Conventional wisdom says that customer retention is the most important element for B2B growth. And that’s how many B2Bs organize their marketing efforts—lots of work goes into loyalty and retention, with acquisition campaigns often getting the leftovers.
But what does the data say?
It turns out that the only reliable way for B2Bs to grow is through customer acquisition, according to data from a study commissioned by the LinkedIn B2B Institute.
But there’s more: not only is acquisition more important for B2B growth than retention, but marketing isn’t the best department to deal with retention at all—that’s best left to sales and customer experience.
How should B2Bs operate with this knowledge, and what marketing tactics should be employed to boost that customer acquisition?
Let’s take a closer look.
What’s the best marketing strategy to drive B2B growth?
As you can read in LinkedIn’s post, focusing marketing activities on new customers has a much greater impact on business outcomes than focusing on retention.
However, the greatest benefit comes from targeting both non-customers and existing customers.
What are the best B2B marketing strategies for customer acquisition?
To attract new customers, B2Bs need to invest in these two B2B marketing strategies:
- Content marketing
- Paid advertising
Content marketing is central to both acquisition and retention, but there are certain types of content that are especially powerful for bringing in new customers.
- Lead magnets
- Blogging and guest posts
Lead magnets are substantial, valuable, gated pieces of content that you place on your website, which prospects can download in exchange for an email address (and potentially additional information like name, job title, etc.).
Options for a lead magnet include:
- Product demos
- Trend reports
- Original research
- Templates and/or checklists
- A free webinar or course
The defining factor with all of these—what makes them lead magnets instead of simply “content”—is that they offer a great deal of actionable, valuable information, more than a typical blog post.
In order for your lead magnet to work, it’s critical that the people who sign up for it feel that what you’re offering is worth not only their time, but also their contact information.
Email addresses may seem like a small thing to ask for in exchange for a report filled with stats and information, but B2B buyers do not like to give their contact information. This has become even more true as the buyer journey has become more self-directed and almost entirely virtual post-pandemic.
Bottom line: make sure you’re giving them content that is solid, original, and that they can’t get anywhere else.
Now let’s talk about blogs.
Blogging is an essential tool for buyers throughout the customer journey, whether they’re prospects who’ve never heard of you, or loyal customers who’ve been purchasing from you for years.
To make blogging work for customer acquisition, you’ve got to create content designed for the top of the sales funnel or beginning of the customer journey.
Topics that work well for this stage include:
- Educational and informative content about the industry at large
- Updates on trends
- Answers to frequently asked questions
- Buying guides
- Thought leadership content
Whatever types of questions and topics you’re answering or extrapolating on, you’ll need to ensure that this content is non-promotional.
Whether it’s general information about your industry, content from your brand’s thought leaders (typically executives or other high-level experts at your company), or a guide to choosing the right product or service for your company, you want your blog to be a 0-pressure zone. Prospects who read your blog don’t want a sales pitch.
Your blog should be engaging and informative—and you should save the promos for your paid ads.
As nice as it would be to be able to reach prospects on the strength of your excellent content alone, there’s simply too much content available for that to be realistic.
If you want people to find it, you’ve got to put an ad budget behind it.
The best way to start is with Google ads—the ads that show up on the search engine results pages (SERPs) when prospects search for a keyword. 78% of B2B buyers start the purchasing process with a Google search, so it’s a prime opportunity to get on their radar.
If you have a lead magnet or other piece of content that performs consistently, create a series of paid ads that take users to that content.
First, you’ll need to develop a landing page specifically for that piece of content, which is where users who click the ad will end up.
Here’s a great example of a landing page from Doordash:
You can optimize your ads for different sets of keywords and even try out different landing page designs to see which works best.
For a full explanation of paid ads and how to set them up, read The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Search Engine Marketing Strategy.
One important note: Your ad should focus on a single conversion action that you want people to take.
That could be:
- Downloading an ebook/report
- Signing up for your newsletter
- Scheduling a demo
- Watching a demo video
- Contacting a salesperson
- Visiting your product page
Ideally, you will set up your ads to request some identifying information from each user who clicks on your ad. Like the lead magnet content we noted above, they could give you their email address in exchange for your content, or schedule a call with your sales leader for a demo, for example.
You want to do your best to ensure you get a solid lead out of the ads you create. That is the number one goal. That said, there are positive side effects gained from paid ads outside of generating engagements.
Done right, pairing a top of the funnel B2B content marketing strategy with a paid ads campaign will boost your customer acquisition. And, of course, we aren’t telling you to neglect the customers you already have—loyalty is important.
But acquisition is the key to B2B growth.
Need a team of marketing experts on your side? Get in touch!