Most businesses don’t have a Super Bowl budget — and even if they did, would they really want to drop millions on a single 30-second commercial spot? The truth is that the internet has made marketing surprisingly inexpensive but all the more competitive. Cost-effective digital marketing strategies have helped bootstrapped startups climb up to the same playing field as legacy brands — and the right strategy works, no matter the size of your business.
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, many companies found their marketing budgets rising to new heights. According to The CMO Survey’s June 2020 report, companies spent 12.6% of their firm budget and 11.4% of their revenues on marketing, the highest amount in the survey’s history. This was likely because firm budgets and revenue dropped as companies scrambled to retain customers.
Today, nearly 70% of marketers plan to increase their budget throughout 2021, but it’s not about spending more. It’s about spending smarter. When a full-page ad in The Washington Post costs more than $163,000 for a readership of about half a million people, you start to wonder, isn’t there anything better out there? Wouldn’t a post from a few influencers with the same collective amount of subscribers cost less? Are B2B companies really stuck with traditional methods like costly print ads in trade publications?
The world has gone digital, and so can B2B brands. As it turns out, the most cost-effective marketing strategies for B2B companies happen online.
Create segmented email lists, and make users opt-in twice
Email marketing is one of the most popular strategies for B2B brands, and it’s not surprising considering a 2019 Litmus report found it to have a 4,200% ROI. Yes: for every dollar spent on email marketing, companies made an average of $42 in return. Still, there are ways to maximize your ROI in this already lucrative method.
First, never underestimate a good subject line or CTA. Litmus found that brands that always use A/B testing (and, for example, test a couple of different email subject lines or CTAs) generate a 4,800% ROI. Meanwhile, brands that had double opt-in to subscribe to their email list saw a 13% higher ROI than brands that used a single opt-in. Why? Customers who decisively join an email are higher-quality leads.
Since email marketing isn’t one size fits all solution, segmented email campaigns also help increase conversions (some research has even shown a 760% increase in email revenue for segmented campaigns (this is huge). Segmentation is particularly effective in the realm of B2B when the customer buying journey is incredibly long. Instead of annoying less enthusiastic customers, who may unsubscribe from your list altogether with the wrong messaging, meet your customers where they are. Send messages that sync up with their position in the sales funnel and the unique needs they have as a result.
Utilize inbound marketing with a solid SEO content strategy
Most marketers have heard the phrase “content is king” passed around on the internet, but it’s popular because it’s true. Content is more valuable to brands than ever, and B2B buyers consume an average of 13 pieces of content before making a purchasing decision. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of low-quality content floating around on the internet. Inbound marketing flips this idea on its head by focusing only on the creation of valuable content — the kind that’s actually helpful to customers.
Inbound marketing is particularly effective when used as part of an SEO content strategy to boost organic search engine traffic. Google uses many factors to rank websites on their search pages (from backlinks to page load speed to HTTPS status), but their algorithm has increasingly factored in quality. In other words, if your content is actually useful to your audience, it will succeed — especially with all the other SEO bells and whistles factored in. In fact, nearly 75% of marketers cite SEO as the most efficient content marketing tactic.
If you have an in-house writer, a content strategy doesn’t have to cost much, though most B2B businesses find greater success by hiring a small specialized SEO team. Content can even be adapted to social media or video to help get the biggest bang for your buck.
Turn your focus to social media
For some companies, social media costs nothing but time. It doesn’t take much effort to throw up a few posts, but you don’t have to sell yourself short. A targeted social strategy is still relatively inexpensive compared to traditional forms of marketing, and it attracts high-quality leads.
Paid social ads are often seen as the lowest barrier in a digital advertising strategy. Any page can throw $10 in to boost a post, but an effective strategy includes sharp targeting and numerous forms of content and collaboration, especially if you want to reach people outside of your existing social circle. Your strategy should include things like
- Paid targeted ads
- Useful blog content
- Video content (which historically elicits shares)
- Social collaborations with B2B influencers and like-minded brands
Your campaign will be the most cost-effective if you target the highest quality leads. For example, a cart abandonment campaign on Facebook that circles back items to the people who almost purchased them will probably have a higher success rate than a blanket ad promoting a new service. Additionally, you should pick your social networks wisely. For example, more B2B decision-makers are on LinkedIn than, say, TikTok.
Remember: digital strategies are scalable
You may be apprehensive to throw a big chunk of change at a marketing strategy that your company hasn’t tried before, especially if it falls outside of the realm of traditional B2B marketing. Trade shows are a time-honored tradition dating back to 3000 BCE, but something like LinkedIn was founded in 2002.
Fortunately, digital strategies are so cost-effective because they’re scalable. You can start with a basic social media strategy or content strategy and increase the budget as you start to see a positive ROI.