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Building B2B Brand Awareness Across the Buyer Journey

Are you a B2B company looking to grow your brand awareness?

The way B2B buyers make decisions is changing. Brands need to understand how they can best engage them along the sales cycle.

Digital channels have become the most influential way of doing this.
Brands that don’t embrace digital-first risk being left behind as this change is exponential.

The buyer journey has changed significantly in recent years, with buyers becoming increasingly self-sufficient when making complex business buying decisions.

They are shifting from being influenced by salespeople to being influenced through digital channels, and brands that don’t embrace a digital-first approach are at risk of being left behind as this change is happening at an exponential rate.

This means that companies must take into account what makes each channel unique in order to provide value across the entire buyer journey – not just during the purchase process but also before and after too!

It’s no longer enough for brands to be present on these channels; they need to create content that resonates with their audience so they can build trust and authority within their market sector.

Buyers want helpful information which speaks directly about their pain points or challenges – if you can demonstrate clearly how your product or service will help them overcome these issues, then you’re onto a winner!

Brands must engage prospects and customers at a personal level; you must understand them, share their pain points and demonstrate clearly and personally how you can help.

This more emotive buying attitude is what B2C brands have always done well, and now is the time for B2B brands too to embrace this approach; the thing is, that’s not easy, and it needs to be done across the whole buyer journey.

Unfortunately, when it comes to marketing efforts many businesses, only focus on generating leads. This is true of large companies and other businesses that are market challengers.

The reason is that such demand generation efforts provide more immediate results; it’s easy to buy leads on a CPL basis and get valuable information in front of purchase decision-makers; however, this isn’t going to generate trust.

A B2B must also address its target market through valuable brand awareness tactics; a hybrid approach with a well-balanced media plan is normally best.

We explain why with actionable insights, sit back, relax and read on.

Crafting B2B Brand Awareness Across the Buyer Journey

The future of B2B buying is changing; brand advertising needs to adapt.

In order to be part of this new age of digital-first buying, B2B brands need to shift their mindset from ‘push sales messages’ to building trust with prospects through online brand awareness. But many salespeople are still stuck in the past, operating under the assumption that more calls, more emails and more sales meetings will do the trick.

The truth is that business customers are spending less time when making complex buying decisions, and B2B brand advertising has never been as important.
In order to build a strong brand, valuable content marketing as a stand-alone approach isn’t enough. Sure, that’s good for search engine optimisation / organic traffic. Your marketing strategies need to be complemented with a digital media first approach, which includes building brand awareness and standing out from the crowd through paid campaigns, third-party sites and social media channels.

The results of recent campaigns run by Advant Technology show that when companies increase their digital presence through holistic online branding, leads grow faster than when they don’t.

This demonstrates the significant impact building a strong online presence can have on B2B lead generation.

B2B buying is a collective decision

Keep in mind that you are speaking to a collective group of people. It’s not just about getting your name in front of that group; it’s about influencing how they feel about you.

To succeed, you’ll need the collective perception of the company to be positive, trustworthy and relatable. That way, your target audience is more likely to buy your product or service.

Remember: people buy on emotion, not on logic. The more you can get them interested in your business and its products and services, the more likely they are to consider purchasing it.

B2B user journey analysis

Example of a Buyer Journey Research

Deconstructing the right brand building approach for your company starts with a user journey needs analysis, which should form part of any successful marketing strategy. Before you do anything else, make sure you understand what it is that makes a good digital campaign that aligns with your brand’s objectives. Question everything down from the activities involved to the reporting and analytics. Keep it lean, easy to measure and communicable.

Start with a buyer’s journey

Buyer_Journey_Research
Example of a Buyer Journey Analysis

Think about what makes you, your brand and your product unique in a sea of competition.

  • What will make potential customers choose you over a competitor?
  • What will make your existing customers stay?
  • What is the USP that sets you apart?

This is not just related to product or service, but also in terms of the overall company values, vision and goals. It would be best if you focused on the areas where your brand has a competitive advantage and how your product is more innovative than your competitors.

Advant Technology works has proprietary technology mapping the buyer journey with close attention built around data science and custom algorithms to decipher what’s most important to your customers. This then helps form the foundation of your marketing strategies.

Key areas of focus should include:

  • Understanding the buyer journey and stage in the buying cycle
  • Identifying potential pain points and problems your buyers are facing. How can you help them solve these problems?
  • Defining a target audience
  • Alignment of content with customer’s needs, goals and objectives. Not just product features
  • Audience targeting based on behavior, company goals, objectives, positioning and intent
  • Digital paid media campaigns need to be performance-driven with strong analytics
  • Keep it simple with clear marketing messages around benefits over features

To achieve this, it is important to know the answers to the following questions:

  • Who is involved in the buying process? (i.e. C-suite)
  • What do they value? (i.e. price, security, speed)
  • How does that change throughout the process? (i.e. awareness, consideration, preference)
  • How does this shift affect the types of messages & messaging they respond to?
  • What platforms do they use to access information about your products/services?
  • What are their pain points, both in and out of the process?
  • How can you address these issues?
  • When is it appropriate to engage with them?

Many companies make the mistake of jumping straight into paid media campaigns without first mapping out their buyer’s journey and building the right content marketing strategy.

Mapping out the buyer’s journey is an effective way to understand where your audience is in the market, what they’re looking for and how they interact with your content.

It’s important first to define your brand positioning, set out your vision and develop a comprehensive digital paid media plan that serves as a guide for all other marketing efforts, including PR, events, content and social media marketing. Also, don’t underestimate the power of showing the human side of the business through testimonials and customer stories.

Our USP in B2B branding

When you have a good understanding of your USP, it’s time to look at a brand awareness campaign. It would help if you reached prospects at different stages of the buying process.

In the awareness stage, prospective customers need to know about your company and product offering as the first point of contact.

In the consideration and preference stages, prospects start comparing brands to see who fits their needs best. Once they have made a decision for a specific brand or supplier, in the purchase and delivery stages you should keep them loyal by delivering on your promises.

To create strong brand awareness, you need to make sure your online presence is consistent across the different channels (paid social media, organic search & display advertising, third-party sites and blogs).

You can’t expect prospects to visit all of these places, but it’s important they understand who you are when they come across your brand.

With an efficient DSP (demand-side platform) you can control the frequency of messages in paid advertising and leverage remarketing to move buyers through a sequence of content messages that will drive your audience from awareness to lead (MQL), and finally and hopefully SQLs and sales.

What content do I need for B2B branding?

One of the most important aspects is creating quality content that presents value for the reader.

It should be free, educational and relevant to your target audience. This could include videos, infographics, blogs/thought leadership pieces, eBooks & whitepapers, webinars & seminars. Make sure you have a consistent look across all your content – through colours & logo placement for easy recognition online. All of this falls within your content marketing strategy.

If you want to increase brand awareness and brand perception, your website needs to be more than just a place of transactions and delivery of content.

It’s also a marketing hub where you can build trust, show expertise and generate leads from inbound traffic. It would be best if you created specific landing pages for ad campaigns so visitors know exactly what they’re looking at and you can track the return on your investment.

Brand awareness strategy

Consistency of message – Your unique selling proposition, go-to-market strategy and personas are key messages that need to be communicated consistently through all your marketing strategies.

Optimise your website – Aim for your website to rank (organically or through paid advertising) for the right keywords and have a deep understanding of search intent so you can create content that resonates with prospects at each stage in their buying process.
Target audience – You need to understand who you’re aiming to reach and the channels they use when researching products or services online.
Share of voice – You can’t expect prospects to come across your website by chance. It would help if you were where the search is taking place by anticipating what they are looking for, when and where.

This could be through creating content on third-party websites or social media platforms, joining relevant groups and communities online or using paid advertising depending on your industry and market. Think about where you might be able to repurpose existing content as part of your long term brand-building strategy and whether you have any internal spokespeople who could be put forward as industry experts at events.

Best marketing channels to build awareness

Social media content is an important part of increasing brand awareness as it allows you to reach specific audiences and get an insight into how they interact with certain types of content. It also enables you to see what’s trending, create conversations around topics that interest your prospects and engage with influencers in your industry.

You need to understand where your audience is in the buyer’s journey and what content they engage with most.

If you’re reaching prospects during the consideration and preference stages of their buying process, social media is the perfect place to share information, provide insight into problems you solve and keep prospects engaged with your brand. Below, we dig into a few examples of social channels where and how to use social to reach decision-makers.

LinkedIn ads

LinkedIn has been known as an effective platform for generating awareness around buyer personas – it’s great for reaching decision-makers in your industry, sharing relevant content about topics that matter most to your audience and engaging with other professionals in your industry.

It’s also a great platform to attract new customers, or if you use video formats, it can be a great platform showcasing your brand story.

PPC & Google ads

Google AdWords is an effective paid channel for B2B marketers because it allows you to reach audiences based on keywords & intent data. For example, if you’re conducting research into cloud solutions for your company, you’d want to target your ads only at people looking for information on cloud platforms so you can increase the number of leads in your pipeline.
It enables you to reach a highly relevant audience based on interests, intentions and behaviours, meaning the right people see your ad at the right time.

Programmatic ads

Example Programmatic Display Ad
Example Programmatic Display Ad
Example Programmatic Display Ad
Example Programmatic Display Ad
Example Programmatic Display Ad
Example Programmatic Display Ad
Example Programmatic Display Ad
Example Programmatic Display Ad

Programmatic ads can be an effective way to reach a very specific, relevant audience that has expressed intent around the types of products or services you offer.
An effective way to use them is through a combination of programmatic & organic channels, as it provides you with total control over how much traffic is coming from each source.

For example, you can use data around intent behaviour to create highly relevant ads in programmatic display, native and video advertising; you can then use analytics tools to see how many of them went on to make a purchase and what conversion rates are, which helps you understand how your paid ads contribute to the success of your overall marketing program.

Some platforms you could consider for getting your firmographics, and intent data is Bombora, Dun&Bradstreet, 123 Push and Stirista.

Combined with a strong understanding of your customer, great content and targeted data, programmatic typically outperform due to its cost efficiency and scale. It’s a robust channel that many marketers don’t leverage.

Try a mixture of video native and display formats for maximum reach and A/B test using a controlled experiment. It’s a great way to reach your audience through different types of content formats, and it enables you to test which ad units work best for the audience you’re trying to target.

Remember that since many B2B sales cycles are 6-12 months, you must stay active throughout the journey; an on / off approach won’t be effective in nurturing your customers.

When it comes to B2B marketing strategy, paid ads need to be tailored to specific personas at the different stages of the buying process. Brand awareness is not only helpful at the top of the funnel; it’s important across all B2B marketing.

Reporting on brand awareness & measuring success

If you want people to know about your organisation, you need to tell them about what you have and keep them updated. This can be a first step in getting people interested in your brand and will show what kind of company you are.
When this is done right, it can provide value and resources to people before they even contact you.

It’s important to use analytics tools to measure campaign performance and ROI so you can justify how your advertising efforts are generating results for your business.
You want to see which channels and types of ads are most effective so you can dedicate the majority of your budget to those options.

In order to do this, you need to have a clear understanding of your key performance indicators, so you know what’s working and what isn’t.

Use analytics tools & reports to see which channels are most effective for generating brand awareness and other top-of-the-funnel metrics, such as web traffic and total conversion rates.

Wrapping it up: brand awareness

B2B_Brand_Awareness
B2B Brand Awareness

Let’s summarise this article in 8 points:

  1. Brand awareness ensures that people are aware of your business, its products, or its services. This is not only helpful at the top of the funnel but also across all stages in the long run.
  2. The buying process for B2B organisations is long and requires consistent messaging over time to nurture prospects through their journey. Thus, it is important to be active over the long run through many touchpoints.
  3. The best way to create brand awareness is by using a combination of paid, organic, content and programmatic channels.
  4. Focus on specific personas at different stages in the funnel for your B2B marketing efforts, or you’ll lose traction.
  5. Digital advertising is the most effective way to create brand awareness due to its low cost, high scale and targeting capabilities. It can be used alongside other top-of-the-funnel tactics such as content marketing to ensure your brand gets maximum exposure over time.
  6. Reporting on brand awareness is important to generate results that justify your advertising efforts. It would be best if you used analytics tools proactively to measure campaign performance and ROI, so you can optimise your digital marketing budget.
  7. Never forget to A/B test ad formats, audiences and content types in order to maximise exposure for your brand awareness objectives.
  8. If you want people to know about your organisation, you need to let them know. Tell them about what you have and keep them updated. This can be a first step in getting people interested in your brand and its offerings.
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