Yes: Content marketing and PR can (and SHOULD) coexist. Here's how to create PR and marketing plans that work together.
B2B Marketing Strategies for 2020: 15 Ways to Get Results
It’s that time of year again. You sit around the table with your team, analyze the year’s marketing performance, and figure out what you can do to top it next year.
In other words, it’s time to talk about your 2020 B2B marketing strategies.
The theme for next year?
It’s back to the basics.
Despite the hype, we’re not at some crazy technological inflection point that turns the industry upside-down.
You’re not going to be automating every customer conversation in 2020.
No, 2020 won’t be the year that voice search becomes the norm in B2B. (“Alexa, find me an agency!”)
And while marketing automation software is mature, you still need humans.
In other words, nothing will replace the fundamentals when it comes to your 2020 B2B marketing strategy.
So have a seat and relax. We’ll be here a while.
Here’s a peek at what we’ll cover in this guide:
A a surface level, this list may not look that different than some 2018 or 2019 marketing strategy lists. But this year, it’s all about the details.
#1 – Content Marketing
This has been a thing for over a decade.
With content marketing, you’re having a conversation with your prospect. You’re looking to show them that you know your stuff. You serve as a trusted advisor, get their info, then close the deal.
Remember, it’s not just about selling to them. You need to offer information, prove yourself and eventually exchange your content for their contact information. Their contact information is the golden ticket. It’s your way into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
Well, not really. No Wonka Bars here.
But this type of lead gen does get the prospect into the sales funnel. And when they talk to your sales team, they’ll trust that you can solve their problems.
No, content marketing isn’t going away anytime soon.
The Key to Content Marketing in 2020
Think about the fact that content marketing has gotten to become a huge industry.
There are content shops everywhere. And when a lot of people try to do the same exact thing, a lot are going to be producing garbage.
Separate yourself from the pack. Produce something useful and decent. Don’t create listicles no human would ever want. Don’t just rip off your competitors the day after they post something. Focus on quality content.
#2 – SEO
If God created Google on Day 1, he created SEO on Day 2.
There are 2 trillion Google searches a year. That’s more than 63,000 searches per second on any given day. It’s just how people find their information now.
And it’s how they get their business questions answered.
Google is the No. 1 advisor of all things. And when you’re “doing SEO,” you’re basically having a chat with Google. You’re making your case to the Google robots that you know your stuff.
Do it right, and Google will be happy to push their billions of users toward you, and away from the competition.
The Key to Search Engine Optimization in 2020
When looking at SEO as one of your 2020 B2B marketing strategies, think outside the keyword box.
“Doing SEO” used to mean jamming in the right words at the right frequency, clarity be damned. But the rise of BERT (the new way Google handles natural language processing) makes for more contexualized search results.
Say you have two pieces of content.
One is “keyworded” perfectly.
One actually answers the question clearly and accurately.
Which is Google going to want?
Something that’s “keyworded” isn’t going to do as well as something that’s authoritative. Google makes money because they give people a good experience. Think about it. When’s the last time you got a junk search result from the big boss?
The main thing to remember here is that a better experience has nothing to do with keywords. It has everything to do with content and authority.
SEO and user experience are the same thing now. Focus on delivering something excellent, not trying to match word-for-word.
#3 – Conversion Rate Optimization
Conversion rate is simple. Divide your conversions by your traffic.
Boom. That’s conversion rate 101.
A lot of B2B sites see conversion rates of 0.25%, 1% – or in extremely impressive cases, upwards of 2-3%.
Wouldn’t you love to crank those numbers up this year? Of course!
So you’re going to A/B test, right?
Here’s the thing.
A/B testing has made people go berserk.
Folks A/B test everything. Unfortunately, they mostly A/B test stuff that has nothing to do with conversion rate.
People love to test button colors. Meanwhile, they ignore core messaging and imagery that actually might make a difference in CRO.
The Key to CRO in 2020
Conversion strategies for 2020 are, again, all about quality. You should excel at matching the message and the offer to the user.
Be realistic. Would you give away your contact information for a piece of crap “guide” that took 12 minutes to make in Word?
Give prospects something better, and you’ll get better leads.
#4 – Marketing Automation
Although marketing automation is 15-20 years old at this point, it has stood the test of time as a great way to get rid of manual tasks.
But what do you really need from marketing automation?
The Key to Marketing Automation in 2020
There’s a shift in the marketing automation landscape. People are tired of paying a lot for what they’re using as a glorified email platforms.
We’re seeing a steady stream of clients getting off their $2,000/month systems and adopting mid- or low-market alternatives.
You should think about doing the same. Ask yourself if you’re really getting bang for your buck. Could you do the same for less?
It’s important to figure out what’s truly necessary and what’s something you’re using just for the sake of using it.
#5 – Sponsored Research
As research tools have become better (SurveyMonkey, etc.) it’s become easier for companies to perform their own market research.
Which is great news for business intelligence.
You don’t need to wonder what your market wants. You can just ask your prospects! Build survey panels. Use LinkedIn to get to them directly. And do it all in a matter of days.
But outside of internal business intelligence, why not integrate research with content marketing?
The Key to Sponsored Research in 2020
Your prospects want intelligence as much as you do. And they’re definitely willing to provide contact information for it.
Remember the part about quality content driving conversions? Go ask the market what’s happening. Then package it up and offer it as a premium download.
That is actually valuable content. And the leads will flow in.
#6 – Email Marketing
Email marketing isn’t hard.
You build a list, then send it stuff.
A titillating tale as old as time itself.
There’s a reason everyone uses email marketing as one of their B2B marketing strategies. It’s just that easy.
But like content marketing, that also means your prospects are inundated.
That means it’s important to think about what makes the most sense for the users reading your emails.
The Key to Email Marketing in 2020
It’s increasingly important to build your emails in a user-friendly format.
Spam filters hate overly designed marketing emails. So do people.
So about email design in 2020. You don’t need some insane, three-column format with alternating colors and tons of images.
Instead, keep emails simple. Single column, with basic dividers and basic imagery. That’s all you need, really.
More than 70% of prospects read emails on their phones. The simpler it is, the more it’ll work across all platforms. And it wont’ look stupid when the formatting explodes because of Outlook.
The last thing we want is for you to look stupid. Because you’re quite smart.
#7 – Account-based Marketing
ABM has been around for about a decade. It’s just a fancy way of saying sales. You find a list of target accounts and use a mix of traditional and advanced marketing tech to start a conversation.
There are about a million different ways to do it. And for many folks, that way is through email.
But here’s the thing:
- Spam filters are getting smarter.
- Corporate rules are getting stricter (thanks a lot, phishing emails).
If emails are the only way you’re reaching out to prospects, they might not even get your emails, let alone open them.
The Key to ABM in 2020
Consider using direct mail.
You may be thinking, “Why would I do something as archaic as using the postal service?”
Well, for one, it’s less expensive than it used to be.
Plus, you can get fancy. We’ve seen success with video mailers. You pay $25-40 apiece for a designed box with an LCD screen inside. When the prospect opens the mailer, it plays your video.
Would you spend $40 plus postage to start a conversation with a $100,000 client?
The best part about direct mail is that people actually open it. It’s like opening Christmas gifts every day.
(If your Christmas gifts involve marketing messaging. But still.)
The worst-case scenario with direct mail, if you deliver something cool, is that it gets passed around and seen by a lot of people at a target account.
But the best-case scenario? The CEO gets their hands on it, opens it, thoroughly enjoys it, and gives you a call.
Doesn’t work that way with email anymore.
#8 – Geo-Targeted Advertising
Isn’t geo-based advertising just for car dealerships and coffee shops? Is it really a B2B marketing strategy?
Yes it is!
You could use geography simply. Setting up Google Search for a certain radius takes, like, 2 minutes.
But you can also get fancy with it. (Which we highly suggest.)
Geofencing lets you target individual addresses, down to a meter or so.
Here’s why this matters.
Say you wanted to sell to us, Altitude Marketing. You could target our office building and immediately serve ads to everyone who comes to our location.
The people who enter our office are the folks who work here.
The ones you want to sell to.
And you can target them directly without paying for third-party data.
Geofending is also a great tool to use during trade shows. If there’s a show from December 15-18 in your industry, target the building it’s in. They’re your people!
The Key to Geo-Targeted Advertising in 2020
Think about geo-targeted advertising like physical retargeting.
In web retargeting, you’re going after prospects who hit your website.
In geo-targeted advertising, you’re going after prospects who were in a certain physical area.
Spend some time with your team strategizing. Where are your sales targets? Where do they congregate? And when are they there?
Go after that location, and watch the leads roll in.
#9 – Search Advertising
Search advertising is as old as search networks. Someone searches for a term, people bid on placements, people click. You know the drill.
Basically every business does it. There’s a reason Google made $116 billion from advertising in 2018.
The Key to Search Advertising in 2020
Be positive – and focus on negatives.
That horrible pun aside, focusing on negative keywords is important to help cut down on useless spending in search advertising.
WordStream is hugely helpful for this. That platform can show you every query that triggered your ads.
If your ad is showing for queries that are irrelevant to you, you can immediately add that to your negative keywords pile.
This is a very important part of our marketing strategies for 2020 because, well … PPC is expensive. Some words can cost a lot more than you’d imagine.
You have to become super granular about what stuff you’re wiping out. Show up for what you need to. Nothing more, nothing less.
#10 – Display Advertising
Oh, banner blindness and ad blockers.
Remember the days of 2% CTRs on your display ads?
And know how you’re kind of happy with a .5% now?
Whether you’re using Google’s Display Network, an exotic platform or anything else, getting engagement is an increasing challenge.
The Key to Display Advertising in 2020
Focus on animation.
Look. Everyone knows it’s an ad. They ignore it, or block it entirely.
But even slight movement in those ads can break through banner blindness.
You could turn .1 second of attention into 2 or 3. Make them stop and stare. And make the message in the ad incredibly clear, too.
Remember, you want relevant clicks. Because clicks cost money.
#11 – Trade Shows
Nothing new under the sun with trade shows.
Folks from an industry gather. They sit through some sessions, and maybe learn a few things.
They man a booth, then exchange some business cards.
And around 6 p.m., they get drunk.
Then they do it the next day, but more hung over!
You’ve been there. You’re probably going back this year. It’s the way it is.
The Key to Trade Shows in 2020
Offer something bigger and better.
Everyone knows what they’re getting into when they go to these shows. Sessions, booths, business cards, a few drinks and some crappy pens.
But you are buying something when you exhibit at one. Something valuable.
Tradeshows are an investment in awareness, attention and (hopefully) leads. So grab attention! That 10×10 booth isn’t doing anything for you. Think about what a 20×20 could do. It’s more exciting. It’s a different experience.
And by doing that, you’re showing yourself off as a leader in your industry. You’re actually getting something for your dollars, even though you’re spending a few more.
If you go to a trade show this year, go big or go home.
#12 – Influencer Marketing
This popular marketing strategy works a little differently in B2B than in B2C.
In the consumer world, influencer marketing is all about Instagram and glamour shots.
In B2B, it’s about creating a connection with brands and people who matter to your buyers. It’s about getting people to associate you with that person or that brand.
Like how Google Analytics gave us a nice shoutout on Twitter.
The Key to B2B Influencer Marketing in 2020
Give influencers a good reason to mention you and associate with you. Don’t be pandering or creepy, but if you like a tech tool, write about it. Or give it a mention in a piece you’re already writing.
Nothing wrong with that. It’s good information for your readers, and might get you noticed by the big fish.
At the end of the day, you want people to want to associate with you.
#13 – Earned Media & PR
Earned media isn’t going anywhere. It will be on the list of B2B marketing strategies in 2020, 2021 and beyond.
Placements free, apart from time spent pitching. It’s great.
But you can always get more effective with your B2B PR strategy. This year, focus on the folks who are literally asking you to help them out.
The Key to Earned Media in 2020
Focus on reactive PR. HARO is a great resource here.
Go subscribe. It only takes a minute.
HARO is awesome because you get people asking you for content and opinions three times a day.
You don’t need to pitch in the dark. You just answer exactly what editors and writers want.
Do it right, and you’ll start racking up quality placements (and backlinks) in no time.
#14 – B2B Social Media
B2B social media is starting to feel past its prime. Look at Brand Twitter. It’s a joke.
But social media is not irrelevant to your business-to-business goals. In fact, doing it right should be one of your marketing strategies this year.
The Key to B2B Social Media in 2020
Give a good, hard think to what you’re doing and investing in.
Do you really need to spend time on your 20 Facebook followers?
Don’t be on social media just to “be on social media.” If you have a few hundred or a few thousand followers, give them some time. But really think about what you’re doing. Prioritize.
If you have five Pinterest followers and three of them are people that work at your company, just don’t even bother.
Pick your networks and use your time and resources wisely to make sure you’re staying in touch effectively with your followers. That $15,000 “humanizing” Twitter campaign with silly photos of your team can wait. Spend the money elsewhere.
#15 – Sales Enablement
Remember when B2B marketers could hand off leads and forget about them?
Doesn’t work that way anymore. Now, we’re tasked with not only generating leads, but also nurturing them through the sales process.
Everything we’ve talked about in this post doesn’t end when the prospect hits the CRM. It continues … and never really ends.
The Key to Sales Enablement in 2020
The best thing you can do in 2020 is to eliminate the gap that used to exist between marketing and sales.
Territory and blame need to go out the window. It’s not an MQL, an SQL, a SAL or any other acronym.
It’s not sales’ fault that nothing closed.
It’s not marketing’s revenue or sales’ revenue or yours or mine.
It’s everyone’s. We’re all in this together. Actually talk with each other. Focus on how sales can feed information to marketing. Produce the content that sales can use to close deals.
If You’ve Made it This Far …
- That’s impressive.
If you follow these 2020 B2B marketing strategies, you’ll be well on your way to breaking performance records and celebrating at next year’s performance review meeting.
We can cheers to that.