inbound growth fish

What Are The Best Marketing Channels for B2B Professional Services?

Deciding what channels to market your brand and business on isn't always easy and can sometimes be hard to find the answers you need. Depending on your target audience you may decide one platform is better than another and depending on your budget you might decide that you can't afford to run with them all.

Key factors to consider:

  • Your target audience - what channels do they use
  • Your budget - what resource and advertising budgets do you have
  • Available content / media - what do you have available and what are you able to realistically generate

Once you have reviewed these you can start to answer the question.

B2B for Professional Services is unlike B2C in so many ways when it comes to marketing. The main one being the considered service offering.

The Considered Service Offering

The service you offer will be one that a potential client needs to think long and hard about before they take up your services. Take this accountantcy example: you would not up and switch your accountant overnight, you would check out new ones, you would need a very good reason to switch and you would want to be very sure the company you are moving to can deliver what they say.

How do you prove all this to a potential client you have never met before? Inbound is the answer.

What channels are on offer?

Okay so you have your inbound strategy in place and you are just looking at the fine details around what channels to use. You have decided on available budgets and you have resource to hand. How do you go about deciding? We have broken down the main channels you should be considering below but there are many many more. If you have a specific niche that use a specific channel then you should also consider that, this will be highlighted when you develop your buyer personas.

Our top picks are as follows:

Google Organic Search

Resource Required: Weekly

Advertising Budgets required: indirectly - you will need to get influencers involved and get your content found.

ROI: high

Investment: Long term

Personally I believe this is the backbone to all your content marketing, but that's because I love to get content showing in Google organically...

But my personal interests to one side, if you get this part right it can lead the way for all your content online. Your social media content can be driven from it, your content offers can be developed alongside it, your email campaigns can be associated, your paid advertising can be working alongside it for more exposure etc etc. It's a great backbone to your strategy.

The biggest thing that is underestimated with Google Organic rankings though is the time involved to firstly generate the content and then secondly to build authority in your niche. It takes many hours of dedication, week after week.

The rewards are well worth the effort as long as your expectations are set correctly at the beginning. It can take over 12 months in some cases to get the results you want, so don't expect results overnight. But once you have them you can build on them and develop more rankings in other related areas much quicker. It's like a snowball effect.

The best route forward, if you have the budgets and resource, is to start this straight away but ensure you utilise the content and efforts on other channels at the same time. Also ensure you run some other channels that produce quicker results at the same time to ensure you are getting in new clients, not only from a financial point of view but also for motivation for both the marketing team and the board. If you don't get any results over a long period of time people get dismissive and priorities change. So you need leads to be coming in from the marketing efforts.

Google Paid Advertising

Resource Required: Weekly or monthly depending on campaign size and budgets

Advertising Budgets required: Med/high

ROI: Medium to high when managed well

Investment: Results can be seen quickly in many cases and improve over time

Quick results at a price! That's basically the top and bottom of it. Clicks on adverts in Google, for professional services, can be upwards of £20 per click so you need to ensure you are set up and have a team to deliver. But you can drive traffic ready to purchase so you can get some quick wins.

Key things to think about:

  • How much is a new client worth to you, the new client value (how much do they typically spend per year and how many years do they stay with you for?)
  • Think about your profit margins - from the value you have just worked out how much profit is in that and how much of that profit are you prepared to spend on advertising?
  • Not every click from an advert will generate a new sale, so you need to consider conversion rates, from click to sale. This is different across industries, it might be 2% or 10% or more or less. You can find many different numbers and stats online, what matters is your target audience and this will become very clear once you start running adverts. Budget for the worse case scenario and go from there.
  • Your user journey - do you have everything on your website that a potential client will want to see before contacting you? If you dont you are throwing your money down the drain. Think about testimonials, full contact details, about information etc etc.

If you want quicker wins and to grow now then load up a Google Advertising campaign. These work really well alongside Organic Search campaigns.

FaceBook

Resource Required: Weekly

Advertising Budgets required: yes but relatively inexpensive

ROI: harder to report, influences buyer

Investment: medium to Long term

I have mixed emotions on Facebook for B2B Professional Services. Some businesses have a niche that use it and others don't. The resource needed to keep content engaging and also interact with people is often underestimated. You also need to ensure you have a solid advertising plan in place to promote your page and content.

That said, if you are running a strong Organic campaign for Google then this might come together well for you. Ensure you have goals, strategy and a tight target audience. Don't get miss lead with vanity figures like how many likes you have or followers, try and ensure you are measuring qualified leads, the value the channel is adding to the user journey and true ROI.

To get a true ROI on social media you really need to be using some heavy weight software like Hubspot, otherwise your tracking will have holes and you will struggle to prove anything.

Email

Resource Required: Monthly

Advertising Budgets required: No, but a current and growing email list is required which will demand traffic

ROI: can help convert existing contacts and nurture those who may not have otherwise purchased

Investment: medium to Long term

This is a cheap way to keep in contact with your connections and help push them along the buyer's journey towards a sale. Keep in mind the better your CRM the more impact you will have. If you can segment your contacts in to groups then you can better cater to the information they will react to and get better results. This should be part of your mix, without a doubt.

Twitter

Resource Required: Weekly

Advertising Budgets required: yes but relatively inexpensive

ROI: harder to report, influences buyer

Investment: medium to Long term

Much like Facebook above, if your audience use it and it can work well with your content strategy then great. Being social is key not only for authority and trust but also helps your customer service.

LinkedIn

Resource Required: Weekly / Monthly

Advertising Budgets required: yes but relatively inexpensive

ROI: harder to report, influences buyer

Investment: medium to Long term

There are many ways to get exposure through LinkedIn:

  • Groups
  • Advertising
  • Business page
  • Generating posts on your page
  • Growing your network
  • Gaining tractions from your employees connections

There are more ways to use it than just these but it gives you some insight. Sharing your blog content and company updates is a great way to utilise this channel and get some brand exposure to connections with little resource or expense (especially if your team have some good connections and share the content as well). But if you take it further and do something like generate a group specifically for your core target audience and their challenges then you can get people engaging with you on a whole new level. This method has been less successful over recent years due to spam and self promotion but recently LinkedIn has had a drive to get this back on track. Done properly LinkedIn could give you a massive community to engage with that consists of your core target audience.

Summary

As always there is no one size fits all but there are some easy wins, some must haves and some questions that depends on your target audience.

A list for businesses that really want to grow:

  • Must have: Organic search strategy, Google Advertising and be social in some type of format
  • Easy wins: Sharing content with connections on LinkedIn, having a solid plan for your email outreach/nurturing
  • Depends on your target audience: social media channels and how you engage

If you have any questions fire them over. Happy Marketing!

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