B2B Online Marketing: Targeting the Person Behind the Desk

B2B online marketing image (1)

Tossing Aside Traditional B2B Online Marketing

Motivation is often cited as a primary difference between B2B online marketing and B2C online marketing. We usually think that B2B buyers are motivated by dollars and cents while B2C is motivated by personal reasons. While that is true to an extent, it’s important to keep in mind that personal value exists in the B2B space. According to a 2013 CEB Global study where over 3,000 B2B buyers were surveyed, only 22.6 percent said they were willing to purchase a product without perceiving a personal value.

B2B online marketing

What we need to keep in mind is that every product can personally impact a person. Customers in the B2B space may have more balls to juggle, but their motivations aren’t too different from the B2C audience. Consider how a B2B buyer’s decision will likely affect multiple people in their company. Some of those people are probably friends while others they might not be on the best terms with. Making the right or wrong decision can personally impact this buyer’s work environment.

Sometimes, being a B2B buyer means taking risks. He or she might have something to prove, and choosing the right product could be the way to make a statement. There are always more motivators involved than the just bottom line. At the end of the day, you need to market to the person making the decision as opposed to the industry where your product makes sense.

The most difficult part of B2B online marketing is that you’re usually not selling to just one person. Sometimes there is a room full of people involved in the decision-making process. And each person has a different goal for your product.

While it isn’t necessary you please all of the people all of the time, you do need to consider their impact when crafting your content. Here are some things to consider when trying to reach those individuals: the users, the buyers, and those impact players.

Appealing to Needs

End users have a list of needs that your product has to fulfill. Let them know that you’re on their side. You want them to succeed. The first step of illustrating this is by letting your customers know that you understand their needs.

Create Buyer Personas

Creating specific buyer personas allows you to pinpoint your audience. Conduct research to find out your targets’ job titles, worries, interests, and, most importantly, their needs regarding your product. This type of research will help you stay focused when creating virtually any content.

And since we’re most likely marketing to multiple personas within a company, make sure your personas are distinct in their needs.

As the needs of your buyers evolve, adjust your personas accordingly. Our world is ever-changing, and so are the industries in which we’re marketing products. So save yourself the embarrassment of marketing to old needs.

Customize the User Experience

One customer lands on your homepage and navigates away. Another goes to your resources page and fills out a form. A third requests information regarding a specific tier of your product.

Should you be responding to these customers with the same messaging and content? Of course not! They each had a unique experience on your website based on their individual needs. That should be reflected in how your respond.

Maybe you want to create a unique retargeting campaign for users who visit your website without taking action. For those who fill out a form, you might set them up on a nurture campaign regarding the specific resource they are interested in. The ones who requested information might be closer to buying. Automatically send a notification to one of your sales reps to follow up via phone or email.

By customizing this user experience based on what your customer needs rather than what you want to send them, you are increasing your value in their eyes. You’re also fulfilling their needs both personally (giving them access to information they are interested in) and professionally (providing more information regarding a product for their company).

Get Emotional

It’s not just about what the product does and how it solves problems, it’s also about what it feels like for a customer to have those problems finally solved.

This is where personal value plays a crucial role. In what ways can consumers value your product personally? Does it save them time? Remove some of their unwanted responsibilities? Does it bring their team together in a more collaborative way?

The easiest way to get emotional with your customers (in a way that won’t make them tear up at their desks) is to be funny. Humor drives engagement because it’s something we can all connect with. It’s okay to get a little sarcastic with your audience. Just don’t direct any negative sarcasm directly at your audience.

Email Nurture and Content

When it’s time to get emotional, email nurture campaigns are a great vehicle for your tearjerking statements. This is the place where you really get to speak to your customer (and console them).

Be careful not to focus on yourself too much. It’s not about your product, it’s about what your customer can do with that product. Take a cue from your personal relationships, and try to make it about the other person (at least for a little while). If you can focus on the way your product makes a person feels, then you can begin speaking to why the product itself is so great.

Use your content as a crossover vehicle to unite the way your customer feels with the way he or she thinks. With an infographic you can get specific about your product while still integrating an emotional component. Pleasant-colored images and facts are nice, but including a human element like humor can increase a content piece’s shareability.

Decisions can be Irrational

Often, our decisions are based on things outside of the actual product itself. Your product might be textbook perfect for a company in terms of price and usability, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get the sale.

Decision-makers can be turned off by a website, speaking to the wrong sales person, or disliking a logo. These aren’t really rational thoughts when you know a product is perfect for your business. But it doesn’t stop us humans from making decisions based on impression over proof.

A Website for Your Customers

So how can we help make these irrational decisions a little more rational? Let’s focus on that first point and build a website with our customers in mind.

Go to your own website. Can you easily find your resources page? What about use cases? Are you marketing to clearly defined industries? Are you missing any? Does your product make sense to people outside of your company?

By giving users the ability to do their own research and navigate your website without issue, you’re heightening their perceived value of your company. By doing this you don’t allow that irrational part of their brain to take hold and say “this product won’t work for us” despite contrary evidence elsewhere.

As discussed earlier, there are often multiple people making a decision. And while you might have the precise buyer and user pinned down, you need to have content that speaks to those fringe parties who might have a say. The parties who might irrationally dislike your product or website because there isn’t enough for them on the page–even though it’s not meant for them.

So if your product is for the IT department, consider how it will impact the sales team. Don’t be afraid to highlight those benefits. While the sales team won’t always be in on the decision-making process, it still might affect a buyer’s choice.

Thinking this way will help you diversify your content. Which is only more reason you have to have an easily manageable website with intuitive navigation.


And since decisions are irrational, you’ll need a way to measure that irrationality (when you can). While taking all of the above actions can benefit your B2B online marketing approach, without any metrics you won’t know where you’re successful. Make sure you have website analytics enabled. Measure your opens, click throughs, and unsubscribes. Take note of what pages are working for you and which ones need to be optimized.

We can get as emotional and user-focused as we need to, but at the end of the day, we still need a way to measure our success. Don’t allow yourself to put these plans into action without a clear way of analyzing their usefulness.

Put it Into Action

Stop marketing to a room full of unnamed, faceless professionals. Think about the person behind the desk. Showcase your creativity by developing strategies based on needs, emotion, and turning irrationality into rationality.

Contact DemandZEN for any questions you might have regarding B2B online marketing. We can help you develop a comprehensive plan to gain valuable new leads.

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