The 8 Reasons B2B Marketers Should Think Audience-First

The ‘top of the funnel’ stuff. That’s what most sales and product team think of the B2B marketing manager’s efforts. It’s the ‘always-on’, ‘brand recognition’ type-stuff.

However, as procurement processes and buying experiences increasingly start and progress online, it is remiss of B2B businesses to think of content marketing & digital advertising in these terms, however difficult it may be to allocate a direct data point back to the sale or lead.

The people that buy products and services for businesses are just that… People. And do you know what people do habitually? Post stories on Instagram, update their LinkedIn, listen to podcasts, watch ‘how to’ videos on YouTube and search for things they are looking for on Google. If B2B businesses want to find the right people at the right time, they need to leverage the USPs of each platform and opportunity to create a bespoke marketing strategy that targets the individuals within the business with a message that resonates.

Here are some examples of how B2B businesses could target the specific audience that they are focused on converting:


  1. LinkedIn – Sponsored Content – LinkedIn is a great place to surface content about the industry, the people, the business culture or the work you have done. However, in amongst the rest of the content posted on the busy social platform, you will need to utilise post promotion to create some air space and get in front of the audience you want. Luckily, LinkedIn has an abundant set of data sources, which can be utilised to promote content and ensure you’re thoughtful, insightful content in promoted in front of the right people. By choosing to include the LinkedIn Audience Network as a placement in your targeting you also have the chance to expand your reach and get your Sponsored Content in front of users while they browse on premium publisher sites and apps away from the social platform


  1. YouTube – Display banners – Surfacing display inventory on the broadcast platform’s videos may not be a go-to channel for the B2B marketer. However, the ability within Google Display Network to target users by keywords that they have used in Google Search will allow you to target people who are signed into their Google account both at home and in work. Buying ad inventory in front of someone who has searched say “workplace pension providers for small employers”, is invaluable as you are removing the “hit & hope” from digital display advertising.


  1. Facebook/Instagram audience advertising – We’re probably preaching to the converted here, but this is where everyone is online – and the data is so abundant for targeting that most businesses can’t afford to opt-out.


Ad sets are where the magic happens on the platform, so spend a little time making sure your targeting is just right!

  1. Ad scheduling will let you constrain the days of week and hours of day (to focus on your target market – say “buyers who are in the office Tues- Fri, 9am – 4pm”)
  2. Ad Placements should be tested to see what works for your industry, but to maximise visibility, you are probably going to focus on ‘news feed’ and potentially ‘desktop only’ for certain industries
  3. Audience targeting can work at a range of granularities, from basic (Gender, Age, Location) to advanced (Education, Work, Generation, Interests etc.). Perfect for targeting the audience with an interest in “craft beer” working in the drinks industry
  4. Lookalike audiences allows you to create a persona from existing clients and look to find people like that to build out a prospect list. This can be a gamechanger in some instances, as although no two clients will display the same characteristics, in some industries the core employee interests, location and even demographic may be the same.


  1. Bing ads LinkedIn integration – This feature was trialling in the US during mid-late 2018, where the alignment of the data sources was allowing PPC (pay per click) ads on Bing to be targeted by the industry, seniority and other non-personally identifiable information available within LinkedIn. Imagine the power of being able to upweight bids when you know it is a senior buyer or a head of HR searching for relevant services on Bing.


  1. SEO – tailored content – The value of a website for lead gen and sales enquiries can (and regularly is) questioned in 2019. However, the importance of having a content rich website that is optimised to rank well in search real estate cannot be underestimated. So many procurement processes start with someone looking at who ranks well for [service or product+location] on Google that it can literally be the difference between receiving an RFP/sales enquiry or not. Mining topics, questions and search terms related to your business creates invaluable opportunities for building out content and ranking for industry-specific long tail keywords


  1. Google ads – If you can’t shift the dial in organic listings, it is time to buy some visibility. Especially when you have a USP that needs surfaced in amongst your competitors. Whether you are a steel manufacturer, a FMCG who doesn’t sell D2C or an IT service provider. There are people searching and looking for inventory to buy.


  1. Podcast Creation – If you are in an emerging field or in an interesting niche, there is an audience. It might not be 100k strong, but there are people out there who will be interested. The 100 listeners may be the exact 100 people that your sales team might speak to at the next expo or summit. This is about navigating to where people are with original content that may differentiate you from your competitors.

  1. Podcast Sponsorship – Finding a podcast that business leaders and decision makers engage with regularly can be an invaluable opportunity to get your brand & USP across to a captive audience. A great example of this is MetaLab who sponsor The Knowledge Project, they have worked on app design & builds for Slack, Facebook Messenger and more, and they sponsor the podcast that has a devout following in the senior leadership of the business world. They also rotate sponsors on their weekly newsletter email, which gives other brands an opportunity to be seen by senior leaders across industries.


Regardless of the niche industry you are in, there are digital marketing and advertising options that will work for you. It is all about the right audience, on the right platform at the right moment.


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