Things to do in 2017 for your B2B brand

bigstock-124408637If you’re a marketing professional working on behalf of a B2B company, you understand the marketing challenges that can come with trying to sell to other companies. Establishing your brand’s reputation and gaining the trust of customers and prospects is the best way to win market share and beat back the competition in the long run.

So with that in mind, what can you do to ensure your B2B brand is showing your business’ strengths and building trust with your audience? Here are four great ways to improve your company’s brand in 2017.

Start a blog

Blogging is essential to building a brand’s status into an industry leader. If you want your company to appear credible and attract more traffic, there has to be a steady stream of valuable content coming from your website. According to a study by HubSpot, B2B companies who post at least 11 blogs per month get almost three times more traffic to their websites than those who posted one or no blogs per month.

By producing blog posts that are relevant to your target audience and add value to their businesses, you are establishing yourself as a company that’s capable of giving industry advice and aligning your brand as an important source of information. The same HubSpot study revealed that companies who post to their blog at least sixteen times per month get 4.5 times more leads than those who post under four times per month. And every marketing professional knows that it takes more leads to get more conversions and move the needle on sales growth.

Blog posts are also a great way to drive SEO. By following best SEO practices — adding relevant keywords with hypertext links, alt tags for your images and keyword driven titles —  you improve your website’s ability to be found on search engines when somebody is looking for your products and services.

Rethink your social media strategy

How is your company using social media? Do you make the occasional post to Twitter or LinkedIn and forget about continuing the conversation and come back to it weeks or months after? Or are you consistently making posts and creating a following of customers, prospects and influencers?

If you want to up your social media game and attract more website traffic and awareness for your brand, then you may want to get more strategic in your approach. Start by researching your target audience. What sort of pages do they follow on social media and why? What are these pages offering the people you want to engage with? Are their media outlets they follow and you should to? Do they “like” or share certain kinds of content over others? With this knowledge, you can develop a social media content strategy that will attract the exact people you want to visit your site and, with any luck, convert into hot leads.

For most B2B companies, the social media strategy and execution is very different from B2C companies. Because you’re catering to people in a business setting instead of marketing directly to consumers, you are often forced to adopt a more professional, facts-driven persona than what a typical B2C brand can use. That said, you are still free to create your own approach as long as it is in synch with your customers and prospects.

The most fruitful social media platform for B2B marketing is LinkedIn. The content you share can and should include your weekly blog posts, articles you read from the media or other influencers, content from your customers, important events impacting your industry such as trade shows, and more.

Not to be neglected are platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Twitter has become a go-to social network for media and influencers so ignore it at your peril. If attending a trade show is part of your annual marketing strategy then make sure to use Twitter to record your experiences and observations from the trade show floor. You can also retweet other trade show attendees — customers, prospects and influencers — to further advance your brand awareness and deepen your customer engagement.

Facebook is the wildcard of B2B social media strategy. At this point, Facebook lags LinkedIn and Twitter as a B2B platform but that may not be for long. It’s the world’s largest social platform with nearly 1.2 billion active users. The social network is hands down the best advertising platform and has the incredibly accurate demographic targeting. It’s only a matter of time before Facebook becomes a go-to resource for B2B companies as well.

No matter the platform, however, if you are not paying to boost the reach of your social media activities you are missing the boat. At one point it was possible to organically grow the reach of a brand on social media. Those days are long gone. So in 2017 you would be wise to research the various social media networks and how to optimize their advertising platforms to maximize your effectiveness.  

More inbound

Successful B2B brands have figured out how to drive new leads from the web. What does that mean exactly? Inbound marketing refers to a strategy of creating content across a wide variety of company owned and branded assets — website, landing pages, social media, white papers

If “content is king”, then consistency is the queen. Without consistency in your message, your brand seems confusing and unaligned, making people less likely to do business with your company.

Along with message consistency, you should regularly post on your blog and social media channels to drive the most amount of traffic as possible to your website and build a relationship with your customer base. Posting consistently keeps you top-of-mind with your customers and gives the impression that your company is stable enough to put time and effort into their online presence.

Improve your website

The importance of having a great website is easily overlooked. Yet it’s the first thing prospects usually see, and they judge you heavily on its appearance and quality of information provided. Like it or not, your brand is represented by your website, so it should portray your company just as you want to be perceived.

Ask yourself – Does your website still reflect your current goals and message? Is it downloading fast and does it feature fresh content such as white papers, case studies and current call-to-actions? Is the website traffic growing over time and capturing new leads? If you answered “no” to any these questions, it is time to revamp your website.

You could always do this yourself by using a user-friendly platform like Wix or SquareSpace. If you are on WordPress, however, you may be better served by purchasing a dynamic, easily-maintained template and have a developer assist you with any back-end programming. That said, if you don’t have much graphic and web design experience in-house, it makes more sense to hire an outside web design agency to get the job done right.

About Kris Bushong: Kris is a student at Texas State University in San Marcos and a marketing communications intern at Manzer Communications. She supports clients with social media, blogging and tech PR activities. Manzer Communications has offices in Austin, Denver and Houston and provides digital marketing and PR services for tech companies seeking rapid, sustained growth. Some of the services provided include content marketing, social media strategy and ad buys, email marketing, and media relations.

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