What Is B2B Marketing: Definition, Strategy, and Trends (2024)

If you want to learn about B2B marketing, what tactics it entails, and how to succeed at it in today’s environment, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s explore the topic in-depth to shed light on each element of the most effective modern B2B marketing strategies.

  • Learn the latest trends: Explore our global B2B Marketing Benchmark report.

What Is B2B Marketing?

As the name suggests, business-to-business marketing refers to the marketing of products or services to other businesses and organizations. It holds several key distinctions from B2C marketing, which is oriented toward consumers.

In a broad sense, B2B marketing content tends to be more informational and straightforward than B2C. This is because business purchase decisions, in comparison to those of consumers, are based more on bottom-line revenue impact. Return on investment (ROI) is rarely a consideration for the everyday person – at least in a monetary sense – but it’s a primary focus for corporate decision makers.

In the modern environment, B2B marketers often sell to buying committees with various key stakeholders. This makes for a complex and sometimes challenging landscape, but as data sources become more robust and accurate, B2B marketers’ ability to map out committees and reach buyers with relevant, personalized information has greatly improved.

Who is B2B Marketing For?

Any company that sells to other companies. B2B can take many forms: software-as-a-service (SaaS) subscriptions, security solutions, tools, accessories, office supplies, you name it. Many organizations fall under both the B2B and B2C umbrellas.

B2B marketing campaigns are aimed at any individual(s) with control or influence on purchasing decisions. This can encompass a wide variety of titles and functions, from entry-level end-users all the way up to the C-suite.

B2B professionals and decision makers tend to work in very specialized areas, which is why audience insight is key to resonance, and why LinkedIn’s professional environment makes the platform a B2B marketing mainstay.

Creating a B2B Marketing Strategy

Competition for customers, and their attention, is high. Building out a B2B strategy that delivers results requires thoughtful planning, execution and management. Here’s a high-level look at the process B2B companies use to stand out in a crowded marketplace:

Step 1: Develop an overarching vision

Fail to plan, plan to fail. This truism remains eternally accurate. Before you start cranking out ads and content, you’ll want to select specific and measurable business objectives. Then, you’ll want to establish or adopt a framework for how your B2B marketing strategy will achieve them. Understanding what you want to accomplish and setting clear goals is essential to delivering results.

Step 2: Define your market and buyer persona

This is an especially vital step for B2B organizations. Whereas B2C goods often have a wider and more general audience, B2B products and services are usually marketed to a distinct set of customers with particular challenges and needs. The more narrowly you can define this audience, the better you’ll be able to speak to them directly with relevant messaging.

We recommend creating a dossier for your ideal buyer persona. Research demographics, interview people in your industry, and analyze your best customers to compile a set of attributes you can match against prospects to qualify leads.

Step 3: Identify B2B marketing tactics and channels

Once you’ve established solid intel around your target audience, you’ll need to determine how and where you intend to reach them. The knowledge you’ve attained through the previous step should help guide this one. You’ll want to answer questions like these about your ideal customers and prospects:

  • Where do they spend their time online?
  • What questions are they asking search engines?
  • Which social media networks do they prefer?
  • How can you fill opportunity gaps that your competitors are leaving open?
  • What industry events do they attend?

Step 4: Create assets and run campaigns

With a plan in place, it’s time to put it into motion. Follow best practices for each channel you incorporate into your strategy. Critical ingredients in effective campaigns include a creative approach, useful insights, sophisticated targeting and strong calls to action.

Step 5: Measure and improve

This is the ongoing process that keeps you moving in the right direction. In the simplest terms, you want to figure out why your high-performing content performs and why your low-performing content doesn’t. Understand this, and you’ll more wisely invest your effort and budget. The more vigilant you are about consulting analytics and applying your learnings, the more likely you are to continually improve and surpass your goals. Even with a well-researched foundation, the creation of content and campaigns inherently requires a lot of guesswork until you have substantive engagement and conversion data to rely on.

Let your audience dictate your path. Consult metrics to pinpoint the channels, topics, and media that resonate most, then double-down. Meanwhile, cut or alter anything that isn’t performing.

B2B Marketing Tactics and Content Formats

Here are a few of the most common B2B marketing tactics and content formats to consider including in your strategy:

Blogs: A mainstay for almost any content team. Regularly updated blogs provide organic visibility and drive inbound traffic to your site. Your blog can house any number of different content types and formats. They may not be the central force in content marketing they used to be, but blogs are still valuable!

Search: SEO best practices change as often as Google’s algorithm (a lot), making this a tricky space to operate in, but any B2B marketing strategy needs to account for it. Lately the focus has been shifting away from keywords and metadata, and more toward searcher intent signals.

Social Media: Both organic and paid should be in the mix. Social networks allow you to reach and engage prospects where they’re active. B2B buyers increasingly use these channels to research potential vendors for purchase decisions.

Whitepapers, ebooks, and infographics: Standalone assets containing valuable information, these downloadable documents can either be gated (meaning a user must provide contact information or perform another action to access) or ungated. Often used as a B2B lead generation tool.

Email: While its effectiveness is waning somewhat in the age of spam filters and inbox shock, email won’t disappear anytime soon.

Video: This content type can be applied in several of the previous categories mentioned here (blogs, social media, emails) but is worth singling out because it is the driving force behind many successful B2B strategies.

Livestream events and webinars: LinkedIn Live videos get, on average, 7x more reactions and 24x more comments than native video produced by the same broadcasters. LinkedIn Live isn’t just great for promoting an event. Take advantage of this feature for demonstrating expertise, showcasing innovation, or giving LinkedIn members a behind-the-scenes view into your company’s culture.

Case studies and customer testimonials: Establishing credibility is a must for B2B marketing strategists. Case studies and customer testimonials may not be the most creative ventures, but they’re crucial nonetheless.

Podcasts: Podcasting is gaining popularity for B2B marketing, in part because business owners and founders consume them robustly. Got a podcast geared toward a professional audience? Thinking about starting one? Grow your listening audience by marketing your podcast on LinkedIn.

B2B Marketing Best Practices

How can you set yourself up for B2B marketing success? Here are a few proven pillars that will help your team stand out and make an impact.

Be human

Yes, you’re trying to acquire a company as your customer, but you aren’t marketing to a building or some intangible entity. You are trying to reach actual people within the company, and like any other human being, they are driven by emotional and cognitive motivations.

Don’t just learn about the companies and accounts you’re pursuing. Learn about the people within them, and make sure your marketing speaks to them. Yes, business decisions tend to be more rational and logical in nature, but that doesn’t mean your content and tone should be robotic.

Target with both precision and volume in mind

Most B2B buying decisions are influenced by multiple stakeholders. A common mistake when targeting is trying to pinpoint the decision maker. But in nearly every case, that solo decision maker doesn’t exist. That’s why it’s essential to target all stakeholders who can potentially influence the buying decision.

B2B buying cycles are complex and stakeholders are constantly shifting jobs and roles. This is among the many reasons why brand recognition matters. The following solutions can help B2B marketers reach professionals who can both influence and authorize the buying decision. They allow you to get as granular as you want, and when you need to expand your target audience, you can do so with sophisticated automation.

Thought leadership makes an impact

Research continues to show that senior-level decision makers value thought leadership content, using it to vet both vendors and solutions. Most read thought leadership content for at least an hour a week. What’s more, B2B decision makers will pay more if it means they’re working with a company that has used thought leadership to establish a clear vision of the future.

For an overview of what works and what doesn’t in the thought leadership realm, check out the latest thought leadership impact research from LinkedIn and Edelman.


Keep context in mind

Personalization and relevance are prerequisites for earning attention today. Yes, you want to speak the language of your customers, but you also want to deliver content and ads that fit thematically with where they’re viewed.

For instance, shorter videos with quick hooks perform better on social media feeds, whereas a longer format is probably better suited for YouTube. It takes a different copy angle to catch someone scrolling through LinkedIn than other networks. Put yourself in the end user’s shoes. Seek to understand their present-tense situation when they’re viewing your content, including their “surroundings,” and try to align your message with their mindset.

B2B Marketing Solutions on LinkedIn

According to the 2024 B2B Content Marketing: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report from CMI and MarketingProfs, LinkedIn continues to see growing traction as an organic social media platform for B2B marketers, with 96% saying they’ve increased or sustained their usage in the past 12 months. In the previous edition, 2023, 96% of B2B content marketers said they were already using LinkedIn for organic marketing, with 78% saying they used it for paid marketing.

The 2024 survey also found that LinkedIn’s platform overwhelmingly provides the best value for B2B marketing organizations, with 84% of respondents selecting it from the social media field. Needless to say, there’s a lot of value in a well-crafted LinkedIn strategy.

At a base level, we highly advise that every B2B organization develop an optimized LinkedIn Page, which you can do for free on LinkedIn, as this is your brand’s hub on the platform and a frequent destination for buyer research. Posting updates frequently will help you stay top-of-mind among your target audience, and add followers.

For maximizing your business impact and B2B marketing ROI, there are a number of LinkedIn marketing products and features you can take advantage of to reach and engage the right members.

Native ads

On LinkedIn, native ads are known as Sponsored Content. These ads appear within LinkedIn feeds, alongside the user-generated content members come to peruse. Very useful for thought leadership, brand awareness, and driving strategic traffic. Learn more about LinkedIn Sponsored Content.

Lead generation

Many B2B marketers are evaluated based on their ability to generate leads. Lead Gen Forms are extremely effective for this purpose because they pre-populate the viewing member’s LinkedIn profile data and don’t force the user to navigate from the site. It’s a win-win for members and marketers. Members get a seamless experience when accessing offers and content. B2B marketers get high-quality lead data. Learn more about LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms.

Retargeting

The LinkedIn Insight Tag enables you to track visitors coming to your website from LinkedIn and then market to them while they’re on the platform. These individuals are more likely to be interested in your company and product, improving your odds of conversion. Learn more about LinkedIn Retargeting.

Message ads

As it grows harder to reach professional inboxes (and sometimes just to find email addresses to begin with) LinkedIn Message Ads are growing more advantageous. You can use this tool to send tailored direct messages to members on LinkedIn, even if you’re not yet connected. Learn more about Message Ads.

Dynamic ads

These ads are customized to the member viewing them. They automatically populate with profile images and relevant details to stand out and capture attention. Learn more about LinkedIn Dynamic Ads.

Breaking Down B2B Marketing

Summarizing the most important takeaways from our exploration of modern B2B marketing, here are some key considerations to keep in mind:

  • Although it’s business-to-business marketing, you’re still speaking to human beings. The most effective B2B marketers pair logic with emotion.
  • The foundational steps in creating a B2B marketing strategy are developing your vision, defining your audience, identifying tactics and channels, putting content and campaigns into motion, and then continually measuring for optimization.
  • When targeting, balance precision with volume to ensure you’re reaching all of the most important stakeholders who can potentially influence the decision.
  • Truly effective B2B marketing is conversational, targeted and contextually relevant.
  • Thought leadership content can help you create a competitive advantage, but it can also have a negative effect if it falls short of expectations.
  • Context is crucial. Market where your audience is and attempt to align your messaging with your audience members’ mindset.
What Is B2B Marketing: Definition, Strategy, and Trends (2024)
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