In the world of B2B marketing, performance is everything. It’s all about driving results and achieving success. But how do you navigate a complex buyer landscape and predictably turn ad dollars into revenue?
In this blog, we dive deep into B2B performance marketing and explore the strategies that can lead to success. From understanding the fundamentals of B2B performance marketing to exploring tactics and channels for effective implementation, we’ll cover it all.
We’ll also take a closer look at optimizing different areas of the B2B marketing funnel and how to measure ROI. And as the industry continues to evolve, we’ll discuss how B2B marketers can adapt to rapid changes in performance marketing. So if you’re ready to take your B2B marketing efforts to the next level, let’s go!
What is B2B Performance Marketing
B2B performance marketing is centered around driving measurable results and ROI for businesses. By using data-driven tactics and technologies, performance marketers can optimize their campaigns for maximum effectiveness.
Crucially, it differs from traditional marketing in that it’s focused on tangible return on investment. It’s results-based. The goal of any performance marketer worth their salt is closing the loop on what returns they see from each dollar of marketing budget they invest. Whereas ‘traditional’ or ‘brand’ marketing is associated with building a company’s brand awareness and brand equity, performance marketing is focused on generating revenue directly, it sits a lot closer to sales than brand marketing.
B2B performance marketing strategies include targeting specific audiences across acquisition channels, using personalized messaging at scale, and closely tracking and analyzing performance metrics. The specific performance metric can vary, but typically it’s a click, lead or sale – or some type of action taken by the prospect that see’s the ad. As these performance marketing channels accrue data, B2B marketers can then begin to optimize campaigns and re-allocate budget according to what ad copy, tactics and strategies yield the best results.
To succeed in B2B performance marketing, it’s crucial to have a deep understanding of your target market and industry trends. Additionally, collaboration between marketing and sales teams, along with continuous testing and optimization, are key factors in achieving long-term success and ROI over time.
How Performance Marketing Works in a B2B Context
Performance marketing is crucial for B2B companies in today’s increasingly online world. Since performance marketing is mostly digital, professional services and enterprise product firms now dedicate significant portions of their budget to results-based channels like Facebook and Instagram, native advertising and PPC with Google Ads. And many CMOs expect this budget allocation to continue to increase.
Why? Performance marketing allows businesses to easily track and measure the success of their marketing efforts, optimizing their budget by focusing on strategies that deliver tangible results.
By targeting specific audiences and generating high-quality leads, performance marketing provides valuable insights and data to refine and improve B2B marketing strategies.
The Fundamentals of B2B Performance Marketing
Driving specific actions and outcomes from business-to-business customers is the core focus of B2B performance marketing. As mentioned above, the specific action can vary (from a form fill for a lead magnet, to requesting a sales quote or signing up to an email newsletter).
By employing data-driven strategies, marketers optimize their efforts to achieve measurable results. Understanding the target audience and their buying journey is crucial in this context. To track and evaluate campaign effectiveness, key performance indicators (KPIs) play a vital role – we’ll dive into what metrics to look at later in this article. And successful B2B performance marketing relies on continuous testing, analysis, and optimization to improve outcomes over time.
Tactics and Channels for Effective B2B Performance Marketing
For effective B2B performance marketing, brands typically use a portfolio of digital marketing channels. Using targeted advertising on social media platforms, online publications and search engines to increase visibility.
Email marketing campaigns are also used to nurture leads, while affiliate programs help B2B brands reach a wider audience and use industry influencers for promotion.
Using Google Ads for B2B Marketing
Google Ads offers B2B marketers the ability to reach a specific in-market audience through precise targeting based on keywords and demographics.
It also allows for tracking conversions and measuring campaign success in real-time, with various ad formats available to cater to different marketing goals.
Remarketing campaigns can be utilized to stay engaged with potential customers across multiple touch points, and robust analytics and reporting tools are provided to optimize and improve B2B marketing strategies.
As a Google Ads agency, we’re biased – but pay-per-click and Google Ads really is one of the best channel for acquiring new B2B customers at scale.
Social Media Ads and B2B Performance Marketing
Social media ads provide valuable targeting options to reach specific B2B audiences. Sponsoring engaging content on social media helps nurture in-market leads and keep your brand top of mind with potential buyers. LinkedIn, with its professional user base, is particularly popular for B2B performance marketing.
As is evidenced by Meta’s continued revenue growth – social media advertising is incredibly effective, and a powerful tool for demand creation. But aside from ads, establishing a strong organic social media presence and community establishes credibility and fosters deeper customer relationships and brand affinity.
Email Marketing as a B2B Strategy
Email marketing is a crucial strategy for B2B marketers. There’s a good reason why Hubspot, Pardot and Market make so much money – they are incredibly effective at moving the revenue needle for B2B brands.
Email marketing enables personalized and targeted communication with prospects, nurturing relationships and generating leads in a cost-effective way, by delivering timely and relevant content. ‘Marketing automation’ is another way that performance marketers refer to email marketing tools that move prospects down the pipeline. Marketing automation tools add sophistication to email marketing programs by triggering email sends when prospects complete a certain action, or visit a specific web page.
Additionally, email marketing allows B2B companies to establish thought leadership, showcasing expertise and leveraging metrics like open rates and click-through rates to optimize campaigns. Incorporating email marketing into B2B strategies can significantly enhance performance and convert top-of-funnel interest into sales and closed revenue.
Playing the Long Game – Tactical B2B SEO
In the world of B2B performance marketing, playing the long game is crucial when it comes to SEO. Search Engine Optimization by it’s nature takes a long time to yield results. Typically SEO programs take at least 6 months until you start to see results, although realistically it can be over 12 months until you see the full effects of your work. That doesn’t mean that SEO isn’t worth the investment, quite the opposite. The magic of SEO is that it compounds over time, so it pays to get started early.
By focusing on specific tactics, like optimizing website content and implementing strategic keyword targeting and on-page optimization, businesses can attract targeted B2B audiences and drive qualified traffic. Ongoing monitoring, analysis, and adjustments are necessary to stay ahead of search engine algorithm updates. Building high-quality backlinks from authoritative industry websites is needed not only to boost organic rankings but also enhance website credibility in the eyes of search engines.
Long-term commitment to B2B SEO leads to sustainable organic traffic growth and increased business opportunities. But patience is key.
The B2B Marketing Funnel and Performance Marketing
The B2B marketing funnel operates differently from B2C, requiring personalized and targeted campaigns to generate quality leads. Performance marketing tactics like SEO and PPC advertising play a crucial role in driving traffic and increasing brand visibility. By measuring KPIs and using marketing automation tools, marketers can optimize their efforts and streamline processes for better efficiency. Remember that alignment is key – collaboration between marketing and sales teams makes every dollar go further.
Let’s take a look at some tactics to use at different stages of the B2B funnel:
Awareness Stage Tactics
To create awareness in the B2B performance marketing space, you should focus on providing value before anything else. With this in mind, content creation and distribution plays a crucial role in educating your target audience through informative blog posts, social posts and articles.
Social media advertising allows you to promote your brand and content on platforms where your audience is active. Social ads are particularly effective for top-of-funnel plays because they are great at demand creation. Events, both virtual and offline shouldn’t be underestimated. Hosting webinars and events can engage and educate potential customers. While SEO optimization can increase visibility in search engine results, and is usually driven by your content strategy.
Consideration Stage Tactics
During the consideration stage, it’s important to nurture leads and provide them with valuable information to assist in their decision-making process. At this point you’ll have captured cold traffic, and either have someone’s email address that will allow 1:1 nurturing, or they’ll be a part of your ad remarketing audience.
Content marketing is again – key strategy during this stage, but this time you can offer different content types – think case studies and process guides that showcase your expertise and real-world wins.
Paid search is incredibly effective for consideration stage prospects – as it allows you to target in-market buyers who are actively looking for a solution.
Retargeting campaigns can also be effective in reminding potential customers about your product or service. Personalized email drip campaigns allow for tailored communication based on specific segments, while audits and demos provide an opportunity for leads to see your offering in action.
Decision Stage Tactics
When it comes to the decision stage, it’s crucial to provide potential customers with the right ammo they need to make a final decision. This can include case studies, testimonials, and product demos that showcase the value of your solution.
Personalized content and targeted messaging play a vital role in addressing specific pain points and objections during the decision-making process.
Implementing a lead nurturing campaign can keep you top of mind and provide valuable information that aids in making a confident decision. Furthermore, leveraging customer reviews and social proof can build trust and credibility, which ultimately influences the decision-making process.
Optimizing Different Areas of the B2B Marketing Funnel
Optimizing the B2B marketing funnel involves strategically focusing on different areas to drive the best results.
At the top of the funnel, implement strategies to generate awareness and attract potential customers. In the middle, nurture leads with targeted content and personalized messaging to build relationships. And at the bottom, convert leads into customers using targeted offers and personalized sales approaches.
Continuously monitor performance using data and analytics, and collaborate with sales teams to optimize the customer journey and drive conversions.
Optimizing the Top of the Funnel
Use persona-targeted advertising and actionable content to attract potential leads and generate interest in your brand. Use lead magnets and opt-in forms to capture contact information and build your email list.
Measure and analyze the effectiveness of these strategies to refine and optimize your approach. Once you have a baseline of performance data, you can then test different messaging angles, benefit statements and audience segments to see what drives a better conversion rate (usually email opt-ins).
However a word of caution, don’t test too many things at once. It’s best to test one high-leverage area, assess the impact and then move onto the new test. If you test a bunch of things at once, you might not get enough signal to know that the change you’ve made is actually moving the needle.
Mid-Funnel Optimization Strategies
Mid-funnel optimization focuses on nurturing leads and guiding them towards conversion. Marketing automation tools can streamline lead nurturing and improve efficiency. Try implementing lead scoring methods to help identify qualified leads and prioritize follow-up efforts.
This is where A/B testing really shines, try different email subject lines, cadences and content offerings. Most marketing automation tools provide a wealth of analytics and data – use them to understand what’s working in your mid-funnel strategy and how to trim the fat to get more sales opportunities.
Bottom of the Funnel Optimization Techniques
This is where we recommend allocating the majority of your marketing budget. Paid search will continue to pay dividends here as high-intent prospects research your product or service offering online. The bottom of the funnel is where you’ll get the most value for testing and optimization, so go about it wisely!
Personalized web content and email sequences will drive sales conversations and conversions. Build trust and credibility with potential customers using social proof – show off your best case studies and testimonials. If sales conversations are active, you can drive immediate action and conversions to sales by offering limited-time promotions or discounts.
Measuring and Improving ROI in B2B Performance Marketing
To ensure success in B2B performance marketing, it is crucial to set clear goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that align with your business objectives. By continuously optimizing your campaigns based on data-driven insights and stringent A/B testing, you can identify the most effective strategies and tactics. Collaborating with your sales teams will further enhance efficiency and align marketing efforts with revenue generation.
Key Metrics for B2B Performance Marketing
There are several key metrics that you should pay attention to, so listen up.
Lead conversion rate is probably your most important number, which measures the percentage of leads that complete a certain action, this could be a demo signup, or even turning into a paying customer – it varies at each stage of the funnel. The beauty of mapping your marketing activities to a funnel is that you can identify where areas of dropoff are, and devise tests to improve conversion rates from one stage to another.
Another crucial metric is your customer acquisition cost (CAC), which tracks how much it costs to acquire each new customer. Additionally, it’s essential to determine the customer lifetime value (LTV), which reflects the average value of a customer over their lifetime.
Your return on ad spend (ROAS) is another important metric to calculate the revenue generated from advertising compared to the cost. Lastly, monitoring overall website traffic including unique new users, time on page and traffic sources allows you to gauge overall marketing healthy and determine the effectiveness of your B2B performance campaigns.
Tools for Measuring B2B Marketing Success
Analytics platforms, CRM systems, marketing automation tools, A/B testing tools, and social media analytics tools are essential for measuring the success of B2B marketing campaigns. These tools provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of various marketing strategies and tactics.
Analytics platforms help track and analyze key metrics, while CRM systems enable tracking the impact of marketing efforts on customer acquisition and retention.
Marketing automation tools assist in monitoring and optimizing ROI through lead generation and nurturing.
A/B testing tools help compare different marketing strategies to identify the most effective ones, and social media analytics tools allow tracking engagement, reach, and conversions from B2B marketing activities.
How can B2B marketers adapt to rapid changes in Performance Marketing?
The world is changing fast, and this pace of change shows no sign of slowing down. To adapt to rapid changes in performance marketing, B2B marketers have to stay updated on the latest trends and technologies. Be sure to continuously track and analyze metrics to identify areas for improvement.
Following industry experts for your most important channels can be useful, you can find these people on LinkedIn and X (the platform formerly known as Twitter). While testing out beta features for ad platforms can give you a first-mover advantage over competitors.
Remember to never stop experimenting – always be testing. What worked last year probably won’t be as effective this year, so if you’ve adopted a ‘set and forget’ approach to marketing, you’re likely missing out on revenue opportunities.
The Future of B2B Performance Marketing
The future of B2B performance marketing is being shaped by several key trends.
Personalization and targeted messaging are becoming increasingly important in B2B marketing, as businesses strive to connect with their audience on a more personal level.
Account-based marketing (ABM) is also gaining momentum, allowing companies to focus their efforts on a select group of high-value accounts.
AI technology and automation are playing a bigger role in B2B performance marketing, helping businesses streamline processes and improve efficiency.
Finally, the alignment of sales and marketing efforts is crucial for success in B2B performance marketing, as it ensures a cohesive and integrated approach. As performance marketers sit close to revenue, they should be in constant communication with sales teams to ensure the best results.
Does B2B Performance Marketing guarantee success?
While B2B performance marketing can greatly increase your chances of success, it does not guarantee it. Success in B2B performance marketing depends on various factors such as target audience, product/service quality, and competitive landscape.
Implementing a well-planned strategy and continuously monitoring and optimizing campaigns can improve your chances of success. It’s important to always set realistic goals and expectations when it comes to B2B performance marketing.
Before rolling out large-scale marketing programs or making investments in pricy tooling, first run smaller-scale 3-month pilots to prove out the value and ROI of your assumptions. Once you have a baseline understanding of expected return, you can begin to invest further and make requests for bigger budgets with some nice wins under your belt.
B2B performance marketing requires a strategic and targeted approach to achieve success. By understanding the fundamentals of B2B performance marketing and utilizing tactics such as Google Ads, social ads, email marketing, content and SEO, you can effectively reach your target audience at every stage of the marketing funnel.
It’s essential to optimize different areas of the funnel and measure key metrics to track the success of your campaigns. However, it’s important to note that slapping together a scrappy B2B performance marketing plan does not guarantee success. It requires careful planning, deep channel understanding, and adaptability to rapid changes in the industry to stay ahead of emerging trends. If you’re ready to take your B2B performance marketing to the next level, get in touch with our team for a complimentary quote and see how we can help your business win more revenue with our proven process.