t want to approach an entry-level professional the same way you do an executive.
Pro tip: You can instead use job title targeting to narrow the audience of another campaign – such as the above Group Targeting campaign. If you want email marketing managers to see your ad but not junior email marketers, adding in job titles will help you optimize your targeting.
Step 3: Set your ad’s landing page. Want senior marketers to reach a demo sign-up page? Want junior marketers to sign up for your newsletter? Make sure you’re leading them to the right place and that your ad copy matches up.
Step 4: Test the quality of your leads. Review the leads you get, as we’ve seen instances of people posting fake job titles, which dents the reliability of this type of targeting. Make sure you’re actually reaching the right people to keep your ad spend from going to waste.
Step 5: Use data insights from the campaign’s performance to tweak targeting, add or subtract job titles, and get to a more effective approach.
Missy’s Go-To B2B Marketing Tactics
Missy uses webinars and founder emails to help our clients retain and delight new prospects and customers. These approaches add a personal touch that marketing copy and landing pages can’t match.
Why Missy picked this tactic:
Try offering webinars to paying customers only. This has the effect of increasing retention from existing paying customers by providing extra value for free and helping them learn how to use your product better.
You can also email the invite to all of your users, including free users / those who haven’t paid yet. This can prompt large volumes of upgrades.
Here’s how to set up a webinar upgrade:
Step 1: First you’ll need to figure out what you want to teach. You have a lot of knowledge and insights from your work with clients – sharing that knowledge as a part of the narrative of using your product can get you a ton of interested webinar signups.
Step 2: Promote your webinar. Reach out directly to your paying customers with a webinar signup form. Send emails, add links directly to regular correspondence, and even consider reaching out directly by phone.
Step 3: Hold the webinar. Within, you can include calls to action for your product or service to get your current customers to upgrade from lower-tier plans. Mostly focus on increasing retention for your paying customers to lower your churn rate.
Step 4: Expand to a free audience. Is the webinar working really well? Consider offering it for free to your non-paying trial or freemium users. It’s a great way to give them a bit of value and drive them to upgrade to paid accounts.
Founder Welcome Email
Why Missy picked this tactic:
In general, welcome emails result in 320% more revenue per email than normal bulk marketing emails. Make sure to get the most out of this first email by asking for feedback with an open-ended question from a founder.
This will both let your new subscriber know you care enough to engage with them one on one and also allow you to discover if and how your product or service fits the subscriber’s need.
How to set up a founder welcome email:
Step 1: Write the email. Thank your new user for signing up, give them a quick intro about the founder, and add in a bit of background about the company and how it got started. Finally, let them know that you’d love to hear their feedback.
Step 2: Set up an automated campaign. Have the email come directly from and signed by the founder. Have it land in your new users’ inboxes immediately after signup – you can choose to target a segment of new users and A/B test against a different welcome email approach.
Step 3: Track your email’s open rate and the users who it sends to. Are users who open and read it more engaged with your product? Are they less likely to drop off early?
Step 4: Respond to users. This email prompts users for feedback. If they give it to you, respond to them. That’s a surefire way to earn their trust and show you’re doing more than just sending automated emails. It’s a personal touch that can go a long way to increasing retention.
Tim’s Go-To B2B Marketing Tactics
Tim takes an incremental approach with ads – targeting the fans of technology tools to find and test audiences one by one. He also values one-on-one product demos over free trials, giving our clients’ sales teams the chance to meet prospects directly.
Tools Interest Targeting
ROI +6% – $
Why Tim picked this tactic:
What better way to reach a B2B audience than by targeting them with ads based on the tools and software they love using?
For a successful B2B content strategy, target the followers or fans of specific technology tools to come at an audience from a whole new angle. Knowing what tools a person already buys reveals a lot about what type of customer they would be for you.
This is a great way to improve lead quality and bring in the type of customers that can afford your offering.
Here’s how to target a tools interest audience:
Step 1: Gather up a list of tools similar in price or audience profile. Talk to your current customers to figure out what tools they use. That list will make up the bulk of your targeting.
Step 2: Start with a single social media platform – Facebook, for example – and create a campaign that targets people who like the tools in your list.
Step 3: Track the performance of your ad campaign on Facebook, setting it to run for a short duration and gathering data. If you find it performs well, try expanding your budget and duration. If not, try tweaking your ad copy/creative or changing your targeting approaches to different apps.
Step 4: If you’ve landed on a high-performing combination of ad creative and audience, congrats! Time to try it on different channels. Put the exact same ad creative and target the same audience on LinkedIn and Twitter to see if followers on those platforms respond just as well.
Step 5: One platform severely underperforming the others? That’s not surprising. Different social media followers respond differently when served with ads. Try a different approach or double down on the platforms that are performing well.
CTA Popup: One-on-One Demo
ROI +9% – $
Why Tim picked this tactic:
A time-delayed or exit intent CTA popup that offers a one-on-one demo can instantly drive highly qualified leads straight to your sales team.
Sometimes people come to your site and see something they like, only to leave because there was no way to learn more. A one-on-one demo offer via a popup will reach them right when they’re actively engaging with your site.
Here’s how to set up a one-on-one demo CTA popup:
Step 1: First, let’s get your CTA popup copy. Typical one-on-one demo prompts look like this: “Interested in learning more? Request a one-on-one demo with our strategists. RSVP”
Step 2: Choose a control CTA popup. It can be your current popup or a new one that you create now. This control will let you test the one-on-one popup against a control to see if it outperforms a different approach.
Step 3: Set up your CTA popup with Optimizely or another A/B testing tool. Set it so that half your audience sees the one-on-one popup and the other sees your control popup.
Step 4: Track your CTA popup’s performance. Is it driving new leads? Are the leads of the kind of quality you’re looking for? Do they actually show up for the one-on-one demo sessions?
Ed’s Go-To B2B Marketing Tactics
Ed combines easy, simple, one-click lead capture with clever targeting of competitors’ social media followers to fill our B2B clients’ funnels with highly qualified leads.
Facebook Lead Capture
ROI +18% – $
Why Ed picked this tactic:
A lead capture ad on Facebook can entirely remove friction between click-through and sign-up for your product.
Lead capture ads are designed to be as quick and painless as possible, enabling you to capture emails from interested social media users with little action on their end.
Here’s how to set up a Facebook lead capture ad:
Step 1: Choose your CTA. What do you want to happen when someone sees your ad? Do you want them to land on your landing page? Or to download a whitepaper? Maybe you just want them to sign up. Decide up front what you want the action to be and what incentive you’re giving to make it happen.
Step 2: Create your ad. Make your copy and imagery specific to the landing page or content you’re sending visitors to. Is it a whitepaper? Reference the whitepaper and talk about what your audience can get if they sign up. Take an engaging image directly from the whitepaper (or make a new one).
Step 3: Target your audience. Go specific with your targeting to reach the exact leads you want. You can go for a lookalike audience based on your current customers, your lead list, people who liked your Facebook page, or any other targeting tactic.
Step 4: Track the lead ad’s performance against the exact same ad in a traditional format. This will tell you if you’re getting a better CPC and CPA compared to a more standard approach.
Competitor Interest Audience
ROI +4% – $
Why Ed picked this tactic:
Target the social media followers of your competition for a great resource of potential new users or qualified leads.
Your ads will appear in front of a highly targeted segment, helping build awareness with people who are interested in your competitors.
Here’s how to set up a competitor interest audience ad:
Step 1: Compile a list of the competitors whose followers you want to target. Research their social media presence and make sure they have a decent following and a valuable amount of engagement from their fans.
Step 2: Create your ad. You can be as aggressive as you want with this approach. Want to go right at the competition with why you’re so much better? Do it! You can even narrow your competitor target list to just a single competitor per ad creative and differentiate yourself against each competitor.
Step 3: Track your ad. Find one competitor’s audience flocking to you? There’s a good reason for it. Double down hard.
Step 4: Expand competitor targeting. If it’s working really well, you can target competitors across more than just social media. You can use competitor keywords to hit them where it counts – their search results.
Natalie’s Go-To B2B Marketing Tactics
Natalie, Ladder’s design champ, has a more design-oriented view of B2B marketing best practices. Check out her favorite tests with color, videos, and CTAs:
Video-Centric Landing Page A/B Test
Why Natalie picked this tactic:
Incorporating/adjusting a landing page design to showcase a video (~1 minute at most) can increase conversion with minimal content.
This B2B approach maintains focus on two elements: the video itself and the form submission. No other information or copy gets in the way of your visitors and the CTA.
Here’s how to set up a video-centric landing page:
Step 1: Create or buy the video you want to use. It’s almost always better to go custom to control imagery and make sure you don’t have the same video on another site. You can either go abstract with a video that evokes the emotions associated with your product, or you can be direct by showing your product in action.
Step 2: Set up your A/B test. Use Optimizely to test the video-centric page against your standard landing page, splitting your audience between the two variations 50/50. The video-centric page should focus just on the video and a CTA with little to no extra copy.
Step 3: Measure engagement. Which landing page got more signups? Is the video hurting or helping your conversion rate? Are people actually watching the video? Are they sharing? A video player like Wistia can help you track those metrics.
Step 4: Tweak based on engagement. Video killing conversion? Try making it less of a focal point but leaving it running. Add copy around it to see if you can better contextualize it. And if it’s doing a bang-up job, try CTA copy and design tweaks to further drive engagement.
Page CTA Design
Why Natalie picked this tactic:
Try changing the call to action of your landing page to improve conversion. Test out different colors, button copy, sign-up forms, and placement on the page to see what works best.
Step 1: Redesign your current CTA one tweak at a time. Try changing the copy to a different approach – be more casual than formal, or more direct than wordy. Then, try changing button color to see if people respond better to more vivid and eye-catching CTAs. Try positioning the CTA in different parts of the page. Tweak size to see if larger buttons get more clicks.
Step 2: Test approaches against one another. Don’t just put a new CTA into action for your entire audience. Split-test against your old CTA design to see what works. Keep adjusting your tests as you make more changes. Combine highly effective changes with further tweaks to keep improving your conversion rate.
Step 3: Track your A/B test results. Measure which CTA approach results in the highest conversion rate for your landing page. Keep testing and iterating as you learn more about how your audience responds to different copy, colors, etc…
Those are our strategists’ top picks for B2B marketing, from filling your funnel with new leads to converting and retaining customers.
At Ladder, we build software and offer services to help high-potential businesses accelerate their growth. Is that something you need?