With COVID putting this squeeze on the economy and the inevitable downstream effects being felt in the B2B world, it’s not a surprise that there is pressure on marketing spend. Nearly half of B2B companies invest at least 10% of their annual budget in marketing, and upward of 40% of B2B marketing budgets are spent on industry or trade shows.
This should provide some context as to the current state of B2B marketing spend, as due to COVID restrictions, there is a large amount of marketing budget that would have normally been reserved for face to face events that could potentially be reallocated. That said there is an understandable reluctance from B2B companies to divert this budget into other channels such as digital marketing, for example, because there is a (not completely untrue) perception that demand is low.
However, there is a lot that B2B companies can do even in this restrictive environment to optimise their businesses and capitalise on new yet different opportunities that have come about as a result of the global pandemic. This is true whether they are working as an in-house team, or working in collaboration with a PPC and/or SEO agency when it comes to their digital marketing.
Here are some COVID-proof digital marketing tips that all B2B companies can follow to optimise their marketing spend during the pandemic.
Focus on Industries Rather Than Individuals
One of the first shifts that B2B companies should make is to go from hyper-specific individual personas to more general industry level personas. Specifically, these industries should be the growth industries during the pandemic. Given the current environment, some examples would be VoIP or connectivity solutions, cybersecurity and cloud computing, project or time management tools and other SaaS software, and online courses or certifications.
When you think about it, it makes perfect sense that these would be growth industries during the pandemic. However many B2B companies have continued to focus on the same personas that they were targeting pre-pandemic and the only alteration that they’ve made is perhaps to limit the budget somewhat.
Adjust Your Marketing Strategy but Don’t Switch Off Paid Ads
While most marketing managers would be cautious of keeping the same levels of spending during the pandemic as they had pre-pandemic, the great thing about pay-per-click advertising is in its very name. You only pay per click. Therefore, even if demand is down, you won’t be spending any money except for when users actually click through on your ads.
This means that while demand might be a little bit lower, your cost per acquisition, which is one of the key metrics when it comes to driving leads through pay-per-click advertising, will not be negatively affected.
So while you might want to adjust your marketing strategy, for example, adjusting personas and target audiences, do not switch off your paid search ads because the cost of switching them back on from scratch and having to rebuild your quality score is not worth it.
Provide Value Through Thought Leadership- Even with PPC
B2B purchase cycles are known to be longer than B2C purchase cycles in most cases. However, particularly during a period like the pandemic where there is a little bit more hesitation from the buyer side, it’s more important than ever to provide value through thought leadership content.
Thought leadership content does not just need to be distributed organically. It can be promoted via paid channels, such as PPC ads. This would be a good way of staying visible for your main keywords while still providing a useful intermediate step for potential buyers to interact with your brand even if they’re not ready to buy yet so that you can educate them and gain their trust.
Adjust Your Audience Targeting with Display Advertising
Display advertising is another great way of tailoring your messaging according to certain audience behaviours or stages in the purchase cycle. For example, through Google Display Network you can find audiences that are currently in the market for a particular type of product or service, for example, a particular type of business software.
Don’t Stop Working on Your SEO
One of the areas of digital marketing spend that comes under attack when budgets are tight or economic conditions are unsure is SEO. This is somewhat understandable because the payoff from SEO can sometimes be on a much longer timeline compared to paid search advertising. However, one thing B2B companies need to consider is the cost of switching off their SEO efforts and the cost of restarting them.
To maintain your visibility, you need to maintain a certain velocity of acquiring backlinks to your website. For example, if you simply stop working in your SEO for a few months, your competitors may overtake you in this regard and put you so far back that it takes you a few months to catch up even once you start reinvesting in your SEO.
While there is understandable hesitation from B2B companies to be spending on marketing in the same way during the pandemic as they did before, it’s important to pivot your marketing strategy to capitalise on the many opportunities that do exist, despite the tough economic environment.