Three B2B firms that understand digital

Three B2B firms that understand digital:

from Posts from the Econsultancy blog 
The word “marketing” when it comes to niche B2B firms tends to still be a bit of a taboo. Most have not embraced these practices in the way that other consumer sectors have both from a digital marketing and technology perspective.
Why do so many B2B executives feel that marketing (specifically digital) is “below them” or won’t take them to the levels they seek?
That is the question that I seek to answer as often as I can.
I sat down with my favorite SEO/SEM expert, Jeremiah Baker, to get his insight as well.
Baker stated:

Inbound marketing to niche B2B firms works. 93% of B2B buyers use search engines to begin their buying process according to research by Marketo. Research also shows that you are twice as likely to get a customer when they find you first. Search engine advertising is likely the best marketing tool for B2B firms since the invention of the telephone. This is the first time in history that as a marketer you can access your customers at the moment they’re looking for you.
Previously most contact with a potential customer happened through interruption-based tactics such as cold calling, direct mail, radio and or television. Now, there’s a huge benefit to having the potential customer finding you first rather than using cold calling as that initial activity.
The key is to be seen as a trusted advisor. Potential customers no matter what industry like to believe they are having normal conversations.
Think about it, when someone calls you out of the blue do you want to talk to them or do you try to get them off the phone as quickly as possible?

What are some great examples where some niche B2B companies are doing it right?

1) White & Case

One industry I find intriguing is law, and in researching how niche areas of practices and the respective global law firms are doing to catch up in today’s digital world I find that most are still quite behind.
Even the simplest marketing tactics are non-existent. For example, the more established partners are quite afraid of the word “paid” when it comes to advertising, and still believe referrals are the only way to go to gain new corporate clients. But, not all firms are created equal.
One great example that I have studied is the global firm White & Case. This global law firm has realized that even with their prestigious client needs, acquisition of these new clients can absolutely come through social channels.
Additionally, the firm’s thought leadership content through the use of a blog and other social channels gives them more exposure and the ability to recruit the younger associates into the firm. Not to mention, this firm happened to be one of the firsts to hire an actual CMO to focus on marketing efforts.

This firm takes their content to new levels using a lot of video and giving their thoughts on the industry from both a trends and opportunities perspective: White & Case "Our Thinking"
The content strategy extends to the power of Twitter and other social channels as well in order to distribute this content. It is properly repurposed to engage with their clients (and prospective clients) in innovative ways.
Check it out: @WhiteCase
2. Square
Another sector I am intrigued with and where I found some great B2B marketing play is in the mobile payment/commerce sector. According to Forrester, 'the U.S. mobile payment market will see $90 bn spent in 2017'.
Square, which sits in a sweet spot in the mobile payment sector, stood out in my research. Square dominated my research as their content is both stimulating visually, and it engages readers in elements that extend beyond just knowledge about its product.

It brings you into the businesses that use their product, and provides a very personal aspect to what they do and how they stand out.
From the site to their social channels, the content is engaging and use of optimization through both organic and paid keeps them at the top of my search pathway, which means Square is definitely understanding the massive importance to the inbound marketing construct.

3. Caterpillar Inc. 

Moving to another sector that has been moving slowly, but where you can now see some greater uses of digital strategies is in B2B manufacturing.
The CIO Journal recently reported, “Industrial companies are starting to catch up to consumer brands in their use of social media marketing”. Caterpillar, Inc. is a great example of a B2B manufacturing company that gets it.
It has engrained social throughout all of its digital assets, and it’s more than just widgets on the site.

Caterpillar Inc. is also using social media from a multichannel standpoint, reaching customers via Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Google+.
Caterpillar states that this integration has been a massive improvement. This company has evolved to keep up with their generations of customers that have also moved into using social for more than just posting pictures of their family.

4. Results are in

Numbers can't lie, and these are direct proof from Baker's work that digital can work for even the most niche B2B firms.
  • A nationwide IT training firm doubled revenue using Google Adwords and SEO. Search engine marketing is used to attract corporate clients who are searching for IT training classes in their local cities. Classes of 30 students are held in over 40 cities throughout the nation.
  • Enterprise Software Firm used Google Adwords to generate a steady flow of sales leads and to grow revenue. This firm was later acquired by a Fortnue 500 firm for $105 million dollars.
  • IT Security Firm used Google Adwords and Search Engine Optimization to attract customers in the following industries:
    • Pharmaceutical
    • Credit Unions
    • Banks
    • Web Application/Software as a Service companies
    • Insurance Firms
  • Commodities Trading Software Firm – Used Google Adwords to attract a steady flow of leads and customers for their products and services
B2B firms can break out of the traditional mold. The concept behind inbound marketing and other digital/technology activities that support these efforts (whether that’s through paid, organic, content placement into the right digital channels, social marketing etc.) is how B2B niche companies can help make or break their businesses in the long run.
And, in my opinion, the more that the traditional frame of mind is broken by the consistent ROI that digital shows as Baker pointed out, the easier it will be for change agents within those firms to shift the old thought patterns.

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