The arrival of the Internet has opened many doors for professionals who previously had to make do with trade fairs and directories to make themselves known. The BtoB market on the web is still smaller than the BtoC market, but it has become essential for many professionals in all sectors. BtoB marketing is very different from BtoC marketing. BtoB marketing targets the needs and interests of individuals who make purchases on behalf of or for their company (rather than for themselves). The marketing message is therefore not directed at an individual, but at an entity. In BtoB, branding cannot rely on the affect or experience of the person receiving the message. Business customers focus on return on investment, efficiency and expertise.
A B2B brand strategy defines who your company is, what you offer, who you serve and what you value. It includes your business objectives and your plan to achieve them. A good BtoB brand strategy should take into account the longer buying cycle than in BtoC. In general, BtoB requires building stronger relationships with, often, multiple stakeholders in the buying decision.
In B2B, user intent, and by extension, the keywords searched for, are very different from those of individuals. BtoB brands therefore need to showcase their expertise to encourage prospects to engage with them. This more technical and targeted jargon offers big advantages in SEO and SEA, which we will discuss below.
Capturing and sustaining branded queries in SEO
A branded query is a keyword that contains the brand name (the query can also be just the brand name). In B2B as well as in B2C, this type of query only concerns prospects or customers who already know the brand. It can be tempting to exclude them from your branding strategy. However, these are queries that can present a good margin for progress, with a lower level of difficulty compared to non-branded queries. And for good reason, by being the brand, you certainly own the associated domain name and all the backlinks and mentions on social networks that come with it. You are therefore the most legitimate site to be placed in 1st position. Unlike BtoC, you will suffer much less (if at all) from competition from the web giants and marketplaces. You must therefore take advantage of this to establish your dominant position on the queries that concern your brand.
Carry out SEO actions to gain visibility in a sustainable way
SEO or organic search is of paramount importance for all online professionals. It is indeed the guarantee of a lasting visibility throughout the life of a website. This acquisition channel is based on 3 levers: technique, content and popularity through netlinking. Each site has its own problems, but in general, it is necessary to intervene on these 3 levers to significantly improve your positions on Google. As we have seen, in B2B, keywords are less competitive. A few simple tricks can make all the difference quite quickly:
- Optimise title tags by integrating your main keywords and of course your brand name;
- Add quality content that proves your expertise. This content is especially important if you run a "YMYL" (Your Money Your Life) site. This is usually finance, health and anything else that can impact our lives and our money;
- Develop a netlinking strategy that will allow you to increase the popularity of your domain name;
- Make the most of your network of partners.
Non-branded queries in SEO and SEA in a BtoB brand strategy
Generic queries, which do not contain your brand name, are more difficult to reach. However, in BtoB the competition is less intense, so you will find more opportunities for positioning than BtoC sites, both natural and paid.
Generic BtoB queries and pixel position
With the exception of certain sectors of activity (adult sites, betting, alcohol, etc.), paid advertisements overshadow "organic" positions. They can sometimes be so numerous (Google Ads + Google Shopping) that the first organic result falls below the waterline. The pixel position then comes into play to determine the potential of a query. A low pixel position means that there are few (or no) paid results in front of your site. It is therefore in your interest to focus on these keywords, even if they have a lower search volume.
Example of a competitive query for SmartKeyword (with more than 10k searches per month):
Example of a non-competitive query:
Optimise your SEA campaigns to gain visibility on branded keywords
If in BtoB you can more easily avoid competition from the web giants, you can nevertheless be confronted with competition on Google Ads. Remember that anyone is allowed to buy your brand name. And among professionals, this method is widespread. To counter these unfair competitors, buy your brand name on Google Ads. The bids are usually much lower than for generic keywords and this allows you to regain full control of your brand in the paid search results.
Use your customers (resellers) in your branding
Are your customers professionals who resell your brand's products? Use them to develop your brand strategy! Indeed, they will often be more visible than you on the web (or even compete with you). They are therefore an interesting opportunity for your brand. This pattern is often found among professionals specialising in sporting goods. Let's take the example of Cannondale, which is a very large bicycle brand. It has a rather poor and unattractive BtoB site. It relies entirely on its dealers, who are responsible for conveying Cannondale's positioning and values. Visuals, prices, technical data: everything is provided to the retailers so that they promote the brand.
Implementing off-line actions for your BtoB brand strategy
In BtoB, off-line actions have a direct impact on the brand strategy. Professionals often need to exchange and negotiate in person to build trust. Trade shows are an excellent way to develop your branding strategy. They can even have an impact on your online visibility. Organising events is also an excellent way to develop your branding. The most striking example is undoubtedly Redbull, which bases its entire strategy on the organisation of extreme events, which are not directly related to the brand. Traditional advertisements (TV spots) are broadcast very sporadically because the brand no longer needs them. Redbull has built up a strong brand image through events that make a lasting impression.
The case of BtoB and BtoC professionals
Perhaps you are one of those professionals who sell to both professionals and private individuals? In this case, you will have to pursue two distinct brand strategies, even if your positioning seems to remain the same. This is the case for Babyliss, for example, which is a major brand of hairdressing equipment. The brand sells to professionals and has its own online shop. It must therefore be visible to both private individuals and professionals. Although the targets are different, the positioning of the brand remains the same.
To find out how to develop your BtoC branding strategy, visit our dedicated article.
A BtoB brand strategy can be analysed using several metrics. On the web, the most used are of course the traffic generated, but also and especially the conversion rate. In BtoB, it is not uncommon to come across sites that do not offer online sales. The conversion rate is then based on leads (sending an email, requesting a quote, etc.). To do this, you simply need to change the URL of the conversion target in Google Analytics (in SEO as well as in SEA). Of course, don't forget that in BtoB, the analysis of the profitability of your actions is not always tangible. Word of mouth is still the most used between professionals.
Unlike BtoC, BtoB branding is a little more limited on the web, although it offers new development perspectives. Off-line marketing and communication actions often remain the pillar of a BtoB strategy and can be a real springboard for your online visibility.