Even if search engine marketing has so far been much more widespread in the B2C area, it is also worthwhile for B2B companies. Unfortunately, this is often neglected. Too many companies ignore the great opportunities that search engine marketing offers in the B2B sector.

So how do you master the challenges of online marketing in the B2B industry and how do you create sustainable competitive advantages?

Why does search engine marketing even make sense in the B2B sector?

Similar to private individuals, the buyers of the individual companies also search online for products and services. In this way, different offers can be easily identified and compared with one another. This makes the entire purchasing process easier and faster.

According to a survey from 2019, around 38% of the decision-makers surveyed buy 75% of the products or services for their company online. A further six percent even carry out this process exclusively through their suppliers’ online shops.

Almost 50% of the buyers on the company side make their decisions online – and the trend is rising. B2B e-commerce continues to gain in importance.

If a company is not visible online when its products or services are searched for, it misses the chance to reach one of these buyers or decision-makers. If companies rely exclusively on offline communication as before, the company’s sales potential will not be exploited.

If your company decides to advertise online, there are a few things it should be aware of. Because in a direct comparison of B2B and B2C, some peculiarities and deviations become clear. You should pay attention to the following points.

Special features in B2B online marketing

Higher CLVs: The customer lifetime value is usually significantly higher for B2B customers than for end customers. Therefore, B2B companies are typically willing to spend significantly more to acquire a new customer.

Target group size: In the B2B area, the number of target customers is almost always significantly smaller than in the B2C area. Target groups of a few dozen potential customers are not uncommon.

Decision making process: Decision cycles lasting several weeks or months are more the rule than the exception. This must be taken into account with all online lamps.

Internationalization: International markets can be tested much faster online. With Google Ads in particular, foreign markets can be effectively advertised in a very short time.

Competitive situation: Paradoxically, the competitive situation in B2B is still manageable for many online campaigns. This means that good results can be achieved very quickly with comparatively little resources.

Higher CLV in B2B

The cost per lead or new customer (CPL or CPA) is one of the key figures in online marketing. This applies to both B2B and B2C.

In most cases, the customer value in B2B is significantly higher than in end customer business. Therefore, higher customer acquisition costs can also be justified. Typically, this is reflected in a higher target CPA, for example with Google Ads. A competitive and realistic CPA target is an important element in a successful B2b campaign.

Lower search volume in B2B marketing

Another special feature, especially with regard to online marketing measures, is the search volume for B2B keywords. This is lower than in the B2C environment. This is because there are often only a limited number of companies that can be considered as potential customers for their own products. As a result, there is less search for them than is the case with products in the B2C environment. Even so, the transaction volume is much higher, as companies become customers more often once they have found the right offer.

Exclusive keyword in B2B

The negative keywords in the B2B area are particularly relevant. The aim here is to exclude search queries that are not covered by your own offer.

For example:

  • Materials that are not offered (-aluminium, -titanium)
  • Applications that are not relevant (-automotive, -aviation)

B2B buying processes on the Internet

The need for explanation of B2B products or services is usually higher. This means that decision-makers must be picked up in a targeted manner and convinced of the USPs of the product or the added value of the service.

While in B2C the focus is on the individual end consumer and thus a more emotional, personal approach prevails, in B2B often several decision-makers from a company are the goal. That is why it is important to convince not just one individual with the advertising messages, but the entire circle of decision-makers. It should be noted that the head of the IT, marketing or production department would like to receive different information than, for example, the managing director. It is therefore important to prepare the right data for the right person. Thus there is a greater focus on
Factual information

The longer decision-making processes in B2B sales also mean that remarketing can be particularly useful in the B2B area.

Especially in the B2B area, where the target group’s decision-making cycle is often more complex and protracted than in the B2C area, remarketing offers a good opportunity to accompany the target group in the decision-making process throughout the customer journey and thus to remain present with potential customers. In this way, a very good return on investment can often be achieved.

Remarketing is a helpful tool in the B2B marketing mix. Remarketing in the B2B area, however, requires more effort, because the group of addressees is usually small and very advertised.

More about SEO and Google Ads for B2B companies

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International search engine marketing in B2B

In addition, it should be noted in the B2B environment that the export quota is significantly higher than in the B2C area. For this reason, it often makes sense to design your company’s own search marketing strategies not only nationally, but internationally.

Even if Google is the market leader in Germany, Bing, Yahoo and Co. must also be taken into account. This is especially important when companies want to become active globally. The Microsoft search engine Bing in particular has established itself as the perfect B2B channel over the years. This is mainly due to the fact that many companies work with computers on which Windows is installed as the operating system. Bing is set as the default search engine.

Competitive situation in search engine marketing in B2B

In many B2B industries there is surprisingly little competition despite the high customer values. As a result, the costs per lead are often comparatively low.

Of course there are also topics in which hyper-competition prevails (e.g. among online service providers for B2B). But especially in classic B2b segments, a lot can still be achieved with little effort. Prudent B2B marketing managers should at least evaluate the competitive situation and draw appropriate conclusions from it.

Mastering the challenges in B2B online marketing with the help of the right strategy

In order to handle the various special features of B2B skillfully and without problems, a strategy should be developed in advance that takes all external influences into account.

This ensures that the goal is better achieved in the long term. Before developing this strategy, however, it is important to know the current state of your own company. This gives an insight into the status quo of online marketing activities. There are various points that should be examined more closely for this purpose.

  • The current visibility of the website

  • A detailed keyword research

  • The evaluation of user behavior on the website

  • Optimizing the website for smartphones

  • Email Marketing Activities and Resources

  • Ratio of the budget distributions of online marketing to the total budget

  • The company’s social media activities

After the current situation has been examined more closely and incorporated into the strategy, it is time to consider other influencing factors. This includes, among other things, an inventory of the competitors: What is the competition doing in online marketing?

It is also important to take a look at your own target group. How is their buying behavior? How will that develop in the future? The strategy should therefore definitely include various touchpoints with the customer that ensure a better customer journey and customer loyalty. The AIDA model, which breaks down the individual phases of the sales process, is very useful in determining these. In this way, individual measures can be defined for each step.

The aim is to plan all these factors in such a way that all resources are used efficiently and the overall success of B2B online marketing is increased.

Google Ads in B2B

Google Ads in the B2B area offers some special strategies and requirements.

  • For example, you can focus on the competitors in your keywords and present your company as a better alternative.
  • If both B2b and B2C target groups come into question for generic search terms (e.g. doormats, coffee machine, etc.), you should clearly state in the ad text that you only supply companies.
  • Companies are often searched for in connection with job offers (e.g. Google Jobs, BWM positions, etc.). It may therefore make sense to exclude these search terms.

Secure competitive advantages with B2B search engine marketing

All in all, it is clear that if a company is not found online, it will simply not be taken into account when purchasing. However, search marketing is still very much neglected, especially in the B2B environment. Not relying on B2B search engine marketing is a missed sales potential.