Top Digital Marketing Strategies for B2B Cleantech Suppliers: Part 1 – Getting Traffic
If you’re marketing for a B2B cleantech supplier, your first challenge towards creating a healthy marketing funnel is generating awareness. In this line of business, top-of-the-funnel awareness once came in the form of print ads in trade magazines, face-to-face contact at trade shows and cold calls. While these traditional strategies still exist and may even play some role in your current marketing arsenal, the fact is that today’s B2B buyers rely on the internet to discover new suppliers and solutions.
Already in 2015, Google reported that a whopping 89% of B2B researchers used the internet during their research process. In 2020, with more digital natives among the industrial buyer ranks, you can bet that percentage is even higher. And in 2017, Demand Gen Report found that B2B buyers progress more than 70% of the way through the decision-making process before ever interacting with a sales representative. If you want to fill your pipeline with prospects in such a scenario, making sure buyers find you online during the research stage is essential.
Part 1 of our series exploring the top digital marketing strategies for B2B cleantech suppliers focuses on the top of the funnel and examines the most effective ways to generate awareness, visibility and traffic.
Search engine optimization (SEO)
According to a 2018 report by ThomasNet, 77% of industrial buyers use Google when sourcing new suppliers, making it the most used resource during the research phase. That means ranking your website on Google for important keywords should be a priority.
While it may be tempting to tackle SEO on your own, we recommend investing in an expert. An SEO consultant will ensure your website complies with best practices and help structure your content (product catalog, white papers, case studies, etc.) to maximize the chances your company’s pages appear when potential buyers search on your targeted keywords.
And remember, B2B cleantech buyers frequently include product specifications in their searches. Don’t hide specs in PDFs that are more difficult to rank on Google. Include specs directly on your site’s product pages instead.
Online B2B marketplaces
Online B2B marketplaces, such as Environmental XPRT and Energy XPRT, aggregate supplier lists, product catalogs and related content and put it all into one website that buyers can easily filter in order to pinpoint the right suppliers.
Listing your company and products on these marketplaces is actually an essential part of your SEO strategy because lots of B2B cleantech buyers searching Google for your target keywords land on supplier and product lists published by online B2B marketplaces. In 2019, 89% of Environmental XPRT’s traffic came directly from Google and other search engines. While you may prefer prospects to click directly from Google to your own website, no matter how much you’ve invested in SEO, you won’t rank highly on all the keywords your potential buyers are using nor will your Google search results necessarily attract clicks. So making sure your company and products appear on the right pages of online marketplaces is a great way to fill in the gaps.
You’ll also reach buyers who are loyal to these marketplaces and skip Google altogether. Online B2B marketplace lists are clean and easy to filter (by location, specs, industries served, etc.), so they are an essential resource that B2B buyers rely on to get a clear snapshot of any particular product category and its suppliers.
Blogs are another essential part of any B2B cleantech supplier’s SEO strategy. The beauty of a blog is that it’s much more flexible than your company website and product catalog. The best B2B blogs answer common questions your prospects and customers have. Every blog post becomes a new indexed page on Google and a new opportunity to grab the attention of buyers researching solutions to their needs.
While company websites are typically salesy, company blogs should be informative. Blogs are an opportunity for your business to show off its knowledge, increase trust and become a thought leader. B2B cleantech buyers in the research stage ask Google lots of questions from a variety of angles. Chances are if your answer makes it to the top of a Google search result, you will get buyers’ attention and put yourself in a position to make their shortlist of potential suppliers.
You may be tempted to create a profile for your business on every social media platform under the sun, but it’s much more effective to find out which platform’s audience overlaps most with your own audience and focus your resources there. Keep in mind that everyone leads a double life of sorts, personal and professional. We generally interact with our friends and B2C brands on social platforms like Facebook and Instagram, while our professional and B2B interactions generally happen on LinkedIn.
So if you want to use social media to increase your visibility among buyers of B2B cleantech, LinkedIn will likely be the best place to create a profile, distribute content and participate in relevant discussions. But don’t underestimate the visibility potential of distributing videos on YouTube to better illustrate how your products work or discuss your most successful projects. You can even repurpose your blog posts into video content.
Media & customer relations
So far, we’ve mentioned ways you can talk about your own company and products to increase the chances buyers find you during the research stage. But we can’t forget the power of trustworthy third parties discussing your company and products. This is where media & customer relations come into play.
You need to have a relationship with online publications in your industry that target your audience, whether these are trade publications with a solid online presence, online B2B marketplaces (who typically also publish industry news & related content) or specialized blogs. Send these media outlets regular press releases, pitch stories for feature articles and suggest interviews with key people in your organization.
And let’s not forget about gathering and publishing social proof from your customers. Among B2B cleantech suppliers, social proof usually takes the form of case studies and testimonials on your company website. While buyers find such info on your website helpful, they may also distrust it because it’s published by the vendor and not a third party. That’s why you should encourage trusted third party websites like the aforementioned online publications and marketplaces to republish your case studies.
It’s also increasingly important to get customers to review your products. We may think of online product reviews as a B2C marketing tactic, but according to a 2019 survey by TrustRadius, reviews are sought after by 52% of B2B tech buyers. Sure, B2B cleantech is a different animal than general B2B tech, but it’s only a matter of time before product reviews become an important part of buying decisions in B2B cleantech, just as they have in other spheres. Online marketplaces such as Environmental XPRT and Energy XPRT already accept product reviews from users of the solutions listed on their sites.
Targeted digital ads
While there is enormous potential in publishing useful content and optimizing it to attract buyers organically as mentioned in the first five points, there is no guarantee that these strategies will work on their own. Competition to attract organic traffic from Google, online marketplaces and social media platforms is fierce, so you should dedicate a portion of your marketing budget towards increasing your visibility through paid ads and measure ROI from these ads.
Most digital ads allow you to target the exact locations, demographics and interests that define your target market. This is true of Google Ads, where you can pay to gain visibility on keywords for which you may not be ranking well organically as well as publish display ads on sites with relevant audiences participating in the Google network. Social media platforms also allow you to expand your reach within their networks through paid programs.
And last but not least, B2B online marketplaces offer premium programs that increase your visibility among buyers researching new suppliers through premium placement on their company and product lists, targeted display campaigns, e-newsletter sponsorships and more. XPRT marketplaces offer premium options that do just that.
Next up: How to convert your traffic to leads
Stay tuned for our next installment in this series exploring the top digital marketing strategies for B2B cleantech suppliers, as we’ll look at how to make the most of the awareness you’ve generated and convert your traffic to leads. Getting this step right will give you an advantage over competitors by opening a direct line of communication with buyers early in the buying cycle, even before they create their shortlists and begin actively comparing and contacting suppliers.