What Is B2B Software Marketing?

B2B software marketing is the process of creating market interest in B2B software.

Often, this involves creating and deploying messages to help B2B software companies get new users, which is called lead generation. Sometimes, it involves helping B2B software companies upgrade the way they’re perceived in the marketplace, which is called branding. And sometimes, it involves helping B2B software companies retain existing users, which is called customer retention.

All of these activities help to effectively present B2B software companies to their markets of prospective clients or existing users.

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That’s the high-level. If you’re interested in B2B software marketing, though, you’re probably interested the specifics, too.

We can help. At New North, we’re one of the top B2B marketing agencies in the US. We’ve helped B2B SaaS firms to build user bases, drive more sales, and grow using the right marketing channels. Based on that experience, we’ll break things down further with answers to some of the most common questions around B2B software marketing.

Let’s dive in.

What B2B software marketing is not

First, let’s clear up a common misconception: B2B software marketing is not software sales.

Again, marketing is the process of creating interest in a market for a product or service. In practical terms, this involves everything up to the point of personal contact from sales – ads, branding materials, website, email content, ebooks, etc. – but not the personal contact itself (i.e. the demo or discovery call).

Marketing materials should build trust and bring potential clients to the point of being ready to buy, but, especially for enterprise software transactions, sales will still be needed to close deals. Sales is about personal relationships.

Some B2B software companies (and especially those that offer customization and service in addition to software) confuse the functions of marketing and sales. This leads to confused investments – hiring a marketing department when you really need a salesperson, or hiring another sales role when what you really need is better marketing.

There are two key reasons you might need B2B software marketing:

  • You need B2B software marketing if most potential clients in your market don’t know who you are.
  • You need B2B software marketing if potential clients or existing users don’t know what value you offer.

If most clients and users do know who you are and do know the value you provide but you still aren’t driving leads or are having a hard time retaining users, then marketing probably isn’t the answer. Building a better sales department or building better value into your software might be.

What a B2B software marketing plan usually involves

When you think of marketing your B2B software company, this is the place your mind probably goes: tactics. Here’s what we often include in B2B software marketing plans:

Website optimization. Your website should clearly communicate the value your B2B software provides and should play a role in driving top-of-funnel traffic. We’ve written about best practices for lead-driving websites here.

Paid ads. Search ads (the kind that appear at the top of Google results) can be expensive. Many B2B software companies pay for them anyway, because they work. LinkedIn and YouTube ads can also be effective when targeted toward the right audiences. And we’re fans of remarketing, too – showing ads to visitors who have already hit your website.

Search engine optimization (SEO). This is the bread and butter for many B2B software companies – ranking high in Google results for keywords that are relevant to your software can drive a ton of leads.

Email marketing. This is a great tactic for nurture and engagement campaigns; build your email list via your website, then provide value and build relationships with subscribers over time until they’re ready to buy.

Video marketing. Tech tips, testimonials, tech news – video marketing is typically used to build credibility and establish the expertise of your team.

These tactics (and others) should be used cohesively as part of a B2B software marketing strategy.

How B2B software marketing is different from marketing in other industries

There are several ways that B2B software marketing is unique.

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First, B2B software marketing has to account for a strange blend of B2C and B2B use cases.

Technically, you’re selling a software platform to a business – so you’re selling B2B. But practically, a lot of B2B software offerings look more like B2C products. Think Slack, or MailChimp – software platforms that have B2C branding and a low price point.

Marketing has to walk an interesting balance between speaking to organizational value and demonstrating individual user benefits.

Second, B2B software sales cycles are strange. B2B SaaS marketing needs to account for this.

In typical B2B, you’ll have long sales cycles for high-price point items, and you’ll usually need to convince multiple stakeholders in a buying group before the sale is made. Think selling commercial cleaning services – you’d need to sell the facility manager, who would take your proposal to the managing group, who might approve it with some changes.

In B2B software marketing, you can often win the sale by converting one stakeholder. For example, at New North, we just started using Asana because our new account manager loved the software and wanted to implement it for a project. There was no consultation with an executive group, no presentation, no proposal; we just jumped in.

Third, B2B software marketing is relevant throughout the entire customer lifecycle. For most B2B companies, marketing is used primarily as a lead generation tool. Once companies become clients, they’re less frequently targeted with marketing messages.

In B2B software, though, marketing is key to user engagement and retention.

All of these intricacies make it particularly important that you work with a company that understands the B2B software market.

We can help take your B2B software marketing to the next level.

Again, we’ve helped B2B SaaS firms to build user bases, drive more sales, and grow using the right marketing channels.. If you’d like a free review of your current B2B software marketing efforts – and a path forward – let’s talk.

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Either way, here’s to your success as you use marketing to build your software business.

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