Online marketing for every stage of the sales process

A business-to-business marketing strategy is different than a business-to-consumer campaign. The sales cycle for B2B purchases is much longer than the same for B2C, for instance. As a result, B2B online marketing is a distinct type of advertising activity. B2B marketers should concentrate equally on each stage of the sales process for the most effective results possible.

Finding leads with SEO
The first part of any marketing strategy is reaching an organization's target audience. The sales process can't take place without interested people to sell to, after all. Much of what may come to mind as typical online marketing is useful in this stage.

Search engine optimization is key. Those doing research will only come across the company's product or service if its website ranks high on related searches. Otherwise, prospects may end up contacting competitors or other companies in the meantime. Marketers must keep up with algorithm changes and other alterations to SEO best practices, which occur frequently in the fast-moving online world.

Companies should also ensure that their local and mobile SEO efforts are robust. As more users access the Internet from mobile devices, it is important to cater to them by having a mobile website that meets all current mobile SEO requirements. Local SEO can help bring a business to the attention of prospects who are seeking resources in a particular geographic location.

Nurturing leads with content marketing and social media
Once a prospect has landed on an organization's website, marketing efforts continue. It is not enough for potential clients to have found the business; their interests have to be captured so that they will stay on the site. An attractive website that is easy to navigate is vital at this stage. A frustrating user experience will simply drive prospects away.

Content marketing is also very important to keep prospects engaged with a company's website for as long as possible. Research shows that B2B buyers are well on their way to making a final decision before they contact sales staff, which means that the website takes on part of the responsibility for guiding them. Content should be informative and interesting. If a company offers something of value on its website that prospects cannot find elsewhere, it will be both impressive and practical.

Social media marketing is about building community, just as nurturing leads is about making a connection. Therefore, the medium is a natural match for the task. Offering plenty of opportunities for leads and existing customers to communicate with the company fosters good feelings and can help involve staff earlier in the sales process.

Keeping in touch after the sale
When leads become customers, the sales process does not end, and neither should the marketing strategy. Maintaining contact with customers makes them feel cared for, which may increase the likelihood of them purchasing from a company again in the future. At this stage, marketing efforts should still include social media, which is a great place to make sure that a company stays at the top of a customer's mind (and news feed). If there is ever any need for support, many customers prefer to go through social media rather than trying to find the number for a support line.

Leveraging good customer experiences into compelling content is also a great idea. Clients may be flattered that their words and images are included in a company's content, and new leads will pay attention to the opinions of their peers. This is an opportunity to work on relationships with groups at different stages of the sales process at once, which can save valuable time.

With these and other strategies, businesses can ensure that they reach all of their potential and current customers.

Sheila Kloefkorn (1031 Posts)

With more than 20 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world’s largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing,, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.